No room for blame game in high school

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The best thing about high school (and college, I guess) sports is that they are not professional sports.

The worst thing about the guys that get paid (which, again, probably includes many college athletes) is that they play like guys that are playing mostly for money as opposed to a simple desire to compete and to win.

The guys that do the paying don’t exactly help the cause, either. Take a couple of situations in the world of New York baseball recently.

First, Hank Steinbrenner, co-chairman of the Yankees, blamed the National League for his best pitcher’s recent injury. The Yankees, you see, compete in the American League, where the designated hitter rule relieves pitchers of their obvious duty to take at-bats and then, every once in a while, run the bases. But, with interleague play, AL teams every year must visit teams that play in the NL, where pitchers are considered position players just like the other eight that take the field. So, of course, Chien-Ming Wang gets hurt while running the bases at Houston.

“The National League needs to join the 21st century,” Steinbrenner said. “I’ve got my pitchers running the bases, and one of them gets hurt. He’s going to be out. I don’t like that, and it’s about time they address it.”

Waaa, waaa. The problem, Hank, is that your team doesn’t have enough pitching depth. Don’t try to blame someone else for your organization’s problem.

But give Steinbrenner a break: no doubt he was only trying to top his cross-town rivals, the Mets, who fired manager Willie Randolph at 12:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Randolph led the Mets to a tie for baseball’s best record (97-65) in 2005 – his second year at the helm – and an NL East title for the first time since 1988. But this season’s 34-35 start was too much for general manager Omar Minaya to bear. But Randolph couldn’t have helped that five regular contributors are on the disabled list. And it was Minaya who constructed a roster with too many 30-plus-year-olds, a thin bullpen and a fragile starting rotation.

Give me high school football season, where the coaches know they bear responsibility for their team’s fortunes. Give me high school volleyball season, where the players are too disappointed about a loss to try to place the blame on someone else.