Tuesday Morning Bad Cop

Last night, I played the good cop. Now, it's time to trot out the bad cop.

Yesterday, you got Bobby Simone. Today, you get Andy Sipowicz.

I have a bone to pick with College Football Resource . . . but, first, a disclaimer.

While C.F.R. and I disagree frequently, our exchanges have been mutually respectful and he produces some good stuff, such as his recent dialogue with Peter at Burnt Orange Nation.

Likewise, I think there is a lot to like in C.F.R.'s posting on what he would do if he were commissioner for a day. While I don't agree with every point he makes, his arguments are reasonable and warrant consideration.

Where I fall out with C.F.R. is over his concluding animadversion on last year's Alabama-Tennessee game:

Finally, I'd make it so that teams participating in 6-3 type games would both be credited with a loss. That's not fun for the players, and it's not fun for the fans.

My primary objection to this position is neither the incongruous result of having both teams (even the one that won) lose a football game nor the bizarre notion of treating a three-point victory by a 6-3 score as being somehow less legitimate than, say, a three-point victory by a 41-38 final margin.

What bothers me about this is that it quite simply epitomizes everything that is wrong with sports.

C.F.R.'s closing comment left me a little irked . . . or should I say Erked?

We all remember the major league baseball advertisements with the theme "chicks dig the long ball," in which pitchers set out to become sluggers and Heidi Klum remarked, "Face it . . . a low E.R.A. just isn't sexy." Unsophisticated fans' obsession with offense produced an underappreciation of defensive prowess and resulted in a senseless clamor for home runs at any cost.

The result, of course, was a series of sea changes, from the lowered mound to the juiced ball, from new ballparks with closer fences to franchise expansion that diluted pitching, all of it designed with the sole goal of overemphasizing offense. This ushered in an era in which Brady Anderson belted 50 dingers, prompting Sports Illustrated to proclaim the home run as devalued as the peso. We now know that a blind eye was turned to performance-enhancing substances because Mark McGwire's and Sammy Sosa's chase of Roger Maris's record brought fans back to the ballparks.

For those of you who've forgotten, Brady Anderson was basically Luke Perry on steroids.

True aficionados of the elegant nuances of athletics, however, are able to appreciate the beauty of the defensive struggle. To the informed fan, a 1-0 pitcher's duel is far more riveting than a 10-9 home run derby. The "Hail Mary" may be pretty, but the goal line stand is gritty.

In short, good D is gutsy, a rock-ribbed combination of speed and power that embodies the toughness for which athletes are admired. To denigrate clashes of unyielding defenses in which every yard is crucial is to elevate improperly the fair-haired golden boys who are favored for their finesse and protected by preferential treatment that penalizes players who "rough" them. Oh, my, yes, let us ensure that these glamorous male models lining up under center not get their hair mussed by manly warriors who would handle them roughly.

No, I don't seriously wish to repeal the rule against roughing the passer and, yes, I am exaggerating to make a point. Certainly, there are hale and hearty men on the offensive side of the ball whose masculinity cannot be gainsaid. Nevertheless, a starry-eyed infatuation with offense goes too far when it leaves a fan desensitized to the subtle strategy and stirring slobberknockers displayed during a defensive slugfest.

Tell me you wouldn't rather watch an oncoming linebacker snap this little twerp in two.

When two teams duke it out in the trenches to decide which of them will be the last man standing, the combatants who exchange field goals in an intense battle for field position in which neither opponent concedes an inch to the other are at least as deserving of credit for their achievement as the high-octane offenses who sail up and down the field in high-scoring shootouts that remind appropriately appreciative football fans of Alan King's joke that N.B.A. games should be decided by giving both teams 100 points and letting them play for three minutes.

Louisville's 44-40 victory over Boise State in the Liberty Bowl on New Year's Eve 2004 was an entertaining game of live-action PlayStation, but Alabama's 14-7 victory over Penn State in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day 1979 was football.

Go 'Dawgs!

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