I was old enough to remember the damn 1986 World Series. With two outs in the tenth I sat with my dad and mom, ready to celebrate. I was ten, but my dad assured me if his beloved Red Sox won, I’d get to have my first sip of champagne. We all know what happened next. An epic collapse that left my dad in tears and me having to wait another decade for my first sip of alcohol (I was straight edge up until 21).
After that loss I became obsessed with the Sox and obsessed with that loss. I replayed that tenth inning over and over in my head. Why the fuck did Calvin Schiraldi melt on the mound? He couldn’t he get one more stinking out? Why did John McNamara bring in Bob Stanley? He was a guy who could never be counted on in big games. And then there was The Gedman wild pitch, and of course the Buckner play. Why the hell was Buckner out there? He could barely move.
For years I never thought about the opposing team. A loaded Mets team that was arguably the best team of the decade. A team that could have been a dynasty if it wasn’t for cocaine, bar room fights, and sex in between innings. But I never thought of the heart of Gary Carter refusing to make the final out. Or a clutch at-bat from Ray knight, and of course the scrappy play of Mookie Wilson, who fouled off tough pitch after pitch to keep the game going. The Red Sox got beat by a pretty damn good team.
I’m writing this because after a classic 2018 college football championship everyone wants to put Georgia in the category of team that choked away the game. And to put it bluntly, that’s the easy take. The truth is Georgia lost to a loaded Alabama team. And the only thing holding back the Tide was a quarterback and kicking game.
Jalen Hurts seems like an awesome, classy kid, but he isn’t exactly an accurate throwing quarterback. In fact he was so bad that if he played the whole game I don’t think Alabama would have scored an offensive touchdown. He immediately brought flashbacks of the previous day’s Bortles-Taylor NFL playoff battle. This completely handicapped Alabama and made Georgia the better team.
Saban made the right move to switch quarterbacks, and the game completely changed. As soon as Tua Tagovaiola threw a long incomplete post to Calvin Ridley early in the third quarter it changed the whole game. It sent a message this new QB could make plays and Georgia had to change their D. They now had to respect the pass, which opened up Bama’s running game.
Alabama gained momentum, and still needed clutch throws from Tagovaiola to complete the comeback. And that is the point. This game wasn’t blown or choked away by Georgia. It was won by Alabama. The team with more talent that only put themselves at a disadvantage by starting the quarterback that held them back.
I think I can make this case in almost every monumental comeback. We should first give credit to the team that won, as opposed to the team that was deemed
"chokers." Whether we are talking about 3 games to 1 or 28-3, the team that emerged victorious was pretty damn talented. Although I’m sure one of my esteemed colleagues at Dirty Sports will disagree with me on the 28-3 outcome. So lets stop diminishing the great teams that win and claiming the team that lost “choked” it away.