King Kaufman’s Sports Daily

When is a big game not the Big One? When you win it. Ask Peyton Manning. Plus: NHL explores new frontiers in screwing up.

Topics:

When is a big game not a big game? When you win it, apparently. As long as it’s not the Super Bowl.

As you may have noticed during one of the 10,000 times CBS flashed this graphic during the past three playoff weeks, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning came into this season with a 3-6 lifetime playoff record. That record is now 6-6.

At the beginning of his career the Colts seemed like playoff visitors, but since about 2003, when the Colts went 12-4 and lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, the main thing you’ve needed to know about Manning is that he Can’t Win the Big One.

Now, one of the big stories of Super Bowl Hype Week I is that Manning finally has a chance to prove he Can Win the Big One.

Wait a second. Wasn’t this year’s AFC Championship Game a Big One? Weren’t those other two playoff wins, over the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, Big Ones? If the Colts had lost any of those three games, what would all the Mikes and all the other Mikes be saying all these mornings?

Peyton Manning can’t win the Big One.

If Manning is just now getting a chance, for the first time, to prove that he can win the Big One, how have we all figured out in the past few years that he can’t win the Big One?

If non-Super Bowl playoff games aren’t Big Ones, Manning’s record in Big Ones is 0-0. As the lottery people like to say, you can’t win if you don’t play.

Sure, there has been some monkey-off-his-back talk, but tune in to sports talk radio or sniff around Google News. There’s no question that in the popular imagination, Super Bowl 41 will be a referendum on Manning’s ability to win the Big One.

Never mind that quarterbacks rarely win games single-handedly, that Manning would now be 3-7 or 4-7 if the Colts defense hadn’t played so well against the Chiefs and Ravens while Manning was less than stellar, 5-7 if the Colts D hadn’t come up with the stop that led to the game-winning drive against the Patriots Sunday, or the interception that sealed the game.



Never mind that, we’re talking about Peyton Manning’s inability to win the ever-shifting Big One. Because this is it. The Super Bowl. The Big One. Really. If you lose a playoff game, you can’t win the Big One. If you win a playoff game, you get a chance to prove you can win the Big One.

I think. I can’t be the only one who figures somebody somewhere is going to react to a Colts win in the Super Bowl by saying, “Oh yeah? Well let’s see Manning win the Rose Bowl!”

The NHL can even get getting it right wrong [PERMALINK]

Last month I gave rare props to the NHL for getting something right, contrasting that with the NBA’s fumbled attempt to introduce a new ball.

Well, a month later, not so much anymore.

What I thought the NHL got right last month was not scuttling its three-year experiment with an extremely unbalanced schedule after about a year and a quarter. Hockey insiders and fans have complained that the divisional and regional rivalries the new schedule was supposed to engender haven’t developed. People just don’t seem to be excited about watching the Chicago Blackhawks play the Columbus Blue Jackets. Again.

And again.

Meanwhile, Western Conference teams have complained that the marquee Eastern Conference teams, and especially marquee Eastern Conference whiz-kids Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, only visit Western buildings once every three years under the current schedule.

So the Board of Governors got together this week and voted to change to a more balanced schedule. The motion for change needed a two-thirds vote and got it. Then the governors failed to pass a new schedule, two proposals failing by one vote, so the schedule stays as it is through next season.

I still think that’s a good thing, but I realize I’m just about alone in thinking that. It takes longer than a year and a half for divisional rivalries to really catch fire in what’s essentially a start-up league. That’s why the original time period for the experiment was three years. Why set up a three-year experiment and then scuttle it when things aren’t working out early in Year 2?

The real reason all those divisional games seem dull and repetitive is that the regular season is meaningless. Sixteen of the 30 teams make the playoffs, so the regular season is nothing more than an 82-game slog to decide which of a handful of mediocrities are the last few teams in.

Given how little seeding tends to mean in the NHL playoffs, exactly what can make regular-season games exciting or meaningful for Anaheim, Buffalo, Nashville or any of the other teams that would have to collapse spectacularly to miss the postseason?

But never mind what I think. Two-thirds of the league wanted a change and they couldn’t get it done, mostly because the Eastern Conference teams, which like playing each other a lot because it cuts way down on travel costs, voted out of self-interest.

A little leadership by commissioner Gary Bettman, who kept the clubs firmly in hand during the disastrous lockout, would have gone a long way here. I mean, two proposals lost by one vote each. But he’s Gary Bettman, and that’s all you need to know about that.

This is all Titanic deck-chairs stuff anyway. Bettman’s iceberg, even more than the lockout, was the decision to walk away from ESPN because the network wanted to pay less for the rights. Bettman took the NHL to OLN, the cable network to be named later as Versus. It’ll also be found later, if you keep looking.

Here’s a lesson for all sports leagues not big enough to swing a broadcast-network deal, and it’s one the NHL already should have learned from the Pac-10, which, you’ll be amazed to know, actually conducts a basketball season: If ESPN’s price for showing your games is that every player, coach, executive and owner in the league has to take one shift a year cleaning the windows in Bristol with his or her tongue, take the deal.

Did you know the NHL played an All-Star Game Wednesday night? Yeah, who knew. It was on Versus.

Previous column: Black head coaches in the Super Bowl

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

  • Bookmark http://www.salon.com/sports to get the new Kaufman column every day.
  • Get a Salon Sports RSS feed.
  • Discuss this column and the sports news of the day in Table Talk.
  • To receive the Sports Daily Newsletter, send an e-mail to kingnewsletter@salon.com.

  • More Related Stories

    Featured Slide Shows

    • Share on Twitter
    • Share on Facebook
    • 1 of 14
    • Close
    • Fullscreen
    • Thumbnails

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

      One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

      In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

      Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

      We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

      On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

      Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

      The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

      Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

      While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

      As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

      Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

      Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

      13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

      Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

      There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

    • Recent Slide Shows

    Comments

    0 Comments

    Comment Preview

    Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>