Sports In Briefs

Sports rants from an industry exec who maintains the passion of a fan

The Colts are the Spurs, and what is the GBL thinking?

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Thoughts from across the sports world, from the comfort of the couch…

It hit me after the Indianapolis Colts’ workmanlike victory over the Baltimore Ravens: The Colts are the NFL’s San Antonio Spurs of recent vintage. Consider the similarities: Championship-caliber teams that could beat you on either side of the ball. Unquestionable leaders in Peyton Manning and Tim Duncan. Strong supporting casts that recognize the value of being role players.

What makes the two teams so similar, though, is the team-first attitude they both share. Players aren’t clamoring for the ball, the spotlight, or the payday. Every member plays like the success of the team rests on his shoulders, no matter how large or small his perceived role. Championships are won by everyone, and the stars eagerly step out of the limelight to share the glory. And the attitude is shared throughout the organization, instilled in each team by modest coaches who preach that when you play as a team, the result is greater than the sum of its parts.

What else makes them similar? Character. Despite the success each team has had over the last decade, they continue to avoid the trappings of modern athletes. In an era when statistics all too often count arrests along with wins, and sports headlines are littered with stories about who feels slighted and who wants more, the Colts and Spurs have remained drama-free and out of the police blotter.

Machinelike precision. Leadership. Character. What a refreshing concept.

Minor league baseball is well-known for creativity, and independent baseball may push that outside-the-box-but-still-on-a-budget thinking even further. Still, a recent announcement by the Golden Baseball League left me shaking my head that they may be pushing things too far – to the detriment of the league.

The GBL has added teams in Maui, Hawaii, and Tijuana, Mexico, for the 2010 season, becoming the only pro baseball league with teams in three countries. But to call the GBL “far-flung” would be an understatement, especially for a level of ball that is traditionally described as a bus league. Chico, Calif., was a member of the Northern Division – where it was more than 750 miles from its nearest divisional opponent (Victoria, B.C.), and nearly 1,500 miles away from northern outposts Calgary and Edmonton. In the south, a pair of southern California locations (Orange County and Long Beach) were joined by two Arizona clubs and a team in St. George, Utah. Throw a team in Tijuana and add flight to Maui, and how does this league hope to overcome its travel costs to make any money?

In an equally curious move, the GBL has decided to abandon the designated hitter and play with National League rules. With all due respect to the DH nay-sayers, it’s hard enough to find pitchers that can wield a bat at the big-league level. To expect indy league pitchers will be able to do anything more than lay down and die is rather foolish. It might make the GBL unique (from the couch, we can’t recall another independent league that plays without the DH), but no more entertaining than regularly scheduled ritual sacrifices.

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Written by sportsinbriefs

January 19, 2010 at 10:25 pm

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