The Give and Go
By Charlie Zegers and Chris Liss
RotoWire Staff Writers
Subject: Give and Go
Date: January 14, 2008 12:02 PM PDT
So did you see that the NBA is now granting do-overs?
Apparently the Atlanta Hawks' official scorer mis-assigned a foul in a game against Miami, counting one of Udonis Haslem's personals on the Big Fella's ledger. When Shaq was hit with number five, they though it was number six and tossed him. The next time Miami plays Atlanta (March 8th, in Atlanta) last 51.9 seconds of that game will be replayed, with the Hawks up 114-111.
Do you think it's possible to establish a worse precedent? I mean, the Bobcats are already looking for their own replay after losing a game to the Pistons on a questionable call. At the very least, this means we'll be seeing a lot more of these types of protests.
At most? What do you suppose will happen if we ever get a full report detailing all of Tim Donaghy's transgressions? This could get ugly.
But in the spirit of do-overs, I'm going to take a few this week. We're going to pretend that I never told anyone to grab Chucky Atkins or Demetris Nichols... and that I didn't build my expert league team around T-Mac and AK-47.
Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: January 14, 2008 2:37 PM PDT
I remember the discussion we had about my extremely youthful NBA.com Expert League team - how I drafted high-risk, high-reward players, and how that was the recipe for winning. And you agreed, but pointed out you went elsewhere for risk/reward guys like McGrady and Kirilenko. Well, that's the "risk" side of it.
My guys (LeBron, Al Jefferson, Durant, Roy, Deng, Aldridge, Bynum and Horford) have been pretty good, but none of them besides the King, particularly great. Maybe if I made a move in that league, I'd get out of third place, though your squad's right behind me. Now that football's over, I'm going all out on hoops.
As for the do-over, it really is a slippery slope, but I think they would have to restrict it to errors in scoring, rather than judgment calls like fouls, or whether someone stepped on the three-point line. So it's not just a bad call, but a mistake in totaling up points, fouls, etc. The Bobcats were talking about a tip-in that was called basket-interference, and that's a judgment call - no way, the league will touch that - even if they agree the ref erred.
The tricky thing I think would be what if the Shaq wrongly fouled out with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Do they have to play all 11 minutes over again? And where does it end? Do they have to repeat whole games if some scoring error happened early on? And what if you bet the Hawks with the money line and already collected from your bookie?
As for the Donaghy mess, they should replay that whole series, with the winner facing the Cavs in the finals, and then re-do the draft if necessary and replay the season to date. It's unfortunate that the most egregious injustices are usually too large to address properly without upsetting the order of things (rotten though it may be), so we can only deal with the small ones.
Subject: Give and Go
Date: January 14, 2008 3:14 PM PDT
The only real parallel I can think of was the immortal "pine tar game" between the Yankees and Royals. For those who weren't maniac Yankee fans back in 1983, I'll recount the details...
The Royals' George Brett was known to use more pine tar on his bat than the rules technically allowed, but Yankee manager Billy Martin decided to hang on to that information until Brett did something to really hurt the Yanks. Like hitting a two-run homer in the top of the ninth off Goose Gossage to put the Royals ahead 5-4. Brett rounded the bases. Martin argued the obscure pine tar rule to umpire Tim McClelland, who called Brett out and the game over... and led to Brett's reaction, immortalized forever via YouTube.
God, I love the Internet.
Anyway... league officials eventually decided that the McClelland was nuts to go along with Martin's argument, and a couple months later, play was resumed. The 5-4 score held up, and the Royals finally got their win.
Couple big differences between "foul-gate" and the pine tar game. The Pine Tar game ended with McClelland's ruling... it's not like they played the final four outs of the game and then had to pretend that never happened. And the reason McClelland's ruling was overturned wasn't a judgment call or a statistical mistake. He took a legit on-the-books rule and interpreted the punishment incorrectly. At most, he had the authority to remove Brett's bat from the game.
There's also an interesting subtext to all this. Apparently, one of the reasons that the official scorer had trouble getting the ruling straight is that he couldn't communicate with the official stat-keepers. The stat keepers used to sit at the scorer's table, but they've been moved up a few dozen rows to make room for... you guessed it... more high-priced courtside seats. Apparently this sort of thing is happening all over the league; I've read several stories of sportswriters, radio broadcasters and other key people getting moved to the nosebleeds. It'll be interesting to see what other impacts emerge from those moves.
Back to the game -- here's another "what if" scenario for you. There were rumors going around last week that Shaq was going to shut things down for the season. What if he's not available to play when the do-over is scheduled? Do they need to wait until he's healthy? What about any other players -- on either side -- who weren't available when the first 47-and-change minutes were played? Are they allowed to play?
Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: January 14, 2008 8:19 PM PDT
What if Shaq were traded? Or anyone else on that team for that matter? Would they have to don a Heat uniform and try their hardest for that 51 seconds? What if the player was on a team competing with the Heat for the final playoff spot? Would the exact same fans have to be in the seats so the Hawks got no extra crowd noise from more boisterous and game-influencing ones?
It's impossible to recreate the last 51 seconds, but they do it so it seems fair. In the NFL, there are do-overs all the time, with penalties causing teams to replay the down, and they're allowed to call a different play or sub in new guys. Basically, those 51 seconds were void, and they recreate the score and time remaining, and then both teams can do what they like. But I agree that it's a can of worms, and the Heat should just be screwed, and the league apologize, and both teams move on. It happens all the time in the NFL with bad pass interference or holding calls, and you just have to pick it up and move on. And in the NFL, losing a game due to a ref's error is a much bigger deal than in the NBA. All sales should be final.
I remember the "pine-tar game, too - watched it live in fact, and was surprised how freaked out Brett got. Sure, he lost a home run and a game, but he looked like he was going to murder the ump.
Article first appeared on 1/15/08