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.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bob Stanley

Watching Butler kick Pitt's ass... OK... maybe that's a little bit extreme, but watching the defending NCAA men's runner up beat the heavily favored Pitt team (an 8 seed beating on a 1 seed) was beautiful, and roughly 10 times in the last 2 minutes, I realized that basketball isn't football when it comes to winding down the clock.
Sure, there's all of those stupid fouls that put the team that is ahead on the line to EARN their shots (whatever that means), but there's a sense that a team has to do something and can't just play handball until their shot clock ends in the same way that a football team can loaf around for a minute or so when they want to spike a ball on the field and walk off in an uncontested win (provided there are no time outs by the losing team to stop the clock). In this, football may be to some people the greatest sport in America, but to me, it's nothing.
Look at the last seconds of the Pitt / Butler game (and mind you, I'm in no way a basketball fan - I watched NO GAMES this year until watching them all day on Saturday with my in laws).
Shelvin Mack was the hero all game, but he made a foul with 1.4 seconds left. He put Gilbert Brown on the line for 2 shots. Brown made his first, but he blew the second after Mack's post foul display of intimidation got all up in his grill. Still, Pitt had a chance to win in over time, but Brown couldn't collect himself and make it count when he had to, but all the same, he did enough to send the game to over time with the first shot. But in the aftermath of the missed second shot, all hell broke loose, and Nasir Robinson fouled Butler on a rebound and put Matt Howard, Butler's other star, on the line for 2, and he nailed both of them with .8 seconds left in the game. It was all over but the crying.
But the point was that it was a game and it was a nail biter down to the last at play after the game was tied 6 times in the last 14 minutes - this after Butler was up by 8 at the half.
And that's what's great about competitive sports... it's not over until it's over.
Flash back to 1986... Calvin Schiraldi gets 2 fly outs from Backman and Hernandez in the bottom of the 9th. Up steps Gary Carter... single. Up steps Kevin Mitchell... single. Up steps Ray Knight... single. Three hits... The Mets are down by 1 now. In comes Bob Stanley with a wild pitch. The game is tied, and Mookie Wilson hits the ball that goes through Buckner's legs and the Mets win and survive and thrive to go on to game 7 for the series victory and 18 more years of the Curse of Babe Ruth.
That's a game... even if it sends a man to Idaho in shame.
That's what's great about sports that let teams fight it out until the end.
That was Butler and Pitt in a duel to the death.
Oh, hell yeah.
I know I've said it before, and I'm going to say it again.

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