Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reyes NL Batting Champ:Does it matter how you win?

On the final day of the 2011 baseball regular season, the Mets Jose Reyes got a bunt single to win the NL batting championship over Ryan Braun. That was the only at bat for Reyes as he took himself out of the game after his successful bunt hit. Braun had to go 3 for 4 to overtake Reyes and he managed 0 for 4. The sports dilemma in this situation is the decision by Reyes to stop playing the game in order to increase his chances of winning the batting title. Sure, the Mets were playing for nothing other then self-respect, love of the game, competitiveness and providing a product fans paid to see. However, Reyes stopped playing ensure he won a batting title rather then risk it by playing out the game. It is a valuable exercise to discuss the Reyes decision on moral grounds and its relation to the value and meaning of sport competition.Reyes made the choice that quitting was preferrable to the risk of losing the title to another player out hitting him the last day. Part of what made Ted Williams a sport legend was his batting in a double header the final day of the season when he was already assured of batting .400. Willians is quoted as saying, "if I can't hit .400 all the way, I don't deserve it." Williams went 6 for 8 that day and is the last player to ever hit .400. What was Reyes saying by quitting while he was ahead? Was it smart business and lousy sport ethics. Might carrying a batting crown into his off season contract negotiations make him a few more million dollars. I don't think Jim Valvano's famous quote, "don't give up, don't ever give up" was ringing in Reyes' ear. Now, Reyes didn't cheat or lie but he cut a corner. Is that what we hope sport will teach our children. Win, no matter how you do it, even if its within the rules! Now certain athletes don't have to take all their attempts at their sport if they feel they've done their best. This is the case with pole vaulters who can pass on final attempts if they feel they've posted a winning vault. This is different then quitting in a baseball game, as the game is organized to complete the 9 innings, not quit after 4 if you've scored what you think is enough to win and then let the other guys hit for 15 more outs. The Reyes decision leaves a blemish on the NL batting title in that the winner didn't have the trust in himself and the moral character to say, "if I can't win it by playing it out, I don't deserve it." Williams truly earned his accomplishment,did Reyes?