By Tim Marcin
Elm Staff Writer
Have you ever played someone in Madden, and he or she always plays it safe, punting the ball and taking the prudent field goal instead of going for it on fourth down? I’m not that guy—in fact, I hate that guy. I never kick, I never punt—I always go for it. I come from the Ricky Bobby school of thought that, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” You don’t lay up on the golf course, you don’t try to keep a tie in extra time in soccer (like we saw frequently in the World Cup), and you don’t go for a tying field goal when a touchdown could win it. That is why I choose Mike Dantonio’s play call against Notre Dame as the good play of the week.
In case you missed it, Dantonio’s Michigan State Spartans were in a deadlocked game with the Irish, down by three in overtime, needing a field goal to send the game into another overtime round. Spartans kicker Dan Conroy lined up to try a 46 yarder, only to have the holder Aaron bates take the snap and throw Dantonio pulled a fast one, calling a fake field goal to win the game. He had the guts to put himself on the line, and knew he was going to be either a hero or a villain. On that day, he was the hero. I love the pure bravado and confidence it takes to make that call. In a sporting world that continually becomes more about playing it safe, he pulled an old-fashioned gadget play out of his sleeve to beat Notre Dame. The best part? The play was called “Little Giants” in the playbook, after the movie in which a team of misfits wins on a trick play. Granted, it wasn’t as cool as the Giants’ play dubbed “The Annexation of Puerto Rico”, but still, you have to give kudos to the brave Dantonio and his Spartans.
“The Manning Bowl” was hyped as an epic battle between the two Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli. It ended up looking more like a classic case of the elder brother picking on the younger and weaker sibling. The final score was a lopsided 38-14 victory for the Colts. Eli’s Giants from their week one loss to Houston. Peyton finished with three touchdown passes, no interceptions, and a stellar passer rating of 145.5. Eli, on the other hand, had two touchdowns, an interception, and a below-average rating of 85.6.
Eli was not the sole culprit however; the Giants were flat out bad all around. They were only able to gain 257 yards on offense, compared to the Colts 410. They only registered 13 first downs to the Colts’ 24. The Giants’ defense could only manage one sack, compared to the Colts’ four. Almost every stat was just as lopsided. People tuned in to see a great game between two siblings who happen to both be very good football players. What they got was a disappointment. While the blame does not fall squarely on Eli’s shoulders (his defense especially looked like they were lost) the “Manning Bowl” wasn’t even close to what was expected. It really was a bad performance by the Giants and a terrible game to watch for those of us who tuned it.
I respect Derek Jeter. Coming from a huge Phillies fan, that is tough to admit. He has continually proven himself to be an honest, hard-working, hall-of-fame player. However, I lost some of that respect on Sept. 15. In a game that night, Chad Quails from the Tampa Bay Rays threw a pitch on the inside corner that ricocheted off Jeter’s bat. It looked like it may have hit him, so Jeter jumped into a whole charade of acting hurt and yelping in pain—even sneaking glances at the ump to see if he was indeed going to get the unearned free base. Now, I have no problem with him taking an unearned base. That is, if the umpire made the decision and sent him on his way, Jeter by all means should go to first. He does not need to confess that the ball hit his bat and not his elbow if the umpire tells him to go to first base.
I do not expect such complete and utterly stupid honesty. I do not condone Jeter pulling the acting job, however. He coerced the umpire into giving him the base by acting as if the pitch shattered his elbow. Meanwhile, everybody in the stands, everyone watching at home, and the ball hitting the bat.
I understand this was not an egregious act. This was not Clemens using steroids. It was not Pete Rose betting on baseball. I’ve just come to expect better from Jeter. It was ugly in that I feel like it tarnishes an otherwise great image. It was the baseball equivalent to Cristiano Ronaldo taking a dive in soccer to draw a foul.
It just reeks of shadiness. Nearly all of the ESPN analysts immediately came to the “goldenboy”’s defense, saying it was done to win the game and that it shows his ferocious competitiveness. I have to disagree. The Derek Jeter I thought I knew would shake that play off, get back in the batter’s box, and rip a double into the right field gap.
If it was not Jeter who pulled the stunt, I am certain most of those analysts would quickly change their tune. Manny Ramirez, for instance, would be ripped apart as a liar and a cheat. It just seems like Jeter was on the right side of a double standard.
For me, however, the whole incident leaves a ugly blemish on an otherwise pristine career.