Substitutes

Why is it that coaches and general managers continue to think having a body around is “good enough” as a backup? The concept that you have a starter who will always play because he’s never going to get hurt is just not valid in the NFL.

When Tony Romo went down with a fractured collarbone last night, Jon Kitna came in to run the team. However, he’s not practiced (Romo runs the first team), he’s not of the same temperament (he’s much older) and he’s not as mobile. How is this a substitute?

A substitute anywhere else in the universe is “something that’s pretty close you use instead of what’s required.” A substitute for the Cowboys is “somebody that doesn’t cost too much.” Oops.

Didn’t we go through this the last time Romo got hurt? We had another elderly QB who I’m sure is good at team leadership but wasn’t very effective on the field.

If you have one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, you can only afford to have a recycled QB on the bench if your starter is never going to be gone for any length of time. Otherwise, it’s like replacing a Mac with a PC – they’re both computers, but none of your programs work.

This season was pretty much done before last night, but I’m pretty sure it’s over now. Maybe this time (third time’s a charm), the Cowboys will get a backup that is similar, just not as good and not completely different.

Perhaps the problem is the term itself – “substitute” or “second-string” sounds like a lesser quantity. A better term would be “understudy” – someone who knows the role intimately and is ready to take over at a moment’s notice and perform almost as well as the principal without changing any of the parts. Unfortunately, we don’t have an understudy for Tony Romo.

Texas Rangers. AL Champions.

You can all exhale now. Your Texas Rangers knocked out the New York Yankees last night to win the ALCS, 4-2. Now, at last, they can make their first trip to the World Series.

Alex Rodriguez struck out looking for the final out. So much for “going down swinging.” Since he was the beginning of the bankruptcy of the team (morally and fiscally), it seems fitting that he brought a championship to Texas, simply by watching yet another pitch go whistling by. He wasn’t with the Rangers long enough for us to find out he tends to choke in the post season. The Yankees got to find out, instead. Playing to win tends to crush playing for money eventually.

Perhaps, baseball will get a bit more respect around here – for sportscasters who have been reporting constant Cowboys trivia since before training camp opened, maybe it’s time to cover a team that’s winning. I was heartened to see that one of the local Sunday wrap-up shows was almost 50% baseball last week, which is unheard of during the sacred days of football.

Arlington will host a World Series and a Super Bowl within four months of each other. At least the World Series will have a local team playing.

Congratulations to the Rangers players and organization. It’s been a long time coming. There is one less team on the “never been to the World Series” list this morning.

Mental Mistakes

I’m very happy that the Australian baseball season is about to start since there is no point in watching the Dallas Cowboys this year, unless you enjoy pain. With a 1-4 record (actually not the worst in the league, but pretty bad), they’re done. Theoretically, they could start winning, but trends say that is very unlikely.So, since nobody else will say it out loud, I will. They’re done. See you next year.

The new plan for the Cowboys to get to the Super Bowl? StubHub.

The most annoying part of the Cowboys season is that one of the major reasons they keep losing is penalties. Penalties are assessed when you break the rules. The kind term for “not following the rules” is “mental mistakes.” The other term I hear is “lack of discipline.”

Here’s a question that always bothers me – How can you play a game for a living and not know the rules? If you’re at a pro level, you’ve probably been playing for a long, long time. You should have it memorized. Granted, if you do something stupid (horse collars come to mind) and the rules change, you may need a while to remember, but holding has been holding for a long time. Pass interference hasn’t changed in a while.

Why are sports different from other jobs? I have rules I have to follow. When the rules change, my boss tells me. However, he doesn’t have to call me every week to remind me all my business travel needs pre-approvals and I can’t fly first-class. I know this. I was told once, and we have a rulebook I can check if I don’t remember. That was enough.

If I do break the rules (I decide to go visit a customer in France, so I just book a first-class ticket and go), does my boss get fired while I stay? Somehow, I doubt it. However, in sports, the coach (or manage) tend to take the blame for players not following the rules.  I think it’s because it’s easier to fire and replace one person than forty.

Why don’t players get fired? It’s not like there aren’t other people that want to play pro sports. Sure, they’re “not as good”, but if you have a 1-4 team, what does “good” really mean?

I am very tired of hearing from the players that they are a “better team than their record.” You are judged on your record. If this team miraculously makes the playoffs, that will be the record in the books. If they continue a death spiral, that will be the record. I don’t expect to see the record book contain:

2010 Dallas Cowboys 6-10 (*)
* Team was actually a 14-2 team, they just lacked discipline.

So, I think it’s back to baseball, Australian or Texas Rangers style. Otherwise, you can watch the Cowboys but you’re just going to have to find a lot of synonyms for “suck.”