Wednesday, February 16, 2011

5 Tickets to Paradise

 I did not take quite the same approach as Lou, I concentrated on games only in my lifetime.  Thjs wasn't really intentional but rather just happened.  I also avoided Michigan and anything relating to a United States Men's team.  Most of you can probably come up with your own five that are better than mine and I encourage you to do so in the comments.  No matter how much mine lack in Championship quality, you cannot deny you would have had a great time at all these events.  I tried to imagine being at the event that day and celebration in the aftermath.  On campus events are worth more than games played at neutral sites.

In no particular order.

September 4, 1993 Jim Abbott's No Hitter.

When I think of a no hitter, the first picture that always comes into my mind is the one above.  I suppose you might say this is cop out because Abbott went to Michigan, but that has got nothing to do with it.  First of all like Lou mentioned earlier, I too love low scoring baseball games that are dominated by pitching.  The prospect of seeing a no hitter at a baseball game is on my mind everytime someone completes three innings of no hit ball.  When you go to baseball games as a kid you dream of catching a foul ball, seeing your favorite player do something spectacular, and witnessing something historic. A no hitter or perfect game is the coolest thing I can think of bearing witness to.  The drama in the final innings would be electric, especially at Yankees Stadium. 

The Yankees are in the middle of a pennant race that I think just about everyone who reads this blogs wishes they would have won for one reason or another.  Abbott had been shelled by the Cleveland Indians in his previous start and had to go right back and face them on this day.  He would walk five batters and strike out only three while getting 17 ground ball outs.  Abbott never really had the Major League career he seemed capable of given his dominance at the amateur level and the fact that he skipped the minors, but on this day he had his moment. 

Everyone knows that Abbott was born with one hand and the overcoming of his limitations are part of the reason he serves as a motivation speaker today.  My dad used to tell me when Jim Abbott was pitching on TV because I was curious how a guy with one hand could be a major league baseball player.  I would hope for a ball to get hit to him to watch him move the glove from his nub (PC be damned) to his hand.  It was fascinating and he was an easy guy to root for.

February 2, 1995 UNC 102 Duke 100 2 OT
Game Story from Wiki

With Coach K on leave of absence for the year, the Blue Devils suffered through their worst season in well over a decade. They seemed out-manned on their home court from the opening tip, falling behind 26-9 in the first half, highlighted by alley-oops by Carolina's Rasheed Wallace and a reverse jam by Jerry Stackhouse over two Blue Devils. However, Duke rallied in the second half and led by as much as 12, before North Carolina staged a rally of its own. The two squads exchanged leads four times at the end of regulation before heading into overtime. With three seconds left in the first overtime, Carolina led 95-92 and sent Serge Zwikker to the foul line with the chance to ice the game for the heavily favored Tar Heels. However Zwikker missed both free throws, setting up Duke's Jeff Capel for a running, 37-foot heave that tied the game as the buzzer sounded, sending Cameron into a state of euphoria. With the game still tied late in the second overtime, Donald Williams scored for the Heels and Jeff McInnis stole the inbounds pass for an easy layup, putting North Carolina up 102-98. Duke answered with a basket of their own and after stopping the Tar Heels, had a chance to force a third overtime or win the game outright. Nevertheless, Wojo's jumper missed and Greg Newton's putback drew nothing but air, preserving North Carolina's 102-100 victory.

I have always wanted to go to one of these games and this is the best one I have seen in my lifetime.  The game wasn't overblown with hype at this point.  It was even on ESPN 2 and Dickie V and whoever was doing the game with him were forced to do the game from the rafters.

Virginia 33 Florida St. 28 November 2,1995

On the first memorable Thursday night college football game in ESPN history, Virginia snap Florida State's 29-game Atlantic Coast Conference winning streak and probably ended the Seminoles' bid for a national championship.
Tiki Barber had 311 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns, and the Cavaliers stopped second-ranked Florida State a foot from the goal line on the final play for a 33-28 victory.  The game was well played on both sides of the ball and had an exciting finish that the refs got right before the era of replay.  Warrick Dunn took a direct snap from about the six yard line and came within inches of breaking the plane with the football.  His helmet had crossed the line but not the ball.  It was Florida State's first ACC loss since joining the league in 1992. The Seminoles had won their first 29 ACC games and were in full dynasty mode.  They wouldn't lose in the league again until 1998.

See Bo Jackson Play

How do you pick a Bo Jackson moment?  Which one stands out?  You hear so many stories about him that you think they can’t possibly be true.  Monday night football against the Seahawks where he destroys Bosworth and his hype en route for running for 220 yards.  A game against the Orioles in 1989 where he called timeout in the the batters box, didn’t get it and hit a home run anyways.  How about hitting 3 home runs in Yankees stadium and then injury his shoulder diving after a ball that would turn into a inside the park home run for Deion Sanders and never getting the chance to hit a 4th.  There are simply so many Bo Jackson moments that would make up a highlight reel in his career.  One of the biggest regrets I have as a sports fan is never seeing him play.  Granted I was young, but I became fan of the Raiders because of him.  I cheered for the White Sox growing up as well.  It would always have been difficult to see him play because I was 7 when he retired, but I should have pushed harder to make it happen.  I remember being really jealous of my uncle who saw him crack a HR at Camden Yards. 

If I could go back to one Bo Jackson moment it would be April 9, 1993.  Bo hasn’t been the same since destroying his hip in playoff game against the Bengals on January 13, 1991.  Despite playing in limited action in 1991 baseball season, Bo sat out all of 1992.  He steps up to the plate at Comiskey Park against the Yankees in a pinch hit situation, his first plate appearance of the season, and cracks a home run.  Can you imagine the satisfaction he must have felt?

The Day the Hawk Died
La Salle vs. St. Joseph’s February 19, 2008 at the Palestra

A classic example of why school doesn’t always come first.  It was my junior year at La Salle and we had yet to beat St.Joes.  St.Joes had had tons of success and would go onto the tournament this season as well.  La Salle seemed on the cusp of breaking through and needed a big time win to excite the fanbase and validate the hype Coach Giannini had created for his program. 

For people who didn’t go to a Big 5 school its hard to explain the rivalries but surely you can recognize how 5 schools in close proximity with varying degrees of academic reputation could lead to heated battles.  For me, playing St.Joes was always personal.  My high school was a feeder into St.Joes. My girlfriend went there.  I chose to be different and head to the La Salle.  Students who went to La Salle were looked down upon by St. Joes students.  Our school was in a bad area, our school was second rate.  Needless to say we developed an inferiority complex to a degree.  We didn’t think our school was better or worse than St.Joes but that was/is the perception in my circle. 

Most of my friends were going to the game, except for a few poor finance students who had a then important exam the next day.  We made the disciplined decision to gather and study in the dorm rooms.  Inevitable we flicked the game on at 7PM while we at takeout.  La Salle was double digit underdogs although I can’t recall the exact line.  We were already a semi jaded group of fans after having watched 2 ½ years of La Salle basketball to know that rarely do they upset anyone.  La Salle had not beat St.Joes since 2001.  This day was to be different though and there was little studying that would be done.  La Salle was going toe to toe with the current Philadelphia darlings St. Joes.  Could this finally be the year?

Well you already know that it was or I would not be writing this. It was the back and forth flow of the game, the red hot shooting from La Salle, and the furious finish that made this game so memorable.

La Salle 90- St.Joesph’s 89.
It was without a doubt the biggest impact a La Salle team had on campus in my 4 years at the school.  We were not going to accomplish much studying this night. We watched the team return on the bus and went to a house off campus to talk to people who went to the game.  I cannot even tell you what was on the test the next day and I know it did not go very well but it doesn’t matter now and it should not have mattered then.  I should have been there and it grates me still 3 years later.

Honorable Mention
1.  Liverpool is on their way out of the Champions League before the knockout stage, they need 3 goals against Olympiacos to go through on goal differential and Steven Gerrard delivers a the third in dramatic fashion......which drives Liverpool on a run to the Champions League Finale.  2. Liverpool trails 3-0 at half to AC Milan and score 3 in the second half and eventually lift the cup for the fifth time on penalty kicks.
3. Bills-Oilers 1992 Wildcard Playoff game- This was headed for the list until I found out the game wasn't even sold out.  The game was blacked out locally of course.  It was an unreal comeback done with injuries to two star players but the no sellout thing bothered me.
4. Princeton goes backdoor to beat defending National Champs UCLA. 1996 NCAA Tournament
5. Crabtree and Texas Tech beat Texas
6. Stanford shocks the Trojans (Oct. 6, 2007)
The 41-point underdog Stanford enters its game against No. 2 USC in the Los Angeles Coliseum with most pundits giving the Cardinal the proverbial snowball's chance in hell of even staying in the game, much less winning. But coach Jim Harbaugh's squad converts a fourth-down touchdown pass with 49 seconds remaining to seal the impossible victory - and end USC's 35-game home winning streak. In Vegas the moneyline is off the board.  Stanford is playing there back up QB.  The defensive line for Stanford is tearing into the backfield on almost every play. It was great watching this on TV, but it would have been amazing to be there, if only to avoid maybe worst broadcast production this side of Pam Ward.

1 comment:

  1. "The Yankees are in the middle of a pennant race that I think just about everyone who reads this blogs wishes they would have won for one reason or another." - That might be the best off-hand observation ever made on this blog.