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Player development vs. winning on display in Springfield

Texas LeagueThe seemingly eternal debate over player development vs. winning was on display last night in Springfield, when a doubleheader determining a first-half title was scrapped after a manager pulled the plug on the game.

The Springfield Cardinals (33-35) and Tulsa Drillers (34-34) came into Sunday’s game with the Drillers up one but the Cardinals set to host two games. Sunday’s game was rained out, with a doubleheader set for yesterday. The rains continued, and the field conditions at Hammons Field, while improved, were still iffy. A plea to allow games from the second half to count toward the first-half championship was denied by Texas League President Tom Kayser, and in the end the doubleheader was scrapped because of field conditions. From the News-Leader:

In the end, Springfield manager Mike Shildt made a request that ultimately cost his club the first half title. He couldn’t let players risk injury.

“The reality is, the circumstances – to no one’s fault – were not acceptable,” Shildt said. “We’re disappointed in the sense that we had a real chance to do something special tonight. Developmentally, one thing we can’t replicate or simulate is to play games with playoff implications.

“However, it can’t be at the overall cost of the safety of players.”

Tulsa manager Kevin Riggs agreed with the move.

In the old days, this game might have been played. And undoubtedly there are plenty of Springfield Cardinals fans saddened by the move. But at the end of the day, it’s all about development in Minor League Baseball. It’s not a perfect system, but it is one that works well.


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