Upper Deck: 'Wading' Into The Deep End

November can be called a tumultuous month in the world of sports even in normal years. The NBA has gotten off the ground just enough for everyone to begin to get interested and for camps to begin to form usually in the pro and against the person who has been anointed this season's scapegoat.

Usually, this is some backup player who sees the court just enough for the average fan to realize, "He is not as good as the starter."

For most of us, this is not a revelation, after all if he was as good as the starter, he would be starting and we could complain about the other guy. This goes under the heading of, We all need someone to blame.''

This year in DFW has been even more chaotic due to the occurrences at Valley Ranch. It became apparent about three weeks ago that Valley Ranch was not going to win the Happy Town, U.S.A. Award. In fact, rumor has it that Stephen King is re-penning his novel "Misery'' to cast a Cowboy fan in the lead role of the poor idiot held captive by a cruel team owner who keeps hiring more and more inept head coaches.

I am not saying that Wade Phillips was inept. In fact, I am sure he is very ept. By all accounts, he is a fine man. In fact, in every interview or story I have seen, someone goes out of their way to say, "Wade was a fine man, like a member of my family." Presumably he still is a fine man, although the use of past tense has me wondering whether when he was fired, was he also dismembered from the family?

He always reminded me of that goofy uncle we all have that shows up at Thanksgiving, eats too much, and falls asleep on the couch. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I would not want my goofy uncle coaching my favorite football team.

It is a peculiar issue in sports: fans want to win, every game, and none of them by close margins. One of the weirdest conversations I ever had was with a Cowboy fan in the fall of 1996 after the Cowboys had lost a game. This particular fan informed me that if the Cowboys kept playing like that, the same thing would happen to them that happened last year. He seemed to forget that "last year" the Cowboys won the Super Bowl.

Rather than get into a discussion I could not win, I just agreed with him.

Fans do not expect to win every game. Obviously, every team loses sometimes. But fans expect the coach to be at least as angry as we are. Being philosophical or trying to keep things in perspective -- "It is just one game," or "It's not like someone died" -- is not allowed. The coach has to be angry. Someone needs to get cursed out and cursed out good. We as fans get a certain sense of satisfaction just knowing that we might not have won … but some miserable, low-life, lazy good-for-nothing backup, he got his.

Truth be known, from a fan's point of view, Wade was doomed from the start. He never seemed to be all that angry. He could have taken some lessons from Barry Switzer in that an occasional hell, damn, or crap will carry you some distance in the world of professional football.

It is a lesson that Rick Carlisle needs to pick up on: The plastic image of someone keeping things in perspective may be best from a psychological health perspective, but it will not endear him to the fan. Bobby Knight probably said one time that, "Throwing an odd chair every now and then, just lets the fans know I care." Well, he might not have said it but it kind of worked that way.

Another weird thing about fans that become obvious every season is that fans expect that every so-called expert will validate their belief in the local team by proclaiming them the best in the league on a "power rating" based on some statistical voodoo that is supposed to tell us who is the best team. Well, I have invested a great deal of time and statistical analyses including using random integers, calculating analysis of variance of unrelated vectors and other mathematical terms and concepts that have nothing to do with basketball, and I have compiled my own NBA power ratings, and with that in mind, I have the Mavericks rated first with a total power rating of 937. The Boston Celtics, who are currently second, have 16 points, the Heat have 4 points, the Lakers 2 points, and the Spurs have -387. I have confirmed these calculations on my computer and by consulting noted experts including people I saw at a bus stop downtown.

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