Monday (strategy vs. outcome) edition: Wha’ Happened?

Posted on November 3rd, 2008 – 9:42 AM
By Michael Rand

humptyrand.jpgThere are two kinds of people in this world: those who think our Paulie Bleeker costume had shorts that were too short, and those who think they were just fine. And there are another two kinds of people in this world: those who criticize strategies, and those who criticize outcomes. Shrewd sports fans criticize strategies before they play out; lazy sports fans criticize outcomes after they happen; most sports fans are somewhere in between, doing a little of both and sometimes claiming they knew the strategy was doomed all along when really they are lashing out at an unhappy outcome. Sometimes, of course, a strategy is so inherently flawed that even as it is being put into play, 100 percent of fans are screaming, “No! No! What are they doing?!? What the [redacted] do they think they’re doing!” This was common while watching Vikings games from 2002-2005.

But sometimes you get a situation where you have to separate strategy from outcome. And that’s what makes you a better class of fan. Case in point: Saturday, Gophers vs. Northwestern, 17-17 tie late in the game. The Gophers have the ball in their own territory as time is winding down. Should they: A) Try to advance the ball to have a shot at a game-winning field goal or B) Sit on the ball and wait for overtime. We see it this way: Your overtime odds are a straight 50/50, pretty much. Your odds in trying to move the ball are about like this: 12 percent you will win the game on that drive, 2 percent something ridiculous will happen and the other team will win the game, 86 percent neither team will score and you’ll go to overtime anyway. In college football, when the clock stops at every first down, it doesn’t take long to move 40 yards. It was the right move. Being aggressive was the higher-percentage play. It just didn’t work out. Sometimes the 2 percent happens. (And please don’t use the argument that because bad stuff always happens to the Gophers, they shouldn’t put themselves in that situation. That’s nonsense. And please do not be one of those people who criticizes every negative play and would have complained just as hard if the Gophers had sat on the ball and then lost in overtime. That just gives sports fans everywhere a bad name).

Sometimes good ideas do not work. And they do not become bad ideas simply because they failed. Remember that and you will be a better fan and a more well-rounded human being. Even if you’re rocking “The Humpty Dance” on karaoke while wearing short shorts.

Just a quick thought: there is a very good chance Brooks Bollinger and Tyler Thigpen will be starting NFL quarterbacks next weekend, while Tarvaris Jackson will not be.

Fasola-link! Blocking cell phone signals.

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