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Turning on the AC: Blowouts present lessons on respect

Turning on the AC: Blowouts present lessons on respect
Glendale softball coach Chris Funaro prevented his team from adding on runs in what was 14-0 victory over Hoover on Thursday because he said he didn't want to "demoralize" the Tornadoes. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

There is no referendum on tap for our small prep sports area, but that hasn't stopped opinions and actions from differing over the topic of blowouts just in the last two months.

It doesn't matter if you're on a great team, a bad one or somewhere in between, it's difficult to complete a robust high school sports season without at least one lopsided game.

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Now, what constitutes a blowout?

Well, usually in baseball and softball, a mercy rule goes into effect after one team takes a 10-run lead, while running clocks are enacted in football and basketball with 35- to 40-point differentials, usually in the fourth quarter.

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I've been at games where teams have agreed to running clocks at the half or where tennis and wrestling squads have taken such an insurmountable lead they'll just forfeit the last few matches.

What's fascinated me is the approach to a blowout from two area teams doing the thumping.

This past winter, the Flintridge Prep girls' soccer squad enjoyed its greatest season in program history that included a 26-win campaign, a Prep League championship, a CIF Southern Section Division III title and a runner-up plaque in the SoCal Regional Division III Championship.

En route to all that glory, the Rebels smashed several teams in netting 164 goals, while allowing 33.

Overall, Flintridge Prep defeated 13 teams by five or more goals with CIF-SS and SoCal Regional first-round wins of 11-0 and 14-1 versus Buena and Narbonne, respectively.

I was in attendance at the Buena blowout at Occidental College on Feb. 14, where the Rebels scored seven first-half goals.

Flintridge Prep coach Esteban Chavez pulled his starters in the 33rd minute, only to reinsert them again in the second half as the Rebels added four scores and finished with what was a season-high 11 goals.

When asked for his reasoning behind the move, Chavez noted he respected Buena too much to ease up.

"We want to give whatever opponent we're playing our best all the time," Chavez said. "I've seen where teams kick the ball around and don't play. They just waste time. To me, that's always more disrespectful. When you do that you're telling teams that they don't deserve to be on the same field with you."

On Thursday, Glendale softball coach Chris Funaro took another approach.

His team walloped archrival Hoover, 14-0, in Pacific League play in a game that was called after five innings.

Glendale sent 14 batters to the plate in the first inning in scoring nine runs and virtually sealing the contest.

With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the fifth, Glendale senior Amanda Gonzalez ripped what should have been a bases-clearing double into the right-center gap.

As Glendale's first baserunner scored, Funaro, who was down the third-base line, put up the stop signal to prevent any more runners from advancing as the Nitros led, 14-0.

A few pitches later, Glendale's runner on third base intentionally stepped off the bag early, resulting in an automatic out. The Nitros' next batter then popped out to end an inning that could have been a lot bigger and a lot more successful.

While the move could have been seen as an affront to the integrity of the game, Funaro disagreed.

"I'm a firm believer that you can beat a team, but you don't have to demoralize a team," Funaro said. "We've taken some losses where teams have pounded some runs on us and you know you can tell when a team has lost. You don't have to demoralize them. The first thing we talk about with the umpires is good sportsmanship."

Two men and two blowouts resulted in two different approaches with respect at the center of rationale for both.

Maybe one is right and the other is wrong, or perhaps they're both correct in their own way.

Either way, the debate will go on.

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