What a big gap! All of this natural gas versus astro turf talk makes me want to mow my lawn.
Bill James divided baseball into six historical eras. The era that existed before the current era, 1969-1992 or so, he called the "Artificial Turf" era.
With everything available to define an era, he went with the playing surface. James' beloved 1980's Royals were an epic turf team, meaning one that exploited speed and finesse. In Weaver On Strategy, Earl lamented the way his big, powerful Orioles got embarrassed every time they went to Kansas City. "They played way back on us, getting to lots of extra ground balls. But if we tried that, it wouldn't work, because of the Orioles' speed down to first." Weaver revealed that there was only one place he'd have built an offense without home runs, and that was on the super-fast turf at Kansas City. James wrote essays about how much he liked the style of baseball played on turf.
John Madden wrote, after he won the Super Bowl and retired, that he had one criteria applied to all his players. They all had to be natural-grass players. By that he meant that he didn't want players who avoided contact, preferring to use skill and speed to win football games. He wanted "lunch-pail" players.
In They Call Me Assassin, the Raiders' free safety Jack Tatum sneered at "finesse" teams. By the time they get to the second half, Tatum wrote, their will to win would be gone. The punishment that he and his fellow Raiders dished out would tell. "If you hit a man enough times," he said, "his will to win is going to be warped."
The Seahawk blog-o-sphere is talking about the Seahawks as a second-half team. And what do you think Pete Carroll means by that?
It's taken him until the third season, here, to put together the "grass team" that he has wanted. Kam Chancellor is a scary hitter; just ten years ago he'd have been playing the linebacker position. Brandon Browner is 6'4" and 220. I don't get that. Since when can a guy Ivan Drago's size cover Steve Smith? A wide reciever once joked, "I'm faster than 99.99% of people in the world. Problem is the other 0.01% are cornerbacks." Are there other cover corners in the NFL who are Browner's size?
The entire secondary sits behind the receivers, allowing a few extra underneath catches, maybe, but using their awesome closing speed to lay the lumber afterwards.
Marshawn Lynch is another obvious case in point. Russell Wilson basked in Lynch's glory after the game. "Those were three-yard gains in the first half," he said on the radio, "but in the second half they turn into 15-yard gains." Dallas was stopping Lynch, but they were baaarrrrrely stopping him. The man wants tacklers to come at him so he can maul them with his off hand, shoulder, and teeth. In the second half the Cowboys' will to win had been warped, they started reaching, and Lynch started rambling. Now I get it. Why the contract, that is. Hard to intimidate on offense. Is Lynch the most intimidating offensive player in the NFL?
I remember in early 1981, my best friend came in gloating about how his 49'ers were going to take over the league for good. They had Joe Montana, Bill Walsh, and "their secondary is so vicious that even their own receivers are afraid to catch the ball in practice." Ronnie Lott, Dwight Hicks and Eric Wright were kicking tail and taking names. The next thing Walsh put together, after he got Montana, was a fearsome attack-dog secondary. Then he started teaching his offensive linemen chop blocks. A lot of people don't realize how mean Bill Walsh was.
Apparently the same point is lost on Pete Carroll fans. There were two or three fights, early in the Cardinals game, and I was thinkin,' okkaaayyyyyyy. We came a long way from 3-13 here, kiddies. It's one thing to beat down the Cleveland Browns. It's another thing to beat down Dallas. That was a keister-kicking the Seahawks laid on the Cowboys out there, the kind that Jack Tatum would have been a part of.
The attack-dog secondary and the eerily-poised, nimble young quarterback. Have we heard this song before?