Tipping Pitches: Sports: Black Monday is Here


Monday, October 5, 2009

Sports: Black Monday is Here

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Happy Black Monday, everybody.  Why is it "Black Monday," you ask?  It's the day my Packers make Brett Favre into a black dot.

It's sad, really.  But I'm over the sad.  Sad is when something bad happens to someone that is out of their control.  It's certainly not sad for Favre.  It's debatable whether it's sad for the Packers -- and not that I fault them at all.  If I feel sad for anyone, it's the Packers fans.

But this is the first of two collision courses that have been circled on our calendars ever since the inevitable Purple rumors began to surface.  Tonight will certainly be interesting, but it will be the reaction in Lambeau to which I'm looking forward most.

It kinda bums me out that Favre gets this cream puff start to the season.  Could it be much easier?  Favre's started with Cleveland, Detroit and then San Francisco at home.  Sure, San Francisco is 3-1, but come on.  We know that records don't mean much early, particularly when two of a team's wins came against Seattle and St. Louis.

Sure, the 49ers are 3-1.  But if you were to rank all of the undefeated and one-loss teams, you'd likely put San Francisco last or second to last (behind Cincinnati) in that group.  And there are 14 such teams.

Now Favre gets the Packers, but in the comfort of the Metrodome.

Heading up to this game, I've wished for some pretty terrible things to happen to the man.  However, the closer we get to the start of this game the more honest I've been with myself.

I no longer wish for Favre's lower intestine on a skewer.  I don't even wish serious injury upon him (although I wouldn't argue with a minor toe injury that keeps him out of his next start).  I just want the Vikings to lose.  By a lot.  For Favre to get sacked 20 times, resulting in 20 lost fumbles.  And I want him to set the single-game record for most interceptions thrown.

Is that too much to ask?

I'm also a realist.  The Packers have not played any better than the Vikings so far this season.  They lost to their version of the one-loss 49ers (Bengals).  Their offensive line is terrible, which prevents the team's biggest strength (its passing game) from dominating.

If I've learned anything in the NFC North it's that you have to expect the unexpected.  It's a rivalry, but this game redefines rivalry.  It may need to create a whole new category for rivalry.  Team A already hates Team B.  Team A has the most storied history of any franchise.  Team A is owned by the fans, and said fans have an unhealthy obsession with its team.  Team A's (possibly) greatest player ever had a messy break-up with said team and then spent more than a year before finally reaching his final miserly goal:  Play for Team B so that he can beat Team A.

What other example is there of this?  How many heart attacks will there be in Wisconsin tonight?

Heart attacks are inevitable.  First, Wisconsin people are fat and out of shape, so they are already at their tipping point.  Second, how is a person expected to respond to this?  Brett Favre, these people's all-time favorite icon, dressed in purple, doing what he can to beat their team?

I can't think of another example because it doesn't exist. Although Favre is well past his prime, he still plays the position with the most control on a football field.  You can't make a baseball analogy because 1) there are too many games in a season, thereby making each individual game less meaningful, and 2) one player (unless a pitcher, I guess) does not have as much power over the direction of a game.

So if you're thinking Red Sox/Yankees, you can't even suggest a mythical analogy of Babe Ruth playing for the Red Sox late in his career.  When you only play a team twice, each match-up receives concentrated attention.  Forget baseball.  It could work in basketball.  The Bulls don't have a hated enough rival for me to think of a good Jordan analogy.  But Larry Bird to the Lakers?  That may be as close as you can get.  Otherwise, it's gotta be another quarterback.  John Elway to the Raiders? 

Ah, but Elway chose the respectable way to leave the game.

I'm convinced that if the Lions were as big a rival as the Vikings, Packers fans really wouldn't care that much.  Playing for a rival is one thing, but playing for a rival that can actually control your team's playoff future is another.  Go ahead, play for a team that will get two wins this season.  But the Vikings?

There are some who still think that the Packers did the wrong thing and should have kept Favre.  These same people ignored the stats of Rodgers vs. Favre and looked directly to win-loss record.  You know, because it was Favre who helped the Jets improve to become a competitive football team.  Of course, now that New York is under a rookie quarterback, they are 3-1.  But, somehow, it's still all because of Favre.

You have to cut the cord eventually, people.  I'm not the first to say it, but franchises that wait too long to let go of a franchise player historically pay the price.  Better to cut the cord too soon (not that it happened) than too late.

The Packers did what most franchises wouldn't have the courage to do.  And they will eventually be rewarded.

The first piece of that award may be tonight:  Black Monday.


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