Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Almost, But Not Good Enough

So, I’m watching Hillary Clinton yapping during the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, and I’m thinking to myself,

“Self, everyone thought she was going to win this thing. She had a huge lead early in the primary season. the name recognition, gobs of cash, the allure of being the first woman ever to win the Presidency. Add to that, a severe case of gross incompetence in the Oval Office for eight years that has this country aching for a change. Wow, she and her people really screwed this thing up for her not to win."

I’m wondering, who are the sports equivalents to Mrs. Clinton? I’m not talking pure losers here - well actually....., no, I won't make this personal– but more along the lines of those who got to the big moment, the big stage and with high expectations, and failed once the bright lights turned on.

Who in the world of sports has done less with more? Here is at least a partial list (feel free to comment if I’ve omitted anyone).

The Buffalo Bills – Yes, they have to be first on this list. Getting to the Super Bowl four times in four years is historic, but you have to WIN one of them.

The better team in Super Bowl XV got outcoached and outplayed long before Scott Norwood yakked what would have been the game-winning field goal against the Giants.

The train wreck continued the next year when Thurman Thomas missed the opening snap the next year against Washington in Super Bowl XVI is one of the most vivid memories of that game.

Throw in consecutive beatings by the Cowboys and the nightmare is complete.

Alex Rodriguez –The poster boy for the under achieving Yankees, “Mr. April” is great with his team up or down six runs, just don’t count on him in the clutch, whether it be the regular season or the playoffs.

Remember the Yanks dropping their $275-million man to eighth in the batting order for their elimination game against Detroit in 2006? I do.

In New York, as in most places, world championship rings mean more than MVP awards and padded stats. To date this season, A-Rod is hitting .245 with runners in scoring position and two outs, and is batting .100 with the bases loaded. The Yankees opened a series Tuesday at home against Boston, their season in the balance. The highest paid player in the game posted a nifty 0-5, with two strikeouts and seven, yes seven, men left on base. New York lost 7-3 and its playoff hopes dimmed even more.

His announcement that he was opting out of his contract last October was an attempt to take the spotlight off of the World Series and place it upon himself, thus placing himself above the game.

Whether it was orchestrated by Rodriguez or his agent Scott Boras is insignificant, it was a classless move and took the thunder away from John Lester, a cancer survivor who had just become the winning pitcher in the World Series clincher.

It was as close as A-Rod has come to making news in the World Series.

1970’s Minnesota Vikings – See the above reference for the Buffalo Bills. The Purple People Eaters were terrors throughout the decade, until it came time for the Super Bowl. Dominant in the regular season, soft and weak on the game’s grandest stage will get you on this list.

Karl Malone – NBA’s second all time leading scorer and considered the game’s greatest power forward. When the lights were at their brightest, nobody played smaller.

Yes, Michael Jordan was in his heyday, but Malone and the Jazz could’ve beaten the Bulls in either NBA Finals matchups had the Mailman delivered in the big moment.

In his final season, Malone tried to ride the coattails of Shaq and Kobe with the Lakers in 2004 and was a big part of LA’s five-game beatdown at the hands of the Pistons.

Chicago Cubs – 99 years of failure. Leading the NLCS 3 games to 1 in 1993 and enter Steve Bartman to immortality. ‘Nuff said. This could change in roughly 60 days or so. Stay posted

Jean Van de Velde – The frenchmen’s gaffe at the 1999 British Open tops Greg Norman’s collapse in the ’96 Masters and Phil Mickelson’s, “I’m such an idiot” performance at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Van de Velde, who merely needed a six on the par-4 18th hole in the final round at Carnoustie, Scotland, made triple bogey to wind up in a three-way playoff, which he lost. Be it the rough, the water, or the grandstand seating area, Van de Velde found it on the 18th hole.

2004 New York Yankees – Yeah, I know, 26 world championships. Good for you, but what have you done for me lately?
How about blowing a three games to none lead in the ALCS to bitter rival Boston in 2004. A historic collapse was the springboard for the Red Sox Nation to capture its first World Series title in 804 years.
Yankee announcers and fans will remind you thrice daily about the long history of this team. However, the recent history consists of three straight first round playoff losses and a good chance to miss the playoffs this season.

And it all began with the collapse against the Red Sox. Trust me, that hurts.

1990-2000's Atlanta Braves -Thirteen straight playoff appearances is nice, but you have to win more than one World Series. Maybe that is why the team was staring at a bunch of empty seats in October near the end of the run. The effort was nice but it wasn't good enough.

Coming Soon – THE Ohio State Buckeyes. A win at USC on September 13 sets the table for OSU to get drilled in the BCS title game for a third year in a row.

Like I said, if I’ve left anyone out, please leave a comment and we can let this list build.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sean considering what a Patriot hater you are I am surprised you left them off of your "Almost but not good enough list". I'm a huge Pats fan as you know, but if your definition is who did "less with more", shouldn't the 2007 Patriots be on your list?

-Shane Fleming