02.Dec.2009 War for the Roses
Now that we’ve covered the numbers, let’s discuss reality: the unexpected happens.
I remember growing up a New York Met fan. It was 1988. The Mets had won 15 straight against the Dodgers during the regular season. Then came the NL playoffs. Needless to reminisce (it still hurts), the Dodgers handled the Mets easily and eliminated them from the playoffs. How? Orel Hershiser. One man took over the game, the series, and the season.What’s the point of this anecdote? Fans and media alike enjoy predictions. If the prediction is right, it makes the prognosticator feel special, superior, important. I do it sometimes to arrouse discussion. Predictions are based on numbers, “what if” scenarios, and what “should” happen, but what should happen rarely does. Not just in sports. Look around.
- My gut tells me the Oregon Ducks should win 38-17.
- My gut tells me Chip Kelly is another in a lineage of alpha-male-uber-aggressive-coach-on-steroids that seems to be riddling the pac-10, which means the Beavers won’t have to stop the Ducks for 3 downs, but many times for 4.
- My gut tells me Canfield isn’t ready for this stage and will throw at least one heart-breaking interception.
- My gut thinks the Duck’s confidence is founded in talent, and the belief that their scheme can’t be stopped is a belief that makes them doubly dangerous.
The funny thing is my gut told me the same things about the New York Mets in 1988.
And for the life of me I can’t shake this clandestine yet burgeoning feeling that a magical, historical script is in the process of being written, and the penultimate (the Civil War) in this particular story is more important than the prize (Rose Bowl). That’s what makes this story fascinating. It simply can’t be a blowout; legendary scripts don’t end that way.
Now, let me relay another anecdote: one of my best friends, let’s call him “Brady”, has practically never lost at basketball despite being a mere 5’8. If you had never seen him play, you’d pick him last to join your squad, and even if you witnessed his game, you’d see his short, stocky frame and simply assume he was losing until the bell tolled and he was left smiling. Brady had some talent–he was a deadly outside shooter-but mostly he won with heart. He simply wanted it more than you did; he took advantage of every opportunity presented to him; and in the end, the sum of those parts raised him above his natural ability. How? By refining every part of his game, from the mental to the physical to intangibles like his competitive desire.
As far as Thursday night, I don’t know what’s going to happen. My gut says 38-17, Ducks. But my heart says this Beaver team has a little bit of Brady in them. As fans, we can only hope to have a fair shot and let our players decide the outcome. We cross our collective fingers that there are no injuries, good officiating, fair bounces, and good sportsmanship. And in the end we can only hope that on this aforementioned (somewhat utopian) level playing field, the team that combines talent with heart wins the game. If that happens, something will smell rotten in the state of Pewgene.
The pick: pick ’em.