We Wuz Robbed

Quote of the Day:

“I’ve been at this a long time, and one thing I’ve learned: At Mississippi State, you’re supposed to take it and be quiet. I had a hard time swallowing this pill because so much was at stake and my players were affected. When does the truth matter?–MSU Basketball Coach Rick Stansbury, on being robbed

There was no special edition of Thursday Pickin’ for this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. I’m not even watching, save to catch the scores of SEC games in hopes all they all lose. TB just can’t enjoy it this year, not when my Bulldogs were, predictably, unfairly excluded. It is not a boycott or a protest of any sort, it’s just that with every instance of sporting injustice a little bit of the fan in me dies. I couldn’t conger up enough interest this year to even fill out a bracket. Every time I looked at one all I saw was Kentucky’s John Wall and his smirking, supremely talented mug dashing illegally through the lane to get the rebound that ultimately defeated Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament Championship and blocked them from participation in the Big Dance.

In sports, it is taboo to “blame the refs.” “One play” the logic goes, “doesn’t beat you.” You had many other opportunities to overcome a bad call and you made too many other mistakes to hang an outcome on the referee. All this is true. But its a fallacy, one we accept because sports are extremely difficult to officiate, mistakes are inevitable, and the consensus opinion is that the breaks even out in the long run. Thus, we should never blame the refs.

But one call, one play can beat you. The logic that a team should overcome a bad call or not be in a position to have a bad call beat them is faulty. I recall an instance when I was sixteen years old pitching in a baseball tournament in Pensacola, Florida, against a team of Washington all-staters. In the first inning I had a 2-2 count on their cleanup hitter with two men on and I put a fastball over the outside corner at the knees. The ump called a ball and I lost my cool. The next pitch was overthrown and sent right down the middle. That big hoss knocked the shit out of the ball, damn near gave me whiplash as I turned to see it sailing over the horizon. We were down 3-0. I got out of the inning without further damage and as I walked to the dugout I detoured toward the ump, pointing at him and yelling, “those three are on you.” He came toward me and for a second I thought I was to be ejected, but he simply leaned in and quietly said, “I blew the call.” We lost the game 4-3. We had 21 lost opportunities at the plate to score 5 but we didn’t. Or, I could’ve settled down and not served up a fat pitch. But no matter what, that first inning blown call cost us the game. And you know what, I’ve never been bitter about it. A call like that is part of the game. The ump wasn’t cheating, and the reason I’ve always remembered that game is not because “we was robbed” but because it was so classy of him to admit he missed the call in the face of a punk teenager who had just called him out in front of hundreds of adults and other kids. Still, to ignore that those three runs cost us the game is to ignore the facts.

In the same way, Wall’s lane violation led to his rebound that led to his shot that missed and bounced straight to Demarcus Cousins who tipped back in at the buzzer. The missed call cost State the game, the tournament and a spot in the Dance. I know it’s bad form to hang that on the refs, but when a championship is on the line, it ought not be so damn predictable which way the breaks are gonna go. And when it happens that a team gets robbed we ought not be afraid to call it out. And even with all that, I could live with the call if I hadn’t known beyond the shadow of a doubt that MSU would not get an at-large bid in defeat. The committee said we were the first team eliminated and it was a tough call and they took into account all sorts of factors against us, many of them opposite the factors they have used to exclude us in past bubble years. But they never mentioned the consideration of the fact that we should’ve been in except that we were robbed of the automatic bid by the refs. And ultimately, that is what burns my ass.

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About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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18 Responses to We Wuz Robbed

  1. smilyj says:

    Yeah. One of my arguments is the schedule thing. I know their schedule was weak. Not their fault. Plus all teams have bad games. Except for maybe the top 5, they all have multiple bad games. It’s a crap shoot as to who you lose to during those bad games. Any at large team could of lost to the same teams on a bad night. Plus, take into account what the team you lost to was playing like at the time. Rider shot like 60% against State. Western Kentucky was similar I think. And Auburn shot the lights out from three point range. Those teams had exceptional nights. Also, State beat Kentucky already, except for the refs calling TEN fouls in the final three minutes, in the regular season. The prognosticators said if State won that one game they’d be in. Finally, Minnesota gets in ahead of State and Ole Miss(TSUN) with a lesser RPI(BS) rating. Well, if RPI is so important when rating teams that beat you, why doesnt it matter when picking teams with similar records? Ole Miss (F@#k OM) and State should be in ahead of them and some other similar teams.
    Signed,
    Disgruntled State Fan.

  2. If MSU and Florida had been in opposite positions the narrative would’ve been “MSU beat Florida at home but Florida won on the neutral court and we had to give that great weight. Plus, the way the played the number 2 team in the country shows how dangerous they really are. They pass the “look” test and they are in.”

  3. I could simply say, “I agree with all that.” But you know me.

    Re one bad call. Ask a field goal kicker if only one play matters. Ask a receiver who drops a sure TD if one play matters. Ask a pitcher who serves up a 3-run homer if…oh, you’ve got that one covered.

    Re MSU. Given MSU’s RPI, I don’t see how you can seriously say they should be in.

    Just kidding. There’s no question that MSU should be in the tournament. Same goes for Ole Miss. I’m tired of good teams getting left out so that smaller schools who MIGHT score an upset can get in. Just add one more round to the tournament and you make everyone happy — the winner of the Western Sunlight Valley Conference gets in and the Ole Miss/State teams do, too.

  4. sweet says:

    The truth is that the SEC is corrupt.

  5. “The truth is that the SEC is corrupt.”

    I’m pretty sure the following fact is still true. Only 2 SEC teams have had 7-win seasons and not gone to a bowl: MSU and Ole Miss.

  6. Samsmama says:

    Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

    *runs and hides*

  7. sweet says:

    Rock Chalk Jayhawk! in the Ncaa tourney. I’m with ya baby! no run and hide needed with the roundball

  8. sweet says:

    Disregard that last transmission

  9. Samsmama says:

    I’m still not ready to talk about it.

  10. You were doomed when Sweet jumped on the bandwagon.

  11. Jessie Lou says:

    I’m with you TB – I’ve very little interest in the tournament this year. Every year I get a little less interested unfortunately and haven’t filled out the braket in a few years. Part of me wonders if the MSU passover will be used in the debate over adding teams to the tournament. Although I agree MSU wuz robbed I think having 96 teams would be a big mistake. It ain’t broke so don’t fix it.

  12. irvineredd says:

    96 teams would be terrible!!!!

    Feel for State, you should have gotten in over at least 5 of the teams that got at large bids from other conferences. That’s the way it works though. Ask Auburn how it feels to go undefeated in the SEC and still not get into the national title game. At least you didn’t get robbed that badly. Also, I think it’s the karmic reprecussion for your fans acting like a bunch of spoiled kids in the midst of a vile temper tantrum during the first Kentucky robbery. Not saying you didn’t get a referee hose job, but throwing stuff on the court doesn’t fix it and could hurt your own players. And that’s why you didn’t get in.

    HAHAHA! I saw the Kansas thing coming. I had them falling out in the round of 16, so I was off one round, but you could still see it on the horizon. One, they got thrown into a tough region. And two I never trust the team everyone thinks will win. That’s the “everyone-believes-in-us” curse. Never trust that team! I’m looking at you New England Patriots!

    We are now about to see a strange inverse to the “everone-believes-in-us” curse, with Tim Tebow. He could be the first to switch from that to the dreaded “no-believes-in-me, I will now go into severe EFF YOU mode” phenomenon.

  13. Feidts Follies says:

    Teams make their own schedule. State has consistantly not scheduled ANYBODY.

  14. irvine redd says:

    A quote in relatio to the smaller teams on State’s schedule. This is what Larry Bird would’ve said, and has actually said but in relation to himself. On the new Magic/Bird documentary on HBO, which is fantastic and should be watched, Bird is replying to the accusation, made about him in 1979, that he didn’t play anybody good in college. He says:

    “I didn’t care what they had to say. Didn’t matter to me. Still dominated.”

  15. Jessie Lou says:

    I watched part of that documentary this weekend and it was very good, made me wish I’d seen the whole thing but I do not get HBO at home. Larry Bird seemed sad in the part I saw.

  16. smilyj says:

    We scheduled TSUN…….and swept em.

  17. smilyj says:

    Larry Bird is awesome. I used to say that when I played TB in pool or darts. Or racqeutball. Didnt matter……still dominated.

  18. irvineredd says:

    Unfortunately, I missed Basketball Jesus’ prime. But that documentary made me appreciate him a little bit more. As a basketball fan, I’ve always liked Bird and Magic, and that documentary brought a few more things forward that I didn’t know.

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