A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Calvin Schiraldi

It's hard to like a sport that relies on the clock to end a game. The NBA has 4 quarters. The NHL has 3 periods. The NFL has 4 quarters. Of the big sports, only baseball and NASCAR have a system where something has to happen before the game ends. In 2 weeks, we'll see the Daytona 500, and we'll go 200 laps from start to stop. We'll even have multiple chances to get it right and go over the finish line if something nasty happens on the final lap and the caution flag waves. That's how it should be. Get it right. Things have to happen, or the game goes on.
The race to the finish at the end of the Superbowl sucks for one reason... it's sudden death against a clock NOT a powerful defensive line that stops a team cold and dead.
Mind you, I've always hated the clock. I'm not here to defend Ben Roethlisberger from a loss that he deserved (though I deserved the $25 that was on the line for a Steelers win). I'm just saying that if he wasn't trying to preserve time outs and had a chance to set up, it might have been a different game.
Baseball gets it right. Each team has 9 innings of 3 outs an inning to record 27 outs in combination of ground outs, fly outs, strike outs, or tagging out a runner trying to move ahead to the next base. It's not over until the singing starts. That's life on the diamond of baseball.
If you don't believe it, perhaps there is nowhere more readily exemplifiable as Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Boston is up 5-3 on a home run by Dave Henderson and a Marty Barrett single that scores Wade Boggs. It's now the bottom of the 10th and we have just witnessed 2 fly balls to the outfield. Two down. Gary Carter is up with the Mets down by 2, and he comes through with a 2-1 count single. Kevin Mitchell steps up and he singles on an 0-1 count. Carter is on second and it's 3 pitches from the end. The Mets are still down by 2, and now we see Ray Knight go to 0-2 and he singles! Carter to third, but we've still got a 1 run lead for the Red Sox who have the wheels falling off, so out comes Bob Stanley to get 1 runner. A wild pitch later on a 3-2 count to Mookie Wilson, and we have Carter over the plate and Knight on second base.
To protect the already defamed, we all know what happens next. A poor unfortunate once great first baseman with leg problems who wasn't relieved for a better defensive second baseeman lets the ball go through his legs, the Red Sox lose, and then they blow Game 7, too.
Once again, they had the chance to win it all. They even had the lead in Game 7. But for those people that can't close the deal, why should there be a win? Mariano Rivera saved a ton of games when it counted, but in Game 7 of 2001, he couldn't seal the deal. He never took a knee. He lost like a man in the same way he won like a man when it counted all of those other times.
Unfortunately, the big game of the year is a one and done football game, which is just how their sport works. There's too much to lose if we force players to play more games than they do. The crush and contact makes it necessary because as we all know players are property, or at the very least, they're investments meant to be coddled like an adorable little Muppet baby of a child that must be protected from the world or a former ALCS hero third baseman that gets injured in a basketball pickup game that he wasn't allowed (by contract) to play in...
Unless they're a big time thug NFL quarterback with no helmet and no permit crashing out his motorcycle because that's the cool thing to do, which brings us back to jump where we look at how football players differ from baseball players: the sense of entitlement that thinks being the guy with the ball and the guy with the rings makes all the difference.
Sure, it takes a man to wear a boot when he's injured and risk further injury while leading his team to victory (though it's better if your sock shows blood and you beat your hated opponents - props to you, Curt Schilling). However, that doesn't change that the game and the culture of the NFL is flawed.
This is just one man's opinion... that's all.

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