|Tell it to the judges|
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist
The beauty of real sports is that they never have those embarrassing scandals over their scoring systems like figure skating does.
After all, it's not as if an NBA team charged commissioner David Stern last spring with fixing the playoffs against small market teams to produce the highest television ratings. Or as if some NFL referees blew the call on a controversial "tuck" that changed a game's outcome. Or that an undeserving college football team was given a bowl bid to the national championship game a week after allowing 62 points. Or that the baseball commissioner ever accepted an improper loan from a fellow owner.
Hmmmm ... on second thought, maybe traditional sports fans shouldn't be quite so judgmental about the Olympic figure skating scandal. And perhaps they should consider the benefits of figure skating's methods of determining a champion.
Think about it. Bill Buckner might have let Mookie Wilson's grounder roll between his legs, but the New England judge could have still given him sufficient marks for artistry to give the Red Sox the World Series.
A look at how some other recent championships would be improved with figure skating judges ...
PAT SUMMERALL: "Vinatieri will attempt a 48-yard field goal with the game on the line."
SCOTT HAMILTON: "There's a little controversy surrounding Belichick's decision to send Vinatieri out in this situation. He already nailed the game-tying field goal and the game-winner in the playoffs, and some judges may hold that against him because they would rather see an original program. But I was talking with Belichick yesterday, and his response was, 'Do you celebrate Christmas more than one year? Do you listen to a song more than once?' And he's right. There is nothing wrong with sticking with a routine when it is as good as this one. There are no easy kicks."
SUMMERALL: "There's the snap ... the kick ... it looks like it has the distance ... it looks good ... it is good! The Patriots win the Super Bowl! The Patriots win the Super Bowl!"
HAMILTON: "He nailed it!"
HAMILTON: "Look at the lift he gets on that kick, Pat. He really nailed it."
ANNOUNCER: "The marks for technical merit -- wide right, wide right, good, good, wide right, good, wide right, good, wide left."
SUMMERALL: "Oh, my! The judges score it a missed field goal."
SUMMERALL: "Vinatieri is crying, and he's running out of the stadium with New England's special teams coach."
HAMILTON: "I don't blame him, Pat. He nailed that kick and for him to get those marks? I'm dumbfounded. Those marks are a disgrace. I'm embarrassed for my sport."
SUMMERALL: "Well, this means we're going to overtime, just as soon as the crew resurfaces the field ..."
DAN PATRICK: "Many fans thought the Yankees should have won the World Series, and it turns out they may be right. For more information on this amazing breaking story, we go live to Peter Gammons at the winter meetings in Boston."
GAMMONS: "Dan, sources tell me that the Yankees have sent a formal letter to the commissioner's office demanding an independent investigation into allegations of vote-swapping in the World Series. Manager Joe Torre says that while the Yankees have no evidence proving any World Series judges acted inappropriately, they have heard enough second-hand reports to strongly suspect there was."
PATRICK: "What are the specifics of these allegations?"
GAMMONS: "Again, according to my sources, they suspect that the National League Central judge agreed to give Arizona a higher score in Game 7 in exchange for the National League West judge giving the Brewers a higher score in a twinight doubleheader with the Cubs next August."
GAMMONS: "That it has already been decided. That the Yankees will win the World Series and the Expos will finish last."
PATRICK: "Isn't that how everyone thinks it will work out anyway?"
GAMMONS: "Good point."
GAMMONS: "Dan, no one's really sure. We're in uncharted territory here. But the Yankees think it's possible. It all hinges on one thing."
PATRICK: "And that is?"
GAMMONS: "Whether the commissioner has contracted them yet."
LEE CORSO: "The judges in the Southeast swapped their vote with the Midwest judges in exchange for the chance to dot the 'I' in script Ohio. The Midwest judges in turn swapped their votes with the West Coast judges, in exchange for the phone numbers of the UCLA song girls. The West Coast judges turned around and dealt their vote to the major independent judges for their vote in the Heisman. And the major independent judges got mixed up and traded their votes to themselves and wound up voting themselves out of the BCS."
FOWLER: "And when everyone is finished swapping, just who does the Rose Bowl bid go to?"
CORSO: "Miami and Nebraska."
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Over the next two weeks, he'll be in Salt Lake City, uncovering the wild and wacky side of the Winter Olympic Games for Page 2.