Sports Medley: Dumb Decisions Transcend Sports 14 Sep 15
by Tony Medley
Can the Fifth play of the opening game ruin a season?
Pittsburgh receives the opening kick from New England. Run 18 yards;
Swing Pass 9 yards; Run 4 yards, first down; Play action pass 14 yards;
Draw play 11 yards for a 1st & 10 on the New England 24. With
Pittsburgh knifing through the New England defense like it’s soft
butter, bumbling Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley decides to
call a trick play with a wide receiver throwing a pass! 8 yard loss!!
Momentum shifts drastically. Next play Pittsburgh is called for a 15
yard holding penalty. Offense stalls, field goal missed. New England
scores two touchdowns and Pittsburgh is limited to a field goal at the
end of the half after a surrealistic Haley-concocted two minute drill
that looked as if it had been devised by Moe, Larry, and Curly.
What would have happened had Haley not tried something cute and just
allowed his offense to dominate and drive in for a touchdown in the
first couple of minutes? We’ll never know, but I think that one idiotic
play call shaped the season for both teams.
You Can’t Keep a Bad Man Down:
No sooner had New England enjoyed the benefits of a corrupt judicial
decision, they go back to basics and fouled up Pittsburgh’s
communications during the first half. Instead of their coaches being
able to communicate privately with one another, Pittsburgh’s system
broadcast the New England play-by-play. New England’s response? “Who?
Why did the Dodgers get hot a few weeks ago? It had nothing to do with
any decision Don Mattingly made. It was no coincidence that the winning
streak coincided with the injury to Yasiel Puig that put him on the
disabled list. This precluded Mattingly from keeping Puig, the worst
rally-killer in baseball, from batting in the middle of the lineup. With
Puig and his strikeouts and weak ground balls out of the lineup, the
Dodgers went on a streak that assured them of a place in the playoffs.
The question is, will Mattingly have the gumption to keep Puig on the
bench when/if he comes off the disabled list? I’m betting not. Donnie
Baseball loves those .200 hitters like Puig and Rollins. Mattingly has
already said that spectacular rookie Corey Seager (presently hitting
.412) will be benched so he can keep Jimmy Rollins and his .220 batting
average and reckless base running in the lineup.
Stupid and Incompetent:
Stupid #1: With 1:19 left in the first half, Oregon State, trailing
10-7, was punting on 4th down against Michigan. The snap went
over the punter’s head (Nick Porebsky) and he tracked it down on the
five. He picked up the ball and tried to run but was tackled on the
three. His choices were, recover the ball and give it to Michigan on the
three from which they would either get a 7 point TD or a 3 point field
goal, or carry it into the end zone for a safety giving two points to
Michigan. Anybody with half a brain would just take it into the end zone
for a safety, but not Porebsky, he gave Michigan a first down on the
three yard line and they scored a TD to lead at half time 17-7 instead
of 12-7 had Porebsky taken the safety.
Now, incompetence. Neither of ABC’s two “expert” announcers, Chris
Spielman and Sean McDonough, had the perspicacity to mention the
blunder, so they are apparently only there to tell the down and time
remaining in the game. Anything other than that is beyond them. I have
yet to hear anybody else criticize or even mention this glaring blunder.
Stupid #2. In Sunday’s Dallas-Giants game, the Giants were leading by
three with a 3rd & 1 on the Dallas one yard line with 1:43
left in the game and Dallas out of time outs. There is only one logical
thing to do here, try a line plunge. If it’s short of a TD, let the
clock click off 40 seconds and then either kick a field goal, or try
again. If it fails, Dallas has 99 yards to go in less than a minute and
no timeouts. But we’re dealing with professional athletes and coaches
here, so what genius Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin called was a pass,
which, if incomplete, would stop the clock.
Here comes stupid #3, Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning. The play was
busted from the start, so what does mastermind Eli do? He throws the
ball away! Stopping the clock! Why not take a 7 yard sack back to the
eight yard line, then either kick a field goal or run the last play,
running the clock? But, no, Eli throws the ball away, stopping the
clock, and they kick a field goal. So Dallas gets the ball back in good
field positon after the kickoff is run back to the Dallas 28, but with
94 seconds on the clock, plenty of time, trailing by 6. They drive down
and finally score the winning touchdown with 7 seconds remaining. How
good are you at math? It took Dallas 87 seconds to score. 94 minus 40 is
54 seconds, which is the maximum they would have had if the Giants had
let the clock run, probably 10 seconds less. 54 seconds is shorter than
87 seconds, so Giants win.
Eli Manning is paid over $16 million a year, and Coughlin, is paid $5.25
million a year for making these not-so-tough decisions.