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October 28, 2010

The Change-Up Pitch

I'd ask you to forgive the recent increase in sports-related blog posts (5 of the last 6) if it weren't for the following pair of facts:

Fact A: We are currently in the thick of the greatest two-week sporting period of the year (baseball world series, middle of college and national football, tip-off of the NBA season) and

Fact B: I like to write about sports. It's what I do.

When it comes to fact B I'm in prestigious company because our friend Albert Einstein liked to write about sports too. At least I assume he was referring to the sporting world when he mouthed this 14-word gem:

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results."

If Einstein wasn't alluding to the Utah Jazz's last five seasons - and specifically their failure to change - then I have no idea what he was talking about.


Side note: while perusing a very reliable web site, I found that it may not have been Einstein who first said this quote, but rather a character by the name of Rita Mae Brown. After further research I couldn't find anything that officially pinned the words down to the one or the other, so I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to Albert - partially because he had great hair, partially because he was a physicist (once one of my many dream jobs), but mainly because his name is Albert.

In the battle of first names, Albert will always conquer Rita. Consider the great Alberts of history:

Albert Pujols - Baseball Legend
Fat Albert - Comedy Legend
Albertsons - Grocery Legend

Meanwhile, a similar list of famous Rita's conjures only one name:

Rita Skeeter - Harry Potter villain

Therefore I suggest Albert be credited with this quote, at least until Wikipedia investigates the matter further.


Now where were we? Oh yes, the Jazz. And change. These two items desperately needed to meet each other. For the last half-decade the Jazz rolled out the same core members (Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko, Deron Williams, and Mehmut Okur) while expecting the results of the previous year (playoff failure) to change. Well, in case you've been gone for a while, hear now that the results remained the same. The Jazz were beat in the playoffs in each of the last four years, never once making it to the NBA finals.

Now don't get me wrong, usually it's good to keep your team together, but not when that unit happens to get trashed progressively worse by the same rival year after year after year. At that point keeping the same players is a nice way to guarantee an early playoff exit. In the Jazz's case Boozer was too short, Okur was too weak on defense, Kirilenko had peaked in 2004 ... to have expected a championship run from this unchanged group would have been, as Albert said, insanity. The Jazz needed an about-face if they wanted a new result. They needed to pull a Desperate Housewives.

An explanation:

Desperate Housewives as a TV show has killed off no less than 24 of its characters and once advanced the story five years into the future between seasons. Point is the show is willing to tamper with anything if they think it will boost their ratings (don't ask how I know about this show, I, uh, just do). The Jazz needed to follow a similar strategy if they wanted new opportunities for their squad.

Fortunately, over the course of a few summer weeks, the change finally happened: Carlos Boozer left for Chicago, the Jazz duped Minnesota in a trade for a longer, stronger, more Mailman-like replacement (Al Jefferson - sadly Al is not short for Albert), and in perhaps their best move the team finally dumped their unsightly uniforms in favor of a 1980's throwback.

Big Mike (of Chuck fame) said it right: "To get your head right, you got to get your threads right." 

Will these changes (along with the additions of Raja Bell and soon-to-be-heartthrob Gordon Hayward) allow the team to make the jump from common crew to championship contender? Maybe and maybe not. The most likely bet is that the Jazz will end up failing in the playoffs just like they have in the past. At least this time we know it's not guaranteed from the beginning.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I recall 2 Rita's. One is the one you already mentioned from Harry Potter, the other happens to be the name of one of mannequins from school.. haha Great job on the post!!