When a thoroughbred immediately follows an unusually strong performance with an unusually weak performance, the term used in horse racing is that the horse "bounced."
The bounce theory -- widely credited to an American handicapper named Len Ragozin -- postulates that thoroughbreds are particularly prone to sub-par performances immediately after they have put forth a peak effort.
In a sport where past performance is generally expected to dictate future performance, Ragozin's theory -- because it so counter-intuitive -- is often used by handicappers to spot upsets before they happen, allowing them to cash in long shots at big prices.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled coverage of the Canadian Football League with that little piece of trivia from the Sport of Kings because the last time the Bombers won two games in a row was August, 2011. That's a span of 26 games -- 12 last year, including two playoff games, and 14 this year -- without consecutive victories.
Since capping a five-game winning streak with a 30-27 win over Hamilton at home on Aug. 26, 2011, the Bombers record has looked like this: two losses, a win, two losses, a win, a loss, a win, two losses, a win (in the 2011 East final), a loss (in the Grey Cup), four losses (to start this season), a win (over Edmonton), a loss, a win (over Hamilton), four losses, a win (over Hamilton), a loss (to Toronto) and finally a win over Montreal last weekend.
A novice handicapper -- or a second-grader -- could tell you what is most likely to happen next in that particular pattern. All of which brings us to this afternoon's game (noon, TSN, CJOB) at Canad Inns Stadium between the Bombers and the Calgary Stampeders.
As hard as it is to fathom given the trials of this Bombers team and their woeful 4-10 regular-season record, the Bombers continue to retain multiple legitimate paths to the post-season.
But while the pathways are varied, they will all lead nowhere over the course of the final four weeks of this tortured season unless the Bombers can finally figure out a way to actually win more than just once in a row.
"In the CFL, you need to string wins together. And that's been our pitfall," safety Ian Logan said in the Bombers locker-room Friday morning following a brief and chilly light practice. "Our problem has been, play well one week and then not play well the next week. Each individual has to take it upon themselves to bring their A-game every single day.
"This is our profession and what we do. There's no excuses for not showing up for a game."
So if there's no excuses, how come it keeps happening? Offensive lineman Glenn January says sometimes a banana is just a banana.
"Some things in life just can't be explained," said the veteran tackle with a laugh. "And this is probably one of them."
In racing, the bounce theory presupposes that horses regress off peak efforts because they are still in a recovery period from an episode of maximum physical exertion. But that doesn't really apply in football -- or at least it shouldn't apply in a sport where, like Logan says, the players are supposed to make a maximum physical effort every single time they're on the field.
You could argue the Bombers haven't won consecutive games this season for the simple reason that they just aren't very good, not to mention the revolving door at starting quarterback. But how does that explain why they also couldn't do it for the better part of last year in a season in which they opened at 7-1 -- including that five-game winning streak; had the same starting quarterback for 18 of 20 games; and went all the way to the Grey Cup?
A punter -- the horse racing kind, not the football kind -- would tell you it doesn't matter why. What matters is that for the past 14 months, the surest bet in all of sport has been against the Bombers a week after a win.