Friday, February 20, 2009

The Penalty Box

Penalty Box

I took my girls ice skating the other day at a local rink. It was the free skate and there were a bunch of other kids there with their parents. It's school vacation week, so any fun activity that tires them out is a winner.

During a break on the boards my oldest asked me about the penalty box. Her question and my explanation got me thinking about how effective the penalty box is in hockey. The power play puts the penalized team at a distinct disadvantage... consider for a second that the best team in the NHL (Detroit) scores 28% of the time when on the man advantage. It's often a game-changing scenario and is always exciting for the fans.

So I got to thinking about what a penalty box would look like in other sports.

Baseball: If the pitcher hits a batter, the pitcher's team plays one player down until they're able to get an out. How would you play the field with eight players? Would good offensive teams be able to exploits the gaps? Would it be exciting?

Football: Personal fouls should include losing a player for the next play. Can you imagine seeing Tom Brady pick apart a team forced to play defense with ten players?

Basketball: No more flagrant fouls. Put the offender in a courtside "penalty box" for two minutes and make the offending team play one man down. How does a team play man-to-man defense when they're one man down?

Soccer: They've got it covered with the whole red card thing.

How else could the penalty box be a positive addition to team sports?

Cool photo at the top of this post is from neat1325's stream on Flickr.


Tim Walker said...

I like it! I think in basketball they'd have to make the penalty one minute, not two, and they'd have to allow zone defense by the shorthanded team.

For baseball: in general, I imagine teams would sit their slowest outfielder and play either the shortstop or the 2B deep, eh?

For football: if we're talking Brady a year ago or Montana in his prime, that type of penalty would lead to huge touchdown numbers. Huge. 2007 Brady + Moss + Welker + Stallworth - one defender = mass panic.

Aaron Strout said...

Jimbo - clever post. I would absolutely be in favor of penalty boxes in other sports. I'm not sure how of a deterrant it would be because often times the flagrant fouls and hit batsmen are a result of frustration or retaliation. Currently, the threat of a free throw, posession for the other team and being 1/2 way to ejection doesn't seem to stop the Ron Artest's of the world from committing flagrant fouls. Nor do 5 game suspensions stop the Lou Pinellas of the world from allowing their pitchers to throw at opposing teams best jitters in retaliation for a hit batsman. But even if it didn't work, I love the concept.

Aaron | @aaronstrout

Dave Wilkins said...

Dude I love it. Consider though in soccer that it's double tough because you play down a player for the rest of the game... Ouch!

Andy said...

In baseball, you would play two outfielders and try to induce a groundball. There are actually instances in today's game where teams will pull in an extra infielder when the winning run is on third base. Pedro Martinez (circa 1998) probably could have won some games playing one man short--for real.

As for the rules...interesting thoughts...but I am a baseball purest and it would be hard for me to open my mind to a change like this. It is the purest game of them all. The rules haven't changed in over 100 years- just the size of the players.