Tuesday, October 16, 2012

0 What happened to patience?

By Kenny Howell

Patience is a virtue, but I am not sure many of us practice it these days.

Part of it is the fact that we have everything at our fingertips, every second of the day. I can tell you who the Cy Young winner in 1972 was in just a second.

Hold please.

It was Steve Carlton. He played for the Phillies at that time, and had a record of 27-10.

It took me 5 seconds to figure that out. And I had two different ways I could have, by my iPhone or the computer I am typing this on. While I was finding that out, I have an episode of The Wire on the TV that I am streaming through my Xbox. I don't own it, but I have access to it in mere seconds.

So when we are faced with something that won't take a second, it's hard. We have been programmed to believe that everything should be go go go, and that we have to be busy or have access at all times. It affects every aspect of our lives. And I have noticed two things in sports lately that I think affects it as well. The first is baseball and the second is the coaching world in sports.

Baseball is America's past time, but it has lost viewers in the recent years. I think part of that was the strike in the early 1990s and the steroids scandals, but that is not the reason people give when they say they don't like baseball.

"It's boring" says nearly everyone.

That is the answer nine times out of 10.

But why did people 25 years ago not think it was boring? It is the same sport, some say more exciting because players get better and better each generation through new ways to enhance your game, and the equipment advances. Aroldis Chapman throws 105 mph. 105 mph. That is mind boggling. A generation ago, that would have been the biggest story in sports. Today, unless you are a baseball fan, you probably can't name him, what team he plays for or what type of pitcher is.

Baseball is a game of patience all around. You can go several innings without anything major happening. Each battle between a pitcher and batter can take several minutes. And the season is long, 162 games long, which means that staying in it for the long haul can be a bit much.

As far as coaching changes, it's pretty obvious for people in the south. Tennessee's Derek Dooley and Auburn Gene Chizik or on the thinnest of ice. If both don't turn it around quickly, they will be looking for a new job at the end of the season, maybe sooner of their athletic directors get ruthless.

Dooley is just half way through his third season as Head Coach, and Chizik is two years removed from a National Championship. A National Championship. I don't care how good Cam Newton, Nick Fairley and Michael Dyer were, that is something that not many coaches can do. And I am sure there is plenty of people in both fan bases that would replace them with Bobby Petrino because he can win quickly, but it could cost you in the long run with some of his, let me say, unethical activities.

In the late 1970s, Tennessee hired former star Johnny Majors to be their Head Coach. Majors has spoke about this plenty of times about how when he was a coach, you got 5 years to prove yourself. Majors was 21-23-1 his first four years, in a totally different SEC world. There wasn't 5 teams that could play for a National Championship every year like there is now. In his 5th year, he got things turned around, and stayed in Knoxville until 1992, winning three SEC Championships. That wouldn't happen today, and I don't think that is necessarily fair.

I am not sure if I am saying anything, or just being the old man that tells people he used to walk up hill both ways in the snow. Which, by the way, doesn't happen today because I am pretty sure there is an app that gives you directions where you don't have to do that. But I think it is hurting the sports world in little ways. Baseball is a beautiful sport. In my career as a high school sports writer, I have spent plenty of spring and summer nights, sitting out watching baseball games. It didn't matter if the teams were good or bad, the field was beautiful and green, the weather was usually nice and the games were often good. I could a get crappy hot dog, a bottle of water or Coke, kick back, snap a few pics, and enjoy the night.

Dooley could stay at UT a long time, build a quality, clean program, and possibly win a SEC Championship or two. Chizik has done it once, so who is to say that he couldn't find another Cam Newton, Nick Fairley or Michael Dyer.

In today's world, they might not get the chance because we don't have time to see things long term. Right now is in the palm of our hands.


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