Ten on Tuesday
Ten Memorable Sports Moments
Given my inclinations, it's not surprising that some of these didn't actually occur during a sporting event.
- In the "memorable only to me" department, the summer after graduating from college I played church-league softball. (I was even a church member.) I was the catcher, which in that league was a good place for a big-time klutz, since stealing wasn't allowed. During one game we were getting creamed by the other team, who seemed to us to be celebrating rather more than necessary, when my parents stopped by to watch. During a brief delay in play, with the other team batting, my dad called me over. "They all swing at pitches that are low and outside," he said. "Put your target there." I did, and the next two batters struck out. Thanks, Dad.
- My parents arrived to watch another softball game as play was about to start, and a good thing, because we were short a player and had to enlist Marjorie to avoid forfeiting. We had some trouble persuading her; she said she hadn't played since high school and would be terrible, and I pointed out that she couldn't be worse than a forfeit. As I recall she got at least one hit.
- During the 2003 American League Championship Series the Sox had their starter pitch the first seven innings, followed by Mike Timlin in the eighth and Scott Williamson in the ninth. In game 7 Sox manager Grady Little deviated from this winning formula, sending starter Pedro Martinez out to pitch the eighth with a two-run lead and pulling him only when the Yankees tied the game. The Yankees went on to win, and Little fled Boston under cover of darkness. All right, not really, but he should have. (We're talking memorable moments here, not necessarily good ones.)
- And then there was Game 6, tenth inning, 1986 World Series... do I really need to go there?
- The Yankees led the 2004 ALCS 3-0 (they had won Game 3 19-8, an event thoroughly enjoyed by the raucous fans in the motel room next to Miss B's and mine during Rhinebeck weekend) and were up 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth when Dave Roberts, pinch running for Kevin Millar, stole second base and then scored on Bill Mueller's single. That was the turning point of the series, the Sox coming back to win in 7 games. (Aah, that's better.)
- In the closing moments of the 2004 AFC divisional game between the Patriots and the Colts, the latter led by league MVP quarterback Peyton Manning, with the Patriots about to win, a fan held up a homemade sign:
Best sign ever.
- In 1999, at the age of 29 and having decided to give it one more year before retiring, Maria Butyrskaya won the women's world figure skating championship. The US papers of course covered this grudgingly and gave a lot more space to Michelle Kwan's failure to win than to Butyrskaya's grit, but I love a good triumphant-underdog story.
- During a women's doubles match at the US Open (tennis, not golf), the Williams sisters were in the process of demolishing their opponents when Venus jumped for an overhand smash. "What do you suppose her vertical leap is?" one of the announcers asked.
"Whatever she wants it to be," the other answered.
- During the 2000 US Open (still tennis), in an interview after winning an epic five-set match with Carlos Moya, Todd Martin was asked, "Where are you physically right now?"
He replied, "Physically? I'm right here. Do you want to know where I am metaphysically?"
(I also fondly remember the epic Martin-Rusedski match at the 1999 US Open, during which, after Martin had saved maybe the fifth match point against him at around 1:30 am, John McEnroe announced in his best Python accent, "'E's not quite dead yet!" Proof that even sportscasters get punchy.)
- I didn't see this when it happened, but I have to include Ron Swoboda's catch during the 1969 World Series. Go watch it. It's not the best video quality, but you gotta see this. Srsly. It will forevermore be known in baseball simply as The Catch.