From the Catbird Seat... Bowled over – thank goodnessAs any regular reader of this column knows, my favorite words in the English language are “pitchers and catchers report.”
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
As any regular reader of this column knows, my favorite words in the English language are “pitchers and catchers report.”
It’s at that time that the coming of spring – and the merciful end of winter – is finally on the horizon. Yet we can’t get to that phrase without something happening first.
That would be the Super Bowl. As much as many of us love it, the football season is finally over and that, at least from my point of view, is a good thing.
I don’t know too many neutrals who were rooting for Pittsburgh last Sunday. It seemed a bit odd to me that Barack Obama and Rush Limbaugh finally found something they could agree on – they both are Steeler fans, it seems – but in my own circles, I didn’t see a lot of sympathy for Mike Tomlin and his players.
They were the better team, though, and I think most neutral observers saw that from the beginning. The only surprises in the game from my point of view were that the Steelers didn’t cover the point spread (I thought they would) and that it took them until the last drive to win the game.
Some things weren’t quite as surprising – a couple of charitable calls helped Pittsburgh just like in their win over Seattle a couple of years ago – but the officials didn’t decide this game.
It would have been nice to see Kurt Warner get one more desperation chance in the last few seconds, especially since a serious review of Arizona’s last offensive play by the replay booth would have shown he didn’t fumble, but that wasn’t to be.
Pittsburgh won the game because they were better on both sides of the line of scrimmage. I would have loved to have seen Larry Fitzgerald’s touchdown hold up as the winning score but in the end, the better team did win the game.
Now it’s time for those teams who didn’t make the Super Bowl to copy the successes of the teams that did. That would mean trying to be like Mike Tomlin. Leaving aside the remark that the Vikings evidently let the wrong coach go to the Steelers, there are still some remarks we can make about the new champions.
One is to take it easy on the notion that Tomlin is a genius – at least for the time being. Let’s remember he inherited a darn good situation – a Super Bowl champion built by Bill Cowher – and that team hasn’t changed all that much in its key elements.
Before we talk about Tomlin’s greatness we ought to remember that Barry Switzer won a Super Bowl too after inheriting a champion, and when it came time for him to manage a team over the long-term, he was a failure. That’s not to suggest that Tomlin will bomb out – but rather that we just don’t know.
The Steelers have a proud heritage, and a demonstrated track record of success. Surely this latest win won’t do anything to harm that reputation and it does speak well of an organization that is committed to doing everything legally possible to win every season. Zygi Wilf is trying to do the same thing with the Vikings, and now has another off-season to try to build his team into the kind that Pittsburgh already has.
It’s a lofty goal, but the Steelers’ prolonged success, as well as Arizona’s success in showing what simple competence can do to a team’s short-term fortunes, suggests that maybe there’s hope after all.
In the meantime, pitchers and catchers report. It’s time for spring.