Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Non-Baseball Post About the Colts

The Fan has been irked all week by a team that he hates anyway. Okay, let the Fan paint this picture for you. Say C. C. Sabathia is pitching for the Yankees on the fourth to last game of the season. The Yankees have already won the division and the best record in the American League is in the bag. Sabathia is your big stud for the playoffs. So he starts this game and your plan as a manager is to let him pitch five innings to get his work in and then get him out of there. But Sabathia does the unthinkable and pitches five perfect innings. Perhaps he has even struck out fourteen of the fifteen batters he's faced. He has a perfect game going and a chance to break the all time strikeout record in a game. Do you still take him out after five innings?

Heck no! It's history! He goes for the perfect game and stays in there to see if he can get history. Taking him out of there is what the Colts did to Peyton Manning and his team. The guys had thrown a perfect game to that point. They were 14-0. Do you think the Patriots would rest Tom Brady? Heck no. History is on the line here.

If a player is going to lose history, you let him do it himself with his own effort. If Manning went on to lose the game. Fine. At least he had his own shot at it and came up short. Everyone would have patted him on the back and said, "Nice try." But to take his shot at history away from him was criminal.

The Fan has always....ALWAYS rooted against Peyton Manning. Not because the guy isn't likable. All of his commercials seem like he is a fun guy. His work with his brother with young kids in Louisiana in the off season seems admirable. But the guy is a thorn in the Fan's favorite team's side. You just know the Colts are going to be there at the end and that they have to be beaten to get where a team wants to go. That's how good he is. That's how good he has been.

But Manning has been like Greg Maddux on the Braves. As good as he was, they only won the big prize once. The Colts have only won the big prize once during Manning's amazing career. But this year was a chance for magic. For history. This year was an opportunity for Manning to put a rubber stamp on the title of best quarterback ever. This year was his chance to shine brighter than Brady or Unitis or all the other great quarterbacks in history. And it was taken away from him. For what exactly? To keep him safe?

Please. The guy gets sacked and hit fewer times than any quarterback in history. He consistently has the best offensive line in football. There is a reason for that. If you give the best quarterback in the world time to go to work, he will kill you.

And there is a mind game at work here as well. The Fan used to be a really good bowler. Don't laugh, it was a lot of fun and very profitable. The Fan made enough money bowling to buy his first computer and a washer and dryer. The Fan had several runs at a perfect game (300 or twelve straight strikes). The Fan had started the game several times with ten straight strikes and was within two of getting there. By then the match is over, right? The other guy is just shaking his head knowing he is beat, so that isn't the issue. Since the match is over, should the Fan just throw the thing in the gutter?

Man, no way, the Fan felt like he could do no wrong. He felt on top of the universe. He felt like all the planets were aligned and all the practice and hard work had led to this. The Fan went for it. Never got there. Had several 279s which means that one pin didn't go down on the eleventh shot. But there was no way anyone was going to take that moment away.

The Colts took that moment away from their players. They took it away from their fans. They took it away from their opponents who saw them as unbeatable before the loss. The bottom line is that every participant in sports wants to control their own destiny and have a chance to make history. If things fall short, well that's sports. But Manning and company were denied destiny and it's terrible. For a team the Fan loves to root against, the Fan sure feels awful for them. It's not just a shame. It's a crime against sports.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

Throwing away a game when you're undefeated doesn't sit well with me, and it probably doesn't sit well with the players. Manning is as durable as they come. The risk of injury was minimal. If they win it all, no one will really care. If they don't, it was a missed opportunity to go undefeated.

Reminded me a little of the 2006 Bears. They had everything locked up and decided to play their reserves the last game of the season. The thing is I believe they had a chance to set an NFL record for fewest points allowed in a season. Guess it wasn't that important to them.

And, of course, they got their asses handed to them by Manning and the Colts in the Super Bowl. That NFL record must have been looking a little more important on the plane ride home from Miami.