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Monday, February 02, 2015

TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY

It was the best of times.
It was the worst of times.
It was the best of calls.
It was the worst of calls.

For all we dislike about the super bowl, which we wrote about yesterday, there is value in sports. The value is in the simple moments. The moments of truth. When the player confronts their talent, their opponent's talent, when their coach makes the call to put his or her team into position to win. Or lose.

Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll did both yesterday. As the first half wound down, with his team down by 7, six seconds left, a penalty putting them a dozen yards from a touch down. The safe play was to kick a field goal. Championships are rarely won by the safe play. Carroll called a pass play, his team executed and scored and rode the momentum of that play to a ten point lead by the fourth quarter.

Then the Patriots came back, and then, with an improbable pass reception, the Seahawks and their QB Russell Wilson found themselves down by four, at the one, less than thirty seconds left.

In Basketball, John Havlicek stole the ball. Then a generation later, Bird stole the ball. Jordan made last second jumper after last second jumper, and won six championships.

Mazeroski hit the first bottom of the ninth, game 7 walk-off home run in 1960, and a generation later in the World Series  Kirk Gibson limped to the plate and knocked one out of the park causing Vince Scully to memorably exclaim "I don't believe what I just saw!"

Sports are about those moments of the man or woman confronting their own short comings. The moment of truth when the player emerges and beats the better opponent- or fails and faces  a life time of "what ifs?"
There is no better example of a man confronting his fears than Ali, on the ropes for seven rounds in Kinshasa, Zaire, taking a pounding from the most terrifying opponent in the history of boxing, and then reaching deep inside and throwing the best right hand in boxing history. Ali beat Forman, but in reality, he conquered his fear and allowed himself to win.

Russell Wilson walked to the line of scrimmage as the seconds ticked down. He had timeouts to call if necessary. He had the best short yardage back in the game, and he had the athletic skill to run a yard and win a championship. Pete Carroll or his Offensive coordinator called a pass. The Patriots countered with a goal line defense- their largest players on the line to stop the run- but with a twist- cornerbacks positioned to stop the play-action pass.

Bobby Thompson hit the home-run and "The Giants Win The Pennant. The Giants Win The Pennant."

Wilson called the play and took the snap and stepped back to pass.

Mookie Wilson stood at the plate with two outs and his Mets one out away from losing the series in 1986 to the Red Sox in game six.

Wilson threw an interception when the game was on the line.

WIlson swung and sent a soft roller down the first base line, but improbably Bill Buckener let the ball roll through this legs when the Red Sox were on the verge of their first world championship.

That's why they play the game. And it wasn't a bad game at all.



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