Upset Monday

As hoped for here on this site, Robert Griffin III became Baylor University’s first Heisman Trophy winner on Saturday night. Griffin was the clear choice for the award, in my mind, and the voters agreed.

No sooner had the Kentucky Wildcats become the top team in the basketball land then they went into Bloomington and fell to the unranked Hoosiers on a last-second three pointer. Unranked Michigan State went out west and beat a ranked Gonzaga team at their place, and unranked Murray State took down #20 Memphis on the road to go to 10-0 on the road.

In the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, and Denver Tebows held serve this weekend, doing what they’ve been doing the way they’ve been doing it all year. Despite a defense stripped by injuries and a suspension, the Lions held on to go to 2-0 on the year against division foe  Minnesota, a game Detroit had to have.

In the nascent NBA, the nixed Chris Paul trade still is on hold despite early reports that the Hornets, Lakers, and Rockets had reworked the deal. As I write this, the latest from ESPN’s “sources” is that the Los Angeles Clippers have moved onto Paul’s shortlist of acceptable destinations behind the Lakers and New York Knickerbockers.

The emerging offseason baseball story is NL MVP Ryan Braun’s positive PED test, but fans should be aware that Manny Ramirez, who I assumed was totally dunzo, may be back in baseball in the upcoming season.

The sum total of these and other stories lead me to believe that December is mere prelude to 2012’s sportspocalypse.

Programming note: ALDLAND’s live coverage of the biggest events in sports will continue in the coming weeks with NHL hockey and college football bowl games. Related, a recap of Michigan’s win over Ohio State in Ann Arbor will not run because I only got one good picture and it was a couple weeks ago and everybody knows what happened, and my only real insights on the experience were that there were more Nebraska fans in the Big House the week before than OSU fans that day and that people still have and are drinking Four Loko. Here’s the picture:

LaMichael James, Tom Petty, and the Heisman Trophy

Two years ago, Wall Street Journal entertainment writer John Jurgensen wrote a retrospective on Tom Petty. The musician certainly wasn’t finished, but the then-upcoming release of a career-spanning anthology provided the occasion to look back and consider his legacy. The thesis of the piece was that, in terms of legacy, Petty was too good for his own good. Somehow, because he has been so popular and successful for so long, people almost lose track of him and forget to list him when discussing the great rock and rollers of the period.

An analogous narrative may apply to Oregon running back LaMichael James. The thought came to me while listening to the most recent episode of The Solid Verbal podcast on the Grantland Network. Ty Hildenbrandt casually referenced James’ numbers in Saturday’s Pacific Twelve championship game: 219 yards, 3 touchdowns, 8.8 yards/carry. Hildenbrandt’s co-host and acknowledged Oregon homer Dan Rubenstein appropriately led the show into a discussion of the James’ absurd statistical output and the casual response it generally receives. Indeed, the Heisman Trophy finalists were announced this week, and James’ name was not among them.

There are plenty of reasons why people may not bat an eye at James and his numbers– he plays on the West Coast, in Oregon’s offensive system, and has been doing so for a long time in relative terms (and he’s only a junior, which, along with the existence of a strong field of contenders, may help to explain his omission from the Heisman list this year)– but one can strum up plenty of reasons for Petty’s treatment in the popular realm too– he isn’t a flashy guitar shredder, his voice isn’t inherently iconic, he didn’t have a mega-hit of temporal cultural relevance, he’s kinda goofy-looking. Yet Jurgensen’s too-good-for-his-own-good thesis applies equally to both men. Indeed, these listed reasons really aren’t exceptions to the overarching notion; the fact that they are good or at least debatable factors tends to support it.

I don’t think that familiarity always breeds contempt. In the case of Petty and James, the combination of familiarity and success appear to breed forgettableness.