Winning Ways

T.A. Barnhart

0627win1 In sports, there are four kinds of victories: overwhelming, elegant, ugly and gritty.  We've seen them all in the past week.

Argentina v Serbia & Montenegro in the World Cup opening round, 6-0; the ultimate in overwhelming.  Even the FA Cup competition in England, pitting top flight clubs like Man United versus part-time teams like Upper Wainscoating rarely ends 6-0; to happen at this level of competition is amazing.  That's how great Argentina is, and why they appear to be the favorites in the tournament to this point.  They showed great skills, tenacity and that vital championship ingredient: a killer instinct.  Can anyone stop them?

The Miami Heat's win over Dallas was not quite overwhelming, but it was beautiful to watch; and that for one reason: Dwayne Wade.  There can be little doubt that he's the best player in the world right now; for all the accolades for LeBron James, it's Wade who is the champion.  Of course, having Shaq at center and Pat Riley for coach doesn't hurt, but it was Wade who was the difference for Miami in the post-season.  And where it took Michael and Kobe years to win their first championships, Dwayne did it in 3 seasons.  Remarkable, and easy to admire on every level.

Italy and Portugal demonstrated how to win ugly.  "Portugal win in a farce" was the headline in; a ton of fouls and ejections, and the worst of it was not the referee but the faking by the Portugese.  Figo's Oscar-caliber thrashing that got a Dutch player red-carded was the epitome of this trash playing, but even that paled in comparison to the dive taken in the penalty box by Italy's Fabio Grosso.  With only seconds left in the match, Grosso flung himself over the prone body of Aussie defender Lucas Neill rather than chase the ball — and the pitiful referee bought the ruse.  With virtually no time left in the match, the penalty shot unfairly ended the Socceroos' great Cup run — and brought shame on a team that shouldn't have to resort to cheating to win.  The Italians and the Portugese are skilled players; if they, like the Brazilians and Argentines, and even the Germans, concentrate on the game iteself, they can beat anyone in the world. That they chose the low road is made even more disgusting by the fact that it brought them victories.

And the amazing, wonderful College World Series championship of the Oregon State Beavers (again, I ask: has hell frozen over?) is the ultimate in gritty wins.  After getting thrashed 11-1 in the opening game against Miami, they followed the cliché and refused to lose.  No team has ever faced elimination more times than the Beavers — 6 different games, lose and go home — and won it all.  North Carolina had two pitchers drafted in the first round, and these were the guys OSU beat.  People in NC, not to mention anywhere east of Boise, have no idea where Oregon State University is located (hint: Parker Stadium is a ten-minute walk from where I now sit; you can hear the roar when Cole Gillespie smacks one out or Dallas Buck rings up a K); West Coast games of any sort are foreign to those whose bedtime comes as our primetime is just starting.

Inevitable Political Analogies

Did you think I forgot this is a poltical site and not a sports page?

Politics gives us the same kinds of victories, although who and what wins is debatable.  When Bush stole the 2000 election (and probably 2004), he did it with the kind of nasty, cynical game-hating play the Portugese showed against the Netherlands.  Why Bush decided he had no chance to win fair-and-square is something I don't understand; Rove's brain apparently is incapable of having faith in the message or the supporters.  But they cheated, and they got a win while democracy lost.  Big time.  Anyone who watched Portugal-Netherlands knows how ugly it can be.


(And I'll just skip over the Barry Bonds/Diebold method of winning...)

We have our Argentinas, too: Pete DeFazio and 90% of the of the incumbents across the country.  You can admire these people, or hate them (as a Dodgers fan, any Yankee victory is nasty), but try and stop them.  The elegant victories are quite rare in politics; I think Tom Potter's grassroots-based upset for Portland mayor might qualify. Politics is not an endeavor where "elegance" and "beauty" come often to mind.  Of all the analogies, the one that is most common to politics, and happily the most relevant today, is grittiness.  Candidates win who run relentless campaigns.  They are out in the streets, going door-to-door for months, running phone banks, attending public meetings, participating in debates, serving the public, talking to the media, answering emails and phone calls, raising money.  Rob Brading and Brian Clem will win not because they are handsome, brilliant men or have married lovely, succeessful women; they will win because they have been busting their butts for months and will not slow down until 8pm Election Day.  Like the Beavers, they'll give every ounce of energy, leave it all on the field, and no matter the final score, they will be the winners.

Bottom line:  You want to win?  You gotta get in the game and you gotta fight through the adversity.  Ignore those who doubt you, trust your skills and your supporters, and don't worry about the other team. If you're good enough, you'l probably win.  Just keep the picture in mind: hoisting the cup, your victory lap and the joy of the fans who believe in you. 

  • geno (unverified)

    Seems pretty clear in my view of the World Cup thus far. To win, you need an offense more potent than a ref's bad call. Go Brazil. p.s. Bring the passion, live the dream - Kudos to Beaver Nation! As a mantra for political action from the progressive nation: "Bring the passion, live the dream."
    Now, craft a platform and let's work it. Peace-out!

  • Tom Joad (unverified)

    Dear Mr. Barnhart,

    You know of coarse that Ted Nugent and Ann Coulter are coming to eat your heart don't you? They are going to rip it out of your chest cavity and grill it over hivckory embers and feed it to their dogs.

    <h2>Peace & Love</h2>

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