Monday, May 5, 2008

Momentum Screeches To A Halt

It is kinda hard to find anything to write about besides the Sharks/Stars game last night. And that is really saying something because this was an amazing all-around sports weekend.

Stars 2-Sharks 1: Game 6 Quadruple overtime. This was easily the best goaltending performance I have ever seen. Evgeni Nabakov and Marty Turco combined for over 100 saves, but it wasn't just how many saves they got, it was how many spectacular saves they got when any one mistake would cost the game and possibly season. Not a hockey fan? Think of it this way: a catcher has to add about 20 pounds of weight to his pads and then stay in his crouch for 20 minutes at a time for a total of a little over 2 hours. The pitcher will then throw at him, but will try to get it by him, instead of hitting the mitt. If he drops any ball, he loses and his team is eliminated. It was the 8th longest playoff game in history and was the best I have ever watched.

The four best quotes from the 5-and-a-half hour game:
4. Vs. studio host during the 6th intermission: "If you're just tuning in, where the hell have you been?"
3. My mom as the second overtime began: "If I have to watch this crap, we're opening another bottle of wine."
2. My dad as the goalies were peppered with shots, but only 2 scored for the first 125 minutes: "It's like basketball with no rims."
1. My wife, a die-hard sharks fan, after the game: "I hate the Cowboys so much more than I ever did. I'm never going to Dallas. Stupid city."

I feel like this game was a disappointment however, because the Sharks should have won and it should have gone to game 7. How amazing would one last showdown for all the marbles, two days after this marathon be? Could Turco and Nabakov even have started? Of course they would have, but could they possibly have been effective? Would the Sharks momentum continue after having won 3-straight to tie it up? Would there be payback for the clean but hard hit by Scott Morrow on Milan Michalek? Too bad we will never know. One thing we do know: Detroit is going to destroy Dallas in game 1 of the West Finals.

I did get to thinking about momentum in sports this weekend. I have heard the expression that momentum is only as good as tomorrow's starter. I came to the conclusion that momentum is a misnomer and what we actually are talking about when we bring it up is confidence. For instance:

The Dodgers had won 8-in-a-row on Sunday. The Rockies had lost 11 of 13. Both teams' momentum was allegedly taking them in opposite directions. But the Rockies got 3 hits to start the game, they found themselves ahead, and bang: two streaks ended.

No one regular season game ever means anything more than any other. And even if the pressure feels greater in a game 7, it is no more important than game 1 was. Momentum does not build...only confidence is tested.

A 30-point win or a 10-run loss is just a win or a loss unless the players think it will or will not happen again. Either way, you have to go out and make something happen...momentum won't just do it for you.

If there was such a thing as momentum, why did the Rockets ever lose a game once they got on that amazing roll? Why did the Sharks not blow through Calgary and Dallas after entering the playoffs on a similar roll? How does a guy ever break out of a hitting slump?

They talk about momentum much more in the playoffs than any other time. Will the Celtics finally playing like a decent basketball team give them some kind of advantage over the Cavs in round 2? Not really, but if everyone on the team thinks so, and the Cavs get intimidated by what the Three-Party did to Atlanta, then yes, it could have an effect. But it is the players' heads only (which is, of course a very important factor).

The talking heads are all questioning whether the Hornets' game 1 blowout will give them a momentum advantage? The playoffs don't start until someone loses at home. The Hornets merely held serve. Does anything think the Spurs think they are out of it? It's all about confidence, not momentum.

If momentum existed, how could you account for Mission Impossible being great, the second one being an absolute travesty, and the third one being great? The answer here is simple: John Woo is the worst director in the history of film, and screwed up a perfectly good script with incessant slo-mo-diving-shooting scenes. I mean two guys with guns played chicken and dove at one another instead of just shooting each other. Didn't they watch Indiana Jones shoot the dude with the two huge swords? As Shakespeare said, "more matter, less art." But I digress...

If momentum existed, how do you explain the Celtics this year? Last year they were dead in the water. Then they got a crappy spot in the draft lottery. Then they tried to trade for Kevin Garnett and he said no and everyone said Boston was a racist city and no black players want to play there and no great black players have ever played there (never mind that that isn't true and their coach and 4/5 of the team was black). The franchise was toast. Then Garnett changed his mind. Then Ray Allen signed. Suddenly they all thought they were NBA champs, and Bostonians loved black people. Not a single ball was dribbled. Not a single shot was taken. It wasn't was confidence!

In some instances, I suppose momentum does exist and confidence can mislead you. Like when Carlos Beltran hit a pop foul Sunday and the third baseman sprinted over, slid on the track under the ball and it landed about 10 feet behind him. I hope that wasn't on national TV...whoops.

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