MLB Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals Second Base Battle Draws Parallels With First Punic War

Chris Getz Kansas City Royals

Jeff Curry – US Presswire

It is always interesting when two vastly different sets of skills clash in pursuit of the same outcome. In sports this tends to manifest itself in the form of a defensively minded player coming up against an offensively minded one either for an award or sometimes for a spot on the team. It is the latter case for the Kansas City Royals at the second base position as the sharp defender Chris Getz vies with the strong hitting Johnny Giavotella for the starting role.

Sport is not the only situation in which this arises, however. A cursory glance through the history books shows numerous occasions in which a great naval power has been obliged to fight a power with a very strong land army. One of the wars of most interest with respect to the current battle at second base for the Royals is the First Punic War. The war started in 264 BCE/490 AUC and at that time the Roman Republic had a virtually non-existent navy whilst the city of Carthage (Punicus in Latin, hence the name of the conflict) was the dominant force in the Mediterranean Sea.

The reason this is a good parallel is because Rome won, but not by simply overpowering Carthage on land and thus rendering their naval superiority redundant. Rome actually constructed a navy and ultimately defeated Carthage at sea, thus winning the conflict that way (the historian Polybius tells us how the Romans invented the corvus to alter the tactics used at sea). In the same way, if in rather more mundane circumstances, Getz is outbatting Giavotella at the moment and it looks like it will continue.

Some might argue that the Battle of Αἰγὸς Ποταμοί (phonetic: Aegospotami) would provide a better parallel. Whilst there may certainly be better examples, I do not believe that is one of them. In that battle, the brilliant tactics of Lysander won the day for the Spartans against a superior Athenian fleet, but Getz is showing prolonged dominance over Giavotella which is much closer to what the Romans showed in the First Punic War.