Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mistakes in Sports Bring Many Times the Rancor of Old

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mistakes in Sports Bring Many Times the Rancor of Old

Article excerpt

Once upon a time, it was possible for a team to lose a game without blame being assessed. Once upon a time, a player could err egregiously even in big games and not be vilified for life because of it.

Twice, in both 1968 and 1972, the seventh game of the World Series was lost in large part because good center fielders misplayed fly balls. But somehow they were taken at face value - as errors afield, not as evidence of character flaws.

I know, I know. Sports has always had its share of gaffes - Roy Riegels' wrong-way run, Mickey Owen's missed third strike, Fred Merkle's pennant-losing boner. Ralph Branca is as remembered for throwing the pitch as Bobby Thomson is for hitting it. And yet, in olden times we seemed a bit less eager to find fault with every single thing. Mistakes now seem to spawn 10 times the rancor.

We have come to ridicule failure more than we trumpet success. In 1989, Bill Curry was faulted for the two games Alabama lost but was afforded no credit for the 10 it won. Same with Ray Goff at Georgia last season. When the Braves were 10 games down it was all Bobby Cox's fault. Now that they're within sight of first place, is it likewise Cox's crafty doing? Of course not. It's because his team is playing well. How can a coach/manager have everything to do with losing but nothing with winning?

We recall that the poor Buffalo Bills have lost the last three Super Bowls. Now try naming the last three Super Bowl winners. Who hit the ball that Bill Buckner missed? Who won the fight during which Roberto Duran pleaded "No mas"? On whose double did Lonnie Smith hesitate rounding second base?

I plead guilty here. When Chris Webber called timeout in the Superdome, I wrote about Chris Webber calling timeout, not about North Carolina winning the NCAA title. (My thinking, then as now: Webber's timeout was the game's single most dramatic play. …

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