Sunday was a day for the worst and best of professional sports.
I'm not really a big pro sports fan. I'd rather watch college ball, or even high school or Little League. There you see kids trying their hearts out (for the most part). And minor league baseball is pro baseball at a bargain price. Sure, they drop catches sometimes, but it's a good game, anyway--they're trying their hearts out to make "the show". No slackers there. And they're not yet above the rest of us. They'll give a kid an autograph, a batting glove, you name it. They're still tickled to death to be somebody's hero.
Well, yesterday I turned on a football game (at my son's urging, for the record), and what we saw wasn't football. It was brawling in the tradition of the Ravens, a thuggish team in a league known for thugs. If I were an announcer looking for a cute turn of phrase with which to gain notoriety, I'd have pronounced it "footbrawl". The Ravens tied the all time NFL record for most penalties in a game and in the process had two players ejected and several serious penalties which resulted in the ball being moved halfway (no set number of yards) to the other team's goal line. The ejections were inexcusible. I know not all NFL players are literate, but at least they can be trained. At least two Ravens were never trained that you never, NEVER, shove an official. Another one got into a tiff with and official and expressed his anger by throwing the football into the sideline crowd at a distance of 10 feet. He got called for unsportsmanlike conduct and actually argued that call. What a maroon. Sheesh.
Then, for the best of sports. Another pro game, but a good pro game. Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves. Wow. Possibly the best pro game ever played. They fought each other until the bottom of the 18th inning. No punches, no beanballs, just good baseball. For a while it looked like Atlanta had it in the bag. Then Houston came back and they went toe-to toe, pitcher-to-batter, for the equivalent of two straight baseball games. You could see that the players were tired, and the umpires had to be absolutely smoked, but it went on and it was good baseball. Finally, at the right time, a young slugger from Houston fired one down the third base line that made it over the fence. Game over.
Check out Guidons, Guidons, Guidons for a similar take.