Sunday, August 15, 2010

Justifiable Fisticuffs

With the Red Sox dusting up with the Indians when they were in Cleveland and then this week's bench clearer between the Reds and Cardinals, it got me thinking about fighting and it's role in my two favorite sports.

Hockey is a sport of almost constant motion. Passing the puck, checks into the boards, players flying off the bench to change on the fly. So much of the sport is about fast, aggressive action. Often times, all of that aggression spills over into actual punches being thrown. For me, it's difficult for people to cast a negative light on fighting in the sport when most injuries don't occur when two players drop the gloves and go. It can be a slapshot to the face (or lower regions.. sorry, Sami Salo), or a check into the boards or a clean hit on the open ice. When the gloves do come off, you usually have a sense that it's been building up to that point. Whether it's from a questionable hit on one team's star player or just the chippy way the game has been played. Fighting has it's role. Frankly, I love it. I'm not going to lie. Do I think the sport should be nothing but fighting? No. If you want to see two dudes hit each other in the face, I recommend just watching boxing as ice skates can make it long winded and pretty clumsy.

Now, baseball is another issue all together. I love the sport, but I can see how non fans might think that it's boring. Just as hockey is about action, a lot of baseball is about inaction. Or little actions so small it's easy to miss them. A single or catching a sacrifice fly isn't as flashy as a top shelf goal in the last two minutes of the game. Baseball is a slower pace. A lot of it is nuance. Unless it's a tense game that goes back and forth, and unless it's been just about any of the games the Red Sox have played this season, a lot of times it is a much easier pace. So when someone gets hit by a pitch and players start coming out of the dugouts and bullpens, excitement levels rise pretty fast. A lot of times, punches aren't even thrown. Maybe some shoving and harsh words. But, if you're someone like Josh Beckett, words might be all you need. It's very, very rare you see people actually come to blows.

The point? Well, I guess there isn't really one. Yahoo's Puck Daddy posted an update this weekend stating that the most sissy hockey player could beat up any baseball player. I'm not sure I entirely agree with this, especially given Alexander Semin's combat style. I guess the point is that sometimes fighting has a place in my two favorite sports. More prominently in one than the other, but I definitely understand it. Doesn't hurt that I also kind of like it.


  1. It seems to me that most baseball fights are about show and posturing, with nobody really trading serious blows, whereas hockey fights are somehow more 'real' but made mostly ineffective by the inability to get any purchase because they're on skates.
    (The St Louis/Reds was different. Guys were genuinely going at it and someone came out of it with a real injury.)

    Gt=reat post, BTW!

  2. Thanks, Scouser! Was thinking about this one for a few days. Not always easy to compare the two sports in the same breath, but if was fun looking at the side by side.

  3. Hockey player or not, I'd take Trot Nixon in a donnybrook against just about anyone.