Saturday, February 11, 2012

It's Baseball Season!

Thank you football, I've never been more glad to turn my attention to baseball.

As Rogers Hornsby said, "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."

Well Mr. Hornsby, from my vantage point the sun is shining bright and the snow is melting, even though it's still falling, but hey, that's Spring time in Colorado for you.

While the countdown to the Pitchers & Catchers report date continues, the wait is over. The season is upon us. Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball League registration is open and The Percell Fantasy Baseball invites have been sent. If you're not signed up already, you're late to the party.

Before I bestow a final cold good night kiss to winter and turn my full attention to the Spring thaw, I want to take a moment to say a few thank yous to some members of the gridiron.

First and foremost, thank you to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to from one week to the next during the off season. Thank you for demonstrating a never give up, never give in, won't take a loss for an answer, hyper-competitive attitude, all the while, maintaining grace and humility. Thank you for giving me an unforgettable game experience that rivals the Colorado Rockies 2007 play-in game #163 as the most exciting sporting event I've ever attended.

And secondly, thank you to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for reminding me why I love baseball so much more than football or any other sport. There is no clock in baseball. Each team gets a fair shot at winning. Each team has to play an equal amount of defense and offense. In order to earn a win in baseball, each team has to prove that they can score more runs than the other team, given the same number of opportunities.

Whereas in football, in order to win, once a team has gained the lead, rather than continuing to try to play sound defense combined with sound offense, they can shift their offensive strategy to clock management. Simply put, rather than try to score on offense, it is commonly accepted in football for a team with a lead to attempt to run plays that will exhaust the clock and dwindle the other team's opportunity to run offensive plays.

On the biggest stage of all (the Super Bowl), we saw the New York Giants and the New England Patriots take a slightly different angle on this commonly used strategy. With time running out, the New York Giants attempted to employ this strategy of clock management (or burning time), though they were trailing. However, the Patriots (team with the lead) caught on to this strategy and defended against it. They let the Giants score, thus rendering the Giants' effort to drain the clock useless. Was this a brilliant display of reverse psychology on the part of the Giants? Did we all just get punked?

Lets stop all the hoopla for a moment, step back, and actually take a look at what just happened. With one minute remaining in the Super Bowl, the Patriots conceded the winning touchdown to the New York Giants. The Patriots were one minute away from winning the Super Bowl!!! But rather than take that mindset, they chose to look at it as though they were one minute away from loosing the Super Bowl. Rather than D-up and try to protect the 2-point lead they were holding, they willingly allowed the Giants to score a touchdown, thus relinquishing the lead of the Super Bowl.

Perhaps I grew too accustomed to watching the Broncos overcome naysayers in the face of looming defeat to emerge victorious. Perhaps I too oft watched the likes of Von Miller and the Broncos defense force fumbles or back the other team out of field goal position when the game was on the line. Perhaps I've been jaded into thinking that letting the other team score is somehow a worse strategy than trying to stop them from scoring.

Everyone has suspected shady operations in New England, but this borders on the absurd, the preposterous, the asinine. The New England Patriots willing conceded the lead of the Super Bowl. They intentionally let the other team score the go-ahead points. In baseball they sentence people found guilty of employing such strategies to a lifetime ban from the sport. Though baseball may have its own flaws, it at least attempts to maintain competitive integrity. The New England Patriots did worse than flip everyone watching the game the bird. The New England Patriots cheated everyone out of watching a game where both teams tried to win.

Could you imagine this scenario? Game 7 of the World Series. Top of the ninth. The home team is leading by a run. The visitors have runners at second and third with no one out. It's getting late on the East Coast. The kids should have been ushered off to bed hours ago. Everyone has after parties to attend. Bud Selig is sitting in the stands waiting to award a trophy to the winning team, the most deserving team, and he keeps checking his watch.

The home team manager takes note that Selig is taking note of the time. Selig, tinkering with his time piece, signals the two minute warning. This game has gone on too long. With a quick shift in strategy, the home team issues three intentional walks to concede the go ahead run. As such, they are rewarded with a switch in sides.

Selig holds up a sign - 30 seconds remaining. The home team gets a runner on first base. This is it. It's down to this batter. This will be the last pitch of the game. The hitter must swing for the fences.

Preposterous right?

Thank you Roger Goodell, it's been good filler, but it's time to dust off the hunchmaster. It's time to slice some grapefruit. It's time to suit up. It's baseball season!


  1. Preposterous yes but Bud has done something very similar which is why the now equally preposterous idea of the winner of the All Star game having home field advantage in the World Series exists.

    The Patriots did the right thing, sometimes you have to do something that is against your instincts to give yourself a chance. Much like the intentional walk in baseball, you give a little to give yourself a better chance to win.

    1. Yeah, it wasn't too much of a stretch to imagine Bud Selig involved in such a far fetched scenario.

      While I'm not a huge fan of four wide ones, the intentional walk is not the same thing as conceding the winning run. What the Patriots did was wrong.

  2. Interesting perspective Jefe. I'm with Matt though. What the Pats did was closer to:
    1 out, 1 run lead, runners on second and third. The defensive team will almost always issue the Intentional walk to set up the double play. Sometimes the next guy up hits a two run double.

  3. I rolled that scenario around a bit. The difference there is that the tying run is at third and the go-ahead run is at second base. The intentional walk isn't necessarily used to set up the double play, as much as it is used to give the defense a better opportunity to cut down the run at the plate. Walking the runner doesn't give the tying or winning run a better chance of scoring. Sure, it increases the chance of more runs scoring, but at the same time, it gives the defense a better chance of no runs scoring.
    I think baseball scenario would be a better parallel to the onside kick in football. The onside kick gives the receiving team the potential to score more runs, yet gives the kicking team a better chance of getting off the field defensively.
    What the Pats did was fall victim to one of the classic blunders - the most famous of which is 'never get involved in a land war in Asia' - but only slightly less well known is this - 'never willingly concede the go ahead touchdown in the Super Bowl'.
    What they should have done is get tough, try to sack the quarterback, try to force a fumble, try to force the running back out of bounds (*cough* Marion Barber *cough*), try to block the field goal, or force the other team to make a good snap, hold, and kick with death on the line. That's what they should have done.
    What they did was inconceivable.

  4. I am happy that football is over. It seemed that this season was very NBA-ish and the ending couldn't have been much better. As you've stated the ROUS that coaches the Patties knowingly and willingly gave up the go ahead points. I guess it's time to come back to life for our "To blave"

  5. Great post, Jefe!
    And of course, I must concur: the Patriots did not do the right thing. Not only do I dislike that "let them score" strategy, but it's completely absurd. They didn't "give a little to get a little", Matt. They gave up the lead in the SUPER BOWL with under a minute to go. On Purpose!
    I can't believe that Belichick hasn't been crucified in the media over it. My only reasoning is that, like you, they feel that this is sound strategy. Unreal.
    Any number of things could have happen: the defense could hold, a fumbled snap, a fumbled handoff, a strip, a sack, a blocked FG, a missed FG; but you eliminate all possibility of any of that happening by letting your opponent score. In the Super Bowl??? Why? You prefer the odds of moving the ball 80 yards in 50 seconds? Preposterous!
    Thank God baseball is here. I'm through with this gridiron foolishness.