Strange coincidence! While playing poker at Wynn on 8/13, I looked up at the gallery on the rail near my table and saw Lennox Lewis taking in our action. Walking behind him at that precise moment was Mike Tyson. You’re right………I didn’t tell Tyson what I thought of the paint job on his face.
Both Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser have been feature stories on this site. I’ll never forget the thrills they provided me as a spectator. Last night, I looked at my tape “100 Years. A Visual History of the Dodgers.” It covers the years from 1890-1990. I own other tapes that do justice to 1988, but for the best of that incredible season, that’s the tape you want. It details the shutout streak of Orel Hershiser that broke the 20-year-old mark of another legend, Don Drysdale, and it details Kirk Gibson’s imitation of Roy Hobbs (The Natural) in Game One of the World Series that catapulted the Dodgers to the Series win. Some other thoughts as I watched that tape again. Without the heroics of Gibson and Mike Scioscia in the NLCS against the Mets, the Dodgers would not have made it to the World Series. And following Gibson’s dramatic shot off the A’s Dennis Eckersley, “Eck” handled it all very professionally in defeat. The tape is one for the ages, especially if you’re a Dodgers fan.
Story of the Week
NFL’S ALL-TIME REF BLUNDERS
Last year, ESPN published its list of all-time NFL referee blunders. I’ll provide those here for your perusal. But I’m shocked that they didn’t list and review my personal favorites. Before we begin, let’s define a blunder as either a terrible call or a terrible non-call.
The easiest call in any football game is the coin flip. Right? Well, for referee Phil Luckett, the coin flip is a nightmare during a 1999 Thanksgiving Day game between the Steelers and Lions. As the game goes to overtime, Steelers captain Jerome Bettis calls “tails,” but Luckett hears “heads.” The Lions win the toss and go on to win the game. The NFL will change its procedures for the coin toss after the snafu on national television.
Officials rule Houston wide receiver Mike Renfro is out of the end zone on a fantastic catch at Pittsburgh in the 1980 AFC championship game. Replays show Renfro was in bounds, but officials rule the pass incomplete, and the Steelers go on to a 27-13 victory that sends them to the Super Bowl.
Jerry Rice is ruled down before fumbling against the Packers in a 1999 NFC wild-card game. Replays show the play was indeed a fumble. The 49ers go on to win the game on Steve Young’s dramatic TD pass to Terrell Owens as time expires.
Bert Emanuel’s apparent first-down catch late in the 2000 NFC title game is ruled to have hit the ground, although replays show the ball was clearly in Emanuel’s grasp when it touched the turf. Emanuel’s Buccaneers lose 11-6 to the Rams.
With the Patriots up by three points in the final two minutes, referee Ben Dreith calls roughing-the-passer on New England’s Sugar Bear Hamilton after he hits Oakland QB Ken Stabler in the 1976 NFL playoffs. The Raiders go on to score a touchdown in the final minute to win 21-17, and go on to win the Super Bowl.
MY ALL-TIMERS NOT ON ESPN’S LIST:
This one didn’t require instant replay. It was never in question. It was seen by all in attendance, including every NFL official at that game. It was a non-call, an obvious ploy that gave the home team a distinct advantage, and it should have either been stopped or corrected by the officials before the deciding play.
On December 12, 1982, the infamous “Snowplow Game” involving Miami at New England. After a blizzard held both teams scoreless well into the fourth quarter, New England Patriots head coach Ron Meyer ordered the area cleared by a snow plow where the ball was to be spotted for a field goal attempt. Mark Henderson, a convict on work release, drove a snow plow onto the Foxboro field, and cleared the path for John Smith's attempt. It won the game for the Patriots, 3-0. Apparently the NFL officials had had enough of the balmy New England weather for one day, and wanted to get the hell out of town. (Mark Henderson is great trivia. Only Patriots faithful will begin to know who he is.)
On January 8, 2000, the “Music City Miracle” involving Buffalo at Tennessee in the AFC Wild Card Playoff Game. With 16 seconds left in the game, the Titans received a "squib" kickoff. The Titans' Lorenzo Neal handed the ball to Frank Wycheck, who then tossed a so-called lateral to his teammate, Kevin Dyson, who in turn ran 75 yards down the left sideline for the game-winning touchdown (22-16). Sorry, ref, that was no lateral. Wycheck clearly threw a forward pass to Dyson, and as we know, forward passes are illegal on a kickoff return. Even the obvious on instant replay wasn’t digested properly by the officials.
I’ve written enough about Super Bowl XL, calls and non-calls. There are other games as well that warrant categorical space here, but I’ll simply revisit the topic another time.
Last Week's Trivia
Jim Bakken of the St. Louis Cardinals attempted nine field goals on September 24, 1967 in a game against Pittsburgh. That’s a NFL record. He was successful on seven of those attempts. Three other kickers are tied with Bakken for field goal successes at seven in one game. Rich Karlis did it for Minnesota against the L. A. Rams on November 5, 1989, Chris Boniol did it for Dallas against Green Bay on November 18, 1996, and Billy Cundiff did it for Dallas against the N.Y. Giants on September 15, 2003.
Trivia Question of the Week
In the decade of the 60’s, a major league team played one season, its first and last season of existence. Name the team and the year. Also, what happened to the team? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.