About Those Different Sized Balls

Hayes, a tour veteran who has earned about $7 million during his career, was invited back to Pebble Beach, and at least four other PGA Tour events this year, because he turned himself in at Q-school. He called officials from his hotel room for a mistake that no one else had noticed, and that probably would not have been uncovered if not for Hayes’s admission.

He said he never considered not turning himself in because it was a standard of the game that golfers called penalties on themselves, even those that would result in disqualification.

In light of all the recent revelations regarding Major League Baseball, this story from the New York Times draws some of our interest. We realize that golf is an entirely different sport with an entirely different code of conduct (the game instills and effectively requires an adherence to an honor system due to the lack of formal officiating), but the way that JP Hayes views his own revelations shows decency bred by a game's system of rules.  Significantly, he's the definition of journeyman and yet still felt a deep-seated obligation to turn himself in, to risk his career and future for the sake of the rules he knew he was required to follow.

We only bring this up to show the various ways in which different sports can instill a sense of personal responsibility.  Golf is, for the most part, an individual sport, where players carry the rules in their bag and have to rely on themselves for exposing infractions.  Baseball is an umpired sport, where players play and rely on others to make the calls.  On an even more macro level, Major League Baseball has, for too long, remained captive to a vague set of (non)-rules regarding behaviour outside the lines, exacerbating the confusion*.  Just as we fans don't have any clear sense how to judge those who have violated these (non)-rules, neither it seems do the players themselves. 

Maybe the sport with the littler white ball has something figured out.

*Golf has its own steroid policy, for the record, though it did come late and the specifics could probably be picked apart.

17 comments… add one

  • Interesting you post this article SF, I thought about the same comparison when I read it myself. Golf is remarkable for this aspect of the sport. I guess baseball just isnt a “gentleman’s sport”!

    sam-YF February 11, 2009, 9:48 am
  • No surprise here. People generally live up (or down) to your expectations.

    Sean February 11, 2009, 11:24 am
  • When 90 percent of your players grow up not wanting for anything, and the game you are playing is a match between you and a landscape, you have the luxury.

    walein February 11, 2009, 1:21 pm
  • May I suggest a new topic: these deals being reported for Abreu and Dunn are crazy. I would’ve thought 10 teams would be willing to pay a bit more for those guys, compared to what they’re getting. Interesting to see what, if anything, this means for Manny.
    Would you rather have Manny for 1 year/$20 million or Dunn for 2 years/$20 million? I love Manny, but he’s not twice the player Dunn is. Craziness.

    stuck working (sf) February 11, 2009, 3:19 pm
  • manny is twice the player dunn is.

    walein February 11, 2009, 4:09 pm
  • I would rather have Manny for one year for $20 million please.

    attackgerbil February 11, 2009, 4:35 pm
  • When 90 percent of your players grow up not wanting for anything, and the game you are playing is a match between you and a landscape, you have the luxury.
    Well said. When Happy Gilmore gets his card, I’ll pick up some clubs.
    I would rather have Manny for one year for $20 million please.
    Indeed, but he wouldn’t sign with the Dodgers for $25 million for one year.
    At the prices, I still don’t see why the Sox don’t make a run at Dunn. Let him, Drew, Papi, and Lowell play 120 games and more if there’s an injury. They might be confident of Anderson if they need him, but he doesn’t play the outfield. If Drew or Bay get hurt that OF is slumming. Dunn can be had for one or two years.

    Rob February 11, 2009, 4:42 pm
  • > Indeed, but he wouldn’t sign with the Dodgers for $25 million for one year.
    But I said, “please.”

    attackgerbil February 11, 2009, 4:50 pm
  • Also, here’s a VERY PEDs-relevant Lance Armstrong update: “Armstrong’s Testing Plan Ends Before it Begins”

    stuck working February 11, 2009, 6:49 pm
  • When 90 percent of your players grow up not wanting for anything, and the game you are playing is a match between you and a landscape, you have the luxury.
    This is missing the point. Golf, even as a recreational sport, is based on an honor system. This isn’t just about Hayes or professional golf (though it is also about that) but about the structure of the sport itself.

    SF February 11, 2009, 10:12 pm
  • I think part of it has to do with team sports vs solo sports. When you’re on a baseball/football/basketball team you don’t want to let your teammates down, or the fans. In a solo sport you only have yourself to let down; there are no teammates (with the exception of the Ryder Cup), and there aren’t people wearing Vijay Singh jerseys in the crowd.
    Not trying to make excuses for steroid users, because no excuse is good enough, but I think that certainly helps explain the difference in mindset between the types of sports.

    Atheose February 12, 2009, 8:05 am
  • This is missing the point.
    You’re missing his point and my concurrence. It most certainly is the structure of the sport. But the sports structure also includes the people who play it. And golf can maintain the gentlemanly rules because they don’t tend to have poor people fighting for a living on every hole. Compare the upbringings of most professional golfers and most professional baseballers and you end up with very different demographics.
    Ever try standing in a line in a third world country? It’s impossible because lines don’t exist. Everyone is pushing and fighting to get what they need.

    Rob February 12, 2009, 8:54 am
  • I think part of it has to do with team sports vs solo sports.
    The most cheating I’ve ever heard of is in tennis. And there young kids, age 10 and 11, learn to cheat as a way to piss off their opponent.

    Rob February 12, 2009, 9:03 am
  • I would have to disagree with you about tennis. In the lower levels you’re required to make your own line calls, and you cannot make too many bad calls or your opponent will start reciprocating. I played throughout highschool and on the club team in college, and it’s rare to see players consistently making bad calls. It has happened once or twice, but when you counter it by making your own poor calls it quickly turns into a case of M.A.D. and both sides eventually give up.

    Atheose February 12, 2009, 11:18 am
  • Also, FWIW, most tennis is played in teams… 6 singles players and 3 doubles teams. You still have that “I don’t want to let down my team” mentality.

    Atheose February 12, 2009, 11:20 am
  • I would have to disagree with you about tennis. In the lower levels you’re required to make your own line calls, and you cannot make too many bad calls or your opponent will start reciprocating.
    That’s exactly it. At the highest levels kids learn to cheat when they want to – by calling crucial points their own way. And the kid on the other side of the court can’t do anything about it. But I’ve only heard about L.A. and Florida fiver years ago. Vegas might be different today.

    Rob February 12, 2009, 11:42 am
  • That’s exactly it. At the highest levels kids learn to cheat when they want to – by calling crucial points their own way. And the kid on the other side of the court can’t do anything about it.
    Yes, they can do something about it: they call crucial points their way too. There’s usually between 10-20 “crucial” points in a tennis match, it’s not just the big set points. Once you retaliate with your own poor call and they voice their protest, simply saying “Hey, if you keep calling balls out that are in then I will too.” That’s usually enough to hammer in the M.A.D. idea into their heads.
    The nice thing is that at there will usually be one roaming judge who walks from court to court to make sure calls are being done fairly. If things get bad you can call him over and ask him to watch your play for a while, and if the opponent has more than one call overturned by the judge they’re disqualified.

    Atheose February 13, 2009, 8:42 am

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