Friday, January 25, 2008

One Last Think Piece for the Weekend From Moishe's Favorite Writer

Chuck Klosterman on ESPN.com

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While writing "Metaphysics," Aristotle outlined the three concepts of perfection as follows:

1. Something that is complete.

2. Something that is so good that nothing of the kind could be better.

3. Something that has achieved its purpose.
he '72 Dolphins were "perfect" by virtue of Aristotle's first and third definitions (the squad was a self-contained, untarnished unit that won the championship). The Patriots cannot make similar claims unless they win Feb. 3 (and if they lose, everything turns to smoke). However, they can already allege to embody that second designation of perfection: When one considers the advent of free agency, the salary cap, the enforced distribution of talent and the realties of present-day professional football, it's possible New England has built a team "so good that nothing of the kind could be better." Some of this was a product of chance (Brady was not drafted until the 199th pick in 2000), and some of this was a product of other teams' failures (the Packers could have acquired Randy Moss in 2007 for a third-round pick). But most of this has to do with the way the Pats perform: They have the most talent, combined with the most unselfishness, fueled by the greatest desire to unilaterally dominate. Their most consistent criticism has been running up the score against already humiliated opponents, a condemnation almost never applied to contemporary teams at the pro level. The Patriots are not literally perfect, but they are perfect enough to be historically singular.

Which is why it would be so much more interesting if they lose
Man o' War is arguably the finest horse who ever lived, and one of the best arguments for thoroughbred perfection. It is, however, very difficult to name any horse he raced against, except one: Upset, the only ungulate who ever beat him. This is how it goes. When measuring -- and particularly when remembering -- the greatest performances in the history of any sport, the moments that matter most are almost always tied to situations when that entity failed. Very often, those specific failures are the essential details people recall about dynastic achievement. The memory of perfection is inevitably tied to the memory of lost perfection.
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1 comment:

hyman said...

love me some chuck klosterman