Is Winning Really the Only Thing?

I realize the timing of the question in today's headline may be of way off, considering the current plight of our woebegone warriors in Green and Gold and Sometimes Black.

Then again it should have become immediately apparent that this post would have very little to do with the locals, who have swooned their way to a 6-16 June. 

(What??  A front-page post on an A's blog site that isn't about the A's?  Off with 67M's head!)

Look, sometimes the situation calls for a diversion, and with no ball game today (that's a good thing, trust me), it's a good day to step away from the ledge and think about something other than baseball; or at least baseball as we know it.

I'm here to help.  But if this backfires, if all this talk about winning only pushes you deeper into depression, please feel free to take it up with management.  Tyler, not Bob.

For those of you who breathe, eat, drink, cuddle, and sleep baseball, you are probably unaware that the professional basketball league crowned its champion last week.  Basketball is where you run up and down a court and pretend to get fouled.  Anyways, a lot was made of the winning team's top player before the series began; of what winning or losing would mean to his legacy, even though he had already been heavily instrumental to four previous championship runs.

There's a whole lot more to the story than what I squeezed into that simple paragraph, but does a player's legacy really depend on his jewelry collection?  Perhaps the better question, should it?

Is Albert Pujols less a player without the Cardinals' 2006 title?  (Actually, does anyone outside Missouri even remember that St. Louis won it all four years ago?)  If A-Rod had retired without a ring, would it have diminished what has been a stellar career?

One of my favorite things about sports is the endless debates about who is better, and comparing one era of players and teams to another.  But it seems a little silly, if not altogether unfair, to discount a players performance because he couldn't lead his team to a championship or three.

I suppose it depends on the sport.  Michael Jordan had a greater impact on a game- good or bad- than does Derek Jeter, who bats four times a game, and may not field a single ball on any given day.  (A starting pitcher, who takes the field once every fifth day, has less control over how his team does in the long run...but can have a major impact in a more condensed setting better known as the playoffs).

And yet Jordan and Jeter are held in equal esteem as related to their sport.  I know this because Gatorade says so.

Now for those who like to argue or write about this sort of thing, there seems to be a tiny disclaimer. The winning alone does not make you awesome (see, Horry Robert).  But the not winning can make you less awesome (see Marino, Dan).

An added tidbit to this topic is one that has often been discussed here: a season is only worth remembering if your team wins the whole enchilada (great, now I'm hungry).  But for me, I look at 2000-02 as fondly as I do 1989, even with the unhappy endings.

What say you, AN?  I'll even let you discuss soccer and tennis here.  I'm just that kind of guy.  Even without a ring.  (Yes, that's a hint).  Feel free to check out G_S's post, too.  It's finger-sniffing good.  Oh you already did?  You're going to stay there?  Fine.

The A's are back at it tomorrow against a team that sucks more than we do!  And it sounds like a bunch of us are getting together on Saturday.  Yay, us.

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