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How I Made the Final Four

Remember how last week I was in the first leg of a sports debating tournament? (A refresher.) Well, devoid of a finished article and the motivation to hammer one out, I decide to copy and paste my debates from that event. I won my region and will participate in the Final Four sometime in the future. I’m not saying I debated well in any of these cases, and it was a poor format (it has since been revised for the remaining regions), but here they are.

Round One: The On Deck Circle v. Homer Derby
Topic: Who will be in the 2009 World Series? Who will win the World Series? How will the series go? Which players will be the difference makers? MVP?

Blake: Obviously, the Yankees dropped a lot of cash this offseason. Everyone hates them, so it’s not a sexy pick by any means (especially as a Jays fan), but let’s face it: they now have a deep enough pitching staff to manage any injuries, and a deep enough farm system to add pieces as they go. You have to like that one of Hughes, Kennedy, and Joba will most likely start the year in the minors, meaning their 5th started will have a short leash, or they can replace an injured pitcher.

They have all of their positions well filled, great depth (Swisher is a reserve!) and prospects like Melky, Austin Jackson, the aforementioned pitchers, and even Brett Gardner mean they can always pull off a ‘Yankee’ deadline trade, acquiring an overpriced star for some minor league talent.

Rich: The Mets are due, baby. And they shored up the area that cost them most dearly last season - the bullpen. How many games did the pen blow for Santana? Try more than 5. Clear Cy Young winner if not for the pen. Indians are the undisputed fave in the AL Central and will waltz through teams in the playoffs who had to fight to get there.

Blake: On the NL side of things, I like the Mets. Sorry that Rich took them too, but the depth is just too much to compete with, and their perennial Achilles heel (bullpen) has obviously been addressed, and the Phillies will take a step back this year.

Rich: The Indians shored up their bullpen with Kerry Wood and their infield with Mark Derosa on the left side. If Pronk is healthy, watch out.

Blake: The disparity between the leagues will be apparent early this year and through the playoffs - I like the AL to prevail almost regardless of the match-up, but an entertaining Subway Series would most definitely see the Yankees prevail. No team can match their playoff rotation of Sabathia-Burnett-Wang, etc, and you’d be hard pressed two hold them to 5 quality starts in a 7-game series. No, the Yankees aren’t likable, and A-Rod hasn’t done it in the clutch before, but facts are facts - they have the deepest staff, one of the best closers, and no holes at any position. The World Series is theirs to lose.

Rich: The Yankees have more drama this season than in many past. And more expectations. And high expectations just don’t seem to be lived up to in the Bronx. Sabathia logged too many innings (late season innings) to not have it affect him this season. And A-Rod will have boo birds in every stadium (even Yankee Stadium).

Blake: Over a 162 game season, depth is key - it will carry the Yankees to the playoffs. The Mets can do the same in the NL, but in a short series, overall talent usually wins out, and the Yankees have the Mets beat almost everywhere.

Rich: The Mets have the talent and the desire to erase two consecutive seasons of late heartbreak to drive them to the World Series. The Yankees have too much pressure from outside and within.

Round Two: The On Deck Circle v. Bootlegger Sports

Blake: The one way to measure a franchise is simple - championships. You can argue that this devalues newer teams or leagues, but there can really only be a few answers if you look at the history of all major sports. The Celtics have won 17 of them, in one of the most competitive sports leagues the world has ever seen. When people think basketball, they think Bulls, Lakers, and Celtics, but the Celtics get the nod - 17 championships, including a run of 11 in 13 years, is unprecedented.

Bootlegger: To start with… baseball has a much longer history than NBA, so there’s one advantage given. Plus, Brooklyn Dodgers were located in the largest city in America, then moved to what became the largest city in America. They have consistently had one of the highest fan bases in America. Then throw in the history of championships played for and won.

Blake: If you’re not one for championships, the Celtics have also produced more great players than any team but arguably the Yankees - they have produced countless Hall of Famers and retired 21 jerseys.

Bootlegger: Then factor in that they changed every sport, with Jackie Robinson. Breaking the color barrier changed all sports, and made the Dodgers a symbol like no other team has ever achieved. Then factor in the other greats to go through the organization that changed the demographics of sports. Sandy Koufax as the greatest ever, plus Jewish. Bringing Asian players to America on the big time.

Blake: The fact that the Dodgers have had a strong fan base is a matter of circumstance only - they haven’t had the success, even over a longer period of history, that the Celtics have had. Yes, Jackie Robinson was paramount to all of sports and the Dodgers are highly commendable for that move, but it hasn’t defined the franchise as a success.

Bootlegger: 6 world series titles, 21 NL Pennants. 21. Second only to the Yankees in numbers won, and didn’t buy them all. Also the first team to use a TV broadcast, and first use of batting helmets.

Blake: Plain and simple, the Dodgers are a great model for morality in sports. That’s wonderful, but the Celtics are the model for franchise success. 21 pennants, or 17 championships? I’ll take the banners every time.

Bootlegger: Then add in Vin Scully as the greatest announcer of all time. Also most recognizable and unchanged uniforms in the world. Dodgers represent America as a past time and culture. They’ve spanned the history of this country and defined it on many levels. hundreds of books are written about the Dodgers. Dozens maybe about the Celtics.

Blake: The Celtics are synonymous with basketball - they define the game and helped make it what it is today. They continue to be successful, and have done so for over 50 years. The Dodgers have done great things, yes, but the Yankees define baseball to most, and being an innovator is not enough to be considered the greatest franchise ever. The Celtics have the most historical players, and a great deal of unparalleled success.

Round Three: The On Deck Circle v. Blue Blitz
Topic: What is the greatest record in sports?

Blake: Wayne Gretzky’s 2857 career points. Hockey isn’t a great choice here for votes maybe, and I may be playing into a Canadian stereotype, but let’s face it - it is probably the most unbreakable record next to the Hit Streak. Gretzky’s is greater for two reasons - because of the longevity required, and because it basically made hockey a predominant sport.

Zorgon: Home Run Record. There’s nothing that’s more significant or talked about in the media today. The Home Run Record is constantly debated by all of the major media outlets. I’m not even a baseball fan and I can’t get away from all of the homerun talk. It’s so significant that people are talking about removing players who took steroids from the Home Run Record, but not other records.

Blake: It took Wayne almost 1500 games to amass that total, meaning he maintained a pace of nearly 2 points a game for 20 seasons. Think about that - he was his sport’s best player for nearly 20 years. The Home Run Record is significant, but it’s not the greatest - all indications are it could be broken several times in the next while, and it’s tainted. Gertzky’s took the same degree of longevity, and an even greater degree of dominance in his sport.

Zorgon: I haven’t even heard of Wayne Gretzky’s number of goals, much less remember the number. Sure, we all remember him as a great PLAYER, but a great RECORD? I don’t think so. Yeah, but longevity is not that impressive. It’s about getting the athlete when they’re at their absolute best.

Blake: Gretzky’s record helped others set records, and made the sport into what it is today. You could make the argument that the HR record could end up hurting baseball by creating constant negative media attention. it’s one thing to hit Home Runs, it’s a great skill, but it’s not the be-all end-all of this game. Gretzky took the most significant statistic in his sport (really, the only one) and produced it to a level that will never been be sniffed.

Zorgon: Bottom line is that no-one but a die hard hockey fan would remember Gretzky’s number of goals, and it’s not something that people are actively trying to pursue. The Home Run Record is broken, yes, but people are constantly talking about it.

Blake: Look, this clearly wasn’t a popular pick, my mistake for going the hockey route, but I firmly believe it’s the most unbreakable skill-related record in sports. It took longevity, dominance, and it completely transformed his sport.

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3 Responses to “How I Made the Final Four”

  1. paul Says:

    Wayne Gretzky’s career points total is more unbreakable than the hit streak in baseball IMO. He has 33% more points than second place (Mark Messier). Around 1000 more points. Considering he set his mark in the most offensive decade ever, as the greatest offensive player ever, no one has a fucking chance in hell of breaking it. Last season’s art ross winner scored 112 points.

    Baseball’s home run record is tainted with steroids. Barry Bonds has 7 more Home runs than Hank Aaron. 1% more than Hank Aaron.

    Pete Rose has the second longest hitting streak with 44 (in the open era). That makes Joe’s legendary streak 21.5% better than Rose’s. The streak is beatable considering there is a lot of luck involved in the streak. It will take a great effort and it is a great record but not unbeatable.

    Try getting lucky and scoring an average of 143 points over 20 seasons.

    Greay job Blake, I want to suck your dick.

  2. mostafa Says:

    Schooled your opponents on the greatest record and greatest franchise. Agree completely with you about Gretzky, it is absolutely the greatest record in sports, Zorgon maybe confused greatest with memorable.. and also didn’t realize you were talking points not goals..

    Good luck in the next round guy, I hope they make the debate topics a little less ambiguous.

  3. Geoff Says:

    Solid debates. well the first two, the last one made me want to punch that other guy in the face. Home runs over 20 years of 2points per… ya no chance buddy

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