Sunday Sports Final (Monday Version)
Eagles fans--or at least, this Eagles fan, and the ones related to me by blood with whom I spoke after yesterday's unnecessarily close win over the Cleveland Browns--are well aware of the joys and frustrations that come with Andy Reid, head coach. Through some cross of word association gaming and long-buried SAT prep instincts, his name alone conjures up for me words like "phlegmatic" and "indefatigable"... which are, basically, good things. But Reid also has a side, most clearly manifested in his play-calling, that calls to mind my friends and I playing Nintendo football while drinking beer in college: it's not enough just to win, but you have to show how ballsy and clever you are in doing so.
Both of these aspects of his personality came into sharp relief at the end of yesterday's game. Twice faced with third-and-one in overtime, with the score tied at 31, Reid tried to throw knockout punches with passing plays despite the fact that Dorsey Levens was running very well for the Eagles. Not even play-action, which would have been credible considering down and distance: Donovan McNabb tried to throw the home-run ball to Terrell Owens the first time, and then forced a pass to Pinkston the second time. Both fell incomplete. The Eagles had to punt after the first incompletion, and won it on a just-good-enough kick from David Akers following the second one. The way I grew up learning football, you run the goddamn ball in that situation... especially if the run game is going well AND you have a quarterback who's eminently capable of picking up short yardage himself.
But Reid more than compensated for this too-cute playcalling with his stoicism in the face of a horrendous referee's call that helped send the game in overtime to start with. The Browns got new life after an incompletion on fourth down when the ref flagged Brian Dawkins for roughing the passer, despite Dawkins' already being in mid-leap when Jeff Garcia released the ball and holding up rather than really putting a hit on the quarterback. While I might well have rushed the field to physically pummel the ref--or at least bitched about it in the press conference afterward--Reid remained his completely stoic self. His decision-making arguably didn't help the team win in OT, but his composure probably did.
On to baseball. I won't add any more purple prose to the legend of Curt Schilling, though I think he's really establishing himself as the Mariano Rivera of postseason starters. I did appreciate his "K ALS" message drawn above the bandage on his ankle: as Joe Buck pointed out on the broadcast, Schilling is a great self-marketer, and he knew exactly how it would play.
Also, has there ever been a more institutionally "biased" World Series broadcasting team than Buck and Tim McCarver? One guy is the Cardinals' regular-season announcer, and the other won championships playing for the club. I don't think they've actually had a slant in their coverage, but it wouldn't be hard to accuse them of such...