Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Why Sports Talk Sucks

I love sports, but perhaps the most disappointing thing about being a sports fan is the moron factor. It can permeate the fan community and is ever present amongst the community of ex-jocks known as experts. This isn't to say every expert or analyst is a moron, only that far too many of them are. Take this morning, where the big news on ESPN's morning radio show was the Plaxico Burress suspension and the upholding of the suspensions for banned substances for a number of Saints and Vikings for the remainder of the season. They had an attorney on to talk about the banned substance suspensions, which was interesting, but the real problem was the breakdown of what this meant for the rest of the season. Mark Schlereth weighed in that the suspension of their two interior defensive linemen knocked the Vikings down a rung and made the Bears the favorite in the NFC North. It would have been a decent point if this was week 1, but with 4 games left in the season, I know as a fan I'd like some facts, not just vague assertions.

There I was, sitting in the car listening to the radio, where I could care less about what the suspensions meant to the Vikings as a team. All I wanted to know was, could the Bears catch the Vikings? I knew the Bears were a game down and I knew they had split the season series- but could the Bears win a tiebreaker, or would they need to actually gain two games on the Vikings to win the division? It's a hell of a big deal and exactly the sort of thing that always seems to get forgotten by the so-called experts.

So, I decided to take a look myself. The Bears and Vikings, having split their season series are both 3-2 in the division. But while the Vikings play at winless Detroit this week, the Bears face a tougher game againast the Packers. The Bears also play at home againast Jacksonville and New Orleans and finish the season on the road at Houston. Minnesota plays at Arizona before finishing at home againast Atlanta and the Giants.

So let's skip ahead one week and assume both teams take care of business and you'll have Minnesota at 8-5, Chicago at 7-6. Chicago's season will probably rest on that Packer game, because if they lose that, the only way they'd win the division would be if Minnesota lost their final three and the Bears won their games againast the Saints and at Houston. If your the Bears, you're certainly happy to see the Vikings lose the interior of their defensive line, but beating a tough Packer team is no gimme. Even if the Bears beat the Packers, their still basically hoping the Vikings lose their final 3 games. As of now, the Vikings hold an edge in conference record, 5-3 versus the Bears 5-5, and record againast common opponents, 7-5 versus the Bears 4-6.

At this point in the season, schedule matters, and tie breakers matter, certainly more so than who's on the field. Whether those Vikings got suspended or not, the Bears need to win and they need the Vikings to lose so it seems a bit silly to say that missing players would suddenly tilt the balance one way or another.

And then there's Plaxico. And again the discussion veered off into the Giants making due without their top players before and the sort of team the Giants are this year. All relevant points of course, but isn't the real story and the real question about the Giants young receivers Steve Smith and Domenick Hixon? They've emerged this season as legitimate targets for Eli Manning and their development certainly will soften the blow of losing Plaxico. But can they fill his shoes as a go-to guy, can they draw the attention he draws? I'm not sure, but that's the sort of thing I'd love to hear the so-called experts talk about. Instead, as usual, we get the same old crap.


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