Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Tuesday Knee Jerk Reaction: Round Thirteen

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Footy is a passion, not some cold hearted, spread sheet dominated rational exercise. 

On a Tuesday, you want irrational reaction. You want emotion to trump reason.

What you really want is idiotic hysteria.

You’ve come to the right place.

Thursday

Adelaide (71) v Richmond (79)

Adelaide could have used this visit from the lowly Tigers for a much-needed confidence boost, and dare I suggest, a percentage-boosting victory, but they had other plans.

Instead, the Crows found a determined Richmond a bit too hard and decided a crushing loss for their fans was the easier path.

But fear not Crows fans. You just need to win at least eight of the next ten games and you’re right back in this thing.

And to start that easy task, you’ve got Sydney next.

Richmond showed once again, the only things you need to win in this league is grit, determination and playing one of the flakier teams.

While Tigers fans would hardly be clearing their September calendars, not losing would have felt really nice.

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Friday

Western Bulldogs (71) v Brisbane (114)

It turns out letting Lachie Neale have all the space he wants is a bad idea.

Most people with even a cursory understanding of the game knew that, but it’s always good to get a real-life example to reinforce that obvious understanding.

Many of the 31,042 people in the crowd got closer to Neale than the Bulldogs did on Friday night, as he finished with 38 disposals, 10 clearances and two goals.

It may have occurred to the Bulldogs coaching staff to put someone on him at some stage, but it didn’t manifest itself out on the ground. 

The Bulldogs are one of the many teams having an identity crisis this season.

Are they a good football side or a fairly average one?

They don’t seem sure, so I’m not sure we can be either.

In good news for the Lions, Eric Hipwood hasn’t retired but is in fact playing this season and booted six.

Could the Lions make a push for Finals? It’s possible. Like the Dogs, there are a lot of teams above them still working out what they’re doing this year.

Saturday

Hawthorn (85) v Greater Western Sydney (79)

Well, I have been warning people. Hawthorn, like a rash that never really goes away, are back.

Now before we get too carried away with claiming every single game these days is decided by bad umpiring decisions, Tom Green’s late bump on Sicily was just silly. 

I know it’s fun to blame umpires rather than players for losses, but the umpires didn’t cost the Giants this game, Green did.

Last week, I got some flak for despairing at the Hawks hot streak, people accused me of being jealous.

Well, let me be clear, of course, it’s jealousy.

Jealousy, to put it into corporate speak, is one of my four culture pillars.

Jealousy, Pettiness, Self-Loathing and Cynicism.

I find these are important traits that guide my life, and I meditate on them every morning as part of my journey to reaching peak cynicism.

I will then write down how I’ve gone that date in relation to them in my ingratitude journal.

West Coast (65) v North Melbourne (74)

The Kangaroos have done it, they’ve won a game of football, proving many of the world’s top scientists wrong.

It’s an astounding result, given the AFL have recently been debating whether to not keeping score in games involving North like they do in junior footy.

That won’t be fully off the table yet, but this was a step forward.

It had been 288 days since the Kangaroos had last won a game, and like someone getting back into the dating pool after a long break, it was awkward, hard to watch and almost ended in crushing disappointment.

They had a 33-point lead in the fourth quarter, but still managed to fall three points behind, before taking the lead again.

Part of this was due to Elliot Yeo being penalised for holding the ball in a controversial decision.

Was it holding the ball? The answer is simple.

If you think it was, you’re wrong. If you think it wasn’t, you’re also wrong.

Because there is no such thing as holding the ball. At least, not in a concrete sense.

The AFL have mucked around with it so much that no one knows what it is anymore. They don’t. The umpires don’t, players don’t, and fans don’t.

It is now just a truly random phenomenon that can happen at any moment. Trying to understand it or discern a pattern will only break your brain. 

Every tackle is both holding the ball and not holding the ball. An umpire may blow the whistle, or may not, but that’s now an unrelated event.

Like us, they are trying to determine the nature of an event that no longer has any connection to reality.

It is the AFL’s crowning glory.

St Kilda (51) v Gold Coast (48)

If you’d have been asked, you probably would have predicted West Coast v North would have been the worst game of the round, but Ross Lyon was having none of that.

In his rather successful quest to ruin football, this may have been one of his top ten efforts.

Damien Hardwick summed it up well, “Terrible game of footy.”

And it was.

Add to that the fact it was decided by a free kick that even the AFL admitted was wrong and you’ve got a frustrating night on the couch. 

To repeat that earlier point, the AFL admitted a free kick was wrong.

That’s an uncommon event.

The AFL operates on the following guidelines:

AFL is right – AFL is right

AFL is a bit wrong – AFL is right

AFL is very wrong – AFL is right

AFL is incredibly wrong- AFL is right

AFL is so wrong, and multiple times in a few games – AFL is wrong but we should get a gold star for being so transparent

I know we’re meant to say Ross is a mastermind, but you can be a mastermind for evil.

Sunday

Sydney (112) v Geelong (82)

Sydney hit the snooze button six times to start the game, ignoring all of Geelong’s early onslaught, before slowly rousing and getting down to business.

And while we know the Cats are only OK this season, it was still rather terrifying how easily the Swans brushed them aside.

The 65-point turnaround was sparked by Chad Warner and Issac Heeney, who might be the greatest combination since Gin and Tonic.

Like Gin and Tonic things escalate quickly when they’re around.

The worrying thing about Sydney is they have winners everywhere and their players have a rare skill, they hit targets!

Can you imagine?

You’d think that would be a base-level skill to being an AFL player, but it turns out it’s a rare and precious gift bestowed on few.

What does this mean for Geelong?

It means they’re not as good as Sydney. How’s that for insight?

Essendon (70) v Carlton (96)

Both these sides have been a bit like Guns N’ Roses; huge in the 80s and 90s but an ongoing mess since.

There was a real sense this would tell us which of their much-storied rebuilds was most on track.

It was disappointing news all around. Carlton’s seems well on track, while Essendon’s rebuild didn’t seem off track enough.

Sure, the Bombers faded late, but they hung in there for a long time, and were significantly hampered by their poor goalkicking.

They were not the disaster we had been hoping for.

Essendon are taking a new approach with this latest rebuild. They aren’t trying to parachute in a messiah to fix everything overnight.

They are doing things properly. You hate to see it.

Carlton are also trying a similar approach, not trying to throw money at a problem to make it go away.

Having sane and rational people running these clubs is a disaster for the rest of us.

What’s next, winning finals? 

Monday

Collingwood v Melbourne

Against a Collingwood side with more injuries than that time I decided to do some of my own electrical work, Melbourne made everything look hard. 

There were just so many poor decisions, and not just the players, even the medical team got in on the fun, sending Christian Petracca back out when he was clearly too injured and at risk. To be fair, it turned out he only had four broken ribs, a lacerated spleen and a punctured lung. 

Much has been made of Melbourne changing their game style. I personally don’t see it.

The gameplan for the last three seasons has been to dominate play, but then butcher forward entries with a consistency that must be intentional.

When someone occasionally does take a mark in the forward 50, they seem unsure of what to do next, and so usually kick a behind.

They then let the opposition waltz up the other end and kick a goal.

People keep saying Melbourne have more talent than most other teams, but I’m not sure you can say that based on the evidence.

To my eye, Collingwood have more talented players than Melbourne, you saw it every time they hit a target, while Demons players repeatedly clanked it into an opponent.

I don’t think you can say you’re a talented footballer if you can’t hit a target, or make the wrong decision 80 per cent of the time.

It has been this way since the Premiership, and nothing has changed. All this talk of changing the gameplan over the off season is just nonsense.

Collingwood on the other hand play with a ruthless efficiency.

They run to support each other. Their skills are good, and they have a clear vision of what they want to do. 

Each player knows not only their own role, but their teammates, and the seem to also like each other.

Add in some outstanding players and it’s not hard to see they are Sydney’s greatest threat this season.

As for the Dees, they will talk about ‘working on things’ and ‘wake-up calls’ but all the fans hear is ‘we have no answers.’

Let’s not keep kidding ourselves.

I’ve got a show in Melbourne on Friday 21 June. You can get tickets here.

Shows in other states are to be announced soon.

BYE: Port Adelaide, Fremantle  

You can help support me in producing this ridiculous nonsense I churn out on a regular basis. Find out more here: https://titusoreily.com/support-titus

 

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