We rank 'em. You react. That's how the Daily List rolls.
5/03/2007 05:32:00 PM
Yankees' Most Embarrassing Moments
The Boss has seen his share of missteps in New York.
By John Rolfe, SI.com
OK, Yankee-haters. Time to pile on the team you love to loathe.
Speaking as a lifelong Yankees fan, I sense the usual elation out there about the fact that the proud Bronx Bombers floundered out of the gate and became the factory outlet for hamstring pulls and pricey glass-armed pitchers. The expected rumblings from Mt. Steinbrenner (via Howard Rubenstein) have been heard, the strength and conditioning coach has been sent to Siberia, and Joe Torre and Brian Cashman are applying some lemon oil to their resumes. Did I mention that the team's streak of 12 postseason appearances looks just a tad dicey at the moment?
For this pinstriped partisan, I know the Yankees have had dog-butt starts in the past and recovered to annoy their denigrators by reaching the postseason, so this is hardly the most mortifying of times. But the price tag attached to being the most storied and successful franchise in pro sports is that the team's failures and foul-ups are often as colossal as its triumphs. I accept that defeat is to be expected on a fairly regular basis, but there have been a few -- OK, much more than a few -- moments that were real lulus: showcases of rank humiliation that left me gouging my watering eyes while the armies of despisers chortled and danced in gleeful celebration.
Here are my top five most embarrassing moments of the Steinbrenner Era:
1. Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS ... The epic El-Fold-O in this series against the Red Sox featured A-Rod's infamous slap of Bronson Arroyo's glove in Game 6 and was capped in the decisive game when the Yanks had to use not a rock-ribbed embodiment of clutch guts and pinstriped pride as their starter, but the fading Kevin Brown. Bloated of contract, creaky of back and cranky of nature, the reviled right-hander had the sawdust beat out of him in less than two innings. The crowning blow: Johnny Damon's grand slam that put Boston up 6-0. The Yankees went with a whimper as the Red Sox emphatically shook off The Curse of the Babe -- in The House That Ruth Built, yet -- by the final score of 10-3.
2. Howie Spira ... George Steinbrenner's ongoing effort to run Dave "Mr. May" Winfield out of New York on a gold-plated rail reached the depths of childish desperation in 1989. The Boss paid weedy, two-bit gambler Spira $40,000 for dirt on the slugger, who had sued Steinbrenner for failing to fork over a promised $300,000 to the Winfield Foundation. Spira ended up cooling his run-down heels in the jug for 2-1/2 years after trying to extort an additional $110,000 from the Yankees. The silver lining: Steinbrenner was suspended from baseball for life (later reduced to two years), thus giving Bob Watson and Gene Michael some unfettered time to rebuild the floundering team into a contender.
3. Steinbrenner vs. the elevator ... As the Yanks were squandering a two-games-to-none lead in the '81 World Series, the pugnacious Boss claimed to have gone a heavyweight round with two Dodgers fans in the elevator of his team's hotel in L.A. after watching their defeat in Game 5. Steinbrenner emerged with a fat lip and a busted hand, claiming to have given the pair the what-for, but the fans were never seen. Nor was Dave Winfield's bat (1-for-22 in the Series) as the Yankees fell in six, prompting a public apology to New York from The Boss -- for his team's failure to win the Series.
4. Billy Martin vs. Ed Whitson ... Martin's five stints as manager -- among Steinbrenner's 18 hirings-and-firings in his first 18 seasons -- were increasingly preposterous. This wild, liquored-up knucklefest in the bar and hallway of Baltimore's Cross-Keys Inn between the fiery skipper and the wild-eyed hurler who loathed him (and was too spooked to pitch at Yankee Stadium) typified the madness of the 1985 season -- one in which Martin inexplicably ordered lefty-hitting Mike Pagliarulo to bat righty during a crucial stretch-drive game in Detroit (Pagliarulo whiffed). Brawls were nothing new to Martin, but the sight of him in the dugout with his arm in a sling was beyond pathetic.
5. Indians batter Bombers ... There are defeats, and then there are defeats. On Aug. 31, 2004, the Indians rang up 22 hits while waxing the Bombers 22-0 before a hooting, jeering crowd at Yankee Stadium -- the most lopsided loss in the team's 101-year history, administered while New York's lead over Boston in the A.L. East was shrinking from 10-1/2 games to 3-1/2. "It's obviously embarrassing," was the post-game mantra in a clubhouse vacated by captain Derek Jeter before the newshounds were allowed in.
OK, now it's your turn. There are plenty more moments to choose from in the team's rich compost of indignity. Which five, in your opinion, did you relish most? (If you're a Yankees fan, send me your list of the five that left the most egg on the team's face.)
Molly Sims is so thoughtful -- she's even calling for a tee time.
By David Dusek, Golf.com
Tiger Woods can play golf with anyone he wants. Michael Jordan also can play golf with anyone he wants. While the pair of Nike pitchmen have played numerous rounds together at posh private clubs, Wednesday in Charlotte they played together for the first time in a PGA Tour pro-am. Imagine the conversation that started it all: "Um, so like, do you have anything going on Wednesday 'cause there's this golf tournament and I thought it would be cool if we could, you know, play together."
Playing with a pro -- or a superstar from another sport -- at a pro-am can tell you a lot about that person. When things go well on the golf course, as in life, we all ooze confidence and grace. But toss in a couple of bogeys, a quad and a few three-putts and we'll know exactly what kind of person you are.
While I would obviously love to play 18 holes with Tiger, Phil Mickelson or Jack Nicklaus to learn a little more about the guys who can make it look so easy, these are the five people I'd really like to spend time with on the golf course:
1. Warren Buffett ... How cool would it be to see the Oracle of Omaha, a member at Augusta National, grind his way through Amen Corner? And if he happened to drop a stock tip as we crossed Rae's Creek, maybe I could become rich enough to get an Augusta membership myself.
2. Jimmy Buffett ... Anyone who can write a lyric like, "The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful," must be able to roll with the punches that this insane game tosses your way. And no matter how things go on the first 18, you know the 19th hole will be one to remember.
3. Molly Sims ... Be honest -- you could play 18 with this SI swimsuit model on Meatloaf Mountain Municipal and it would be the most memorable walk of you life.
4. The Dalai Lama ... Just to confirm that he is, in fact, a big hitter.
5. My Dad ... He's never swung a club in his life, but I know that like everyone else who's ever teed up a Titleist, if he can connect with just one and see the ball get small against a beautiful blue sky, he'll be hooked on golf just like I am.
OK, so now it's your turn. Who would you most like to play 18 holes with (or maybe just hang out in the golf cart for a few hours)? Send in your top 5 list and tell us why.
Doesn't "Fusaichi Pegasus" sound like something you'd order at an Italian restaurant?
Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images
By Mike McAllister, SI.com
Full disclosure: I'm no expert when it comes to horse racing. Oh, I'll watch the Triple Crown races (it only costs me six minutes a year) and I've read plenty of Dick Francis books (even met him once at a book signing). And I felt sad about Barbaro and all the other race horses who've been critically injured while in action. But I couldn't tell you much about bog spavin or sesamoid bones, and my gambling knowledge is generally limited to picking horses whose names won't make me giggle when I plop down two bucks at the betting window.
And that brings me to today's list. With the 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby set for Saturday at Churchill Downs, I decided to explore the list of winners and pick out the five best -- and five worst -- names. It turned into a process of elimination, as I discarded names that were too boring (for example, Riley in 1890, Agile in 1905), too obvious (Lookout in 1893, Winning Colors in 1988, Strike the Gold in 1991) or just too human (Lieut. Gibson in 1900, George Smith in 1916, Paul Jones in 1920, Clyde Van Dusen in 1929).
1. War Admiral (1937): Regal, majestic, intimidating name from one of the top racehorses of all time. Having said that, I might have opted for his sire, Man O' War, at No. 1 had he ever won the Derby. But alas, his owner didn't like racing in Kentucky.
2. Whirlaway (1941): You might think it too much of a "carousel" name, but I like the whimsical images it provokes. Along with War Admiral, these are the only Triple Crown winners on my list.
3. Spectacular Bid (1979): Of the more recent winners, I like this better than Charismatic (too religious) and Affirmed (too business-like).
4. Exterminator (1918): A frightening title long before Tom DeLay turned this nickname into a negative -- and before Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped the first two letters for his movie character.
5. Bold Venture (1936): Honest, I'd rather have Bold Ruler, but he faded down the stretch in the '57 Derby to finish fourth. Bold Venture is much better than Bold Forbes (1976).
1. Fusaichi Pegasus (2000): Because horse names should never have seven syllables.
2. Pensive (1944): One of Webster's definitions for pensive is "suggestive of sad thoughtfulness." I also could have gone with Regret here.
3. Alan-a-Dale (1902): Hey, it may work in Sherwood Forest, but not for me. Maybe if his name was Little John. Or Friar Tuck.
4. Burgoo King (1932): Why am I thinking Whopper? And wouldn't Whopper actually be a decent name for a horse?
5. Fonso (1880) ... I don't know what his colors were back then, but if he was wearing a leather jacket and white T-shirt ... Heyyyyy!
OK, so using this as a reference guide, it's time for you to send me your list of best and worst names of Kentucky Derby winners.
Will Smith is a basketball fan, but the Fresh Prince wasn't exactly his shining hoops moment.
It has been said that all athletes want to be actors and all actors want to be athletes. When Hollywood allows the two worlds to collide, the results are a mixed bag. There's the good (Hoosiers, The Natural), the bad (Like Mike, Angels in the Outfield) and the in-between (Tin Cup, Jerry Maguire). And then there are movies and TV shows that do such a poor job depicting sports, they warrant their own category. So for today's list, let's present Hollywood's most unrealistic depiction of sports. These aren't the best or worst sports movies or shows of all time -- that's a whole separate topic. These are the entertainment entries that make you stop and say: "Wow. This would never happen in real life." Here's my top five:
1. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ...Will Smith's jersey may say Bel-Air Academy, but in this one particular episode where Will stars for his high school basketball team, the cameras seemed to be rolling at an elementary school. The court is tiny, the backboards aren't plexiglass (this is supposed to be an elite private school, remember) and the talent is awful. Overall, an embarrassment to the sport of basketball from someone who's supposed to be a lifelong Sixers fan.
2. Teen Wolf ... Unlike a certain Will Smith sitcom, the court in Teen Wolf's final basketball scene at least looks real. The play -- well, that's another matter. Michael J. Fox (all 5-foot-5 of him) is somehow able to run circles around the opposing team's squad like he's Dwyane Wade playing against Miami Middle School. And let's not even get into Fox siding with the amazingly average Boof instead of the amazingly hot Pamela (even if she is slightly evil).
3. The Replacements ... The football gets a passing grade, but this cheerleading montage -- WOW!. Let's just say I wish more NFL cheerleading squads would enlist this kind of routine.
4. Ready to Rumble ... It's somewhat of a mystery how a movie depicting a sport that is itself a big movie can be this bad, but what else do you expect from the late '90s WCW? The movie still goes by the assumption that wrestling is real, which may have worked for Body Slam (which came out in 1987), but not a movie that was released in 2000. Second, there's no way an embarrassingly out of shape Oliver Platt is winning the gold. What's next? David Arquette winning the WCW championship? Oh wait ...
5. Slap Shot ... Yes, this is a great movie, but with 52-year-old Paul Newman trying to pass as a hockey player, the Hanson brothers not getting booted from the league after three games and both teams putting the emergency brake on a brawl in the scene's final movie to watch Ned Braden do a striptease for the crowd, well, it's not even close to reality. But I'll still watch it.
Those are my choices. Now it's your turn. What other TV shows or movies showcase a lack of realism when it comes to depicting sports?
In this age of athletes blandly guarding their carefully-coiffed corporate images and leagues coming down like a ton of gold bullion on those who rag on the refs or commit grave breaches of protocol -- see Brian Urlacher's $100,000 Vitamin Water cap -- it's refreshing indeed to hear someone speak his unvarnished mind, damn the wallet-piercing torpedoes. Thus, I salute five of my favorite notable sports figures, past and present, who were not afraid to take a bite out of the hand that feeds -- and fines -- them.
1. Tony Stewart: The two-time champion recently compared NASCAR to pro wrestling, accusing it of fixing race results by using bogus caution flags. "I guess NASCAR thinks 'Hey, wrestling worked, and it was for the most part staged, so I guess it's going to work in racing, too. I can't understand how long the fans are going to let NASCAR treat them like they're stupid before the fans finally turn on NASCAR. I don't know that they've run a fair race all year."
2. Brett Hull: The always-outspoken winger pulled no punches in the wake of the 2004 NHL lockout: "I think the fans lost interest starting 10 years ago when Gary Bettman came in, and I think everyone who has watched the game has seen the game decline not only in popularity, but the actual game itself has declined in skill and excitement and fan entertainment value. Something's got to be done. We don't have a TV contract because it's a bad game."
3. Bill Lee: Boston's beloved left wing left-hander got in Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's pooch house to the tune of $250 in the early '70s for revealing that he put marijuana on his buckwheat pancakes. Also spake the Space Man: "The other day they asked me about mandatory drug testing. I said I believed in drug testing a long time ago. All through the '60's I tested everything."
4. Charles Barkley: Sir Charles uttered a million broadsides, but you'll never get a more honest take on an endorsement than this: "These are my new shoes. They're good shoes. They won't make you rich like me, they won't make you rebound like me. They definitely won't make you handsome like me. They'll only make you have shoes like me. That's it."
5. Jim Finks : Gotta love the former Saints GM's slyly-delivered shiv: "I'm not allowed to comment on lousy officiating."