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At the Ralph and Ryder Cup, a Sunday of epic collapses

On Sports
Rochester Business Journal
October 5, 2012

Remember when ABC's long-running "Wide World of Sports" started by showing Vinko Bogataj of Slovenia crashing on a ski jump back in the '70s and called it "the agony of defeat"? Certainly, it was a perfect example of that, but I'm sorry to say that Bogataj's fall lost its lead and dropped into third place last Sunday.
There is now a tie for first place in agony of defeat between the Buffalo Bills and the U.S. Ryder Cup team. I've just had lunch, so I'm not going to spend much time on these disgusting, heartbreaking collapses. We can't pretend they didn't happen any more than we can pretend the Titanic didn't hit the iceberg. At least nobody was killed, although there were probably people who thought they'd died and gone to you-know-where.
The Bills, now with what may be the ugliest 2-2 record in the NFL, were playing before a home crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium and had one Patriots leg on the edge of a cliff and the other on a banana peel, but they couldn't finish it. When the Bills failed to score on New England's 1-yard line shortly before the half, the game was over; we just didn't know it yet. The Pats scored 45 points in the second half, and that was it.
Now, with back-to-back road games in San Francisco (3-1) and Arizona (4-0), all we can say is may the 2012 Bills R.I.P.
Then there's our Ryder Cup team, which now can be called the American Fried Up team after its amazing collapse in the final day at Medinah Country Club. Remember? The U.S. went into the 12 singles matches with a 10-6 lead and needed only 41/2 points to take back the Ryder Cup from the Europeans.
Instead, our guys won a measly 31/2 points and the calm, cool Europeans went home with 141/2 points and the trophy for the fifth time in six Ryder Cups. The problem was we got blown away on the 17th and 18th holes, where five matches were all square--that's Ryder Cup for even--and we lost four of them.
Oh well, maybe the U.S. team will do better in 2014, but even if our guys lose again, the Ryder Cup is always high drama and great to watch, no matter which team wins. So congrats, Europeans! But don't rub it in, OK?
Meanwhile--and this is painful to admit--I have jumped off the Boston Red Sox bandwagon and climbed onto the jam-packed New York Yankees bandwagon.
I hate to say it, but the Yankees are amazing--period. End of argument. Never mind that they write big checks for great players who are free agents, or that many of those free agents have dreamed of wearing the pinstripes since shortly after they stopped wearing diapers. That has always bugged me, but not anymore.
That's one reason, if not the No. 1 reason, why the Yankees have made the American League playoffs every year but one since 1994, and that was in 2008. There were no playoffs in '94 because of the players' strike. The Yanks have won the World Series 27 times, and they might make that 28 this season. It wouldn't surprise me, and I hope they do.
As this is written, the Yankees have only three players hitting .270 or better--Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Ichiro Suzuki. Even the great A-Rod--Alex Rodriguez--is batting only in the .260s.
What really matters, though, is not how many hits baseball players get but when they get them. I've said for years that I'd rather have a .250 hitter who gets his one hit in four at-bats when there are runners in scoring position instead of a guy who goes 4-for-4 with the bases empty.
But hitting or no hitting, the playoffs come down to pitching, and that could be a problem for every team in the playoffs. As I have said and written ad nauseum--and if you doubt it, ask our 12 Ryder Cup players if it's true--it's not how good you are, it's how good you are today, on game day.
Once the baseball playoffs are over and the Masters golf tournament is six months away, I almost wish I could hibernate like a bear. Yeah, yeah, I know, we've got the NFL season and playoffs, the NBA (ho-hum) and even the hockey season, at least here in Rochester, if not in the NHL. But the Bills are going nowhere and the 0-4 New Orleans Saints are looking more like the Aints again.
Anyway, if the Bills go 1-1 on this road trip against the 49ers and Cardinals, and if  the Saints win their next six games, wake me up from hibernation. Just don't disturb the bear, OK?
Rick Woodson's column appears each Thursday on the Rochester Business Journal website at His book, "Words of Woodson," is available at Listen to his weekly program, "The Golf Tee," at 9 a.m. Sunday on WHTK-AM 1280 and FM 107.

10/5/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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