Monday, December 28, 2009

What In The Wide World Of Sports?

I can't remember the last time I was so irritated watching a sporting event. There were the Indianapolis Colts, winners of all 14 of their games, lining up against a very mediocre NY Jets team. At home. With a chance at history. So, what happens? Rookie coach Jim Caldwell pulls Peyton Manning and several other starters in the 3rd quarter, and the game goes from a Colts lead to the first loss of the season.

I was damn glad not to be one who paid for a ticket to this game. I would have wanted a refund. Good for the fans who booed throughout the latter part of the game. They were ripped off. They paid full price, they should have gotten to see a full team, for the full game.

The coach is apparently thinking that he wants to spare his stars potential injury. There are a few flies in that ointment.

First, look no further than the team's recent history. When they've rested players like this in the past, they've been eliminated early in the playoffs. The one Super Bowl win came in the season the Colts were a Wild Card team, playing every playoff game without rest, scrapping continuously. Why would anyone deviate from their own model for success?

As an Ohio State fan, I get the value of continuous play. Year after year, OSU rolls to a good record and a bowl game awaits. Because the Big Ten doesn't have a playoff, the Buckeyes have a month-long layoff. They come to the bowl game out of synch, rusty, and generally lose. Well, that's the same lesson as the Colts' playoff history.

I just hate the cowardice. Go for the brass ring! Try for perfection! How often does that opportunity come along?

If nothing else, Colts fans hopefully learned this: Never buy a ticket for the last home game. Exhibition season is at the front end of the season, but Colts management is unaware.


Todd S. said...

I was a bit irritated as well. I thought they left the starters in for too long. Being healthy is far more important than playing continuously. A lot of the analysis of past playoff losses ignore the missing/injured players the Colts played the games without. If playing every game is so important, why did the offense play like crap for the first 2 1/2 games in the 2006 season playoff run?

Here's a good post looking back, and note that there are plenty of other posts on this site that agree with you:

Mike Kole said...

2008, Game 16: Starters play one quarter against the Titans, win the game. 1st Round Playoffs: Colts lose to San Diego in OT. Chargers get it done without LaDanian Thomlinson, who has a groin injury. Darren Sproles (who?) comes in and runs all over the field.

2007, Game 16: Starters are pulled in 2nd qtr against Titans, lose the game. Cleveland complains bitterly about being robbed by the Colts malfeasance. Playoffs: Colts get a 1st round bye. San Diego wins their wild card game, beats the Colts. The Chargers are the undermanned team, lacking Thomlinson again, and QB Rivers playing hurt.

2006, Game 16: Even though the Colts have clinched the playoffs, Manning plays the whole game. The Colts beat Miami, then win out to the Super Bowl.

2005, Game 15 & 16: Jim Sorgi gets the lions share of snaps against the Seahawks (L 28-13) and Cardinals (W 17-13). Playoffs: Colts are out of the game as the Steelers dominate the wild card game for 55 minutes. The Colts finally start to put it together, but a missed field goal keeps the game from going to OT. This Colts team started 13-0, then said perfection doesn't matter, rested the starters for the playoffs that seemed assured. Alas.

See a pattern here?

Todd S. said...

To me, your analysis reads as:

post hoc; ergo, propter hoc

Seriously, what do the complaints of Cleveland Browns fans have to do with any of this?

Mike Kole said...

Had to look it up. That Latin goes roughly, "Since that event followed this one, that event must have been caused by this."

No absolutes there, of course. As they say on the ads for stocks, "Past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future results". But, if one has four examples of past history to draw on, where there is some parallel, why disregard those out of hand? Why not take note of it?

To use a baseball parallel, I'm the manager. I need to send a batter to the box. The next batter has a lifetime 0-for-3 record against this pitcher. I have a guy on my bench who is 1-for-1 with a home run against that pitcher. Do I go with the 0-for-3 guy on my gut? Because he's due? Because the law of averages is now against the guy who hit the home run? I'm going with the pinch hitter. Caldwell went with the 0-for-3 guy.

Look, I think either approach is valid. Jim Caldwell is a genius if the Colts go on to the Super Bowl. What will the Latin be for that? Pretty much the same, eh?

Just because it's valid doesn't mean I like it. I'm with Woody Hayes:

Q: Mr. Hayes, you were up by 44 points and you went for a 2-point conversion. Why'd you do that?

A: Because I couldn't go for three.

Attitude. Sense of life. Brass ring. &c.

Todd S. said...

I get the argument that they should have gone for 19-0 because of the chance to make history. What I don't agree with is the parallel that because they've rested starters before and lost, they shouldn't rest them now. Which completely ignores the injury situation that hampered them, and the fact that they rested starters in 2003 and 2004 and won their first games, and the fact that the offense sucked in 2006 when they didn't rest.

Todd S. said...

Also, the usual translation I see is "after; therefore, because."