Monday, February 4, 2008


It finally came to be true and the invincible, perfect, awesome, amazing, incredible Patriots were brought down to their knees in a performance that was so mediocre, one wonders how this team managed to come all this way without losing a single game.

This is not a damning indictment on how bad the Patriots were, nor is it a counter-argument to the Perfection epithet. I believe that Patriots deserved all the accolades awarded to them for the whole season. They were (are) the perfect team and they have only played one bad game - and it happens to be the one that counts.

I personally dislike the play-off system that is employed in American sports. True, in world football there is also a play-off system, but that is due to time restrictions. Play-offs are good for the media - it generates more buzz and, in most cases, it is quite good fun. However, the 'fun' part isn't on the field. More often than not, every play-off situation benefits from the pre-game and post-game analysis. This is because the teams participating in the post-season are very similar in terms of quality, so you are more likely to get a 'dull' game. What is interesting is the drama surrounding the situation.

Now, can anybody say that Patriots were the second best team of the season? Or that the Colts just made it to Top 8? No. The league system rewards the better teams, play-offs reward the teams that play better on that very particular day. I don't want to take anything away from the Giants - they were the superior team last night and they have been on a very good run over the last few weeks. Kudos to them that they beat the best team in the country.

I think play-offs are a farce and unfair. Sports is played on the field and Patriots were outplayed by Giants, but the best team of the 2007-08 season were the Patriots. Unfortunately, the record-books won't ever show that.

As for the Patriots players, good job, lads. You played better than anybody and you deserved to win the championship, but your one mediocre game happened to be on the Super Bowl day...


wheeler said...

Obviously you know how I feel about this. I agree that the Pats were the better team, and they deserved to be known as the best team of the season.

I disagree, however, with the assertion that play-off games are exciting only because of the media angle. Though I hate how it ended, yesterday was an exhillerating experience for me, filled with ups and ultimately downs. The fact that this was THE game intensified those feelings for me...and made it hurt more when our boys lost.

What sucks - and I have to agree with you here - is the rewards system, or lack there of. One of the things I love about sports is that any team can win on any given day. And there's something to be said for winning it all when it counts the most. But the Giants are not, and should not be viewed as, the better team. They lost 6 games when the Pats lost 1. They lost to the Pats themselves just a few weeks ago. They were better on this day, but they were not better all season.

The only way you could determine which is the better team, based on how they play each other, is with a SERIES. That's something every American league gets right, other than the NFL.

Overall records are important, but no team plays the same schedule. If the Giants play bad teams and win 10 games, and the Pats play good teams and win 10 games, they can't be judged as equal. Yet they are.

In a playoff series, you determine who is better with a head-to-head record. And for the most part, the outcome is a fair one.

For example, the Yankees won more games than the Sox in 2004's regular season, but the Sox beat the yankees 4 games to 3 in the playoffs. They were the better team, and they proved it head-to-head.

So, I submit for your approval, and adjunction to your statement. Head-to-head records (which, I believe, is mostly what you get in Europe, albeit in the "regular season" are a fine way to prove which is the better team.

Yes? No?

Gurur Sarbanoglu said...

I agree with you for the most part, my friend. But I still stand for the unfairness of the play-off system.

The system in Europe is slightly different, because there are two competitions in a season: a regular league competition, where the winners are the 'champions'; and a cup competition, which is a knock-out system, where teams play only once - the winner progresses and the loser goes home. The seeding system doesn't exist and for every round you face a team that is pulled from a hat. The winner of the cup is called, well, the Cup Winner. The winners aren't necessarily the best team in the league, but are the winners of a 'random' competition. The great thing about the cup system is to give lesser teams a chance for glory and play with better teams (teams from lower divisions, even semi-professional teams, participate - it's like Minor League teams playing Major League teams). It is for the spectacle and not to determine the 'best team'.

As for the regular season, it's all about points: 3 for a win and 1 for a draw (I'm sure you know this already). Head-to-head record only applies in situations where every independent statistic of the teams are the same (points, goal difference). At the end of the day, whichever team plays consistently well throughout the season is rerwarded with the epithet 'Champion'.

One last thing that I dislike about the play-off system is that half the teams in the league stop competing for the last quarter of the seaon - before the play-offs start. Only the teams that are going for a play-off spot are genuinely competing. If the Patriots hadn't won every single game, after game 13 they could have easily fielded their reserves, because they are already guaranteed a spot. Where is the fun in that? Yes, they are going for better seedings, but Giants proved that the home-advantage is, at the end of the day, just 'noise'. If you are able to phase it out, it's all the same. Even if Patriots weren't seeded as number one - and assuming that they had lost a couple of games - they would have still whupped everybody's asses and reach the Super Bowl. They came close to losing in the regular seaon for at least a couple of games that I remember (Ravens and Giants come to mind).

This is too long, I know. Sorry, dude.