Breaking Bad, the popular series running from 2008 to 2013 with several anti-heroes among its core cast, contains at least two specific episodes where two different characters talk about their respective regret for not conducting matters in full measure.

Full measure and my craving for data research (hard facts instead of the softer, human side) when I detect a symptom came to mind early Thursday evening when I read, and added my two cents to, an interesting and gentlemanly Twitter volley that began with two respected Northern Indiana media members.

Two gentlemen I follow on Twitter had a discussion this week, and the implicit topic was the lopsided 71-16 defeat the Concord Minutemen girls’ basketball team suffered at the hands of the Warsaw Lady Tigers.

My interpretation of the Tweet originator’s opening salvo was- in my words, “I think the kids wearing the skeleton suits were beating up the Karate Kid.”

He was implying there should have been a departure from full measure, specifically defensive pressure.

The Tweet originator, furthermore, felt the pressing should have stopped well before a 35- to 40-point margin was set while the counterpoint from the other gentlemen included a full stat sheet in hand furnishing proof each of the Tigers’ starting five played equal to or less than 16 minutes (half of a full 32-minute contest).

The halftime score was 58-3, so the second half, played in its entirety with the IHSAA mercy rule’s running clock, was a 13-13 deadlock, and every Tiger played at least seven minutes.

The stats proved the margin could have been wider if the starters played their customary amount of minutes played among other contests for what it’s worth.

Concord experienced a similar lopsided margin of defeat (76-17, Dec 10) against Northridge, but I couldn’t find any tweet in my subsequent search expressing similar concerns about the Raiders’ victory. Concord, for the record, also suffered a 73-31 loss to the Elkhart Lions (Nov 8).

Side note, each of the aforementioned teams will be in the Class 4A Sectional 4 tournament hosted by Concord this week, three of them – Warsaw, Concord, and Elkhart – are all in the bottom bracket. At least two rematches are guaranteed among the three squads.

While one of the parties exchanging tweets felt the first half burst was too much, and the other party believed the results were rather organic, I quickly saw another angle worth further research because of the way I’m emotionally and sensibly wired.

I couldn’t get deep-diving the symptom (the lopsided score) out of my mind, but I’ll need more time than I had among reading the Twitter volley late Thursday afternoon, adding my two cents, and meeting my column deadline. So the work remains on my to-do list.

I’m interested in seeing if one of the mercy rule’s by-products is a continued rise in an already-existing trend (in girls’ basketball specifically): huge victory margins.

I believe there are multiple contributing factors to this issue. I’ll use my time here, though, to look at the sensibility of going full measure for as long as a team possibly can go.

The mercy rule requires the clock to continue running with the exception of team and official timeouts if the second half begins with, or reaches, a margin greater than or equal to 35 points regardless of whether the margin is reduced thereafter.

There are numerous merits to the rule for the sake of player safety, availability of quarters for teams with fewer players on their rosters, and the consequential increase in clock-stopping incidents like fouls and turnovers once the benches are completely cleared.

If I were a coach I could see the merit of – when the mercy rule margin appeared attainable – to attain it at full measure executing my core game plan, resting my starters, and coaching my future starters in live action for a meaningful amount of minutes, even if those minutes are burning at a faster rate.

There are even additional eligible quarters the IHSAA affords teams’ junior varsity players with a smaller roster head count so they are not penalized by playing additional varsity game quarters.

It’s not Machiavellian by any means. It’s a very efficient approach.

Come in, seal the win, evaluate your back-ups at varsity game speed, and finish early, especially on a weeknight when these kids still have a bus ride and homework on their evening’s agenda.

I think if a team’s life blood is intense full court pressing and quick scoring in the transition game they need to win organically and wrap up things with brutal efficiency. I’d feel the same way if my teams were on the wrong end of a mercy rule score.

Let’s use an example from a different sport. This is not intended to discuss the affected team in a pejorative manner, but to answer the rhetorical question posed in the Twitter volley,  and I paraphrase, “Well Warsaw, what if the shoe were on the other foot?”

I am the Lady Tiger softball PA announcer, and this very young team from 2022 with potential in the upcoming 2023 season needed to seek and develop pitching talent last spring, and replace a three-year starter at shortstop. Consequently, they had a handful of mercy rule losses in the 2022 campaign.

They remarkably maintained high energy from first pitch to final out in each related game, and so did their opponents.

There were games where the opposing teams were up by margins due to very successful results from taking natural swings and throwing natural pitches, these opponents realized they could only shorten some innings by intentionally leaving bases early to accumulate outs to end an inning.

Sounds like a patronizing move by the victors, but it was the only move they could make because you cannot hit, field, nor pitch half measure. The results of changing your swing or delivery could be a ruinous remainder of the season.

The core physical execution each softball player makes – it’s a game where if your swing is hot and your pitches are on target you don’t mess with any technique – absolutely requires full measure in its execution.

Would you tell these athletes to dial it down 50%?

I believe among almost all sports if you do not exert your full physical effort in whatever you are executing, you’re likely to either create an unrecoverable bad habit or even unwittingly injure yourself.

If you lead by a large margin in rugby, and pull the reins, the losing side will actually take this as an insult. Full measure is part of the sport’s etiquette. Rugby is also a contact sport where half-measure running, and tentative tackling are a greater risk of injury than full measure contact.

Girls’ basketball fans will see full measure when Concord and Warsaw meet again in the opening round of sectional action Tuesday at Concord high school. The speed, the pressure, and the transition offense are memory motion at this point in the season, the core of Warsaw’s game plan.

In the meantime, during some tranches of late night research, I’m looking forward to determining whether there is a strong correlation between the implementation of the mercy rule by the IHSAA and the increase – in my mind’s eye – of lopsided scores in girls’ basketball.