Nationals Baseball: Thank you Butler. (An NCAA tournament aside)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Thank you Butler. (An NCAA tournament aside)

When it comes to championship games, sportswriting is usually more forgiving than at any other time. There is no benefit to a sportswriter to harp on the negatives of a losing team with their dreams so recently crushed at the very last step, while such an slant could alienate coaches and players that they may need to deal with at a future date. It's better to praise the winner, then praise the loser, only less ardently. Failures on one side are easily re-written to be successes by the other. Bad QB play morphs into a story about a great defensive game plan. 0-13 with RISP becomes a footnote in an article about clutch reliefing pitching. Blowout losses change into dominating performances by teams for the ages. This is especially true in college where the big payroll bully doesn't exist to give the writer an easy villian, only "kids" playing "for the love of the game". Most post-championship articles will read like the results of a pre-school foot race: There are no losers, only different degrees of winners.

Sometimes though, the storyline written by reality demands some unflattering attention paid to the loser. Usually this is a single play or player that gets the scorn, that way it can be played off as "I wasn't talking about you guys" or "if not for this play, you guys were worthy of the championship". But rarely, once in a blue moon, a team plays so utterly horrible that you can't write an article about the championship and skirt around this fact. Last night was such an occurance.

Butler shot horribly, at one point missing 21 of 22 shots. Only the most asinine of sportswriting can make that mostly about Connecticut's defense, or write an article about their season and not mention this as an absolutely horrible ending. (though the "most asinine" subgroup probably accounts for 25% of the sportswriting at any time - so don't expect to see none of these articles out there) The reality is that Butler was terrible. They lost the game. It was "one of those nights" for a team that isn't a great scoring team anyway. "One of those nights" that just happens occasionally to all but the very best teams. But it did happen, and it can't be ignored.

So thank you Butler, for giving us something so very rare. Post-championship articles where the losers lost because they played poorly.


Hoo said...

3-2 pt fielgoals in 40 minutes. That's the jaw dropping stat for me. Not just the 18% shooting.

Great times for the NCAA with the trophy presenter and the winning coach both under heavy NCAA investigation/suspension.

Harper said...

The game has changed to be 3pt heavy but it hasn't changed to the point you can get NOTHING on the inside.

Meh - don't care too much about suspensions. it happens. You ride the edge of the rules. You get caught. You take some minimal punishment. It's not like it's white on one side, black on the other. The rules are on some arbitrary point on the gray scale.

Hoo said...

"Meh - don't care too much about suspensions."

These days, that's a common refrain for a lot of folks in the Carolinas partial to baby blue!

Harper said...


(I actually think Butch should be fired. That wasn't one or two wayward mistakes or getting fed up with recruiting and stupidly breaking some rules. That was a systematic issue involving coaches and players. Regardless of what he knew - the buck has to stop with him.

Well to be completely honest I think he should be forced to coach as long as sanctions are put upon UNC, watched like a hawk, and THEN fired, but that's my general opinion about any NCAA trasngression. Hate the coach jump to safety )

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