Summer is almost here! The nicest time of the year with sunshine, BBQs and drinking in beer gardens! Everybody has their own little ways of sensing that summer is on the way. Mine is the beginning of the Baseball season.
Yes I am one of those obsessive people who follow American sports. I stay up until the early hours of the morning watching my favourite teams, or the major games like the Superbowl or the Stanley Cup. I can’t get enough of it, it gives you another few teams to shout for and pick you up if Boro let you down.
As I say though at this time of year it is all about Baseball, American Football has finished, Ice Hockey and Football are winding down, so that just leaves Baseball for me. This got me on to thinking what is fairer, relegation or the embarrassment of coming last?
For example, my favourite baseball team, Pittsburgh Pirates, are one of the worst teams in baseball. They haven’t had anything that even resembles success since 1992, which means there are people in Pittsburgh who have been born and now can drive who have never seen them be good.
If you compare that to the success that Middlesbrough has had over that time, cup finals, Carling Cup win, and European football. Yet, the Boro find themselves in the second tier, playing against average teams and crowds suffering because of it, a worse situation than the Pirates who still play against the best week in and week out.
Is this fair to punish a team for having a poor season or is the embarrassment and indignity of coming last enough?
American sports are set up so that, in theory, your favourite team should be good in your lifetime. They don’t get relegated, and in fact if they come last they get the first pick of the best talent coming out of the colleges, so in ten years they should have 10 good players and would be challenging for trophies.
On the other side though, if a team isn’t good enough to play in the top tier, is it beneficial to put them into to a lower tier so they can compete? You also don’t get ‘the little team who could’, the team that flies up the leagues and possibly over-achieves for a while, or the cup shocks where a team from League 2 beats a Premiership team.
I suppose it depends which way you look at it, but it does make me wonder what Boro would be doing in the American system. Would we be in the re-building stage, or dare I say challenging at the top! It’s just a thought. Anyway no point crying over spilt milk, the summer is almost here so let’s just enjoy it!