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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My favorite sports moments

A post nearly guaranteed to confound this fellow from across the pond.

Greg did his Top 10 Sports Moments last month. I thought to do the same. Of course, there are moments I loved at the time but have faded into memory, including many of the exciting NCAA men's basketball finals.

I was flicking through the channels last month and came onto women's volleyball. The game is to 30, win by two, and in the second game of the match Siena (a college near Albany) beat Binghamton (my hometown) 40-38. It was exciting, but the memory will fade.

The rules Greg laid out is that I have had to actually witness it, not seen it on ESPN Sportscenter later.

10. I know how Greg hates Brett Favre, but even he must admit that the game Favre played on December 22, 2003, right after his father died was magnificent.

9. Mark McGwire's 62nd home run on September 8, 1998. Yeah, the steroid controversy taints this record. But I still think that the home run race between McGwire and Sammy Sosa that season energized the fans in the way they hadn't been since the 1994 strike. In fact, this was Labor Day weekend, and I saw three Cardinals games in a row on FOX, who were looking to capture the historic moment. I loved all of it, Sosa running in from right field, McGwire's graciousness to the family of Roger Maris.

8. Magic Johnson plays center during the NBA Finals. The rookie point guard replaces an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the middle, scores 42 points, and creates a legend.

7. "Villanova beats Georgetown 66-64 to win the 1985 NCAA Basketball Championship ... on April Fools' Day." It seems like most of the finals were thrilling games during that period. I was watching the game with mixed emotions. On one hand, I liked Georgetown coach John Thompson. On the other hand, 'Nova was SUCH an underdog. This is on Greg's list (item 3), so you can read his description.

6. I was never a big Reggie Jackson fan, but I was rooting for the Yankees against the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series. The Yankees had made it to the Series the year before, but were swept by the Big Red Machine. Before that, they hadn't been in the World Series since 1964 and hadn't won since 1962. When Reggie hit a homer in Game 6 on the first pitch, I nodded approvingly. When he hit a second home run, also on the first pitch, I was very happy. But when he hit a third home run, again on the first pitch, I involuntarily jumped out of my seat.

5. August 27, 1991, The U.S. Open. Like Andre Agassi this year, Jimmy Connors in 1991 was in the twilight of his career. I watched most of this match, including the very end. Described in a NY Times article entitled "TENNIS; Not Too Late for Connors" By ROBIN FINN:

"As the twilight melted into the witching hour and beyond, the crowd dwindled to 4,000 of the faithful, but those who stayed last night got to watch a resurgent legend outdistance another legend's younger brother in the first round of the United States Open. On the buggy and humid stadium court, the legend played with the persistence of a gnat, a bionic gnat. Jimmy Connors, making his case for the eternal reprise and perpetual histrionics, swatted, stung, and swore his way past a quavery Patrick McEnroe, 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, to move into the second round of his 21st Open. The marathon took 4 hours 20 minutes and marked the seventh career comeback from a two-set deficit for Connors, who erased a 0-40 deficit and ended things at 1:35 this morning with a service winner on his third match point."

4. Sarah Hughes winning Olympic gold in figure skating in 2002. Mostly, it was because I didn't think she had a chance after finishing fourth in the short program. In the stupid ordinal scoring system they had until fairly recently, if any of the top three leaders (Michelle Kwan, Irina Slutskaya, and I think Sasha Cohen) won the free skate, they would have won the medal. But Hughes skated flawlessly, Michelle Kwan (my wife's favorite skater) slipped to third, and the upset was complete.

3. The January 3, 1993 NFL playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Oilers. I must admit that I didn't see the first half; I was grocery shopping with my then-wife, who slipped on the black ice on the way home. We turned on the game in time for the second half kickoff, and almost turned off the TV when Buffalo's Frank Reich threw the interception early in the third quarter to make it 35-3, Houston. But we're talking about the only team in the NFL that actually plays in New York State, so I stuck with it and was richly rewarded with an unprecedented Bills win. Sometimes, when I'm watching a sporting event and am getting excited by the events, I stand up. I stood up a LOT in that game.

2. For a few years in the 1990s, Central Park in Schenectady, NY, was home to a recognized tennis tournament. In 1991, Michael Stich won Wimbledon singles championship. He then went to Schenectady, and won. The next year, Michael Stich returned to defend his title in Schenectady, but lost in the second round to a tournament wild card named Andrei Olhovskiy, in straight sets, no less. I was in the stands, and I was as shocked as anyone. This ranks so high because it's the only one I saw in person.


I'm saving my #1 for tomorrow.

I should also make mention of Tiger Woods winning the 2006 British Open. I wasn't even watching it, but 60 Minutes (or something) was supposed to be on, so I saw the ending. And he cried because his dad had died. For some reason, so did I.
***
A new study, Immigrants, Baseball and the Contributions of Foreign-Born Players to America's Pastime from The National Foundation for American Policy.

2 comments:

Greg said...

Favre has played in a lot of good games, and that's one of them. He's certainly talented, but that game is one of the reasons why I don't like him, or more specifically, the media's adulation of him. It was like he was freakin' WALKING ON WATER when he went out there. It was a great performance, but he ain't Jesus.

And that Magic performance was against the 76ers, so BOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Chris Black said...

Yeah, you're right Roger. Except for the tennis, this means as much to me, as ,say, Ancient Roman chariot-racing. Sorry.

I'll tell you though, the American sporting moment I wish I'd seen live - Billy Mills winning the Olympic 10000 m in 1964. You can find it on youtube. It's the astonishment in the voice of the second commentator as he interrupts his colleague to scream LOOK AT MILLS LOOK AT MILLS that almost brings a tear to my eye...