Objectivity and Fairness

“For the bitterest pill is hard to swallow
The love I gave hangs in sad coloured, mocking shadows
The bitterest pill is mine to take
If I took it for a hundred years, I couldn’t feel any more ill”
-The Jam The Bitterest Pill

Stanley CupIt is 5:30 in the morning as I sit here typing this and I did not sleep much last night. What is causing me to lose sleep? My team lost a game last night. How stupid is that? My team, the Detroit Redwings, one of the winningest teams in all of sports, lost one game, and this alleged adult cannot sleep. Despite that single game being for all of the marbles, the loss is not really the sole cause of my insomnia. Not winning the Stanley Cup is a bitter pill to swallow, no doubt about it, but being a hardcore and loyal sports fan means that you will taste defeat a lot. Detroit fans know that more than most.

The cause of my sleeplessness is pondering objectivity and fairness. In last night’s game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals the Pittsburgh Penguins won fair and square. They are a very good team, and have some great players, and what follows is not meant to take anything away from them. The Pens were the better team last night, and they did not win the last game of the series due to bad officiating, or anything like that. While it would have been nice if some of the more blatant stuff had been called, the officiating, or lack thereof, was consistent. That is fair and all that a fan can ask for. So, what is my problem?

The Redwings won games 1 and 2 in Detroit. Game 3 was in Pittsburgh and the officials gave the game to the Penguins. What should have been a 3-0 lead in the series was now 2-1 due to some bad calls on Detroit, but mostly due to non-calls on Pittsburgh. The teams seemed to be playing by different rules. Game 4 was like game 7, Pittsburgh won it fair and square. Game 5 was a 5-0 blowout won by Detroit. Without the stolen game, there would have been no game 6 or game 7, and I would have gotten a good night’s sleep last night.

I know that Penguin fans and Redwing haters are probably snorting in derision right now and writing off the above paragraphs as sour grapes, but even people who dislike the Wings have told me that they thought Detroit was jobbed in game 3. Truth be told, if a Lakers fan or a Yankees fan told a similar tale of woe, no matter how true, I would probably laugh and shrug my shoulders. Such is the nature of sports. However, if I knew they were right, my sense of fairness would eventually kick in and it would bother me. I unreasonably expect all games to be played on a level field.

I did not toss and turn all night only thinking about the hockey game, nor was it only due to my sports heartbreak. No, what kept me tossing and turning was thinking back on all of the contests I had seen stolen over the years, and how offended I get when it happens.

Whenever I hear about the New England Patriot’s undefeated season from a few years ago it offends me. I am no fan of the Baltimore Ravens, in fact I dislike them quite a bit, but I would be hard pressed to think of any team that ever suffered a more concerted effort by the officials to steal a game from them. Any argument against intentionally biased officiating, such as ‘the refs can’t see everything’ or ‘the officials are human and make mistakes’ was definitively refuted by that game. Mistakes get made, but sometimes it is willful, and especially when it is to keep a news cycle alive, or to sell more shoes, it disgusts me.

The list of game changing bad officiating is quite long and it is a rare, and probably delusional, sports fan who does not have at least one grievance that will haunt them to their grave. Ask a Buffalo Sabers fan about Brett Hull’s skate entering the crease before the puck is another instance of Cup thievery, but make sure you have plenty of room to escape the ensuing explosion. Ask Missouri football fans if they think Colorado should have been allowed to have 5 downs at the end of a game in 1990 that caused them to lose by 1 point.

The litany goes on and on. Houston football fans know all about the 1980 AFC Championship game hosing. Packers fans are still righteously screaming that Jerry Rice fumbled in the ’99 Wild Card game. Cardinal fans will never get over game 6 of the 1985 World Series, nor should they. Then there was the 2nd worst case of intentional bad officiating ever, when officials inexplicably kept adding time back on the clock to allow the Soviets to beat the USA for the gold in basketball at the 1972 Olympic games.

As a Detroit fan, let me apologize here and now to Pittsburgh fans. Not for what I said above about their Cup win, but for the 1999 Thanksgiving Day coin flip incident between the Lions and the Steelers. It may be debatable whether that bit of ridiculousness affected the outcome of the game, but it sure seemed to rattle the Steeler players, and understandably so. That does not fall under the intentional bad officiating call, but Phil Luckett is possibly the most incompetent official ever to wear stripes, and the NFL allowed him to ruin many a football fan’s day before and after that game.

So, what the *&%# does all of this sports venting have to do with wine? Good question! As you can see from the rant above, I have a strong sense of fairness and I strive for objectivity. Sure, I have been around long enough to accept that life is not fair, but as some people see black and white, right and wrong, I tend to see fair and unfair. Not like a child sees fairness, where everyone has to have what everyone else has or “it’s not fair!” I see justice and fairness as synonyms, although I know it doesn’t work that way. But it should.

Wines of ChileRecently Amy and I were invited to participate in a Wines of Chile tasting. This was an event organized to get a bunch of wine bloggers to taste these wines and then write about them on our blogs, talk about them, as Denis Leary puts it, “on our tweety pages and faceybooks.” So, a few weeks before the tasting, a wooden crate full of wine, literature, glasses, and even a spittoon arrived on our doorstep. I thought it was cool, but was not expecting all that much from the wine.

This is where my belief in my own objectivity and fairness gets challenged. I have tasted my share of Chilean wine and always considered them to be pleasant bargain wines. Very drinkable, and exceptional values, but nothing spectacular. This is what I anticipated drinking when we did the tasting. Even more than anticipating, it is what I expected. That was not an objective way to evaluate a wine, it certainly was not fair to the wine maker or the wine, and as it turns out, it also was not very smart of me.

Many times we have expectations of what a wine will taste like, which leads to an expectation of whether we will like it or not, and that can color our perception. Like I said, that is not an objective or fair way to evaluate and review wine. Luckily for me, the Wines of Chile selections blew away my prejudices and previous experience. They also blew me away with their refinement and power. While still unbelievable bargains, Chilean wines are now as good as those produced anywhere in the world.

How often do we allow our preconceived ideas about a fairly new wine region get in the way of not only our objectivity, but also our enjoyment? How often do we let the opposite happen, perceiving wine from an established region as perhaps better than it is? Is it fair that, like women in a lot of jobs, the wine made in places like Chile has to be twice as good to be considered just as good? Well, the wines listed below from the tasting were easily up to the task. I have included the suggested retail price, which was as amazing as the wine itself.

Emiliana Natura Sauvignon Blanc 2008
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Casablanca Valley, Chile

Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir 2008
100% Pinot Noir
Colchagua Velley, Chile

Los Vascos Reserve 2006
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Carmenere, 10% Syrah, 5% Malbec
Colchagua Velley, Chile

Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Carmenere 2007
95% Carmenere, 5% Petit Verdot
Rapel Valley, Chile

Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere 2007
97% Carmenere, 3% Shiraz
Aconcagua Valley, Chile

Undurraga T.H. Syrah 2007
100% Syrah
Aconcagua Valley, Chile

Haras Character Cabernet Sauvignon – Carmenere 2006
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Carmenere, 9% Cabernet Franc, 7% Syrah

Veramonte Primus 2006
36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Syrah, 17% Merlot, 16% Carmenere
Colchagua Valley, Chile

Not only did I learn that Chile produces some fantastic wines, I also learned that wanting to be objective and fair is not enough, it takes vigilance and effort. I will keep trying.

Look for more on the wines of Chile from me and Amy, as well as full reviews of some of these wines in the coming days and weeks. Salud!

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