Looking back, with some regrets, on the year in sports

Asante Samuel's departure for Atlanta left the Eagles defense treading in deep water.
Asante Samuel's departure for Atlanta left the Eagles defense treading in deep water. (DAVID GOLDMAN / Associated Press)
Posted: January 05, 2013

They have accumulated again, like old traffic tickets stuffed in the glove compartment. Despite the best intentions and resolutions of each new year, a large number of corrections and clarifications that should have been published throughout 2012 did not appear because of the diligent efforts of the author.

The Ninth Annual Corrections Column is not something we're proud of, but it is time to come clean, ask forgiveness, and make a new start. Once more - promise - this won't have to happen again.

In a June 8 column on the Eagles, Bob Ford wrote: You can dress up what happened at the NovaCare bunker this week and send it to the prom, but no one will dance with the story the Eagles are telling about the "executive succession plan" that cost Joe Banner his job. . . .

The events of this week are a strong indication, however, that regardless of what the Eagles do this season, Andy Reid isn't going anywhere.

The Inquirer regrets that Mr. Ford may have miscalculated slightly on this stunning insight.

In an Aug. 16 column on the 76ers, Bob Ford wrote: Now, Doug Collins has a center capable of double-doubles every night. In the past, he had centers who could make a coach consider drinking double-doubles every night. Instead of a center who could dominate the post, he had players who moved like posts.

The Inquirer regrets it has not yet seen this wonderful new center.

In a March 22 column on the NBA, Bob Ford wrote: Meanwhile, Mike Woodson is on a honeymoon cruise with the Knicks and the seas have been smoothed by the five straight wins. The rocks are still there if the high tide should fall again, but coaches know they have to enjoy the ride while it lasts.

The Inquirer has learned over the years to tolerate Mr. Ford's fondness for analogies involving the sea.

In a Nov. 2 column on Eagles fans, Bob Ford wrote: There are road trips and there are road trips. And then there are road trips to New Orleans, where the Eagles have not played since 2007. . . .

The piano player in the lounge at Pat O'Brien's has printed out the sheet music to the fight song and he expects to play it a lot this weekend. The Green Legion has contracted with the Saints' caterers for its official pregame tailgate in Lafayette Square on Monday. And, yes, there will be a parade down Poydras Street to the Superdome, complete with a Mardi Gras-style float, the high school marching band, stilt walkers, and those thousands of stumbling survivors who actually make it to the main event.

The Inquirer does not regret a single moment of New Orleans but chooses not to mention the details.

In a July 24 column on Penn State, Bob Ford wrote: The NCAA, which always seems to set the standard for doing the impossible, has managed it again.

It is now possible to be fully aware of and properly horrified by what happened within the Penn State football program with the complicity and aid of the school's highest officials, and still believe the sanctions handed down by the NCAA on Monday are both misguided and way too harsh.

That seemed like a tough one for even the NCAA to accomplish, but president Mark Emmert and his self-satisfied, self-serving organization made it happen.

The Inquirer kind of agrees with this one.

In a Nov. 7 column on the Eagles, Bob Ford wrote: The question is, who does Lurie blame? If the ship is sailing in circles, you can blame the way the rigging was designed or blame the crew for how the sails were raised, but ultimately you have to knock on the door of the captain's cabin.

The Inquirer regrets that we have, apparently, put out to sea once again.

In a March 18 column on the NCAA tournament, Bob Ford wrote: A basketball never sounds more hollow than when it stops bouncing, and that sudden silence found the Temple Owls after their opening game of the NCAA tournament late Friday night.

Across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame, the 58-44 loss to the University of South Florida told a sad story of heartbreak and betrayal. The rim was a liar, the ball was cheating, and the stat sheet was drunk. Maybe someone would even get shot, but if it was by either of these teams, it would probably be a miss.

The Inquirer regrets the Temple loss but has always respected the stylings of Ms. Reba McEntire.

In a Dec. 4 column on the Eagles, Bob Ford wrote: Reid had another crumpled idea hauled from the driveway early Monday morning when the tow truck backed up and removed Jim Washburn from his position as defensive line coach. That did nothing to change the particulars of the wreck itself, but at least he doesn't have to look at the steaming reminder of it during coaches meetings anymore.

The Inquirer regrets having never really understood the "wide nine."

In an Aug. 12 column on the Sixers, Bob Ford wrote: By getting Bynum . . . the Sixers have not only explained some of their previous puzzling moves, but have also saved the local populace from enduring the Kwame Brown era at center. For that alone, there should be a parade.

The Inquirer has, indeed, seen quite enough of Mr. Brown.

In an Aug. 9 column on the Eagles, Bob Ford wrote: Separating life from football and keeping each in its proper compartment are a Reid specialty. He returned to work the day after his son's funeral because he felt it was the right thing to do. He wanted to address the players and make sure they were all right, and he wanted to stand on the grass again and watch them play. . . .

The coach came back to the football fields on Wednesday. He is working through this week the only way he knows. It is one step at a time across those green fields in the hot sun, seeing not only your shadow on the grass but the shadows of those not there.

The Inquirer would have preferred that Mr. Ford never had to write this one.

In a June 9 column on horse racing, Bob Ford wrote: When Affirmed eased in front of Alydar in the stretch run of the Belmont and stayed there to win by a head, the horse racing world was excited by the story of the duels that produced the 11th Triple Crown winner, but no one thought anything particularly momentous had taken place.

It was 1978. Gas was 63 cents a gallon, the Shah of Iran thought he had good job security, and all the Beatles were alive. . . . That was a long time ago, but horses still look the same and run just about as fast, and every now and then a superb 3-year-old comes along with a real shot to become the next Triple Crown champion. Since 1978, though, the wait has continued.

The Inquirer is only surprised Mr. Ford did not have the horses sailing down the stretch like four-legged ships toward an oat-lined port of call.

In an Aug. 5 column on the Phillies, Bob Ford wrote: "Those two pictures right there," Manuel said, leaning forward to point out photographs framed on the wall across from his desk. "That was the tops."

The photos are aerial views of the parade that closed Broad Street in 2008, the enormous tide of red and relief that streamed southward toward the brick ballpark like a great river to the waiting sea.

That's more like it.

In a May 10 column on the Sixers, Bob Ford wrote: "Fool's gold," Collins said. "Our 20-9 start was a little bit of fool's gold."

It was the same term Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie used to describe his team's four season-ending wins against bad or unmotivated opponents after a 4-8 start.

You wonder whether Philadelphia sports is little more than one big pyrite mine at the moment.

Was the occasional brilliance of Ilya Bryzgalov nothing but fool's gold leading the Flyers to believe he might actually keep from going wifty for the entire length of a postseason?

Is the Phillies' starting rotation just fool's gold that glitters so brightly it obscures the broken-down state of an aging, under-powered offense?

People don't like being wrong, but they really don't like being fooled, and that is what it feels like around here right now.

The Inquirer, just so you know, will not be fooled again.

In an April 29 column on the Eagles, Bob Ford wrote: With the drafting of Foles, it could be that the Mike Kafka listing is about to become available. . . . It is unlikely the Eagles spent a third-round pick for a player they don't believe will make the roster. It is also unlikely that they will cast off the NFL experience, albeit skimpy, of free-agent signing Trent Edwards to keep both Foles and Kafka.

The Inquirer is shocked Mr. Ford got one right.

In an April 26 column on the Eagles, Bob Ford wrote: It was an interesting four seasons with Asante Samuel. He is funny and confident and comfortable enough with his place in the football cosmos to shrug and tell people he isn't paid to tackle. No, he is paid, and very well, to intercept passes. That ability heads to Atlanta now, for sound financial and football reasons, but it is also true that the Eagles know how things would have gone with Samuel a lot better than they know how it will work without him.

The Inquirer regrets it didn't seem to work very well.

In an Aug. 1 column on the Phillies, Bob Ford wrote: So it was left for Ruben Amaro Jr. to turn off the colorful lanterns and close the pool on what has been the most successful stretch of baseball in Phillies franchise history. He didn't make everyone get out of the water, but not for lack of trying.

Amaro unloaded Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the non-waiver trade deadline Tuesday, and reportedly tried hard to move a few others. Trading away two-thirds of the starting outfield effectively extinguished whatever false hope might have still flickered for the 2012 season and steered the team firmly into a full-scale transition period.

The Inquirer enjoyed this perspective on the end of the Phillies' run but does worry that pool analogies are dangerously close to sea analogies.

In a Dec. 16 column on the Eagles, Bob Ford wrote: All the rats have indeed deserted the good ship Big Red by now, and he sails alone toward his horizon with a broken mast and a crew that keeps dropping the rigging overboard. So many good ideas gone bad.

The Inquirer thinks it is time to drop the final anchor on 2012.

Well, once again, I feel better. The slate has been wiped clean for the new year and there will be no repeat of the same mistakes, the same hiding of corrections. As always, trust is our bond.


Contact Bob Ford at bford@phillynews.com, read his blog at www.philly.com/postpatterns, and follow on Twitter @bobfordsports.

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