Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The football community

Couldn't see any football Sunday afternoon because the local stations were preempting it for Ike coverage; so I went down to the local pub. Was watching the end of the Broncos game and to my astonishment and -- since I was pulling against Denver -- dismay, Shanahan decides to go for two for the win rather than one for the tie.

Two guys are standing next to me. One of them says, "What the #$!@ is he doing? Why isn't he kicking the extra point?"

I can't help but be excited to see a coach actually doing the intelligent thing, even though he's a coach I don't really like, and even though it's an outrage that Denver still has the ball after Cutler's OBVIOUS fumble that was COMPLETELY screwed up by a GROSSLY incompetent offic...ahem. Sorry about that. Anyway, the dialog continues as follows:

ME: No, no, it's exactly the right thing to do, as long as your success rate on two-point conversions is better than fifty percent. This is the smart play.

FIRST GUY: But he's more likely to make the kick than the two-point conversion, isn't he?

ME [very excitedly]: Yes, but the point isn't to make the conversion, it's to win the game, and even if he makes the kick, that just gets him into overtime, and then he's got about a fifty-fifty chance of winning. If he's got a sixty-percent chance of making the two-pointer then his odds are better of winning.

[FIRST GUY is looking confused but you can see the light bulb go on over SECOND GUY's head]

SECOND GUY: No, wait, you're right! His chances are better this way...

[FIRST GUY still looks dubious but just then Denver snaps the ball; Cutler fires, complete, game (essentially) over. SECOND GUY, clearly a Denver fan, lets out a roar of triumph. FIRST GUY turns to me without a word but with a big smile, gives a brief head-only bow of respect, and extends his hand for a handshake. I shake his hand with a grin. SECOND GUY lets out another roar of triumph and sticks his hand out too. I shake it, give 'em a quick pseudo-military salute, and head for the exit with a smile on my face.]

This is, by the way, one of the things that has driven me crazy for years and years and donkey years. It's two yards. How many fingers am I holding up? That's right, TWO. C'mon, now, you're telling me you can't come up with a play that's going to get at least two yards at least fifty percent of the time? 'Cause if you can't, then why do you have a job in the coaching profession? but if you can, and you still habitually kick for the tie-and-overtime-and-50%-chance-of-winning, then you are, not to put too fine a point on it, a jackass. And the fact that commentators all say you should kick for one, and refer to going for two as a "gamble" (when it fact it's more of a gamble to play for overtime) -- why, that just shows that the field of football commentating is unlikely to produce many candidates for any position of responsibility that requires more intelligence and judgment than garbage collecting or -- well, I was going to say "the United States Senate" but that would be unfair to football commentators and garbage collectors.

One of the many reasons that I admire TMQ is precisely the fact that he beats this very two-point-conversion drum as well. So I knew before I walked out the door that TMQ would be crowing about that play in this week's colume, and yea, verily, it came to pass.

Crow on, TMQ, crow on. People pay a lot more attention to you than to me. If you keep it up for another ten years or so we might actually see conventional folly change. And that will remove from Saturday and Sunday afternoons something that really quite disproportionately annoys me.

Which should be a relief to this blog's readers, even if to nobody else.


Post a Comment

<< Home