Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Winners and Losers

Originally posted to on February 21, 2007

This weekend’s headlines told us of how NASCAR’s Mark Martin fell short at the Daytona 500 and that Phil Mickelson is back to his old ways after collapsing at the Nissan Open.

I understand that stories of hardship and failure sell newspapers and intrigue readers but how about we give credit where credit is do? What’s wrong with saying that Kevin Harvick came back and ran a great race to take the checkered flag? What’s wrong with saying that Charles Howell III’s final-round 65 was a great round and that he deserved to take the title at the Nissan?

Martin, one of NASCAR’s elder statesman and resident “nice guy,” didn’t deserve to win the Great American Race. When you’re swinging into turn three and it’s you and another guy racing home for the win you don’t get out of the way and let him win. You trade paint and beat him. That’s what made Booby Allison, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt so great. If it came down to you and one of them at the end of the day, odds are, you would lose.

Harvick did what he had to do to win on Sunday. He wanted it more, he drove harder and to the victor go the spoils. Now don’t get me wrong. Martin is a great driver. He’ll go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame one day. However, at the end of the day, Harvick just flat-out beat him.

The same can be said for Mickelson. He’s a great player just like Martin is a great driver. He’s had wins, big wins and monumental wins. He’s also had some tough losses and some collapses. He didn’t collapse on Sunday though. He was beaten by a surging Charles Howell. Howell shot a final-round 65, caught up to Phil and then capitalized on the third playoff hole. Why should we automatically call it a “Classic Phil-collapse”?

All I’m saying is let’s give credit where credit is do. Howell out played Mickelson and Harvick out drove Martin – plain and simple. I hope that Harvick and Howell enjoy their victories.

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