Fail of the Week 8

December 5, 2011

It’s been awhile since we pointed out the failing of society. With all of the governmental fails distracting us from sports-related fails, we haven’t had any items we could add to our blog (we do not discuss politics). But, this week, we can finally end that streak.

This week’s FAIL is the BCS. Shocker, right? Try not to get too emotional about this one.

For all the heat that the BCS has taken over the years, I have largely been a proponent of it over a playoff. The reason I have defended the BCS is that college football has the greatest regular season of any sport anywhere. If a playoff were instituted, in my understanding, it would destroy and devalue the regular season. The most beautiful part of the college football season is that one, maybe two, maybe three weekends a year where the latest “Greatest Team of All Time” loses to some unknown, some huge underdog, or some rival, effectively ending that team’s national title hopes. Although it’s not a grid, the regular season is a national championship playoff because, just like a playoff, one loss can take you out of the hunt permanently. By and large, the BCS gives us a matchup that we want–maybe not THE matchup we want, but at least one better than the old split championship system with bowl allegiances for certain conferences (e.g., Nebraska and Michigan splitting national championship honors in 1997 because Michigan was forced to play in the Rose Bowl). And, in the end, the national champion is usually a team that everyone agrees on (except for the AP splitting from the BCS in 2003 to give the championship to USC instead of BCS winner LSU – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_football_national_championships_in_NCAA_Division_I_FBS for references).

But this year, the BCS has failed. Well, I should caveat–it’s not the BCS that has failed. It’s the implementation of human polling in the BCS that has failed.

This year’s BCS national championship will feature a rematch of a great game from the regular season of college football, LSU and Alabama. Both teams are defensive juggernauts, Alabama’s only loss coming in the overtime game against LSU. Indeed, people were pitting these two teams for a national championship rematch even before the first game was played.

And that, my friends, is precisely why it SHOULDN’T happen.

By putting LSU and Alabama in the national championship game, we’re saying three things that are completely antithetical to the BCS working at all. First, we’re saying that the first game didn’t matter. If you can play a team, lose the game, and then play that same team again for the championship, it means that the first game didn’t matter. for all the hype and hooplah about the “Game of the Century,” at the end of the day, it didn’t even matter! The result would have been exactly the same had the game not been played or had the outcome been the opposite, with Alabama beating LSU! There are 119 FBS teams that each play between 10 and 12 regular season games. There is no way all of those teams can play each other in a meaningful way, so why do we have games on the schedule that don’t matter? Why did we play this first game? Basically, we’re saying that Alabama deserves two bites at the apple while another team (Oklahoma state) never gets a shot. Moreover, it actually penalizes the winner of the game because LSU had to go play the SEC championship game–which it might have lost, a la Oklahoma and Nebraska losing (in different years) several years back while Alabama could sit on their couch and wait to be named a competitor for the national championship game. And even though Oklahoma State destroyed its rival Oklahoma–which is a solid team and one that OK State has not beaten in years–there is effectively nothing they could’ve done to get into the game.

Second, it means that no conference other than the SEC matters. It goes against what bowls are about, which is pitting conference against each other. Yes, LSU beat West Virginia and Oregon, and Alabama beat Penn State in non-conference play. But Penn State didn’t win its conference, West Virginia won its conference but is in what is probably the worst conference in America (and I’m including the MAC and the Mountain West in that analysis), and Oregon won a conference championship over a UCLA team that went 6-7 and only managed a streak of two wins in a row! Non-conference schedules are really not the point I’m trying to make here–really, it’s about the bowls. The whole purpose of a bowl game is to match conferences that we don’t see playing each other. The reason that the Rose Bowl always matched the Big10 champion against the PAC champion is that those teams NEVER played each other. And that is how all bowls are supposed to be–a matchup to see how the conferences would fair if they played against each other in games that we rarely see. However, we see LSU and Alabama play every year! Look at the list below of this year’s bowl games. The ONLY one that includes teams from the same conference is the national championship game.

The final problem is that you are giving a team that didn’t win it’s own division of a conference–let alone the conference itself–a chance to call itself the champion of the whole nation. I fail to see how it’s reasonable to say you are not the champion of your own league but, at the same time, you’re the champion of the world.

This actually is not a problem of the BCS itself. Looking at the chart below, 6/8 computers ranked Oklahoma State ahead of Alabama.

The problem is, both human polls ranked Alabama ahead of OK State. Why?

I get a lot of answers to this question. None of them convince me that this is the right matchup. A few are highlighted below, with responses:

I want to see a matchup of the two best teams, and Alabama and LSU are the two best teams

Really? How do you assess that? Are you omnipotent? Or is this just your opinion? I have a bunch of computers that tell me OK State is a better team than Alabama. I’m pretty sure computers don’t have any single conference bias.

Here’s what I know: I’ve already seen LSU and Alabama play, and LSU won that game. I haven’t seen OK State play either of those two. Does it make any sense at all to see LSU and Alabama play–which we’ve decided on the field already–instead of seeing OK State play LSU, a matchup we haven’t seen yet. Yah, OK State may get destroyed by LSU, but at least we wouldn’t be sitting around wondering if they could beat LSU. We already know Alabama can’t–in fact, DIDN’T! Why do we need to see that they can’t again?

I’ve got a great idea–why don’t we just scrap the entire season. Take LSU and Alabama and have those two teams play every week. Forget about who wins each game. Just take the last one, and whoever is the winner will be called the national champion.

Oklahoma State’s defense is terrible

Alabama’s offense is terrible. Who decides which is more important? Last time I checked, the game is about scoring more points than the other guys, and OK State scores A LOT OF POINTS.

Oklahoma State lost to unranked Iowa State in overtime. If they wanted to be in the national championship game, they should’ve won that game.

While it may be true that OK State would be a lock for the national championship game had they beaten Iowa State, the same goes for Alabama–they would be a lock if they had beaten LSU. Now I know you’re going to tell me that LSU is better than Iowa State, and that’s definitely true. But OK State lost in double overtime on a call that kind of screwed them. It was on the road in a hostile environment on a night when things didn’t go their way, and right after learning that a prominent coach had died tragically. Alabama lost at home by missing four (not one, not two, not three, FOUR) field goals in the game against LSU. Those comparisons at least balance the losses a bit, if not tipping in favor of OK State.

But the caliber of the opponent to whom a team lost should not be the determining factor for all things. The caliber of the teams that you beat should also matter, and OK State beat great teams (Baylor, Texas–heck, even Oklahoma is ranked 6th by the computers with three losses!). The fact that OK State won its own conference (Alabama didn’t win its own division) should count for something as well. They have a great QB, they have the top WR in the country, and the body of work they put together is more deserving than Alabama. While that is opinion, it’s the only way this thing can work.

So, to the BCS, we solute you. You FAIL, and this time, you’re failing one of your biggest supporters.

Fail of the Week 7

August 22, 2011

This week’s FAIL goes to the crowd at Atlanta Athletic Club.

On Thursday, I was at my desk quietly watching Tiger in his round. He pushed a ball into the trees and hit a beautiful 4-iron onto the green. Then, this guy comes running out of the crowd for his 15 minutes.

I almost fell out of my chair.

All week long the announcers were ripping on the AAC crowd. I think perhaps the best is Ian Baker-Finch’s line “I told you they were breeding in there.”

A friend of mine went on Friday and saw Rory McIlroy hit a poor shot from a bunker, wherein it rolled back to his feet. A fan (not 10 feet from the action) yelled out “Oh my God! That was a horrible shot! He didn’t even get it out of the bunker!” While I have used this line repeatedly on my friend since then, it’s absolutely unacceptable at a major tournament.

On Sunday, I was standing on the tee box of the 14th hole when Bubba Watson came through with a crowd of followers. After hitting his shot, literally 7 different people in the crowd yelled out “Go Dawgs.” Like we’re at a football game instead of a golf tournament. I’m sorry, who are the dogs? Which player is the dogs? I must not understand this idiotic recitation–in the middle of a pro golf tournament. I know Bubba went to UGA, but come on. I doubt the guy even likes football.

Given the events of the week, I can’t see the PGA returning to AAC for awhile. While it was a great tournament, the players HATED the course–they couldn’t stand the bermuda rough and really didn’t care for the greens, everyone disliked the bunkers, and most thought the course was too penal in the final stretch of holes. And, as noted here, the crowds were obnoxious (thanks for giving ATL a bad name).

Given all, it was a great tournament, but we can expect it will be awhile before they return to AAC. Here’s looking forward to East Lake in a few weeks.

Fail of the Week 6

July 19, 2011

This week’s FAIL goes to our American golfers at the British Open, Phickelson and DJ. American golf has been hurting for the last several years (since Tiger’s surgery and subsequent tree-driving incident). We count on the big hitters, and they continually let us down.

Dustin Johnson has had chances at last year’s US Open, last year’s PGA, and this year’s British Open. But last year, he choked away the US Open with a final-round 82. Then he failed to read the rules and incurred a 2-shot penalty for grounding his club, taking him out of a playoff with headcase Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer, eventual winner. And this year, for some reason he just couldn’t keep himself from jacking his second shot OB to the right on a par 5 at the Open Championship, again incurring a 2-shot penalty and again losing a major for it. Although Darren Clarke definitely won the championship, DJ had a shot to put pressure on him; when the ball went out of bounds, Clarke was looking at a 4-shot lead with 5 holes, which is doable even for a hacker like me.

However, the bigger disappointment had to be Phil “Phickelson” Mickelson. Mickelson shot a five under par front nine of 30 (see http://sports.yahoo.com/golf/pga/players/Phil+Mickelson/29/scorecard/2011/29). He had birdies on holes 2, 4, 6, and 10 and an eagle on 7. He sat at -6 for the round on the 11th tee box when the lights went out. For some reason, Phickelson rushed his 2-footer for par 3 on the 11th and bogeyed, sending him into a tailspin, thereafter bogeying 13, 15, and 16 and failing to make birdies on some of the easiest holes on the course (14 and 17). It was like he was a different golfer after the 3-putt–and, really, for no reason other than his own head got in the way. For all the tournaments Phil has won, the old choker is still lurking in there.

Once again, American golf comes up short. So, to you Phil and DJ, you are this week’s FAIL.

Fail of the Week 5

July 11, 2011

This week’s fail of the week goes to John Daly/Big JD/The Lion/the skinny Lion/that guy shooting in the 80s. At the John Deere Classic last week, Daly recorded a 13 on a par 4. I’ve been playing golf a long time; I’ve never put a 13 on the card.

“I heeled it really bad way right, and I really was hoping they wouldn’t find it so I’d have to go back to the tee,” Daly said. “Because I got stuck on my first approach when they did find it, I’m going how can I get it left so I can take an unplayable, because where it was there I would have to go all the way to the maintenance shed, which would probably be out of bounds.

“So I hit it a couple times and then took an unplayable, couldn’t get it out, hit it again, took an unplayable, couldn’t get it out. Then I got it far enough left that I could drop, you know, and then get in the bunker and two-putted for a 13.”

It’s at this point that the reporters missed a golden opportunity to ask the Lion–“how in the world are you a professional at this?”

Daly is a major championship winner and a lovable icon on the PGA Tour. Many fans want to see him succeed because he has done so much. But Daly’s antics have become a blight on the tour. For example, Daly’s interview a few years back while playing golf without a shirt…[[WARNING!!!!]]

More importantly, Daly was the one who proved that the last person to make it in the field is capable of winning the tournament when he won the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick. Had Nick Price not dropped out of the tournament, we may never have heard of John Daly. When he shows up to tournaments like this, he keeps one player out who would have qualified otherwise. As a competitive golfer, I know how hard it is to “make it.” I can’t imagine being the last guy out so that John Daly could get a sponser’s exemption only to watch him shoot 81 with a 13 on a par 4.

So, to you, John Daly–we love you, but you are this week’s FAIL.

Read more, including a picture showing all of Daly’s shots: http://blogs.golf.com/presstent/2011/07/john-daly-makes-a-13-on-a-par-4.html

Fail of the Week 4

June 8, 2011

This week’s FAIL is the state of golf. Currently, the game has never been less intriguing, and the reason is that we haven’t seen the dominance of the players we like and root for. Tiger has been out of contention in most tournaments (or just out of them), Phil hasn’t played well, and the big boys who made so much noise last year (DJ, Bubba) have been very quiet this year.

Don’t get me wrong, Luke Donald is a fine player. He’s currently #1 in the world rankings (which makes no sense because he hasn’t won a major, but, whatever, that’s the case). He plays measured, consistent golf and deserves the money and publicity he gets. But it really speaks to the current state of the game when THIS is what the #1 player in the world looks like:

The #1 player in the world should look like a champion. This guy looks like a pack of watermelon gum. It would be one thing if this were a rare moment, but, unfortunately, I think he might’ve borrowed his wardrobe from Ian Poulter.

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My grandmother wouldn’t wear that shade of pink, much less in pants. And to pair it with a black shirt–at Harbour Towne, no less–you’re asking for trouble.

Don’t get me wrong; I like pink, when used appropriately. But, this is not appropriate. This just speaks to the state of golf. If you asked 100 people on the street who the top 3 golfers in the world were, none of them could tell you Donald, Westwood, and Kaymer in that order. Yet that’s what we have.

It’s sad, but the most in-your-face and recognizable American golfer we have is Rickie Fowler. Can anyone explain this? I mean, seriously? This is what people want to see?

Here’s Rickie Fowler looking like a prison inmate:

Here’s Rickie Fowler dressed like a grape popsickle:

Here’s Rickie Fowler’s award wardrobe for selling the most Mary Kay:

Moreover, news came out yesterday that Tiger will not be playing in the US Open, and his absence from golf is putting a further decline on the popularity of the game.

Tim Finchem, please, do something. Fast. Otherwise, you’ll be losing more than just the casual fan.

For a photo of Ian Poulter’s ungodly obsession with the color pink, see http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01583/ian-poulter_1583748c.jpg. Warning, too shockingly pink for the PF. Proceed at your own risk

Fail of the Week 3

May 26, 2011

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how good you are; you fail. So, with great rumination, this week’s FAIL goes to LG.

LG, our PF readers have to ask: where are you? Of the last 11 posts, only 2 were authored by LG: FAIL 1, authored 4/30/2011, and Tip of the Cap (in honor of Seve Ballesteros), authored 5/7/2011. Now (5/26/2011, btw), I could be understanding and not crucify our comrade for burning the midnight (and early morning) oil in patent litigation, but….seriously dude. Our readers love your work–your course review on Pebble Beach is our highest rated post. The PF needs you. I can show them how to sand down a putter, but, seriously, how many of them are actually going to do that?

So, to you, LG, I salute you with FAIL 3.

Maybe this way I can get you to contribute with a response….or something

Fail of the Week 2

May 6, 2011

With the popularity of our Fail of the Week (FAIL) 1, I present to you, this week’s epic FAIL. This week’s FAIL focuses on Rashard Mendenhall, runningback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It all started with the labor negotiations. Many eyes raised when Mendenhall compared NFL players to slave trade:

“Anyone with knowledge of the slave trade and the NFL could say that these two parallel each other”

Of course, in his wisdom, Mendenhall ignored the fact that slaves were physically beaten and oppressed–not to mention unpaid–while he earns more in a year than I probably will in my career. But, of course, when you’re stupid, you’re stupid.

Many wrote this off as a dumb comment–or, perhaps, were too cowardly to comment, given that this country has a hard time dealing with race relations. But Mendhenhall now has drawn the ire of the whole country. In an amazing day in American democracy–the subject of this week’s POTW–the villain of the worst disaster in American history was taken down by Navy Seals. Osama bin Laden, the pursuit of the world’s armies for the past decade, was shot in a firefight early this week.

Football players are known for doing some pretty stupid stuff. But sometimes, it’s just disturbing to find out what’s rolling around in their heads. Following bin Laden’s reported death, Mendenhall felt the need to tweet…

Stupid tweet #1:
“What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side…”

Stupid tweet #2:
“We’ll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style”

Let me explain to you, Rashard, how the people of this country can HATE a man they’ve “never heard speak.” He killed 4,000 of us. That’s all I need to know to HATE him. And while I don’t think it’s good for our country to relish the death of anyone, I cannot deny that bin Laden needed to die, if for no other reason than he was our sworn enemy.

But, looking to Stupid Tweet #2, I have to say that you need to quit football and check into a mental health institution as soon as possible. You have obviously taken far too many hits to the head. Have you not seen the videos?

I’m looking forward to the signs in the audience when you’re in Baltimore. The 8 road games this year are going to be fun; I wonder if the fans will chant “TERRORIST, TERRORIST, TERRORIST” for you.

You probably should leave the tweeting to the professionals.

So, to you Rashard: you are an epic failure.