Democrats and Republicans obsessing over a few hundred votes in the Florida recount have nothing on Red Sox fans: In 1999 Pedro Martinez lost the American League MVP award to Ivan Rodriguez by 13 points (252 to 239), which reminds us that sports fans are uniquely prepared for the kind of photo finish the presidential race produced. Here are some other recent tight elections in sports.
RACE: The 1984 college football national championship. Result: BYU beats out Washington 1,160-1,140 in the AP poll. Recount The Huskies lose by the smallest margin to an undisputed national champion since the AP became a postbowl poll in 1968. The Nader-like spoiler is Florida, which picks up 1,092 points despite being on probation. "My biggest disappointment of all comes from the writers who voted for Florida," says Washington coach Don James. "I don't think you should vote for a team that got where it is with an absolute violation of the rules."
RACE: The 1985 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting. Result: Former White Sox second baseman Nellie Fox fails to gain admission in his 15th and final year of eligibility. Recount: Fox is named on 295 of 395 ballots, two short of the 75% required for election. Detroit sportswriter Joe Falls votes for Fox, but his ballot misses the deadline by a day. Philadelphia columnist Bill Conlin, who voted for Fox for several years, feels Nellie has no chance and leaves him off his ballot. Fox is posthumously inducted by the Veterans' Committee in 1997.
RACE: The 1985 Heisman. Result: Auburn running back Bo Jackson beats Iowa quarterback Chuck Long 1,509-1,464. Recount: Two weeks after losing the closest Heisman vote ever, Long wins the Maxwell Award as the nation's outstanding college player and disappointedly notes, "It's the next best thing to the Heisman Trophy."
RACE: The 2006 World Cup site selection. Result: Germany beats South Africa 12-11. Recount: New Zealand's Charles Dempsey—who'd been instructed by his bosses at the Oceania Football Confederation to vote for South Africa—abstains, citing "intolerable pressure" from the bidding nations. FIFA placates South Africa by suggesting it's at the top of the list for the 2010 Cup.