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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Consistently Inconsistent?

With some of the recent fines and penalties Nascar has handed out once again the ole fallback by many Nascar fans is to point out just how inconsistent Nascar has been in their sanctions of teams or individuals. While I would agree that because the Nascar Rule Book is not public knowledge is the real problem here, I don't agree that Nascar is much different than any other sport when it comes to 'consistency' in handing out fines or penalties.

Let’s take a look at a more black and white issue from another sport and then look at the penalties accessed to the violators. I am speaking of using a ‘corked’ bat in Major League Baseball. Now one would think that this would be a black and white rule, and the penalty would be very consistent for each occurrence. Since 1974 there have been six instances of a player being caught with an ‘altered’ bat and the penalties were as follows:

  • Graig Nettles 1974—fined an undisclosed amount
  • Billy Hatcher 1987—10 day suspension
  • Albert Belle 1994—7 game suspension
  • Chris Sabo 1996—suspended 7 days with no pay and fined $25,000
  • Wilton Guerrero 1997—suspended 8 games, fined $1000
  • Sammy Sosa 2003--suspended 8 games
So how can such a black and white rule have such different penalties? The answer is as clear as the water in the Mississippi River. But it is not just baseball.

How many times do we hear how unfair officiating is in the NBA? That Shaq and a few others superstars get the ‘benefit of the doubt’ on official’s calls. That the NBA will do it’s best to have an LA or NY team in the finals, ‘because it is good for the ratings?’ Now where have we heard this before? How about the NFL? Some of the best receivers in the game have been accused of ‘pushing off’, only because of the name on their jersey or the emblem on their helmet. Even though he was penalized at times, was tennis turning the other cheek in the 80s after some of John McEnroe’s obscenity laced displays? Of course not, because people watched it, talked about it, then watched it some more!

Sometimes we hear the Nascar fan that is ‘done’, because ‘Nascar changes too many rules’.Well this too is an interesting concept and it usually depends on whether the fan agrees with the rule change or not. “No, no, not us, not the fans Phil, after all, all we want is ‘consistency’, right?!” Hmm, is it possible that consistency comes in many different flavors? There are very few other sports that have the equipment variable discrepancy that Nascar does. The closest just might be the PGA and their rules are changed annually, and yes, even in the middle of some seasons and in one case a few years ago, in the middle of a round in the middle of a tournament! Club lengths, club head sizes, ball criteria and other rules are constantly being changed. One might ask the question as to why a game as old as golf would need to change their rules. Could it be changes in technology, and how that technology gives one player an advantage over another? Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

The bottom line is that Nascar has to change their rules as the technology changes in the sport. The very nature of trying to make a car go as fast as possible on a closed circuit dictates that teams will try to gain a technological advantage over their competitors; and if Nascar determines that it is an unfair advantage, adjustments will be made.


Gvav1 said...

It would be fun if we Nascar fans would just kick back and let the sport unfold...all rules are subject to human interpretation. Great blogating today.

Can't wait for Lost's next episode...oh, that's about the time of the Daytona 500. Vroom!

Merri said...

Yes, all rules ARE subject to interpretation. And sometimes, that interpretation is made based on likes or dislikes of favorite drivers!