Since the calendar hit August, it seems all Indianapolis sports radio can talk about is the Colts. And, well, I suppose that’s understandable. There are only two major teams in town, and the Colts are the one going now. I mean, if it were up to me, there would be some more baseball talk and maybe some good time spent talking about the Indy Indians. Especially this year, as the Indians are just about to wrap up their division for the second straight year. I understand they are a AAA team, but they are still the highest baseball in the state and doing pretty damn well for themselves. It really is a shame they don’t get more attention than they do.
Anyway, I digress. The Colts have been the dominant topic since preseason games have started. There has been an awful lot of dissecting about this practice game against Buffalo where the Colts were pretty well blown out of the water. Now, the story is Jim Irsay has been apologizing to everybody who will listen and blasting the top brass at Lucas Oil Stadium. I still have to wonder, does anybody care? I think we all understand that preseason games are, well, practice. And very expensive practice at that. What other sport would demand that season ticket holders pay for games that don’t count and rarely feature any players you will know? And paying full price, mind you. These games are important for the “marginal” players and the coaches and general managers, sure. But to fans? I can’t imagine possibly caring less. And I think for good reason. The Colts have been generally atrocious in the preseason since Peyton Manning got to town, and there doesn’t seem to be any change on the horizon. This hasn’t generally been a hurdle for the regular season, though. And it shouldn’t. The teams you see during the preseason are just simply not the same teams you will see during the regular season. I think fans understand that. So, on that note, it’s just very hard for me to think that anybody needs an apology from the owner for losing by twenty in a game that literally makes no difference outside who makes the end of the roster.
So why would Irsay make this kind of statement? The only thing I can figure is marketing. He wants the fans to know he has high expectations for this team when the national media seems pretty roundly in agreement that last year’s team was pretty lucky and this year’s team will come back to Earth a bit.* While there are reasons to think the Colts will fare better than most teams that outperform their preseason expectations, I think you would be a little nuts to think it’s 11 wins or bust this year.** Not to say this core can’t get there, but one step at a time.
*I’ve made the same argument, so I get it.
**Or, you know, to start saying you’re World Champion material just yet. That’s the shirt that has been making it’s way around Colt’s training camp.
I don’t know, maybe Irsay thinks most of the fanbase has bought into the mentality that this team is already among the elite teams and doesn’t want fans to lose faith over a twenty-some point loss to Buffalo (of all teams!). The problem with that theory is, well, I can’t imagine that Irsay doesn’t have a better handle on the fanbase than that. Nobody is going to be upset over a preseason game. Expectations might be generally higher than I think they should be around these parts, but I don’t think anybody outside of the locker room thinks this team is going to the Super Bowl.
Maybe I’m talking out of my ass here. I refuse to watch preseason NFL games, and this one was no different. Maybe the Colts looked like they belonged on a high school field. I doubt it, though. From what I hear, the starters looked pretty good for the most part, and Buffalo kept their rookie quarterback out there much longer than usual to carve up the back up defense. I can’t blame Buffalo for that. The Bills are looking to break that playoff drought, and I’m sure they want to see what they’ve got on a quarterback that had some mixed reviews coming out of college.
Long story short, the Pirates are in St. Louis this week for a pretty pivotal series. That is a million times more compelling and interesting to me than any glorified scrimmage. If you can even call the NFL preseason glorified.