Baseball coaches protecting their personal stats

A theoretical question I’ve been wondering about.

Suppose a coach (I used baseball in the topic, but almost any sport would work) set some record back when he was a player. Most home runs in a single season, for example.

Now, years later, there’s a player on another team who’s on a course to break that record. If the coach orders his pitchers to always walk that batter in order to keep him from hitting any more homers, is he acting unethically, and should he be punished by the league?

One reason I’m wondering is that in the arguments over Pete Rose, one point that comes up is that even though he wasn’t betting on his team to lose, he was (or could have been) basing his actions on his own short-term interests, rather than in the best interests of the team. Even though this theoretical example doesn’t involve gambling, the outcome is similar, in my opinion, and should receive at least some form of punishment.

What do you think?

His job is to put his team in a position to win. If he sacrifices his team to preserve his own record then yes he is acting unethically. As for being punished by the league, that is a pretty hard thing to prove so I don’t think the situation would even present itself.

FWIW, it is thought that managers in the Japanese Leagues have pitched around american batters in order to preserve the great Sadaharu Oh’s single season HR record. You can read a little more here. Just google “‘Sadaharu Oh’ Record Protect” for more on the subject.

Ok, truth be told, Sadaharu Oh was precisely the one I was thinking of when I came up with my ‘hypothetical’ example. I suppose what makes it harder to crack down on, in this case, is that he claims he supports the hitters in their bids for the record, but his assistant managers then say they disobey their boss and order the intentional walks to protect his honor (to quote assistant manager Wakana, “Oh would probably say, ‘We shouldn’t walk [Tuffy] Rhodes’ but I think we should walk him because I doubt Oh wants to see Rhodes break the record in front of him… I didn’t want a foreigner to break the record.”). Apparently, Oh is just an impotent figurehead who is completely powerless to overrule his underlings and tell a pitcher not to throw an intentional walk :rolleyes:.

Of course, Pete Rose benched more promising young players to play himself so he could break Ty Cobb’s record, and hardly anyone said a word, so there is some precedent for this happening.

Having said that, I don’t think the league should punish a manager or coach for this because such an action goes directly, and obviously, to their competence. The Reds could plainly see Rose was running his sorry ass out there to bust up Cobb’s record and chose to do nothing about it, largely for PR reasons, but if it was hurting the team it was their job to do something about it. While baseball records are important to fans and players alike, they do not, IMHO, directly affect the integrity of the sport. Ty Cobb’s estate doesn’t have an intrinsic right to have him keep the career hits record, and it’s not as if there was any hidden subterfuge that threatened the sport’s competitive integrity.