|0:33||Intro. [Recording date: May 31, 2013.] Russ: It's May 31st--I just want to mention before we get started: It looks like we are going to be talking about sports, but we are going to be talking about a more general set of economic principles and insights related to institutions, incentives, unintended consequences. But I just thought I'd mention that both of our baseball teams are in 1st place this morning. Guest: All is right with the world. Russ: Ironic you said that. I was going to introduce with "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world." Which is Browning, for those of you interested. But, they are both the Red Sox, my team; and the Cardinals, Mike's team, both in 1st place. Mike, your team will probably stay in first place; mine probably won't. But let's enjoy it while we can. Guest: I'm enjoying it, absolutely. Russ: So, what do you want to talk about today? Guest: I have become more and more interested, maybe because I'm in a political science department, in the subject that James Buchanan became more interested in towards the end of his career, and that is: How do groups of people accomplish the creation of value through exchange in non-market kinds of settings? Now, markets are still at work, but it's not direct exchange; we have to work as a group or team--and obviously that's the connection to sports. But teams play against each other. And it turns out, and I've been thinking about this for a little while now, the set of institutions and the set of formal rules--so the distinction that Hayek made between law and legislation--those two things may be very different and yet everyone is aware of their interplay. So, I wanted to talk about: Where do those things come from? Why do they survive, and why are they so different in different sports? Russ: Why don't you start by talking about that law-and-legislation distinction of Hayek's. Guest: The thing that Hayek pointed out a number of places, but he pointed it out really quite clearly in the 1945 paper on information-- Russ: "The Use of Knowledge in Society." Guest: He said:|
We make constant use of formulas, symbols, and rules whose meaning we do not understand and through the use of which we avail ourselves of the assistance of knowledge which individually we do not possess. We have developed these practices and institutions by building upon habits and institutions which have proved successful in their own sphere....Russ: And that's what he considers 'law.' Guest: That's what he considers to be the laws that we have come up with over time that we use to create value. Or that we use to protect ourselves from injury. And 'legislation' is formal rules. Those are things that legislators come up with, and in the case of our analogy to sports, those are the rules you would get by looking at the rule book. Now, there's always an interaction--and I think that there's a third. Let me propose that there's a third; and that's equipment. There's an interaction between these three things. So there's the equipment we use to protect ourselves from injury; there's the set of formal rules; and then there's the set of informal rules that may be more important, that Hayek would call 'laws'--all interact together. If you change any one of them--it's difficult to change the law, it's difficult to change what some people call 'the code.' In fact there's an interesting series of three books by a man named Ross Bernstein about football, hockey, and baseball; and the title of all three of them is: The Code. But it's about each of the three sports. Those may be the more important rules. Russ: The unwritten rules. Guest: The unwritten but really important rules that all the players are sort of inculcated into. And if a young player acts badly, somebody will take him aside and say: Look, you can't do that; you're violating the code. They may even use those words. So if you try to change equipment or if you try to change the formal rules, there's probably going to be an adjustment in the informal rules, or the law, and it may have unintended consequences. So the interaction between those three things determine the way, I think, different sports have different sets of--if you ask people, what constitutes correct behavior, what's the code that you as a player live by, they are really dramatically different in ways that are surprising.
|5:28||Russ: And, the code is an example of these unwritten rules, or an example of emergent order, that no one controls. And as you pointed out a minute ago, that are very hard to change. But as you pointed out a minute ago, they do change. But they don't change at someone's beck and call. There are a lot of norms and rules in baseball--the code--that are different today than they were in 1940 or 1960. But if you said, I want to go back to that, you couldn't. Guest: Part of the changes is in equipment, and part is in the formal rules, but part of change is also the amount of value that's being created. And some of that is--people get paid more now, there's more television revenue, and so the cost of injuries has changed. One of the things that got me thinking this way was Pete Leeson's book about pirates. Because they also--they had the pirate's code. Russ: And we did a podcast with Pete. Guest: And I use this in class, in the movie [Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl], the video segment where Captain Barbossa and Elizabeth Turner are talking and she's negotiating, trying to use the code. And then finally he turns away; the bargain is made; and Elizabeth says: "Wait, you have to take me to the shore, according to the code. And the captain interrupts her and says: First, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations, nor our agreement, so I must do nothing; secondly, you must be a pirate for the pirate's code to apply and you are not; and third, the code is more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner." It's a perfect statement of what Hayek means. These are guidelines, in the sense that they are not formally enforced. But, if you violate them, in a way they may be even more powerful than the formal rules. If you violate the formal rules, the empire assesses some sort of--maybe you get thrown out-- Russ: if you get caught. Guest: If you get caught. And maybe you have a suspension or a fine. If you violate the informal rules, it makes other people reassess their notion of your character, of your reputation. And that's what these things turn on. All of the three sports that I looked at--and I actually think the most interesting one is hockey. Maybe it's because I knew more about baseball and I sort of understood the code. So I'm hoping we can talk some about the hockey code today. What's interesting is you want to substitute damage for something else. And what hockey in particular has done is honor and character. There's a reputational hostage. If you lose the sense that other people think, you know, he's a good guy, he's a hockey guy, you've lost something that's much more important than a fine or penalty minutes or anything that the formal rules could take away from you. Russ: I inserted that little 'if you get caught' because formal rules are monitored typically--not always, but typically--by a small set of people appointed as the monitors. That would be the umpire, the referee, the policemen. In the case of norms and informal rules, they are monitored by lots of people, and the costs are imprecise. You could get shunned, thrown out of the club, implicitly; you can lose your reputation, as you point out. And so it's different both in how it's monitored and the cost of failure. Guest: And the enforcement mechanism, because everyone is watching and there are replays. The umpires may not catch you. So, you may not get caught by the formal rules. The enforcement mechanism behind the informal rules, or what Hayek would call 'the law', I think is much more effective. And that's part of the reason that it's so important, particularly in hockey and baseball, which are really dangerous sports. So you have to control this aggression. Because there's the potential you'll be killed--in hockey or in baseball. They are very dangerous sports. So, somehow, you have to control that aggression and yet allow these teams to continue to create value.|
|9:57||Russ: So, let's talk about baseball first, if that's okay; and then we'll go on to hockey and add some--I have some football thoughts, also. And then we'll apply it. Just for those listening we're going to then try to apply it to a wider set of applications. Guest: That's great. Russ: So, baseball. Guest: Baseball. There's an anecdote that I wanted to start with, an interaction between the formal and informal rules. And this is possibly apocryphal. But several people claim that it would be like Woodstock, a million people that were among the hundred thousand that were there. But people claim to have actually heard this. Rogers Hornsby was a very famous St. Louis Cardinal, by the way--not surprising I would bring that up--who had a very accurate batting eye and was one of the best hitters in the National League. Russ: Second all-time. In batting average. Guest: Which is, maybe averages used to be higher, but part of the reason that he had such a high average was he only swung at strikes. And everyone recognized that. And one of the themes we are going to come back to over and over again is that one of the informal rules is that the superstars may find the formal rules relaxed for them. So, in the NBA [National Basketball Association], maybe you don't get a foul call. Maybe you don't get travelling called. On balls and strikes, if you are Rogers Hornsby, maybe you get a break. If you Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin in hockey and somebody cross-checks you, there's going to be trouble. You don't get to touch the superstars. Well, apparently there was a rookie pitcher. And he threw a ball and it was clearly outside, and Rogers Hornsby took it. And the rookie was kind of nervous and he threw another pitch. It was even further outside. It was a ball, and Hornsby took it. Then he threw a pitch, the rookie pitcher threw a pitch, and it looked to him like it hit the outside corner. And the Ump [Umpire] called it a 'ball'. And the rookie pitcher said, "Hey! That hit the corner." And the Umpire stepped out from behind the plate, took off his mask, and said: "Young man, when you throw a strike, Mr. Hornsby will let you know." Russ: That's spectacular. That's a great--I didn't know that story. Guest: Well, but the Ump was actually complicit. This rookie needs to be told the actual rules. And so you don't worry about calling actual balls and strikes. Mr. Hornsby will do that. Russ: If he doesn't swing, it's obviously not a strike, not in the strike zone. Guest: Yeah. He has earned this position of respect, people come to the ballpark to see him. Nobody's coming to the ballpark to see you, young man. Maybe someday, you'll get that same. Well, so the, you know, that position of respect and character, it seems like an advantage to the individual, but it's actually an advantage to the team. You don't want balls and strikes called randomly on the superstars. You want to see them hit. Maybe they make an out--that's okay. Maybe a superstar in basketball misses the shot. But you want to see him be able to take the shot without being hindered. And the hockey player. You want to see him be able to take it without being hurt, cross-checked. So this norm, that the superstars are protected by the informal rules, often is actually internalized by the formal rules. And the way that the umps, the referees, call the rules are actually going to be different. So there's a sort of seamless connection between the informal and the formal rules. And a good umpire recognizes that. And a good pitcher knows. He doesn't complain. He was actually showing the umpire up.|
|13:57||Russ: Right. So, my favorite example of this, and I think it's interesting how it's changed in response to the point you made earlier about increased value, is that in the old days, if one of your players got hit by a pitched ball, your pitcher was duty-bound to retaliate. Depends on how he was hit, but in general it was thought to be intentional--sometimes maybe it wasn't--was duty-bound to retaliate against, I think the rule was, a player of comparable ability. So, if you are a superstar in baseball, got hit by a pitch, particularly after you hit a home run at a previous at bat, the other pitcher would hit their superstar when he came up. And in the old days, sometimes they hit them in the head. Today, it's generally that you try to hit him in the middle of the back. Or the fleshy part of the arm, to the extent there's a fleshy part on a major league baseball player these days. But that code, interestingly to me, is somewhat diminished. Hitting a player is now a much-more dramatic statement than it was 30 years ago. Because, as you said: It could end a career; it could kill you; it's happened once--Ray Chapman was killed by a pitched ball hurled by Carl Mays, that was pre-helmet. Tony Conigliaro was hurt very, very badly by a pitched ball in 1967, and it may have contributed to his death. It's an incredibly dangerous thing, and hard object going up to 100-something miles an hour. And that norm has changed somewhat. And the other point I want to make is, what I find fascinating, is that, generally, not always, the manager of the team that retaliates pretends it is not retaliation. And everyone inside the park, everyone inside the clubhouse, knows that it was. Guest: That's part of the code. You have to say it was unintentional. And in fact, even the pitcher who threw it and everybody knows has to say, yeah, it just got away from me. Even though no one is confused about the real reason that it happened. Let's think about the Ray Chapman example for just a minute, because it's really interesting. There were three things at work there. One is, and this was in 1920, I think. Russ: It was in the 1920s for sure. Guest: They didn't wear helmets, and in fact people didn't wear helmets until 1970. It wasn't universal until 1970, and even then they wore those little things that had a flap. So rather than a full batting helmet. But also, before then there had been no rule about doctoring the baseball. And so as soon as the pitcher got it, he would put grease, blacken it, maybe cut it with a ring. So the baseball--and spit on it. So it was all lumpy. So there were two formal rules changes that followed immediately. And we're interested in the interaction between the code and formal rules. Two things were outlawed. One was you couldn't darken or soften the baseball. You couldn't do anything to damage the outside of the baseball. That was done within a month of Ray Chapman being hit. And the following year they outlawed a spitball. That is, you couldn't take saliva and put it on the ball. Although, interestingly, it was grandfathered. So people who had thrown the spitball before were allowed to throw the spitball for the rest of their career. Which is a fascinating rule change. So, unless you had thrown the spitball before that, you couldn't. But other people, you know, that's what their career, that's what value depended on, you could continue to do it. So there were two formal rule changes to try to make it safer. But not a helmet. So, part of the reason is that there was an idea that if you wore a helmet and you can see the extensions of this now, if you wore a helmet you were somehow protected from retaliation; and that would actually make the game more violent. They were worried that being protected from the retaliation that made the game relatively safe, because I would be hurt if I hurt someone else. If I protected against that, then I would just be free to do it. So, those rule changes about Chapman put us in the position we are in now, which is, it's much less acceptable for the pitcher to hit a batter. The question is: Why? Well, the value that people have, the value that most players have--they have very large salaries, very large television revenues. Umpires now go out of their way to ensure that if they think a pitcher has thrown a ball, they'll throw him out of the game. So, this is a formal rules change, where they are trying to compensate for the fact that it's less acceptable to use what used to be the code of retaliation. And what's the difference? The answer is: Batters charge them out now. That was completely unacceptable in the '1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. You got hit, just go down to first base unless you couldn't move and then be carried away on a stretcher. Russ: No ice. This is what they call it in my kids' games. When somebody gets hit-- Guest: Rub that. Well, if you charged the mound, that meant you were giving up. And what I think was one of the most interesting ones, one of the examples of this recently, rather than charging the mound, Torii Hunter famously picked up the ball and threw it back. And hit the pitcher by it. Torii Hunter got hit by the pitch, he picks it up and throws it back and hits the pitcher with it. So, the batters have said: We will not accept what used to be the code because there is too much of a chance that we'll be injured. And I think the reason is the amount of salaries that pitchers earn now, what they would give up by being hit and actually injured, has changed. So, in economic terms, a change in relative prices. That is, a change in the harm that's done by being hit and being injured. Even when you are wearing a helmet. And a lot of guys wear armor. They wear something on their elbow, they wear something on their leg, to try to protect themselves from being injured, they are still a change in relative prices. And now umpires are in the position of having to legislate--that is, they have to decide what happened. Whereas before you are right. If the superstar got hit we would just assume that it was on purpose. And if the guy was wild, well that's tough on you, because you still have to pay the penalty. Now, since batters charge the mound--the problem is, like, um, recently several pitchers got hurt, one got a broken collar bone as a result of a batter charging the mound--we can't have pitchers injured. So if a pitcher throws at a batter, the batter charges the mound, the pitcher gets injured, that means we are losing value. So we are searching for a new equilibrium. That code broke down. Because of the change of relative prices. Now we're trying to do something else. It's not clear what's going to happen. And you and I talked a bit from a blog post that I did. Pittsburg pitcher gives up a home run to again what then happened again to be the Cardinals; second batter for the Cardinals hits another home run; the third batter hits a single; the pitcher is pretty unhappy by this time; and the pitcher throws a ball and hits Allen Craig, the number 4 hitter, the number 4 batter is an important guy for the Cardinals; the Ump immediately throws the pitcher out. And it wasn't retaliation. He just said: I think it was on purpose. Now, the guy had been kind of wild. But the code has broken down--we are substituting legislation for law. And it will be interesting to see what new happens.|
|21:31||Russ: So, let's talk about hockey. What goes on in hockey that you find interesting? For one thing, you make the observation in a blog post you did before this podcast that it's bizarre--I'd never really thought about it: There's fighting in hockey, and there's fighting in baseball. And there's really no fighting, it's really very, very rare that there's fighting in basketball, in football. What people might say, what do you mean, there's no fighting in baseball? But periodically there is over the issue of a hit batsman, there is this bizarre ritual where both teams sort of storm the mound, storm the field, and engage with each other. They usually--there's a mock violence to it. Usually no one gets hurt. If they do get hurt it's because they are at the bottom of a pile. There's a lot of wrestling. Whereas in hockey there are actually punches, literally punches thrown. That's one reason I don't actually like hockey. Talk about why--before you get into any other details about hockey--talk about the role of fighting in those two sports and why it's missing in the others. Guest: Well, you have made an interesting observation, so let me take a step back and say in evolutionary biology, one of the observations that biologists have made is that fighting is expensive. In the sense that if two males are fighting over mating rights or territorial rights, then if they get hurt, they lose because they can't possibly reproduce. And so there's a lot of fighting that's highly ritualized. That's really not quite fighting. So there are flies that walk up to each other and their eyes are on stalks. And the one that has the longer eye-stalk wins. The other one just leaves. And the one with the longer eye-stalks, he gets mating opportunities. For the big-horned ungulates--deer, sheep, rams--the large sheep that hit each other with their horns, that smack heads. Well, they are damaged a little bit, but it's not the same as fighting. Russ: They don't do as well in their SAT exams. But their life spans aren't affected. Guest: They get mating opportunities. They win. So value is created by this because genetically the relatively stronger group, the relatively stronger male, is the one who is going to produce offspring. Now, he may not live very long but he reproduces more. So, what's interesting I think about baseball is how stylized the finding is. It's understood that the entire team has to run out. Russ: And the bullpen--the pictures from the bullpen are usually sprinting, because they want to show they are committed. They are farther away from the mound area where the fight usually takes place. So they are usually seen sprinting from the--but they should, by the way, do by the way sprint over to the over bullpen. And they should have some ritual with the other bullpen pictures. But they don't. Both bullpens sprint toward the mound . Guest: Because you want to protect your player. You want to show team solidarity. And so, I found a video, and I'll send the link--there was a Korean baseball game-- Russ: I watched it, Mike. I thought it was a Monty Python skit for a minute. And it's quite extraordinary. I really was amazed by it. Guest: It was a charity game. But they are making fun of the fact that baseball fights are so stylized. And so the batter gets hit, and he charges the mound; and as soon as he gets to the mound, he does what the Korean version of chicken fighting--you pick up one of your feet and hold it with your hand to your waist and jump and try to ram the other guy with your knee, and the one who falls over is the loser. And nobody gets hurt. Baseball fighting isn't that different from that. Russ: No, that's correct. Guest: Well, a guy I know pretty well is Jim Bouton, the author of Ball Four. I've had him even several times for talks. And he talks about this in Ball Four and I talked to him about it at dinner-- Russ: Former New York Yankee-- Guest: But then Seattle Pilot. Russ: Yes. Guest: So, to be fair, and then finally a Houston Astro. So, he moved around a bit. He loved baseball fights. It was his favorite thing. He usually had a friend on the other team. They would run off and they would get fairly far from the main pile and they would pretend to punch each other for a minute, and they'd be giggling--how's the wife, we've got to get together--they would hang on; and the umps would come over and yell at them because they didn't want to break up the main fight. They might get hurt And so the umps would come over and yell at Beltman and Pepitone, who were basically waltzing out by second base. So, everybody understood that it's highly stylized. But if you stayed in the dugout, you would be shunned. If you said, this is silly, I'm not going to do this, that actually would be an outrage. You might get into a real fight with a teammate if you did that. So, baseball fights--sometimes there are real fights, and I give an example of a famous real fight that I think Ray Knight started, because I can't stand Ray Knight, but the idea of fighting in baseball is as a way of preventing people from showing you up, from disrespecting you; and to insure that the other team doesn't get to harm your best players. So, still, sometimes in baseball there are fights which, if they happened at a bar would result in people being arrested. So, why is it that baseball allows something which, if it happened outside of a baseball stadium would actually be criminal?|
|27:12||Guest: And that's what brings us to hockey, because it happens almost every night. Some years half--in fact during the 1990s the average fights per game were 1. There was almost a fight almost every night, in almost every hockey game. And there have been a lot of calls to outlaw it, and I found a quote from Gordie Howe, who was a famous hockey player and a very famous fighter, and he said: If you get rid of fighting, you are going to have more dirty play and injuries. Let them fight and get rid of all the stick work. So, the difference is--well, to make baseball like hockey you'd have to have all 9 defensive players in the infield, and instead of gloves they would have bats. And as the guy tries to run around the bases they'd be whacking at him with bats. Which would change the game a lot, I'm pretty sure. So, the referees can't possibly see all of the times when I take the handle of my stick and I jam it into your ribs and break your ribs, jam it into your cheekbone and break the orbit of your eye. Russ: Or flick it across your cheek and slice it open. I think for nonserious hockey fans or certainly those of us who don't play hockey don't realize what an incredibly dangerous sport it is, played at incredible high speeds with tremendous potential for brutal injury. Guest: The players are so big, they are so fast; they are on ice skates-- Russ: Which are razors. There are razors on their feet, and the stick is extremely sharp. Guest: Baseball players have to face a 100 mile an hour rock and they have spikes. So a lot of times when you slide into second, if you are not careful you could certainly hurt somebody very badly. Baseball and hockey are fundamentally dangerous, and not just in ways that are obvious to a referee. And I think that's why fighting is allowed in those two sports. And not in the others. The others are dangerous, but referees can control the amount of violence to a much greater extent. And so you don't have to have the institution of fighting to allow the teams to protect themselves. And what's interesting is that hockey players don't say, we need fighting because we're macho guys. We need fighting in order to reduce the amount of violence. It seems paradoxical until you understand that over time, this Hayekian law has come about, this very complicated code. And what's happened in hockey is there's a set of rules, which, if I violate them, I'm going to be challenged by the other team's goon, or enforcer. The enforcer--there are a number of very famous enforcers who are enormous people who specialize in fighting. Some of them certainly score some goals. I guess the closest in baseball would be a pitcher like maybe Rob Dibble, who was understood to be a head-hunter. So he was one of the nasty boys, who pitched for Cincinnati. If you remember Rob Dibble, everybody said he always pitched inside; he hit a lot of guys. I looked it up. How many people did Rob Dibble hit in his entire 15-year career? And the answer is 12. He hit 12 batters total. Russ: But he threw very hard. He was very scary. He was big, too; he was very tall. Guest: Very big, very intimidating; and he threw the ball inside. Like Bob Gibson-- Russ: I'm just checking. As you speak, I'm googling Gibson's hit-by pitch. Guest: Gibson hit more than 12, but he was a starter, not a reliever, so in terms of number of innings, I bet Gibson had even fewer. But Gibson threw inside. And the reason to do that was--you had to have good control. Because if you hit the guy, there's going to be retaliation. So you can't always hit them. But you can throw inside, make them back out, and then throw the ball on the outside corner, and that's where you're going to live. That's how you'll be able to dominate batters. Well, for hockey, this is from Ross Bernstein's book, The Code, about hockey, there's rules for how to conduct yourselves. And beyond the official rules, what the officials would enforce. It was a marvelous system based on honor and accountability. If you did something dishonorable or disrespectful you are going to have to answer to that by fighting. The code went actually further than that. So, there was a time when a player, Pat Quinn, leveled Bobby Orr. And Bobby Orr was a highly skilled scorer. His job was to score. He wasn't a fighter. Russ: He was a defender. He was the first offensive defenseman. He was a superstar. One of the five greatest hockey players of all time. Guest: And was a great passer. So he had a lot of assists. So, Pat Quinn hit Bobby Orr, and it was perfectly fair, the way that he hit him. It was open ice, he saw him coming, didn't use his stick, it was a perfectly fair check. And when the other team decided that they would fight Quinn, Quinn's own team wouldn't defend him. Because he had violated the code. Nobody else would stand up. If you violate the code, you are going to have to answer for that yourself and you are going to have to fight the other team's big guy. And a lot of the times you are going to back down because you can't beat him. And that's humiliating. So that threat of humiliation is like the fly with the eyes on stalks. It's embarrassing to walk away. I lost. I have to admit that I lost. We're substituting honor for violence. So, I look forward and I say: If I check Bobby Orr, even if it's a clean check, the result is I'm going to have to fight a giant goon. I'm going to be humiliated; I'm not going to do that; I'm not going to check Bobby Orr. But, on the flip side, if the goon on the other side challenged me--there is a story about Tom Chorske, a speedy winger who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 11 seasons, in 1980 and 1990; and Bernstein asked him--you probably were in a lot of fights during your career; which one was the most memorable? And Bernstein thought that it would be some really violent one. And what Tom did was tell as story on himself. And the story was: I didn't understand the code. So, the other team had a big guy who hit me with his stick a couple of times; the referee didn't call it; he tripped me, the referee didn't call it. I got tired of it and I just decided I would stand up for myself. Now, everybody on Tom's team saw this, and it would have been taken care of. Under the code. But Chorske decide he was going to fight the goon himself. And he didn't win, but he did okay; he showed up and he thought the other guys on his team would congratulate him. And afterwards, his team's goon took him aside--I should say 'enforcer'--and said, look, don't ever do that again. And there's several reasons why. One is, you are embarrassing me. That's my job. Russ: He broke the work rules. Guest: Well, I can't score goals. I can't really pass; in fact, I can't really skate. And this is my job. Second, you are going to get hurt. Because you can't really fight like that. And third, if you do get hurt, we are going to lose someone important and people are going to say: Hey, he's a hot-head; we're going to send some guy who is worthless, some fat goon out there, who is going to challenge you and they can get you out of the game. Both sides are going to get fined for fighting. Or maybe a major disqualification for fighting. Because it's going to look like you started the fight. He chipped away with his stick a few times; it didn't get called; it's going to look like you started the fight. You may get a game disqualification. So, for these three reasons, please don't do that again. And other guys came up to him afterwards, after the game, and said: Don't do that. You have to let us stand up for you. Don't do that. So, what was interesting I thought was it comes down to other people's assessment of the correctness of your actions. And it might not be the way that you expect. Because in one case, a perfectly clean legal check of the other team's best player was not defended by the guys on his team. And in fact it was embarrassing and a violation of the code. And in the other, standing up and actually fighting--I think most people would say, yeah, that's what hockey players do; they have to be tough like that--well, that was a violation of the code. It embarrassed his team, and they didn't want him to act that way.|
|36:40||Russ: I want to apply this idea of the code--I think we talked about this before but I'm going to bring it up again in this context--which is cheating. I'll stay away from steroids; we've talked about that before. But I want to talk about players who break the rules. What I find interesting is that certain forms of cheating are considered acceptable. But other forms of cheating are not. And so, for example, and again I think we've mentioned this: If you are on second base after hitting a double you are allowed to try to steal the signs of the catcher and relay them to the batter. There's no rule against it, no formal rule against it; and it's part of the code that you are allowed to do that. The catcher knows that, so the catcher changes the signs as to what kind of pitch the pitcher's going to throw when there's a runner on second base. But if the batter peeks back and tries to steal the signs, he gets thrown at and he'll get hit. Similarly, a player who, say, comes off second base early on a double play--there are a bunch of things that if you get away with them, the umpire doesn't see it, it's okay. But the things that are not okay--so, a few years ago, Alex Rodriguez, A-Rod, a player was about to--I think this is what happened. It's comical because it's like a 3rd grade baseball play. A player was about to catch a popup and I think he yelled: I've got it. Or something similar, to distract the player as he was running between 2nd and 3rd. That's not okay. You are not allowed to do that. That's "against" the rules. It fascinates me that certain things are allowed in the code and certain things are not. But there are all kinds of unsporting, or cheating, depending on how you look at it, yet some are okay and some are not. Maybe before we go on to the broader implications, you want to give an example of equipment and how it interacts with the formal and informal rules? Guest: One of the sports where fighting is not formally allowed but does sometimes happen is rugby. And I actually played rugby when I was in college. Which may explain a great deal. Russ: Yeah, it says it all. Guest: I was a post, which meant that I spent most of my time with my arm around the hooker. And of course the hooker, which I should explain, is the guy who has his arms around the two posts. And so his face is just exposed. He can't defend himself. So they tend to have broken noses. Posts have no ears, because they rub your ears all bloody. But the hooker takes his foot and is trying to pull and poke the ball back inside the scrum so that one of the halves behind him, one of the locks behind him can grab the ball and then they can start running. Well, rugby had moved towards more and more padding. They were allowing some shoulder pads and some helmets. Rugby outlawed those things because there were too many injuries. So, getting rid of helmets and getting rid of shoulder pads sharply reduced the number of injuries that rugby was suffering. Russ: It's the Peltzman effect. Guest: Yeah, it is. But, it also reduces the number of fights. Because the violence was partly in response to the fact that people were being speared. There were two things. One is there were more injuries. And the other is there were more and more rugby fights, because that was the only way you could defend yourself against someone who used the fact that his head was protected to make what wasn't really a clean hit, what was an injuring hit. So, they could have gone two ways. They could have allowed more fights to reduce the amount of violence or they could use an equipment change to reduce the amount of violence. And they decided to go with the equipment change. Which I think is just fascinating. That they actually outlawed the thing that American football, I think, a lot of people do blame for injuries. But we don't have fights there. It happens some; but they are dreadful. Russ: Very rare. Guest: Well, and you really can hurt somebody. Russ: There's dirty play in the line where you can't see what's going on. And going back to our earlier points about cheating and monitoring: Linemen in football who wrestle--they do everything except fight each other. But there are occasional ones who actually do fight when they can. And those people are known, and they have a "bad reputation." They are considered dirty players. [more to come, 41:29]|