Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Small Chance for an Upset

I’m away in Southern California on my other business (that would be golf) and haven’t had a chance to keep up on the goings-on in provincial championships across the province of which most are being played out this week.
However, I’m always amazed at how few big upsets there are these days in provincial playdowns. In many cases, especially with the bigger provinces, it comes down to one of two or three teams. The last time there was a true surprise winner in Ontario was probably 1996 when Bob Ingram of Ridgetown stunned the field to capture the title.
These days, the fields are generally filled with a few sure things and then teams which are not quite at the same level. To me, it’s really a sign that there’s a definitive split between the very good teams and the good teams. A few years ago, the split was between good club teams and elite teams, but now that’s gone further.
Of the rinks in the Ontario championships, Middaugh, Howard, Harris and Corner are the only ones that have played anything of significance further than a few hours from their home. You can almost bet that the title will be won by one of those four teams. In fact, I’d put a wager on one of the first two (despite the 1-2 start by Middaugh). OK, I’ll bet Howard.
It doesn’t mean the other seven rinks aren’t capable and talented, just that they aren’t as exacting or consistent as these ones. The ability to play at a very high level over the entire competition is not there. It would be surprise to see one win. You can really find the same in most of the bigger provinces. Some of the smaller provinces, I think, are more open to an upset. Some don’t even have definitive favourites. But in most cases, you can find the winners from a small group.
What these rinks hope for is to make it to the playoffs. That gives them, at the very least, a chance (I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that in an interview). In a one-game scenario, anything can happen.
There have been some cases of this happening. Ingram, as I mentioned. Perhaps the biggest one was Mark Dacey beating Randy Ferbey at the Brier. Any others come to mind?

1 comment:

KPurdy said...

Bob, just to add to this....
Yes, anyone can beat anyone on any given day. But to beat these top teams MORE THAN ONCE in a weekend, is very difficult.

McCarville/Middaugh (ON): Middaugh wins the round robin game, loses to McCarville in the 1-2 game, but then beats McCarville in the final.

Kliebrink/Sonnenberg (AB): Kliebrink loses to Sonnenberg in the A Semi, but then pulls off a huge win by beating them in the final.

Jones/Spencer (MB): Spencer beats Jones in the 1-2, but then gets pounded in the final by Jones.

Englot/Lawton: Lawton beats Englot in the round robin, but Englot beats Lawton in the final.

At this level, teams want to do whatever they can to put themselves in finals and then, pull out the stops to win finals. These teams have more experience in finals....and time and time again, for the most part, will prevail.