Photo: Vic Fangio, of the Denver Broncos, by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images
Off the top, let me say I'm a fan of humble winners and mature losers.
You'll never catch me applauding an athlete or team going over the top to celebrate a victory or a feat when the primary purpose is clearly intended to embarrass the opponent.
There's no place for that.
But to hear Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio boo-hooing after the Baltimore Ravens opted to run the ball instead of kneeling on the last play of their recent game, which the Ravens had in the bag, up 23-7, is irritating, essentially arguing, somehow, that the Broncos were owed more "respect," given unwritten rules and whatnot.
These "rules" are unwritten for a reason: it's called whining.
The Ravens were not trying to humiliate the Broncos. How about showing more SELF-respect, coach, by not getting the brakes beaten off you in front of the home crowd? Start there.
No athlete or team should be called out for playing to the whistle -- no matter the score, no matter the time remaining on the clock. When one team is comfortably ahead in a game, its coach typically will substitute bench players to give them an opportunity. Those athletes deserve a chance to play their best, too, and should not be penalized for doing so.
If the losing team has given up, or is grossly outclassed, that's SOLELY on them. Get better.
Sometimes (very rarely), the whining comes from the winner's circle, and it's just as grating.
In May, Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa expressed displeasure at one of his own players, designated hitter Yermin Mercedes, who swung on a 3-0 pitch in the 9th inning of a game against the Minnesota Twins and a position player on the mound, with Chicago up 15-4.
The pitch was clocked at 47 miles an hour. 47! By a Major Leaguer, not a 10-year-old. In a real game, not an exhibition.
Mercedes was right to send that ball to heaven (aka, over the fence). Game wasn't (technically) over, obviously. La Russa called it a "big mistake," that his hitter missed (ignored?) a signal to take, instead of swinging.
Mercedes, the American League's "Rookie of the Month" in April, gets paid to hit baseballs for a living. In a sad twist, he got dumped to the minors later in the season for not doing that well enough.
Did the late Kobe Bryant seek to upstage the Toronto Raptors when he threw down 81 points on them, in 2006? Or, how about Jack Taylor of Grinnell College, in Iowa, posting 138 in a basketball game, in 2012, setting an NCAA record? Truth be told, I wasn't exactly a fan of that milestone, which seemed out of bounds. Taylor scored 77 percent of his team's points, taking 108 shots, and they won by 75. (By comparison, Bryant only scored 66 percent of the Lakers' points that historic night...tongue in cheek...mine, not his.)
My high school lost a varsity football game 138-0, in 1985, reportedly the most lopsided margin of victory/defeat in Missouri high school history. I wasn't on the team but was a student there at the time. It was painful to know we were that atrocious, but I don't blame the winning team or its coaches. Could they have cut us some slack and burned a bit more clock instead of scoring touchdown after touchdown. Of course.
Oklahoma beat my alma mater, Missouri, 77-0 on a football field during my freshman year, in 1986. I wasn't on that team either (though I'm noticing a pattern). I couldn't be mad at the Sooners. They poured it on us, no question.
Such outcomes, especially at youth levels, should be addressed with ACTUAL rules, like the 10-run rule in many little leagues.
Until then, play ball, play hard, and if you can keep a yardage streak alive by running on the last play of the game, as the Ravens did, go for it.
Enough with the whining, especially in the pros.
That's my take. What's yours? Fire off your comments!