Today I found myself watching the Flyers and the Blackhawks face off in their re-match of the Stanley Cup Finals while I was eagerly anticipating a full afternoon of NFL playoff action. At one point the Flyers went on the power play and an interesting debate idea sparked in my head.
When you look at the four main professional sports in America (that being Football, Hockey, Baseball and Basketball), which concept of the world “penalty” is the most beneficial to the game?
Lets look at the obvious pros…
NHL: The idea of the man advantage in the NHL is actually a brilliant idea if you ask me. Your team breaks the rules, no problem. We’ll just put you in the penalty box and give your opponent a full 2 minutes to play some 5 on 4 hockey. With the additional skater it gives the team on the power play a major advantage and a chance to put one in the net. It allows teams to capitalize on other team’s weak penalty kill. I think one of the things I like the best about it is it’s when you see how weak or strong a team’s defense actually is. It is the true definition of a penalty… Sit in the box, alone, and watch your team bail themselves out while your opponent has an extra man trying to get the best of your goalie. And all you can do is sit and watch.
And then you add the idea of a delayed penalty. Pull the goalie for those precious 12 seconds to give your team a 6 on 5, followed by 2 minutes of the man advantage. Pretty solid if you ask me.
NFL: The yard penalty. Breaking the rules allows teams to either lose yardage or gain yardage which can lead to a first down. The teams remain at even strength, but their position on the field is subject to change. In a game where positioning is everything, a facemask penalty against your team in the 4th quarter can be brutal… it can even cost you the game under certain circumstances. A first down can suddenly become a lot more than 10 yards and completely change the type of game a quarterback has to play. Not a good passing QB? Well then you better have a damn good running back if you’ve experienced a 15 yard penalty against your offense at some point in your possession.
NBA: They send the guy to the free-throw line — The mere idea of it is the most basic idea in all of sports if you ask me. You pay these guys to put the ball in the net and give them an opportunity to shoot un-guarded from the free throw line. Talk about freebies! Despite the fact that a large amount of players in the NBA tend to miss those freebies (which is a whole other can of worms to be opened) the idea of it is still amazing. If you look at how many teams could average at least 20 points per game from the line, it almost seems a little silly if you ask me.
And then there’s those technical fouls that we all love so much. To be honest, I don’t even have an opinion on those. If you took technicals out of basketball all together, I don’t really think I’d notice.
MLB: non-existent. If you’re not going to cooperate, that’s fine. You’ll just get tossed and spend the rest of the game in the clubhouse. I think the closest thing you can even compare to a penalty is getting a base after a balk. And that’s stretching it. For the most part, the only penalty in baseball is the removal of a player from the game… and he just then get’s replaced on the field with someone from the bench. The game goes on.
And then there’s those nasty cons…
NHL: No matter how good your team is on the power play, or how weak theirs may be on the PK, at the end of the day it’s all relative to the skill of the goalie. If he’s hot, he’s hot. Even Ovi or Sid the Kid on the power play against the leagues worst PK wouldn’t be able to score on the worlds best goaltender.
NFL: As long as it’s even strength, their defensive line is still going to match up evenly to your offensive line. Meaning your QB’s job doesn’t actually get any easier. Sure, it may if he gets a first down to put his team at first and goal, but even then, he still has to capitalize or the ball is going to change hands.
NBA: It’s just too common. How many times a game do we send a guy to the line? Especially in the last-minute of a close game. This idea begs the question, since it happens so frequently does it really have any benefits to it?
MLB: From an offensive stand point, there’s no opportunity to benefit from your opponents slacking off.
So, which wins? Well… that’s hard to say. I’m not sure if you can pick one over the other because they all work relative to the rules of the particular sport. But personally… I like the NHL’s man advantage. That’s just me though!