Yesterday the NFL made headlines (what else is new...) when their looney Commissioner, Roger Goodell, decided to unleash punish the city of New Orleans with a fury not seen since Hurricane Katrina. The team lost their next two first round picks, $500 G's, and their head coach was suspended (without pay) for the entire season in response to a bounty-system that saw Saints players get rewarded monetarily for injuring other players. In addition to cementing their reputation as the No Fun League, the NFL decided to make an example of the Saints for something that I guarantee every single team in the league does.
Enough NFL talk, I think I'm gonna be sick...
This is a pretty easy topic to relate back to other sports, especially with the MLB and the NHL. Anyone that follows the NHL would have seen that the Rangers and Devils made headlines (not really, the NFL had them all - PEYTON MANNING!!!) when they started off their game with a three simultaneous fights, starting a debate on the merits of "staged fighting" or planned fights - one could argue that this was a planned attempt to "injure" an opponent.
Being a baseball blog, let's bring it back home a bit - shall we?
In baseball there are plenty of ways to get around the rules in an attempt to injure a player - some of them even occurring multiple times a game.
Example 1: Runner on first, less than 2 outs. The batter hits a sharp ground ball to the Second Baseman who flips it to the Shortstop. What does the runner do? He tries to take out the Shortstop - opening up the opportunity for him to land on his head, twist his knee, or get a pair of cleats where the sun don't shine. It's legal and encouraged by coaches, regardless of the outcome.
Example 2: Runner on third, less than 2 outs. The batter hits a shallow fly ball to the outfield and the runner tags from third base. The Catcher tries to block the plate but gets bowled over (Read: Buster Posey). Yes, the runner is just trying to score and he will stop at nothing to achieve his goal of scoring that run. Everyone in baseball outside of San Francisco had no problem with Scott Cousins destroying Buster Posey (and his knee). Cousins was definitely trying to hurt Posey enough to have the ball get jarred loose, does that count as intent to injure?
Example 3: The most classic example of all. Beanball. It is a tradition as old as baseball itself. You hit my guy, I hit yours. 99% of the time this is done with a breaking ball or easy fastball right between the numbers, but sometimes a pitcher gets a little wild and goes head hunting (Nolan Ryan did it once or fifteen times). Sometimes, after warnings from the umpire, the beanball will continue and both the pitcher and manager will be suspended for a game - regardless of whether the pitcher/manager admits that the pitches were intentional.
Example 3 is the closest example of "intentionally attempting to injure" others as Sean Payton is accused of, but still is a far cry from any baseball examples. The fact of the matter is that all those plays in question can result in injuries, but we have never seen an example of a player intentionally attempting to injure someone as you probably see on every single NFL team at some point.
All this really proves is that we have now found the 638th reason that the MLB is classier than the NFL - MLB players respect each other.