If you have played little league or high school sports, you are probably familiar with the mercy rule. Depending on the sport, the mercy rule is a way of accelerating the game to its ending because one team is winning by such a wide margin over the other. In basketball and football this often consists of a running clock in the second half of a game. In baseball, with what is known as the “10 run rule,” they just end the game after a certain number of innings.
The reason I mention this is because of the way it changes players’ approaches to the game. People tend to lose their edge. Individual accomplishments mean a little bit less because you know each side cares about what is happening a little bit less. On the winning side, players might be less excited because it is less impressive to succeed against such a bad team. On the losing side, players might wonder if their success is real or if the other team is truly giving a 100% effort.
Consider where the Rockies and Giants currently sit in the standings. The Rockies have no hope of playing spoiler because of the Giants’ large lead in the NL West. In turn, the Giants do not necessarily have a huge sense of urgency with that lead, especially with the mess that is the Los Angeles Dodgers at the moment.
I wonder if this game will lack any kind of edge. I might be wrong, of course. And certainly both starting pitchers have a lot to prove to themselves and their teams. Jhoulys Chacin needs to continue to show development with his maturity and fastball command. Madison Bumgarner hopes to lock down his 15th win on the season, which has alluded him since August 20th, and regain some traction as postseason baseball approaches. He will also look to prove that his power against the Broncos was no fluke. I full expect him to swing out of his shoes at the plate tonight.
Here is the Rockies lineup, which has no Carlos Gonzalez due to a sore left hamstring.
Giants manager Bruce Boche has extracted the following lineup from his gigantic head to counter in tonight’s game:
Other than the predictably cold weather, predictably rabid fans, and the possibility of rekindling some stale bad feelings between them, I do not see a reason for real urgency between these two teams tonight. It will be interesting to see if that is the case, if there is a professional version of the “mercy rule attitude” or not.