A little Sunday smorgasbord:
Many years ago I decided I didn't know what constituted a dynasty in sports, that maybe such a thing didn't exist.
What were the qualifications? To be considered as one, did a team have to win three, four, five championships in a row, or was it enough just to win the most regular-season games over an extended period? Having reached the conclusion that I didn't have the answers, I vowed to strike the word dynasty from my sports vocabulary, and stopped using it.
The Oakland Athletics went into the World Series as a very good baseball team. It says here they came out of it the same way . . . nothing more, nothing less. Just because they were swept by the Cincinnati Reds didn't change that, nor did it stamp the Reds as a budding giant.
Occasionally, during the regular season, the playoffs or the World Series -- for whatever reason -- the better team doesn't win. Possibly the opposition is just better manned to compete in a short series than over an entire season.
There are also times when a team seems destined to win a World Series, and whatever needs to happen to turn that into reality is what will happen. There is no better example of that than the 1969 Series, when the New York Mets beat a far superior Baltimore Orioles team in five games. When you watched that Series unfold, it was as though somebody up there wanted the Mets to win. Every break, every call, every everything went their way.
Did that make the Mets better than the Orioles, or did it mean the Orioles weren't a very good team? Of course not. Same with the Athletics. They'll be just as tough to beat in the American League West next year as ever.
But, it says here you can put a lid on the dynasty talk.
For some of us who were around when Ted Marchibroda was head coach of the then-Baltimore Colts from 1975 through 1979, and who not only considered him a sound coach but a good, sincere human being wrongly labeled here, it is gratifying to hear him now being credited with the offensive game plans that the 5-1 Buffalo Bills are taking into today's game against the New England Patriots. Marchibroda is regarded so highly among his peers that he never has had trouble getting a job as an offensive coordinator -- the job he now holds with the Bills -- since being sacked by lovable Bob Irsay.
In his first three years as head coach, the Colts went 10-4, 11-3 and 10-4, winning the Eastern Division each time. And, with Bert Jones at his physical best, these were high-scoring teams. But his last two teams were 5-11, and he was branded an arch-conservative who was afraid to take chances and who wouldn't throw the ball downfield until forced to. Fans booed him, the press criticized him, as did Irsay, and it eventually cost him his job.
I thought it was a bum rap then, and still do. What happened was that Irsay already was pulling on the purse strings and in other ways displaying his vast talent for lousing up an organization. Marchibroda knew his defense was porous, his offense not capable of scoring a lot of points. He figured his only chance to beat better teams was to control the ball, keep it away from the opposing offense as long as possible, then try to pull off some miracle. That's why he was conservative.
When he was named offensive coordinator at Buffalo, I heard some veteran Colts fans say the Bills would never win because he would be too conservative. It isn't happening. With Jim Kelly as his quarterback, he is a high-scoring coach again, one being credited with good game plans and play-calling.
It couldn't happen to a nicer, more deserving gentleman.
Was it my imagination or were umpires more aggressive and more visible this year, from Opening Day right through postseason action, than ever before?
And it could get worse rather than better if the commissioner continues to let Richie Phillips, head of the umpires' union, go right to him over the heads of league presidents.
I've been a booster of Fay Vincent's since he took office. He has had some tough decisions and handled them well. But he might have made a mistake when he permitted Phillips to bypass National League president Bill White and come to him, after White told his umpires to cool it, to be less aggressive in certain areas. White almost quit his job over that, and I don't blame him. Some umpires go looking for trouble now, instead of trying to avoid it, and that's not their job.
One of the best umpires in my time around the game was Nestor Chylak. You hardly knew he was involved, and he seldom ejected anybody. In all of the Orioles games that he worked, he never once gave Earl Weaver the thumb, which has to be a record. He got respect and did his job with judgment and ability, and didn't need to rely on swagger or force.
That's the way it should be with umpires, but it seems to me that they are getting away from that and need to be told so, not pampered.