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What defines “Greatness”?


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3 minutes ago, BBTV said:

Winning a championship is like throwing a no hitter.  It doesn't necessarily establish greatness - it confirms it.

 

Steve Busby threw two no-hitters.

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1 minute ago, infrared41 said:

 

Steve Busby threw two no-hitters.

 

Right.  It doesn't establish greatness.  When guys like Roy Halladay throw them, it truly confirms just how great they are.  While anyone can get lucky and throw one, the truly great pitchers are in that position way more often and usually eventually get one.  True dynasties are usually in position to win the title multiple times, so they'll eventually grab one or more, while some other teams get hot, win one, then fall off the face of the earth.  

 

Winning a title doesn't make you great, but you're not great if you didn't win a title.

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Just now, BBTV said:

 

Right.  It doesn't establish greatness.  When guys like Roy Halladay throw them, it truly confirms just how great they are.  While anyone can get lucky and throw one, the truly great pitchers are in that position way more often and usually eventually get one.  True dynasties are usually in position to win the title multiple times, so they'll eventually grab one or more, while some other teams get hot, win one, then fall off the face of the earth.  

 

Winning a title doesn't make you great, but you're not great if you didn't win a title.

 

Whatever. I just wanted to drop Steve Busby into the discussion.

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11 minutes ago, infrared41 said:

 

Anyone who knows anything knows that the 2017 Eagles had a few chances to play the 2015-16 Cavs and the Eagles backed out every time. Bunch of pansies.

 

If you're going to make claims like this you should at least cite some credible source.  We're trying to have a serious discussion here.

 

Here's another fact - Steve Busby never no hit the 2017 Eagles.  

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23 minutes ago, monkeypower said:

What about the 1977 Eagles?

 

Hotel California? Neither LeBron nor Steve Busby could ever.

 

Signing Joe Walsh in free agency was huge for the '77 Eagles.

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3 hours ago, DG_ThenNowForever said:

The 2016 MLS champion Sounders won a title game in freezing weather in PKs without registering a single shot on goal. Were they the better team that game?

 

If you really want to go inside my personal can of worms on matters like this...if a soccer championship game is decided on penalty kicks (and ditto a hockey championship game, usually a Gold Medal game in whatever competition, on a shootout), then I consider both teams 1/2 a champion and lend zero credence to anything that follows in the ensuing shootout.

 

It's a matter of principle. Soccer is a team sport. Penalty kicks are two individuals facing each other absent everybody else. While penalty kicks are far more common in soccer than penalty shots are in the NHL, I would still easily suggest that they are random as hell and speak nothing to which team was actually the better team, be it overall or within the game itself. Are there limitations in soccer that make penalty kicks something of a necessarily evil? To a certain extent, yes. I have "solutions" but this probably isn't the thread for them (even though I'm probably already going off-topic enough in writing this alone...I realize the inconsistency). But they are about as random as flipping coins to decide champions, and I personally refuse to recognize that myself.

 

I would apologize for personally disparaging your Sounders in this discussion, but I don't expect most people to agree with me so I doubt I'm hurting your feelings at all. I'm not generally much of one for hot takes, but I'm going to assume this one qualifies and I'm dead set with my view on this. 

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I offered those Sounders as what feels like a great example of a champion team that clearly wasn't the better team. And I also hate PKs in soccer for reasons you describe, except in the case they benefit the team I like.

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Hey, thanks for declaring the Chiefs to be this year’s champion. After all, they went 14-2 and no other team had a better record. That game where Patrick Mahomes was thrown by the Buccaneers pass rush like a Rottweiler tossing around a ragdoll? Doesn’t count! Thank you so much!

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This thread is hilarious so far but I'll throw my two cents in anyway. Technically speaking, a Super Bowl win has no more inherent value than any other game, except that it its given more value by it being a championship. Likewise, a 5 dollar bill and a 20 are both of equal inherent worth, but the 20 is more valuable solely because value is designated upon it. For a football team, the same is true. An undefeated regular season is ultimately far less valuable if that dominance stops in the most important game of the year. If you want to look at statistics or records, go right ahead, but the same thing rings true. The ultimate goal of a season is not to go undefeated in the regular season but have a second round exit, it's to win the championship. For example, the 2011 Giants, from a statistical perspective, are one of the worst teams to ever make a Super Bowl, and yet they won against a statistically better team. (Same goes for the aforementioned 2016 Cavs) A championship trumps every possible accomplishment, though other accolades are still impressive. As a Pats fan, I'd love to be able to say that the '07 Pats were greater than the '07 Giants, but that thought is nothing short of delusional. Unless a team reaches the greatest achievement of their respective sport - a championship victory - than they are not the 'greatest' team. I don't see how that can possibly be confusing or the subject of debate.

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Wow this is even dumber than I thought it would be. 

 

Here's your answer - Maybe someone already brought up the Lightning, but they're a good example. The 2019 Tampa Bay Lightning set the record for most regular season wins in NHL history and were swept in the first round of the playoffs. The next year they won the Stanley Cup. By OP's logic Lightning fans should be more proud of the team that s*** their pants than the one that won the cup. 

 

Here's why nobody cares about regular season results - we're not talking about the Premier League and our sports aren't structured that way so the strategies in team building don't prioritize that as a specific goal. Of course one team in every sport every year has to, by definition and for playoff seeding purposes, win the most games, but almost none of them were trying to achieve that. All of them, however, are built with the mindset on creating the roster most capable of winning in the playoffs because that is what we define as the ultimate goal. The end. 

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I've always held the following belief: The best team doesn't always win the championship.  That nobody cares about the regular season results doesn't offset that. Yeah, the 2006 World Series Champion Cardinals will be remembered over whoever had the best record that year and I don't have a problem with that. I don't think they were the best team of 2006. Sport-by-sport and league-by-league, it's different, as well.  NCAA single-elimination isn't as good of an indicator as the NBA's best-of-seven format, for example. Same with college vs. NHL.  But then hockey is more apt to have a "lesser" team win it all with the hot goalie and puck luck.  We've had eight seeds win the cup. Nothing like that is going to happen in the NBA. It's quite nuanced.

 

That said (while I am not familiar with the discussion from some other thread), the title is "greatness" so I accept the argument that under some strict definition of "greatness" (particularly if "greatness" is fairly exclusive), a team cannot achieve that without winning the title.  The 2007 Patriots would be remembered as perhaps "the greatest" had they won. But they didn't, so that sort of pushes them back to a team that had a great year with a disappointing finish (or, a "Viking Year"). But that certainly doesn't make the 2006 Cardinals "great." And I'd argue that the 2006 Cardinals were not the best team in MLB with their 83 wins. They won the World Series per the way the league is set up. And I don't remember anyone else's win total so they are the story of 2006, but "who's the best" and "greatness" is more nuanced than "who won it all" in the same way Robert Horry isn't better than MJ and Kobe because of his seven rings.

 

There are a few things at play here:

  • Champion (nobody's crowning the 2007 Pats the Super Bowl Champion). This is most remembered and it's true that the Lightning fans are going to be more excited about the Stanley Cup team than the President's Trophy team. Believe it or not, the Timberwolves once had the best record in the NBA. Despite me stating this here, I never rave about it; I just remember it as the team's one competitive year with a disappointing ending.
  • Best team of the year. The 1987 World Champion Minnesota Twins were not even close to the best team. There were three teams in the AL East that finished ahead of them.  They got hot at the right time. They're the Champion, but they were a pretty good team.  The 1991 Twins were the best team. Great? Maybe, though it wasn't sustained. But I still don't think the best team always wins.
  • "Great" becomes different meaning to different people. To many it's more than a single title. It's sustained excellence or a level of eliteness like the 1985 Bears (a one-hit team that was just so dominant) 

 

If your opinion is that greatness is simply about who wins the title (or even that "best team" is) then you should not really argue that playoff fields should be smaller. Why should they? They should be bigger, just in case the best team happened to go 15-67.

 

 

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The best way of defending a champion is by comparing teams that have the same schedule and going by wins. That said, that is not always possible and you need a playoff to determine the best of unequal schedules.

 

The more I think, the more I agree with @Ferdinand Cesarano's viewpoint. Wild card teams should not exist. Regular season is the first stage in the season, and a team that lost should not be rewarded with advancing.

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2 hours ago, Sport said:

The 2019 Tampa Bay Lightning set the record for most regular season wins in NHL history

 

Tied the record. With the '95-96 Red Wings, who also ended up not being the best team that year 🧐

 

20 minutes ago, DiePerske said:

Wild card teams should not exist. Regular season is the first stage in the season, and a team that lost should not be rewarded with advancing.

 

If the world were just, regular season records would still decide who wins the AL and NL pennants

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29 minutes ago, ManillaToad said:

Tied the record. With the '95-96 Red Wings, who also ended up not being the best team that year 🧐

 

Technically the truth although I would place several asterisks by it. The Lightning won seven games in 3v3 OT and an additional six in shootouts that year. In 1995-'96, overtime was still 5v5, there was no "loser point", and ties still existed. The Red Wings genuinely won 62 games. The Lightning, in reality, "only" won 49. Neither 3v3 overtime nor shootouts should exist in the NHL because all they do is create artificial winners and losers but, again, probably a discussion for a different thread entirely.

 

(I also do enjoy the parallel between the '96 to '97 Red Wings and the '19 to '20 Lightning. Hopefully that trend continues when you consider how things turned out in 1998 for the Red Wings...with the added bonus that Sergachev hasn't suffered a career-ending injury.)

 

33 minutes ago, ManillaToad said:

If the world were just, regular season records would still decide who wins the AL and NL pennants

 

You know, reading back into the original discussion and coming into this thread here...I don't really disagree with the premise behind a lot of what @throwuascenariohas to say. I've even made some of these arguments myself several years ago. And while some people will point to that European soccer leagues (among others...South American leagues are also like this) determine their league champions with no postseason format - unnecessary to hold them because those leagues play true round-robin schedules - that doesn't mean that soccer organizations don't love "playoff format" competitions either. After all, is the Champions League any different than what you might expect in a North American professional postseason, or even from an NCAA-style tournament? There are individual leagues in each country, some of them get to send more teams to the Champions League (or Europa League or, next year [for some g-d forsaken reason], the Conference League) than other countries, based on where you finish in the league table the previous season. The Premier League's top 4 teams qualify for the CL, as do the top 4 from the Italian, German, and Spanish leagues. Is that fundamentally any different than the top-3 or top-4 teams from a given division in the NHL qualifying for the postseason in a given season? If anything, there's even less structure in those competitions because you have draws that randomly bind some teams together. Just look at this year's Champions League moving forward; one half of the pre-drawn bracket has the likely winners of the English, French, and German leagues, whereas the other side of the bracket has one team that might win the Spanish league and three other teams who have zero chance of winning their respective leagues.

 

(To be fair, when viewed from the lens of last seasons' league champions, then the split actually favors the latter group [Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Porto all won their leagues last season, whereas only Bayern and PSG on the other side did].)

 

Taken a step further, every league also has a cup competition which randomly draws teams together as well. Once again, essentially an NCAA Tournament-style competition where anything can happen in a given game and, while you usually don't end up with a surprise champion - Wigan winning the FA Cup in 2013 and similar scenarios are very rare - you do often get an upset or two along the way with a top team crashing out earlier than expected. Bradford City, who finished 7th in the 3rd division, knocking out Chelsea, the eventual PL winner, in the 2015 FA Cup is not that dissimilar from a 16-seed beating a 1-seed, after all. Maybe even more shocking, in some ways.

 

--

 

I'm writing way too much here. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, if there's anything that we could learn from the soccer world that would probably be a positive development, it would be acknowledging regular season accomplishments more. After all, the regular season in any given sport takes a lot more time and involves a lot more games than any sport's postseason has. And, besides, whenever we look at player statistics, we always seem to default to only looking at their regular season totals and not counting their playoff totals as well, which feels extremely inconsistent. Doesn't saying Wayne Gretzky scored over 1,000 goals and 3,000 points sound cooler than saying he finished with 894 goals and just under 2,000 assists? Regardless, a lot of this is simply a byproduct of the culture in North America in contrast to Europe, and it would be very elitist to say that one side is "wrong" compared to the other. So if that means that the President's Trophy winning team is usually looked at with scorn because they rarely win the Stanley Cup? That's unfortunate but that's just the way things are here. This is how things have been for decades and you can't just expect it to change at this point. 

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22 hours ago, monkeypower said:

What about the 1977 Eagles?

 

Hotel California? Neither LeBron nor Steve Busby could ever.

 

22 hours ago, infrared41 said:

 

Signing Joe Walsh in free agency was huge for the '77 Eagles.

that would be a Life in the Fast Lane for a Victim of Love and the New Kid in Town.

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I've always been of the opinion that winning the Championship doesn't necessarily mean you were overall the better team. 

 

07 & 11 Giants are the prime example. Overall the Patriots were better team. 

But on any given day, you can beat any given team, and on that 1 day the Giants played a better game. 

 

Another example, The Rams this past season lost to the New York Jets. Does that mean the Jets were a better team than the Rams? Maybe for that 1 game, but overall absolutely not. I dare you to find anyone that thinks so. 

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I'm surprised we've made it this far without mentioning March Madness, which might be the best example of best team doesn't always win the title. I also think it offers an interesting contrast to the CFP as March Madness is best known for the upsets and no one seems to care if the best team doesn't win, whereas fans have become "gatekeep-y" about who can enter the CFP and how teams need to earn their place in it.

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