With one spot left in the championship round, tensions are high at the Around the Dorm headquarters. Who will snag a chance to be crowned the AtD king or queen? Will it be the No. 1 Duncan Slobodzian, No. 4 Lauren Kohout or No. 7 Steve Cohen? Arts & Entertainment editor James Queally will have the final say on who advances toward greatness and whose shot at a title has ended.
1) Were NFL officials wrong for sneaking a peek at the instant replay of Phil Dawson’s game-tying field goal during week 11? Should field goals be made reviewable?
DS: While I can understand Baltimore head coach Brian Billick’s beef with how the game ended, it would have come across much worse had they missed the call because they decided not to check upstairs. Letting a game end on a blown call would be unacceptable – it’s the reason replay was implemented in the first place. I think what the officials did was human nature. There was disagreement on the field, and neither official was completely sure. The easy solution here is to make this type of call reviewable. All of a sudden, distinguishing between a crossbar and “support bar” is as crucial as whether a player got two feet down inbounds, or whether the ball broke the plane of the goal line. That’s just the nature of the NFL, where every single play and every single game is meaningful and scrutinized.
LK: Yes they were wrong for reviewing this call – they are non-reviewable. The officials made themselves look like asses by making a terrible initial call and then breaking the rules to reverse it. Referees are going to make bad calls that change the outcome of a game. That’s the beauty of sports – sometimes it comes down to luck. Reviews are there because there are plays where it’s impossible to get the perfect view, like making sure a guy got both feet in the end zone. Judging a field goal is a simple thing that the refs just happened to mess up on in the Browns-Ravens game. There’s no gray area in field goals; it’s in or it’s out. It’s not like the refs don’t see it coming. Making these calls reviewable would take the human element out of the game way too much. I say keep them non-reviewable.
SC: This is not Vietnam – this is the NFL and rules are rules. Once the field goal was kicked, the refs had no right to check the replay. Granted, this type of situation probably was not taken into account when making this rule, but it doesn’t matter because field goals are non-reviewable. It was on the refs to make a decision without assistance from the replay. Even the NBA has allowed for referees to review buzzer-beater shots to decide if they count. The NFL always changes and updates rules. In the future, refs should be allowed to review whether the football broke the plane of the uprights and bounced off the support bar as opposed to the crossbar.
JQ: Duncan put it best. It’s the ref’s job to get the call right – 3 points. Steve, you made a solid argument for both sides. I like the call to update the rules – 2 points. Kohout, this isn’t baseball. A loss in football carries a lot more gravity than it does in baseball. There is a gray area with field goals because that ball went in and out much like basketballs do when they roll around the cylinder – 1 point.
2) Jimmy Rollins narrowly edged out Matt Holliday for the NL MVP award. While both put up startling numbers, Holliday led his team to a seven-game playoff win streak and an NL Championship. Was Rollins the right choice?
DS: I understand why Phillies fans are outspoken about this one, because Rollins was the outspoken heart of an overachieving team. Holliday’s 2007 resumé is overwhelming; he led the NL in batting average and RBIs. Ten homers away from winning the Triple Crown and he’s not the MVP? Holliday came through for his team all year in the cleanup spot. In the most pressure-packed spot imaginable – extra innings of a one-game playoff against Trevor Hoffman – Holliday slid into home headfirst to give his team the win and secure a playoff spot. The voting for these kinds of awards is flawed anyway; how did C.C. Sabathia edge out Josh Beckett for the Cy Young? Differentiating between “most valuable” and “best statistics” is always a challenge, but I’d argue Holliday is the hands-down winner either way.
LK: Rollins was the right choice. Holliday had impressive numbers at the plate, but Rollins was an all-around all-star. Holliday didn’t come close to Rollins’ .985 fielding percentage and Web Gem-worthy plays. Sure, Holliday won an NL Championship, but MVP awards aren’t about postseason play so it’s irrelevant. Did you see Rollins in game 162? He stepped in the box to chants of “M-V-P” echoing throughout the homestands. Where anyone else would likely pop up or strike out, Rollins was clutch and hit triple No. 20 for the 20-20-20 season. He created opportunities. He had 41 stolen bases to Holliday’s 11 and had 139 runs scored over Holliday’s 120. He’s smart on base and at bat, striking out only 85 times in 716 at bats while Holliday struck out 126 times in 636. He lit a fire under Philly and gave fans the best season since 1993. Now that is an MVP.
SC: The MVP award is “supposed” to be decided on regular season performance only. That being said, Rollins was the right pick. What the Rockies did in September and October was nothing short of amazing, but until they went on that big winning streak Holliday’s numbers did nothing. Rollins put up insane numbers all season as well and put his team back in playoff contention with strong play after the all-star break. He did this without any help from his teammate and last year’s NL MVP winner Ryan Howard. Both players played spectacularly, but Rollins’ play had a bigger impact on his team for a longer stretch. And come on, how many leadoff hitters hit 30 homers on top of stealing 40 bases? Jimmy was the right pick.
JQ: I’m a numbers guy, so Kohout wins my heart and the 3 for drowning me in statistics. Steve gets 2 for saying Rollins put the Phils on his back and crushing my argument about postseason play. Duncan, while I agree it should be about “most valuable” and not “best statistics,” you didn’t give me enough information to prove Holliday should have beaten Rollins – 1 point.
3) Basketball analysts nationwide collectively crapped themselves when the Celtics finally lost a game to Orlando. Is Boston really that good, or will the Westen Conference powerhouses run all over them?
DS: There’s more parity in the East this season than any in recent memory. On paper the Celtics, Cavaliers, Bulls, Pistons and Nets look to be championship-caliber teams. Don’t overlook the Magic, either – the threesome of Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard has potential to be great for years to come. The Celtics look real good right now, but the lack of leadership at the point guard position might wind up hurting them. The West is still too good top to bottom, and it will probably be another couple years until the two conferences are truly competitive. It might be boring to the casual fan, but a real basketball junkie can appreciate the way the San Antonio Spurs dominate games on both ends of the floor. There’s no reason to think the Celtics or any team from the East can stick with Gregg Popovich’s crew in a seven-game series.
LK: Boston might do some damage to the West. Its 3-0 against Western teams. One of those was a 119-93 pounding over Denver, currently in first in the Northwest. The one thing I thought would keep this team out of contention for a championship was too many superstars on one court. However, Boston has proven me wrong as during those three Western Conference games at least four players scored in double digits. Five scored in doubles against Denver and Los Angeles and the best thing is the fifth person wasn’t the same in those games. Boston is moving the ball and utilizing all of its players. When any of your starters and players off-the-bench can score double digits it is hard to defend. The East might actually see a championship this season, or apparently a shortage in underwear thanks to basketball analysts.
SC: There isn’t one team that isn’t scared by how well the Celtics are playing. It is the most unselfish basketball I have ever seen. Nobody is hogging the ball, which is impressive with three perennial all-stars. The Western teams will not powerhouse Boston. They have too much talent and are playing almost as high of a level of basketball as you can. However, the one thing that will hurt Boston is their depth. They have no depth, while teams like Denver, Dallas and San Antonio have insanely deep benches. This is where the West has the advantage, but I don’t think that any team’s top three players are better than Boston’s. So no, Boston won’t get steamrolled by the West.
JQ: Steve gets the 3 for actually answering my question. Kohout and Duncan each get 2 for making some overly-bold statements. Duncan, we’re less than a month into the season. If any team can beat the Spurs in a series, we haven’t seen them play enough to prove it yet. Kohout, I’ll warrant your call for a championship when Boston picks up a win over a Western powerhouse.
Steve is finals-bound after defeating Duncan and Kohout 7-6-6.