Thursday, June 21, 2018
Sports

Is this lunacy? Your call, heads or tails

If you're a Green Bay Packers fan feeling cheated by a tossed coin, take heart. The act has caused far worse than losing an NFL playoff game.

Just ask the Phoenix Suns, Hassan Shamsid-Deen of the long-lost Orlando Rage or Ritchie Valens.

Well, you can't ask Valens because he died in 1959 thanks to a coin toss.

Green Bay's loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night pales, but it raises the same quandary. Why do we let something so small decide something so big?

Games should be decided on planning and performance, not "heads" or "tails." Why not just play rock-paper-scissors at midfield?

I can't think of a better alternative, but maybe the NFL can set up a think tank with some of the $550 million relocation fee the Rams are paying to move from St. Louis to L.A.

Hire Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Charles Barkley and other great minds to come up with something that makes more sense than flipping a piece of metal into the air. The great mind of Vince McMahon tried something with the XFL in 2001.

Remember the "Opening Scramble"?

The ball was placed on the 50-yard line. A player from each team lined up 20 yards away. It was like a mad dash to recover a fumble, with the winning player's team getting the ball first.

The XFL's grand debut was at the Citrus Bowl. Shamsid-Deen got the scramble honors for the Orlando Rage.

He dislocated his shoulder diving for the ball.

"It was a very exciting thing as far as the coin toss being done like that," he said afterward, "but it was tragic that my arm went out."

The entire league tragically went out a few months later, and nobody seriously has questioned coin-flipping. Or in Green Bay's case, not flipping.

On Saturday night, referee Clete Blakeman tossed the coin to determine which team would get the first possession in overtime. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers called "tails."

The coin went up like a flying saucer and landed on heads without flipping once.

There is no rule stating it must rotate during flight, but the whole thing looked screwy so Blakeman quickly re-tossed the coin.

That riled Rodgers, who said he'd have called "heads" but wasn't given the chance. The coin landed on heads. The Cardinals got the ball and scored in three plays.

It shouldn't have taken a flubbed toss to make people question the whole process. A billion-dollar industry is resolving major decisions on the whims of fate, or God or Clete Blakeman's thumb.

One reason is tradition. People have been tossing coins since the days of Ancient Rome. It's quick and easy, but what a way to go.

Valens and Tommy Allsup tossed a coin to see who'd get the last seat in the plane Buddy Holly chartered during a 1959 tour. Allsup, the guitarist in Holly's band, lost.

Valens got on the plane, which crashed in an Iowa cornfield.

History has been altered countless other times by which way a coin landed. That's how Orville Wright beat brother Wilbur to see who'd get first crack at flying a plane.

That's how Lew Alcindor went to the Milwaukee Bucks instead of the Phoenix Suns, and Magic Johnson became a Laker instead of a Bull, and Terry Bradshaw went to the Pittsburgh Steelers instead of the Chicago Bears.

Would Terry Hanratty have led the Steelers to four Super Bowls?

Leagues gradually have tried to minimize the coin toss. Home-field advantage in the World Series, No. 1 draft picks and playoff berths no longer are decided by tossing fate to the winds.

Nothing against coins, but there have to be better ways to settle things. If you can think of one, you can bet Shamsid-Deen would love to hear it.

— Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

Comments
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox Sr. was watching the NFL draft 24 years ago when the phone rang. Buffalo coach Marv Levy was on the other line."Marv said they were taking me," said Knox Sr., a standout receiver at FSU.Soon after, Knox Sr. saw his name scroll across ESPN'...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final last season, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Thursday, June 21

TODAYBaseballRed Sox at Twins1 p.m.MLBMets at Rockies (in progress)4 p.m.MLBCubs at Reds7 p.m.MLBBlue Jays at Angels10 p.m.MLBCollege baseball, World SeriesFlorida vs. Texas Tech8 p.m.ESPNUGolfPGA: Traveler’s Championship3:30 p.m.GolfHorsesRoyal Asco...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston could be suspended for up to three games  next season following the league's investigation into allegations he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016, a Tallahassee radio station reported.Jeff Cameron, a&#...
Updated: 6 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

UPDATE, 6:43: Cash said the key to how the pieced the lineup together was the opportunity to give Cron (who is struggling) and Duffy (who is doing well) back to back days off. … Looking ahead to the weekend, the Rays will use RHP Ryne Stanek as...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Phil Mickelson apologizes four days after hitting moving ball at U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson apologizes four days after hitting moving ball at U.S. Open

NEW YORK — Phil Mickelson has apologized four days after intentionally violating golf rules by hitting a moving ball on the green at the U.S. Open, saying his frustration got the best of him. The apology came Wednesday in a statement released by his ...
Published: 06/20/18
Tough questions are mere child’s play for Kevin Knox

Tough questions are mere child’s play for Kevin Knox

Growing up, Kevin Knox II watched videos or listened to motivational tapes during car rides to and from school so he could learn how to expand upon answers in interviews.That was all by design.His father, Kevin Knox Sr., knew about the spotlight as a...
Published: 06/20/18