Rowley: What if baseball had a penalty box?

From Meg Rowley at FanGraphs on January 10, 2018:

I don’t watch a lot of hockey, but when I do, my favorite part of the game is when grown men sit in timeout. They have an angry little fracas and then are asked to cool down. In-game punishment is a tricky business: too light a touch, and violating rules risks becomes acceptable, too worth it. But go too strong, and the game becomes about the penalty; it’s not just an ump show but worse, a slog.

That’s part of the genius of the penalty box, the Sin Bin: removing one player from the ice spurs action. Your favorite team might score a goal. Perhaps you’ll be gifted a defensive highlight, made all the more impressive for playing down a man. But the true insight of the penalty box is a more basic one: we only ever stay really mad at things for a few minutes at a time.

There are exceptions, of course. Grudge holders, deviants. Last spring, we learned that Hunter Strickland carried his rage toward Bryce Harper through three years and a World Series parade. Some guys are just grumps. But most aren’t.

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Originally published: January 10, 2018. Last Updated: January 10, 2018.