Sports are great….and terrible. They thrill us; they capture our imaginations; they give us fodder with which to banter with colleagues and friends. They also keep us up until all hours of the night; they frustrate us when our teams are on the wrong end of the results; and to be honest they give us anxiety and ulcers and headaches and stomach sickness.
So even when sports are going as expected, there is still a lot of emotion that get invested by us, the fan. Multiple that by a hundred, a thousand, a million when things aren’t as predictable as we’ve gotten used to.
Does anyone else feel like the sports world has been turned upside down? As a sports fan for as long as I can remember, I’m unable to recall a period of time when sports have been so unpredictable, games have been so explosive, and storylines have been so dramatic.
I know, I’m sure there are many examples that can be drawn from times in the past when sports were just as wild. So, ok — maybe this particular stretch of sports isn’t unprecedented; but it’s sure worth noting. Just look at the past week:
We were treated to Game 2 of the World Series that at the time seemed like it had that “Game of the Year” feel to it. Then just days later, perhaps the greatest World Series game of all time, Game 5 makes us forget all about Game 2. Seriously, Game 5 was one of those games that you just can’t wrap your head around. As you’re watching the game unfold, you shake your head in disbelief because, logically, this isn’t the way a baseball game goes.
According to ELIAS, the only team ever to overcome multiple 3-run deficits in a World Series game before both Houston and L.A. accomplished the feat in Game 5 was Toronto in 1993. The Blue Jays won that game 15-14.
And to think, this out-of-this-world offensive explosion came just 24 hours after Houston managed just a single hit off the Dodgers’ number 4 starter in Game 4. But then in a game started by three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and finished by preeminent closer Kenley Jansen, Houston pounds out 13 runs, 14 hits, and 5 — yes 5 — home runs.
While the Astros’ offensive numbers are enough to make your head explode (especially knowing the pitchers they did it against), they also held a lead just about as good as a cheese grater holds water. Houston blew leads of 11-8 and 12-9 after the 7th inning.
So pardon me for saying this because, yes, the game was as thrilling as you’ll ever witness, but thank goodness when it finally ended — a mere 5 hours and 17 minutes and 417 pitches after it started.
I’m exhausted from just re-telling the events from the game.
If that craziness isn’t enough to satisfy you, check out the NFL this year since Week 1. Good luck trying to understand who’s better than who; and if you’re an average guy who’s betting on games, well you’re either asking to lose your money or you know more than you should and might want to consider moving the Vegas and cashing in.
Aside from protests and anthems and sitting, standing, or kneeling, NFL offenses are just so inconsistent from week to week that we, as fans, can’t get a gauge on which teams are for real and which teams are not. That’s what’s wrong with the NFL, as far as the product on the field — not protesting the National Anthem. (Off the field and part of a deeper conversation — yes, there’s room for the anthem conversation.)
In the first seven weeks last season, 15 teams scored fewer than 10 points in a single game. In the first seven weeks this year, it’s already happened 27 times.
Furthermore, NFL games are averaging 43.8 points, which is the lowest rate since 2009. Yardage is also down — games are averaging 670 yards, which is also the lowest rate in the NFL since 2009. Yards per play — yep, you guessed it — also the lowest that stat has been this decade.
I mean, just look at the teams who lead the league in top offensive categories: Kansas City has the most points scored, Houston and the Rams are 1-2 in points per game, and Houston has accounted for the most offensive touchdowns. If you’d have had to predict which teams would be at the top of these categories at the onset of the season, you’d have said New England, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, New Orleans, Green Bay, Oakland probably. Not the Texans or the Rams!!! The Rams??? Really???
The league has become difficult to predict and just as difficult a question to answer is why. The answer to that requires a deeper conversation and we won’t go down that path right now.
The parity in the NFL is so vast that teams were jockeying at the trade deadline this week like never before. And no surprise, really. It just added to the mayhem that had already been set in motion by everything else happening in the sports world.
Text from NFL source: “Most active trade deadline ever.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
In addition to the wild World Series and the NFL that leaves us scratching our heads every Sunday, the NBA season is just beginning, but it’s not providing sports fans with much stability. Aren’t we supposed to be able to turn to the NBA and see the Cavaliers and LeBron James leading the way in the Eastern Conference? The Spurs or Warriors atop the West? Not right now in this upside down world we call sports. The Cavs are in the midst of having dropped 4 of their last 5 games, including 3 to lower-tier teams like the Bulls, Pelicans, and Nets. Things are so bad in Cleveland LeBron had to call a players-only meeting to get everyone on the same page. Same page?? Players only?? The season started 2 weeks ago — how disjointed could the team have gotten in only 2 weeks??? And the Spurs aren’t helping matters. After a typical San Antonio start to the year, 4-0, they’ve lost three straight. How often does a Gregg Popovich-coached team lose 3 in a row?
All you can do is shake your head.
We won’t even get into the spectacle that has become the on-again, off-again suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. Or the phony, made-up death threats that Jim McElwain claimed were directed at him a week ago while he was still employed at the University of Florida as the head football coach. Those unsubstantiated allegations got McElwain fired — at least that reflects some sort of sanity on the part of the higher-ups at Gainesville.
But hey, if you need a constant. If you need something to remind you that the planet is still spinning and not everything in the sports world has gone haywire, look no further than ol’ reliable Eldrick Tiger Woods. My man is back and ready to make another go at a comeback at the end of the month in the Bahamas.
Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.