It was a bad weekend for gamblers, but it was a good one for the hopelessly hopeful.
There are a certain number of predetermined patterns for football games. Ninety-seven percent of all football games fall into one of these patterns. There is the First Quarter Blow-out, the Late Comeback, the Too-Early Comeback, the Ball-Control Stomp, the Smash-Mouth Choke, the Second-Half Blow-out, etc.
It was the Too-Early Comeback that I was thinking of while watching the Chargers-Broncos game last night, the first of the NFL's new "Flex Game" scheduling matchups, and a good one, to say the least. The Too-Early Comeback is common, and heartbreaking for the losing team. Down by less than a touchdown, the losing team marches towards the end zone with pride and confidence, culminating in a skillful touchdown with more than 2 minutes left in the game. They try to kick the kickoff by bouncing the ball downfield, hoping it ends up in the hands of a bulky lineman prone to fumbles. Instead the winning team simply falls on the ball, leaving it for the offense to move it 30 yards or so, to within field goal range and a sure celebration.
I even predicted that outcome to my wifey, who sat beside me on the couch, falling asleep, agreeing with me, saying, "Yes, Firsty, yes, you are so smart. You are handsome and amazing."
But the Chargers surprised me, they sure did. They scored quickly, LaDainian Tomlinson showing off his HOF moves all over again. But Marty's defense held up in the end, and the Broncos were hammered at home in the dark.
And the prediction failed. Someone else who was hammered at home in the dark, despite a hundred years of stability and endurance, was Pinnochio's original cricket. Before the trouble-making marionette even learned Jiminy's name, he smashed the poor sucker with a hammer, in chapter four. It's true. Look it up. It's a real laugher for sugar-ridden children — great to rile them up right before bedtime.
When children admit they are riled up, it sounds like this: "Wild-up." There is no better way to describe the immature but well-meaning insanity that takes place on the eves of important events, and during the mad scramble for victory.
We yearn for drama and excitement, even though it often nearly kills us.
There was plenty of excitement, of the unpatterned kind, this weekend. A disfunctional Parcells-TO team beat the mighty regular season Colts. Michigan confused the BCS by playing like the second-best team in the nation. The Sabres lost by 3 goals. The Raiders almost won. The 49ers are suddenly even. Favre was injured. Granted, so was McNabb, as per pattern, but this weekend, the patterns appeared only three percent of the time, instead of the usual ninety-seven. And most confusing of all for us sports fans who like to be able to predict our excitement, was the Michigan-Ohio State game.
What we dont want to admit is that the best solution for the BCS is to introduce a fool-proof tie-breaker. At the end of the season, if the top 4 teams are separated by a difference that could be made up by one game, then the top 2 teams are determined by the number of personal fouls each team committed during the season. The more personal fouls committed, the higher the rank.
This would mean that the two best teams were able to make it into the top 4 despite giving away needless yards based on violent penalties, and we're sure to see a rip-roaring wild-up game to settle the national championship. Predictable violence would sell the final college football game as if Jerry Bruckheimer was running the NCAA. And why not? It would be the best of both worlds — scripted and insane.
It's time America embraced the mad violence of its sporting events.
The vapor trail of some kind of energy, gathered by Firsty for your reading pleasure
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