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Soup of This Day #43: In The Maritime Wait And See

August 1, 2011

Wreck of the Dimitrios
The shipwreck of the Dimitrios near Laconia, Peloponessus, Greece. There are slightly less holes in it than the Dockers 2011 season – Photo: N1RK4UDSK714, 2008. N1RK4UDSK714 has no affiliation with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Charlie Brooker recently wrote a critical opinion piece for guardian.co.uk about press reaction in the immediate aftermath of the Norwegian nightmare:

‘If anyone reading this runs a news channel, please, don’t clog the airwaves with fact-free conjecture unless you’re going to replace the word “expert” with “guesser” and the word “speculate” with “guess”, so it’ll be absolutely clear that when the anchor asks the expert to speculate, they’re actually just asking a guesser to guess. Also, choose better guessers. Your guessers were terrible, like toddlers hypothesising how a helicopter works. I don’t know anything about international terrorism, but even I outguessed them.’

I don’t want to minimise the import of what Booker was talking about but I’d like to draw some parallels with sport. You see, if ‘experts’ get it that wrong on something so monumentally important as terrorism imagine how they go on the lesser matter of sport.

In sport they use ‘instinct’ and ‘intuition’ to guess. Instinct is nice but it seems to be overrated. This weekend just gone Melbourne Football Club, the Demons got absolutely belted by Geelong, the Cats, at the aptly named Skilled Stadium in Geelong. At 37.11 (233) to 7.5 (47) it was very nearly the biggest shellacking in AFL/VFL history, with the 186 point margin just 4 shy of the all-time record. Prior to the game Melbourne was in 11th, still dreaming of a finals gig and experienced coach Dean Bailey was talking positive. Come Monday morn and the intuitively likeable Bailey is unemployed after 4 years at the Demons and Melbourne, while still in 11th, is no longer in any post-season calculations. Ain’t no instinct saw that @#$% going down.

Prior to this season some of the AFL’s best guessers had instinctively and intuitively guessed that the Dockers would be top 4 contenders. A fair prognostication given their stellar 2010, when they finished in 4th and went deep in the finals. Their host of inexperienced players would be a season older and their stars would shine brighter, etc.

Yeah, no.

The 2011 Dockers aren’t doing that well. Take Saturday’s game at Subi. Freo, less than a week out from a narrow 1 point loss to West Coast was backing up at home against Hawthorn. The Hawks have top 4 aspirations of their own and this was guessed to be a tough encounter.

It was for the Freo faithful who were there to watch.

It was cold, wet and blustery. That doesn’t quite explain how the Dockers were a couple of minutes out from half-time down 0.3 (3) to 8.7 (55). Yep, that’s right. In a game that rewards missing by not much the Dockers contrived to miss by a lot and so for almost a half of football had amassed just the 3 points. They rallied somewhat and went in for sandwiches down by 2.3 (15) to the Hawks 8.8 (60). For perspective Geelong meanwhile had 20.4 (124) by half-time. The truly amazing aspect to this is that the rain only started in the 2nd quarter when the Dockers were already down by 8 goals to 0. They actually outscored themselves in the wet.

They couldn’t outscore the Hawks though and by 3/4 time the Docker’s goose had been well and truly cooked. They stumbled to a 6.8 (44) to 13.17 (95) loss and the guessers suggested that they had ‘salvaged some pride’. In what I don’t know. They do have an anchor in the team emblem and the rain did look like causing a flood so maybe the salvage business might work for them. In the meantime a truly awful night for the men in purple was made worse by injuries to Matty DeBoer and Rhys Palmer. It’s not quite the Titanic as Freo still clings to 8th but I reckon the good ship Dockers has a wicked list to it.

The Boston Red Sox starting rotation likewise has a list, although their bats are paddling like crazy to ensure they are still very much a going concern. On Saturday morning in Game 1 vs the White Sox, Tim Wakefield had the start and was in the hunt for win 200. He pitched 6 tidy innings of shutout ball against a solo Salty long bomb. Wake then gave up 3, including a 2 run blast in the 8th and the Chicagoans got the nod 3-1.

Game 2 Sunday morning and Jon Lester had the start, his 2nd back from injury. As starters dropped off the market in the typically frantic trade countdown, Lester showed why he is a cornerstone for the Red Sox with just the 2 runs coming off his 8 innings. In reply Salty doubled in a charging Crawf in the 5th, accompanied by Scutaro sac fly, a Pedroia RBI and a Youkilis RBI single. It was 4-0 at that point and that was the umpteenth time this season that an offence has walked Gonzalez (again) only to run into Youk. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t I guess.

Scutaro singled in Reddick in the 8th and going into the last it was 5-2. Gonzalez (again) went long for the 1st time since July 7th, celebrating by taking Pedroia on a tour of the bases with him. Youk then celebrated this by going long next at bat. He selfishly went by himself. Salty and Scutaro added RBIs to pad it out to 10-2 and that was the way it finished. Lester to 11 and 4 and for a time there it looked like he was to be joined by RHP Rich Harden from the A’s. The deal collapsed on medical grounds a couple of hours later though as the Sox dug a little deeper.

Game 3 this morning and again news of an impending trade for a starter broke through the game. This time it was highly relevant as the underwhelming Andrew Miller took the mound. In the end he threw a Jekyll and Hyde 5.2 innings for 10 hits and 3 runs and no decision. The Red Sox got 2 runs from a Varitek blast back in the 2nd and then a 2 run single from the no-longer-streaking-but-still-scoring-for-fun Pedroia in the 7th. Gonzalez (again) added an RBI double in the 9th to make it 5-3. Probably should have walked him there then.

That’s how it ended. Aceves with the win to move to 7 and 1 and Papelbon with his 25th save. Bard has now gone 26.1 innings without conceding a run. About the time that he was working on 26 news came through that LHP Erik Bedard and RHP Josh Fields had arrived from the M’s in a 3 way trade that cost 4 minor leaguers. Portland’s Federowicz looked to be a good un so hopefully this works out. Canadian Bedard is injury prone and has recently and rustily come off a sizeable rehab stint.

From 1 rusty starter to another and we arrive at the conundrum that is Mark Webber. This weekend just gone he tried to solve his poor take-offs with a novel strategy. Probably sick of starting on the front row and then falling back Webber thought ahead and qualified for the 3rd row of the grid (in 6th). This allowed the Sebastien Vettel’s, Fernando Alonso’s and Lewis Hamilton’s, who start better to not run the risk of ramming into Webber. Unfortunately the list of those who start better than Mark is actually much longer than those 3 and as such he went into Turn 1 in 8th. He did fight back manfully though and in spite of some sacrificial Red Bull strategy he finished a creditable 5th.

I’ll leave you with this: In 1859 Melbourne Football club was founded. A week later some of it’s members created the basic rules for the code they now play. That’s Australia for you – We create a club to play football and then work out the rules later. It’s kind of a delayed start. Webber, although a rugby league man, would probably appreciate that.

When all is well and well is all for all
And forever after
Maybe in the meantime wait and see

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