Calvin Johnson’s Catch Beats Bears, But Not the Rules Committee
Earlier in the 2010 Baseball Season, the city of Detroit weathered one of the worst calls in Baseball history when Armando Galarraga was robbed of a Perfect Game after umpire Jim Joyce blew a call on what should have been the game's final out. This past Sunday, the sports gods were at it again when they blew conventional wisdom out of Soldier Field during Calvin Johnson's game winning catch.
In case you missed it, the Detroit Lions lost to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field this past Sunday. This would be all well and good had the Lions actually lost the game. With under 10 second to go, Lions' Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson made an amazing game winning catch in the end zone, the type of catch that talent tends to make.
Soon after the catch, the Lions' celebration came to an abrupt pause when the "powers that be" in the booth upstairs decided to let the officials determine the outcome of the game, rather than the players on the field. After reviewing the play, the refs determined it wasn't a catch based on indisputable evidence; after completing the catch Johnson quickly placed the ball on the ground so he could celebrate with his teammates. Had he planned a touchdown celebration that involved some sort of dance, the Lions would likely be 1-0. After the play was overturned, the Lions tried twice more and failed to re-find Calvin in the end zone.
Unlike the feel good story that resulted from Galarraga's blown perfect game, in which umpire Jim Joyce tearfully apologize to Galarraga, Roger Goodell and his regime not only failed to apologize for the call, they attempted to convince football fans across the country that it wasn't a catch, forgetting that we have eyes and common sense, something that Goodell clearly no longer possesses.
As a Minnesota sports fan, I've experienced my fair share of "rules" over the years. In 2003, the 9-6 Vikings lost the NFC North in the final seconds of the seasons final game when Cardinals' Wide Receiver Nate Poole got one foot down in the end zone. Back in 2003, something called the "force out" rule existed, which theorized whether or not a player would have gotten both feet down had there been no defense present on the field. In 2004, the "force out" rule was eliminated in large part due to the Nate Poole catch, but that didn't change the fact that the Vikings missed the playoffs in 2003.
In 2008, the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox both finished the year 88-74, meaning it would take 163 games to determine who won the AL Central and play into October. Fortunately for Chicago fans, Major League Baseball had an iron clad way of determining where Game 163 would be played, that plan was a coin flip. The Twins ended up losing the game 1-0 at Chicago. In 2009, Major League Baseball ditched the coin flip in favor of determining home field based on who won the season series, which the Twins won in 2008.
If only those who governed professional sports had the conventional wisdom of the fans that watch them. The everyday sports fans is fine with his or her team losing a game, as we full well understand the ups and downs that ultimately come with fan-ship. All we ask is that a loss feel like a loss, that the players and coaches leave us filled with regret rather than the rules.
Like the Lions, Vikings, and Twins, this article has no silver lining. 31 other teams in the NFL learned a lesson on Sunday that only the Lions had to pay for. Unfortunately, it appears as though the only ones who learned nothing were those who make the rules.