WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — There are many sports clichés but the most insufferable is, “We didn’t lose, we just ran out of time.” Maybe it was sitting through every pitch of the Nationals 18-inning Game 2 colonoscopy that made me reach my breaking point, but today I want to destroy this saying.
The Internet seems to credit this idiotic statement to one-time Redskins coach Vince Lombardi so let’s presume that is true (he died a year after coaching here, setting the gold standard for how miserable of a gig it is).
“We didn’t lose, we just ran out of time” sounds like something your middle-school gym teacher would say after a kickball game to make half the class feel less pathetic than they truly are, it has no place in professional sports. Nonetheless, we hear crap like this all the time in post-game locker rooms. The media loves it because it seems to evoke the tough-guy, never-say-die attitude that we presume every pro-athlete is all about. When I hear it, I think of a crying baby with a soiled diaper and no lollipop.
Rather than crying any more tears over the 2014 Nationals, let’s kill a cliché once and for all.
Let’s take “We didn’t lose, we just ran out of time” and beat it to death with its own stupidity. Imagine a world where each of the four major sports scraped the rulebook and played until one team waved the white flag (not mocking the white flags the Nationals handed fans at playoff games).
Presume the same current clock rules in the NFL, NHL and NBA. There will still be quarterly/period breaks but we aren’t stopping until one team completely quits. For baseball, we will just keep playing innings until someone goes up by 100 or stops sending their team out of the dugout. Which sport would be the most entertaining to watch gladiator-style? And for the sake of keeping it local, which D.C. team would last longest in this format?
First, let’s dig up Lombardi, put him down 73 points to the 2013 Seahawks, in Seattle, and ask him for a speech. Don’t worry Vince; you’ve got plenty of time! I’d put the over/under at 12 quarters before Lombardi finally told his boys to pack it in. At this point in the game Bart Starr would have been dead for five quarters, the ’68 Packers would have 15 able-bodied men left, and the score would be something like 364-20. As Marshawn Lynch sauntered into the end zone for the 16th time of the day I think Lombardi would finally throw down his clipboard and abandon his team.
Not bad, Vince. People were more stubborn in the 60’s, just ask your grandfather. If they changed the rules tomorrow most modern games would last no longer than 9 quarters. Football is brutal. Have you watched Thursday night games this year? They are a shell of the game. Ask a modern NFL player to play back-to-back games and about half the team will survive and Dr. James Andrews will become the most sought after man in professional sports. Don’t the Skins already have him on retainer? (NFL Watchability Ranking: 6/10)
The carnage of a 9-hour football game is nothing compared to what would take place on the ice. If someone asked me which professional sport will yield an on-field death first I would be torn between the NFL and NHL. Last Thursday, Pascal Dupuis was struck in the neck by a rock hard puck going 80mph. He left on a stretcher, but he’s a hockey player, so he’ll be back next week.
These guys wear knives on their feet, they go twice as fast as humans were intended to move and fistfights are promoted. Also, hockey players don’t quit which really makes this a terrifying hypothetical.
I will never forget the name Petr Nedved. He ended the longest hockey game I have ever watched. It was Caps-Pens and it was the playoffs. It went 4 overtimes and we lost, of course (This may have been the precise moment I was baptized into #DCmisery, but that’s a topic for another day).
At that point, beyond the 120th minute, the game becomes borderline unwatchable. Guys can barely get over the boards after their 30-second shifts and the goalies are dropping weight like high-school wrestlers between periods. Despite the bloodshed, hockey is a sport that deteriorates exponentially when the players are pushed to the brink. (NHL Watchability Score: 3/10)
According to Wizard’s ticket sales, most of the people in this area think four quarters of basketball is already too much to bear. Despite the fact that NBA players are the biggest divas in any sport, I actually think watching a basketball game until surrender would add to the allure of the game.
How do you keep John Wall focused when his team is up 60 points? The NBA is a game of little defense and huge scoring runs as it is. If you made the game limitless you could expect even more lethargy out of the gate but a more consistent game throughout. In general, I don’t think the NBA would be all that different. Anyway the league is so soft that within a week they would probably establish an unwritten rule that the first team to score 200 wins, and every team would go along with it … except the Spurs. (NBA Watchability Score: 5/10)
I was as angry as any fan following the Nats crushing defeat in four games at the hands of the World Series-bound Giants. I was mad at the manager, I was mad at the players, I was frustrated for my fellow fans, but one thing irritated me more than anything: the general sentiment that this team didn’t lose, they just ran out of time/outs.
After all five stages of grieving I came to the realization that they could play that series five more times and the Nats would lose them all. Despite having a better record and a better team on paper, they were outmaneuvered, outplayed, and boat-raced in desire by a team going for their third World Series in five years.
With that said, the 2014 Nats were a team that could have played a 28-inning game and I wouldn’t have missed a pitch. They had the bullpen, depth and athleticism to hang with anyone.
Take away the: 30 degree temperature drop, the lack of food, beer, water, and the end result, and that 18-inning nightmare was some incredible baseball to watch. Baseball becomes even more of a chess match the longer it goes on. Besides, how tiring could it be to stand in the batter’s box and whiff at three pitches every other inning? (I’m looking at you, Ian Desmond). (MLB Watchability Score: 8/10)
The next time you hear someone say “We didn’t lose, we just ran out of time” you can tell them I’d like to see them prove it.
P.S. The worst sports cliché this week goes to the Seahawks with, “We were playing against the refs.” Which sports cliché drives you crazy?
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