hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley

It comes in many forms

Category: Sports

Manning, Broncos get it done as a team


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Sports, and football in particular remain the single greatest demonstration of how individual performance alone is not enough to persevere.
I’m speaking of course about the epic New England Patriots versus Denver Broncos football game that was just played.
Brady versus Manning XVII proved to be one of the most compelling and exciting games I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. The storylines before, during, and yes, even after this game was over, abounded.
Sports like tennis or golf have drama, but it is emotion reserved exclusively for individuals who do not rely on assistance from anyone else other than themselves. In football, the word team is exemplified. And this afternoon, the Denver Broncos played as a team and as a result helped send Peyton Manning on to one more chance at Super Bowl glory.
Tom Brady is perhaps the greatest quarterback to have ever played. If football was not played in time limit constraints you just knew that Brady would lead the Patriots down the field and eventually put up enough points to surpass the Broncos in the end. But, as in life, football is played on a deadline. There are four, 15-minute quarters to prevail and save for the occasional overtime scenario, the ending generally takes place in a three-hour window. Unlike baseball where there are no clock constraints, football is urgency personified.


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Peyton Manning was most definitely feeling the confines of Father Time, who this season had sapped his formerly impressive physical skills.

But today was not a day to feel sorry for the Denver quarterback. Today was a day to marvel in how two teams could work together, against one another, and change the storyline from Manning versus Brady to which team’s defense would be the difference maker and make their final stand count.
Manning managed the game well. Brady was Brady. But the Denver defense never allowed Brady the opportunity to get comfortable. They continually pressured the Patriot’s star, put him on his back several times and generally made him work for every passing yard he accounted for.
On the other defense’s side, the Patriots made enough adjustments after the first half to hold Manning and Denver’s offense in check. Yes, good leadership in the form of great coaching was at the root of these adjustments. But it was up to the Patriots defense to actually put things in play.
The second half saw Manning and the Broncos offense stymied compared to what they were able to accomplish in the first half. Amazingly enough, turnovers did not play a huge factor in the game nor did the missed extra point by Patriot’s kicker Stephen Gostkowski. What mattered more than any individual error was how each team responded to their individual adversity.
Personally, I could not have withstood an overtime for this game. It was entirely draining with emotions running the gamut. At the end of the game both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady chatted with Manning individually, no doubt gracious in defeat, congratulating him and wishing him well in what should be his final Super Bowl.

Hands touching

Hands touching (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Is Manning diminished compared to his former self? Most certainly. Is Brady still arguably at the top of his game? It looks like it.
But there can be no doubt that no matter what each marquee player is and was, the better “team” prevailed in this game. This team made the plays when it counted and breathtakingly so.
Their quarterback was no longer in a position to put the team on his shoulders and will it to victory. It was up to the team to get it done collectively and collaboratively.
And they did.

  • Brady, Patriots have strong showing in Pro Bowl voting

Win or lose, Yankees postseason appearance restores world order

English: Cap logo of the New York Yankees

English: Cap logo of the New York Yankees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Baseball, as well as the world at large, needs a Yankees team in the playoffs again. The wild card is not where the Yankees would have preferred they make their postseason re-emergence after a two-year hiatus, however. But, we fans will take it. Fact is, at the beginning of spring training, no one had the Yankees as a playoff team. Alex Rodriguez’s side show circus was the most compelling story the Yankees could muster before the season began.
At the same time, it is strange to see the upstart Astros playing the mighty, rich-in-tradition Yankees in the postseason. Back in the 70s, the Astros were a National League team. Jimmy Wynn, the “Toy Cannon,” was my favorite Astro. They were a mostly unmemorable team and Toy Cannon was not on the Stros during the 1976 season when the Yankees came back from the desert they were in since after the 1964 World Series.
Jimmy Wynn was honored alongside the retired n...

Jimmy Wynn was honored alongside the retired numbers of the Houston Astros in 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Mickey Mantle was a shadow of himself at the end of his career (1968) and it got so bad for the Yankees in the late sixties that they were eclipsed by the Mets as New York’s favorite team, when the Amazins won the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles in 1969. But, all that was about to change after George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees from CBS in 1973 for the paltry sum of $8.3 million. Some estimates have the team valued now at north of $3 billion—not a bad appreciation for sports’ most storied franchise.
But there sure is something about seeing the Yankees back in the postseason, playing in a one game playoff with the Houston Astros for the right to advance to a series with the Kansas City Royals, that makes me think the world is moving in the right direction.

Sure, things are different now than they were during the late 70’s when the George Brett-led Royals were always the Yankees nemesis. The Royals of today are full of young, up and coming stars and the Yankees are once again (mostly) the best veteran team money can buy.

English: Former New York Yankees owner at his ...

English: Former New York Yankees owner at his introductory press conference as owner of the Yankees, still image taken from a film dedicated to the public domain per archive.org about the life and times of George Steinbrenner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The 1976 Yankees team that advanced to the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds were mostly a bunch of loveable misfits that managed to click at the right times (except in the Series where the Reds swept). The 2015 Yankees limped to the Wild Card finish and face the youthful team in the Astros that they someday hope to become themselves through a rebuilt farm system.
Whether the Yankees have enough to survive the Wild Card is not the thing that needs celebrating. What needs to be talked about is that they are back where they belong—the postseason. Beating the Yankees still means something and that’s why they are the biggest draws on the road year in and year out.
Will the Yankees make any further noise in the postseason if they can somehow manage to take down the Astros? It doesn’t look good at this juncture. The Stros look young and powerful and the Yankees look overmatched. The fans are nervous. While there was cause for optimism for Yankees fans at the onset of the game, much like 1976 and what came in the two years afterwards, the world has at least now been set rotating back on its proper axis by virtue of the Yankees (underwhelming) Wild Card appearance.

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