Friday, February 01, 2008

Don't Look Back

Besides being one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game, Satchel Paige was a very wise fellow. He became famous not only for his blazing fastball early on and his dazzling array of junk as he got older, but also for his six rules on "How to Keep Young," with the last suggestion remaining the most prescient. To wit:

Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you.

It's tough not to look back, however. Especially in sports. I know that a lot of Packer fans have been having a difficult time getting over the loss to the Giants, especially now that the Super Bowl is nigh. My friend Rich pointed out that some of us still haven't gotten over the John Hadl trade back in 1974. Packer fans seem to have very long memories and we don't forget much. Sometimes we should, though. I read a fascinating piece earlier today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which is here. It turns out that Ron Wolf, former Packer GM, is still stewing about losing Super Bowl XXXII to those pesky Denver Broncos, and that he puts the blame for the loss primarily on the shoulders of the Walrus. Wolf, now in retirement in Annapolis, thinks that Holmgren should have made adjustments to the all-out blitz package that the Broncos used to rattle Brett Favre.

I greatly respect Ron Wolf, who was the primary architect behind a Super Bowl championship. Still, after ten years, it's really time to let it go. I've seen the NFL Films piece on the game any number of times over the years and it always turns out the same way. There's no good reason to keep picking at that particular scab. Life is too short for regret.

With the news that the Johan Santana trade is now essentially complete, I sense that a lot of fans of the local baseball team will be going through similar feelings of regret. And while this particular event is much closer, it is now passing. I'm going to be happy that I got to see Johan Santana pitch in his prime and I am glad that my kids got to see him pitch here. I doubt that he is worth the nearly $151 million that he is receiving from the Mets; really, is anyone in baseball worth that kind of money? But you can't begrudge the guy for it. You just have to thank him for his service and look forward.

When we look back at such things, it's pretty clear what that we run the ristk of missing what is gaining on us. As a Packer fan, I don't need to think about whether or not Dorsey Levens ran the ball enough ten years ago. A far more interesting topic is what Ryan Grant will do in 2008. And as a Twins fan, a far more interesting topic is whether Francisco Liriano is ready to pitch again. We'll start getting answers to these these and many other questions soon enough. I can't wait.


A. Truck Driver said...

I am still haunted by the loss to the Redskins in the opening round of the 1972 playoffs, not so much because I was all that upset as of 1972, but because it was the only playoff appearance by the Pack for the vast majority of my youth. It is a terrible fate for a young Lutheran, to have to be nostalgic for Scott Hunter. Do you recall Bernie Lincicome's (spelling?)dismissal of the Pack in the early 1990's ("and then there's Green Bay, where Terdell Middleton passes for nostalgia"). A few weeks later Wolf said that somebody they had, I can't recall who (Reggie Cobb?) had a chance to be the best back the Pack has had since Terdell Middleton.

I actually liked hearing from Wolf. I just saw a replay of that Bronco Super Bowl on the NFL channel, and it brought back all those horrible feelings, and I resented having no one to blame. Wolf solved the problem. Blame it on the Swede. Here's another clue you won't like. The Walrus was Mike (you deserved that for the Zimmerman reference).

It really made me sick to let that Giants game slip away. Having lived through the drought in the 70's and 80's, I always have that fear we are going to slip into the abyss once Favre is gone, and I can't see how he can play as well next year as he did this year. Assuming he does play (which seems likely). The rest of the team seems solid, and they appear to have a fine coach and wise GM, but if Rodgers flops and we have no leadership at QB, things can go south in a hurry. Is he Steve Young to Favre's Joe Montana, or Don Horn to Favre's Bart Starr?

Mark said...

I remember Lincicome well - he was a lot of fun because he was such a curmudgeon. I also remember him saying that the Packers were "dressed annoyingly like taxicabs" following the infamous Charles Martin game, which I think was the absolute nadir for the franchise - when you make the Bears of that era look like good guys, something was definitely wrong.

If Rodgers turns out to be Don Horn, that's okay. This regime won't be as complacent as the 70s era Packers and they will take steps to find another guy who can take over. The Packers of 1999 looked a lot like the late 60s early 70s Packers but we've seen a lot of darned good football since then and really only one terrible year.

Have faith!