Mercy! Have Mercy!

Mood: Um … Er …

Key word: hapless. Those poor kids.

Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:32pm EDT
Writing by Alastair Himmer; Editing by Justin Palmer

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese high school pleaded for a regional game to be abandoned after surrendering 66 runs in less than two innings, local media reported on Thursday.

The coach of Kawamoto technical high school threw in the towel to spare his pitcher’s arm with his team losing 66-0 with just one batter out in the bottom of the second.

The hapless hurler had already sent down over 250 pitches, allowing 26 runs in the first inning and 40 in the second before Kawamoto asked for mercy.

"At that pace the pitcher would have thrown around 500 pitches in four innings," Kawamoto’s coach was quoted as saying. "There was a danger he could get injured."

Opponents Shunshukan were officially credited with a 9-0 victory, giving the scoreline a tinge of respectability for the luckless Kawamoto school.

Two very distinct memories cropped up after reading this article.

Memory #1: 2000 Eastern University Games in Albury, Women’s Soccer, Macquarie University vs University of New South Wales. It was pouring down with rain even before we took to the fields, but the officials decided to press on and play the game. This was the last of our pool matches before the quarter finals, and the MacU rep team was in a good place to finish on top. UNSW, on the other hand, was there to make up the numbers and to have a blast of a week.

From kick-off, it was plain to see that UNSW was no match for MacU. Our captain scored within the first minute, and then pounded another two into the back of the net for her hat trick within the first 3 minutes. The term "Mercy Rule" crossed my mind as UNSW continued to stand like sticks in mud on the pitch, while Lisa used the time as target practice from every inch of the field.

In short, the Mercy Rule brings a sports event to an early end when one team has a very large and presumably insurmountable lead over the other team. The application of the Mercy Rule is usually at the instigation of the losing team, but sometimes at the behest of the referee, when the winning margin had reached 9 goals. On this occasion, UNSW set a record time in seeking the Mercy Rule – MacU scored 9 goals in 9 minutes, and the whistle sounded to the rousing cheers from UNSW and the referee as everyone ran for the covers and headed for hot showers 10 minutes after kick-off.

Memory #2: 1997 Gladesville-Hornsby Women’s Soccer Association All Age Division 5 competition, Macquarie University vs Northbridge. The MacU team in the amateur GHWSA league was a social team – weekend warriors who valued post-game beers more than competition points. On this particular day, the team was either recovering from the excesses of the pub crawl held on the previous night, or still in the party mode. As a form of bonding, a number of the girls huddled for a "team yak" minutes prior to kick-off.

The team was largely made up of very inexperienced players, who joined a soccer team for fun and fitness without ever having really kicked a soccer ball in their lives. Going into this game, the 3rd of the season, we were 0 from 2 with not much hope of winning anything for 1997. But no one minded – we readily admitted to being a drinking team with a soccer problem.

What no one told us was Northbridge should have been graded in Division 1 or 2. The team ended up in Division 5 only because they were late in registering the team and the higher divisions were already full.

Needless to say, from the get-go, MacU was behind the 8 ball. We were hungover, heading towards the hangover, or still drunk, and not much use to anyone and really shouldn’t have been on the field at all. Northbridge took advantage of the situation and potted 13 goals in the first half.

What none of us knew at the time was that little thing called a Mercy Rule. If we’d known, we would have called for it. But those of us who weren’t dying from dehydration or suffering from painful injuries bravely took to the field again for the second half, where our defence was continuously punished by the opposition.

Final score: 23-0 (the ref officially stopped counting at 18-0). Injury list: ankle (me – out 6 week), groin (striker – out 4 weeks), wrist (keeper – out 3 weeks), hamstring (full back – out 3 weeks).


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