Enjoy the the Just Missed the Cut and Honorable Mention list.
Ok, it's time to leave the pretenders in the dust. Time to get serious. Time to look at the bigger picture, and see these events not just because they were awesome, but because they had (fake) cultural impact.
Before we get started, please check out the inspiration for just such a list, grab Bill Simmons' (ESPN.com's The Sports Guy) new book, "The Book of Basketball". Sure it's about basketball, but even for the casual fan it's an enjoyable read.
Ok, enough shilling, let's get it on!
10. The diving meet from Back to School
Forget that on a scale of 1-10 in degree of difficulty the dive measures a 42; forget that after the meet the opponent's diving coach surely filed a protest based on the sketchy roster finagling; forget all the drama between Zabka faking a cramp...
How awesome would it be sitting there, watching as a crew of workers installed the a diving board on the 6 meter platform? That's the kind of tension that creates legends. The murmuring in the crowd would slowly build, getting louder and louder until the PA announcer simply announced the substitute diver and the name "Triple Lindy."
And then you get to witness history.
9. The bowling finals in Kingpin
If more bowling events were like the finals in Kingpin, I'd watch more bowling. Big Ern's hair, an amputee, the pinnacle of trash talk, the rose bowling ball. Why can't ESPN demand theatrics like this? The PBA has too much clout?
8. The boxing "match" in Diggstown
Sure to be a controversial pick since other than James Woods, Louis Gossett Jr.'s mother and myself have seen this movie, it still deserves its ranking. The premise: In the boxing-loving town of Diggstown, a wager is made that one man can defeat 10 boxers in a 24 hour period. Once established, the con is on. But who is conning who.
Seriously, if you like boxing and con movies, you're really missing out if you haven't seen this.
As for the boxing match(es)...it's an awesome mix of amateurs and pros brought in to take down Gossett Jr., including the only fighter to beat him in his professional career, and an undefeated prisoner who is a legend on the prison boxing circuit (which I really have to get on - I have to imagine fights on a prison boxing circuit redefine boxing).
In addition to seeing 10 fights, there's more than enough drama in the stands between the two guys who first made the bet. Let's just say the violence isn't contained to inside the ring.
7. The 1 game "play-in" from Major League
Win and you're in. It's Cleveland vs. the Yankees, in a one game playoff to see who wins the division. And remember, this was back before the wildcard, and before there were 3 divisions. Back when 2 teams from each league made the playoffs.
Just to be there as a sports fan would be incredible. Watching Vaughn walk into Wild Thing would give everyone goosebumps. But to witness the last play that won the whole thing, the play that would be #1 on every Best Damn Sportshow list, would be something you told your grandchildren about.
6. Roy Hobbs last game
Remember, there was a question if Hobbs was even going to play in this game. He'd been poisoned and in the labor ward of the local hopsital. And back then, this story was pretty much the only story the papers covered. So while you wouldn't be privy to any of the drama between the Judge and Red and Hobbs on the inside, there was plenty of drama involved in the game.
To be fair, I personally would have preferred the ending of the book the movie was based on, and see Hobbs fail.
What can I say? I'm a Phillies fan. And no stupid old timer on any New York team is gonna get me to switch allegiances. Stupid Roy Hobbs keeping the Phillies out of the playoffs.
Still, I'm remaining objective. Though I wouldn't have just come inside on him, I would have put one in his ribs in that last at bat.
5. Steve Nebraska Yankee pitching debut from The Scout
A horroble movie. You'll get no argument from me. But as for a sporting event? It's pretty special. I mean, a guy pitching a perfect game using only 27 pitches (ed. note: 81 pitches. 27 batters)? Something tells me you're gonna wish you were there.
(The above clip has nothing to do with the epic game, but it was the only clip I could find related to the movie. So I figured, why not?)
To give a little background, since perhaps only I and Brendan Fraser's agent have seen the movie...
Albert Brooks is a scout for the Yankees, and he travels somewhere (Mexico? The Caribbean? I really don't remember) to see this once-in-a-lifetime ball player, Steve Nebraska. Who is a headcase, but also a phenom. The rest of the movie is spent on getting this guy signed and ready to pitch for the Yankees. Which he does. Really, you have no reason to watch it. I feel bad even bringing it up. Because you might be saying to yourself, "hey, how bad can it be? It's a baseball movie." And I want to stop you right there and say no, no it's not. It has some baseball elements, but no, it's not a baseball movie. DO NOT RENT IT.
4. The first basketball game where Scott "wolfs out" (Teen Wolf)
There are few things to compare with witnessing a person transform into a mythical creature, which is why it's impossible to ignore the classic Teen Wolf. Perhaps there were games where he put up more points/was more comfortable in his "wolfness" to do more amazing things, but the first game has such a pure innocence (considering up until he emerges from the pile of bodies as a werewolf, no one thought something like this was even physically possible) that you'd be kicking yourself if you missed it. This game also didn't highlight any of the bickering within the team dynamic that later games had; it simply had all the wonder of a werewolf playing in a high school game.
(Completely unrelated - can anyone explain what the principal is doing at the 1:21 mark in the clip above? At first I thought he was shielding his erection he got seeing a werewolf; on repeated viewings I've changed my mind. I think he's protecting his genitals from a potential attack. Which - though slightly less creepy, still...it gives a weird vibe on his relationship with Scott. I might need more analysis on the subject. Anyone write a college thesis on the homosexual undertones within the movie Teen Wolf?
3.Final fight in Rocky IV
Talk about a hostile crowd...you're definitely not wearing your Team USA jersey into this arena. Even though, inexplicably, there are shots of cheering Americans during the fight, you have to imagine as an American, going to this fight, you would be slightly outnumbered. So you have to imagine, at least in the beginning of this fight, you're going to keep the cheering to a minimum.
Up until the final round, you have to imagine Drago was ahead on the judge's scorecards, right? Possibly Liederman has him ahead in points, but with the venue, had this gone to the judges, no way Rocky wins, right? So if you're in the crowd, you're REALLY hoping for a knockout - because if the Russian wins...well let's just say it's not going to be easy to get a cab in (then) communist Soviet Union.
But the feeling of the crowd turning, and slowly starting to cheer for Rocky, not only would it be extremely satisfying as an American to witness and be a part of, but it would also give you the opportunity to, when back in the states, to tell all your friends that you started that cheer! Know how excited you get when you're the first guy at the baseball game that gets the clapping started? This is like that times a million!
2. California Angels vs. Seattle Mariners game
Sure, a mid summer Angels vs. Mariners game would be an absolute snorefest. Luckily, this one has a little more action involved, including:
A visit by the Queen
A very past his prime Reggie Jackson
An assassination attempt
What could be the definitive rendition of the National Anthem
That's right, I'm talking about the game from The Naked Gun, and I can't think of a better baseball game I'd have rather seen. Look at it this way, just in the game montage we get:
A close play at the plate
A leaping homerun stealing catch
4 guys rounding second on a homerun
A pitcher not getting thrown out even though he has a tool chest on the mound for doctoring the ball
A corked bat
And a close, 4-3 pitchers' duel heading into the bottom of the 7th
Of course, that's just the baseball game. There's no way no one would deny watching a famed opera singer (because in the stands no one is the wiser) completely butcher the National Anthem. Add that to a Manchurian Candidate situation involving Reggie Jackson, the Stanford/USC (gotta be USC, right?) marching band stomp over the corpse of Ricardo Montalban and Drebin saving the queen by using a fat person to fall out of the upper deck, and...I mean there's no sporting event that could possibly top this one. Is there?
1. Soccer match in Victory
Where to begin...
First of all, huge mistake by the Nazis to have this game at all. Really, they should have seen they had nothing to win staging it. Win and yeah - everyone expected it anyway. Lose/tie and - exactly what happens.
Being at this game, not only do you watch the premier David vs. Goliath matchup since David vs. Goliath, you leave your mark on World War II by helping to liberate POWs. You also get to see what, without a doubt is the greatest soccer goal in history - a goal tying the game for the POWs on a bicycle kick by Pele, as time runs down. A goal that eventually led to the entire team escaping into the field rushing crowd. Being present at this game isn't just witnessing history, it's actively changing the outcome of history. You can't say you have an opportunity like that at too many sporting events.
And while we're here, let's give Max Von Sydow's Major Karl Von Steiner a little bit of credit. Rather than toe the company line and show no emotion during the game, he not only shows appreciation for the competitive spirit of the POWs, but openly cheers the Pele goal - something that probably got him shot.
Agree? Disagree? Want to send along your Teen Wolf thesis? Talk about it in the comments!