Baseball season has started again. This year is already shaping up to be an interesting season: the Marlins are imploded less than a week into the season, the Mets have a winning record, and the Cubs are still awful. Most people don't realize that baseball and racing have a common tradition: team orders.
Just before the 1919 World Series, six players from the Chicago White Sox, Eddie Cicotte, Oscar "Happy" Felsch, Arnold "Chick" Gandil, Fred McMullin, Charles "Swede" Risberg, and Claude "Lefty" Williams, entered a conspiracy with gamblers. They would receive $5,000 each for losing the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. After the Reds won the World Series, investigations were organized, trials were held in kangaroo courts, and baseball's new commissioner decided to ban all the conspirators from the game, going so far as to ban White Sox Players George "Buck" Weaver and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson for knowing about the conspiracy and not blowing the whistle on their teammates. These were not mere lifetime bans either; they have continued long after each player's death, making them unpersons.
To be honest, team orders and fixing games are really the same thing. Formula One happens to have the most widely known examples such as the 2002 United States Grand Prix and Austrian Grand Prix, the 2010 German Grand Prix, and 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. F1 never seems to know if they want team orders legal or not. Rules are naturally difficult to enforce if you can't prove anything.
Some readers may recall the kerfuffle at the 2009 NHRA U.S. Nationals when John Force intentionally lost a race to his teammate (whom also happens to be his son-in-law and employee), Robert Height. It's quite impressive that a driver with such a poor reaction time would win the Funny Car championship the next season (insert wink here).
Many readers may think NASCAR is immune to such arrangements, but they happen every week. It is almost inevitable that someone leading a race will let a teammate take the lead for one lap just to get the bonus point for leading a lap. One point seems insignificant, but if it should happen every race over a 36-race season, this adds up to as many points as running a 37th race and finishing 8th (Chase aside).
This is the point where I prescribe solutions. To be honest, I don't have any idea how to enforce rules against team orders. As long as people are willing to speak in code and monitor points in real time, there is no feasible way to stop people from doing this. But rather than give up and legalize something just because we can't control it, let's make the penalty so severe that it will deter people though fear. Incidentally, that penalty happens to be the same one baseball used:
"Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player that throws a ball game, no player that entertains proposals or promises to throw a game, no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are discussed, and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball."
-Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis
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