Thursday, November 05, 2009

Rule #148: Wait 'til this year

Tradition means nothing in modern pro sports. You can't say the Yankees won the World Series this year because they've won 26 times before; they won because they played well in 2009. Or, more importantly, because they could afford to assemble the best team with their obscene payroll.

This doesn't happen in the NFL because of parity. Having the highest payroll all these years never helped the Saints win a championship, or any other team. The Patriots have won Super Bowls more times than should be legal, but it had more to do with a consistent, competent lineup. And videotaping.

Tradition is also the reason so many are choosing the Colts over the Saints as the best team in the NFL. "Peyton Manning's won the Super Bowl," they crow. "The players know what it's like to go be there and win. They'd thrash the Saints!" Really? Personally, I'd rather see that for myself. I know the Colts destroyed the Saints the last time they met in 2007, but that was two years ago. It's smarter to look at the trends now. And the trends show that that would be an exciting Super Bowl. If it happens for either team, that is, because there's still much of the season to be played. And the past won't help or hurt either team, beyond the direct effects of recent personnel decisions.

Same goes for the Yankees. Babe Ruth wasn't an Angel in the Outfield for this year's winners any more than losing for their first 40 years hindered the Steelers from their own Lombardi Trophies.

That's why they play the games, and don't just consult an almanac.

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