Friday, November 25, 2016

Joe Buck and the Lions

Football announcer Joe Buck has a book out. It's called "Lucky Bastard". Yours truly has yet to read it -- probably never will -- but presumably the title refers more to his good fortune than dubious parentage.

Assuming that to be true, Joe is the son of long time play-by-play man Jack Buck, recently deceased. Old Jack had made quite a name for himself and is still considered somewhat legendary in the talking head community.

By "lucky bastard", we might also assume young Joe is referring to the job he has. In other words, he acknowledges he might not have got it if not for his daddy, else he be slinging fries or mopping floors somewhere. You know -- horrors!! -- a real job.

Like Jeremy Schapp, son of sports media pioneer Dick, by pure dumb luck -- nepotism notwithstanding --the young Buck is rolling in the dough. Hmm, there's a pun in there somewhere. Nevermind.

Which brings me to the Detroit Lions. They've been experiencing their own share of dumb luck lately as well. Now at 7-4, they lead the NFC North by a full game, actually two, given they hold the tie-breaker over the Minnesota Vikings.

It's long been the habit of Lions' fans, and their local media, to take good breaks in stride when they happen to their team -- almost like they're supposed to happen. A given. But they'll scream foul and bloody murder when yet another happenstance goes against them. It could certainly be argued that in the whole scheme of things, breaks usually have a way of evening out eventually.

The Lions have been fortunate indeed this year to date. When it comes to breaks, they've fallen into the tall cotton side of things much more so than the proverbial briar patch.

Several instances could be cited over several games, but for the purpose of this article let's just consider the two games they've played against the Vikings -- both Detroit wins. While the Lions and their fans take it in stride, the Vikings and their own followers must feel cursed. Both were games the Vikings could have won, and likely should have. Had that happened, Detroit would now be 5-6 and the Vikes 8-3. A huge swing in the standings, not to mention playoff implications.

In their first meeting in Minnesota, all Vikings' place kicker Blair Walsh had to do was boot an extra point. Had he done so successfully, there would have been no overtime, which the Lions came back to win in. The Vikings would have won the game in regulation. But he missed it. True, they've moved the "spot" back on PAT's but they're still no longer than a chip shot field goal. NFL kickers are expected to make them on a regular basis. If they can't, they won't be in the league for very long.

The Lions did nothing to win this game, and should have lost. But by a stroke of sheer luck, they came away with a W.

In the recently concluded Thanksgiving day game, at Detroit, the score was tied, and Minnesota had the ball with a minute and a half left, a couple of time-outs, and decent field position. With Detroit playing a loose, not quite "prevent" defense, it didn't seem too much to expect the Vikings to gain a couple chunks of yardage to get into at least long field goal range. The Lions had to try and hold on and hope for OT again.

Then somebody extraordinary happened -- again. Detroit cornerback Darius Slay intercepted a Sam Bradford pass, and it was the Lions in field goal position to win the game. Which they did as time expired.

As it was written up by some Detroit area scribes, Slay had made a brilliant play, the Lions had "made" their own break yet again, and all was well in Honolulu blue and silver land. Chalk up another W.

Nothing could be further from reality regarding that particular play. Slay may be a decent corner, but he takes chances and oftentimes gets burned.

Much more so, that particular pass was a boneheaded decision by Bradford. A throw that never should have been made. Bradford knows it, as do his coaches. The Lions didn't earn this W, they lucked into it. Again.

Barring a total collapse, Detroit should be able to cruise into the playoffs, even have a home game as division champs. Though certainly stranger things have happened to the Lions -- one never knows what they might stumble into next -- given their relatively easy remaining schedule it's unlikely even the Lions could find a way to screw it up. But their history tells us not to hold our breath. It IS still the Ford owned Lions -- right?

One can't help but feel a bit for the Vikings. First they lose their starting QB Teddy Bridgewater, then all-world running back Adrian Petersen. Also their starting left tackle, who protects the QB's "blind" side on pass plays.

And in head-to-head match-ups with the Lions, the Vikes had one win in the bag and another within reach, only to have Murphy's Law kick them in the head both times. Two Ws became two Ls. Their own spot in the playoffs is very much in jeopardy. 8-3 would look a whole lot better than 5-6.

But the Detroit Lions merrily skip along, oblivious to just how lucky they were in those two games.

Here's hoping that if and when the great wheel of fortune lands on a bad break for the Lions -- it'll happen eventually -- we won't have to listen to the cacaphony of "we was robbed" that we've heard so often in the past.

They'll understand that not everything is destined to always go their way and accept it in the spirit of fairness in the real world.

But don't count on it.....

On that note, perhaps some aspiring author will come along and write a book on how the Lions' season has played out so far, particularly the Minnesota games.

Add an "s" to the end, and it could be titled the same as Buck's book. Who's your daddy indeed.

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