- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
I'm a sap. my eyes well up at the mere mention of Pride of the Yankees, and my spine tingles every time I hear Johnny Most scream, "Havlicek stole the ball!" on my record album of the same name. So maybe I'm not the best judge of what constitutes a good sports year.
Nineteen eighty-seven seemed wonderful to me—not so much for its team or individual performances, but for its celebrations. I'm not talking about the usual champagne spraying, net cutting, golf ball throwing or coxswain dunking, and I couldn't care less that Don Johnson and Bruce Willis were seen partying in the Laker shower room after a game of the NBA finals. No, what got to me were moments like these:
?Members of the European team being unabashedly joyous after beating the U.S. in Ryder Cup competition at Muirfield Village outside Columbus, Ohio. Not only did they form a zany chorus line, but also 5'4" Ian Woosnam hoisted 5'9" captain Tony Jacklin on his shoulders.
?Forward Oscar Schmidt of Brazil bellowing ecstatically to the rafters during the final seconds of his team's stunning upset of the U.S. in the Pan American Games men's basketball final. The hysterically happy Brazilian fans rattled Hoosier maracas—soup cans partially filled with Indiana corn.
A populist theme—hooray for the little guy!—runs through all of these moments. (Taking the celebration to the people, however, can go a little too far, as when one of the Edmonton Oilers put the hallowed Stanley Cup on display on the stage of a strip joint across the street from Northlands Coliseum the night after the Oilers won the thing.) But nowhere was the fanfare for the common man more impressive than in Minneapolis last October.
It was very easy to make fun of the Minnesota Twins. They won only 85 regular-season games, they played inside a giant kaiser roll, and their fans waved those stupid, commercially inspired hankies. " Minneapolis makes St. Louis seem positively Parisian," said a friend whose sensibilities, not to mention ears, were damaged in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
But outsiders were missing the remarkable relationship between the Twins and their faithful. The fans, as pundits kept pointing out, were desperate, what with the Vikings' four Super Bowl losses, the North Stars' embarrassment in the 1981 Stanley Cup final, and the dashed hopes of H.H.H. and Fritz. Still, lots of places have given their hearts to a team. In Minneapolis the feeling was mutual. "I'd like to be up there with them," hometown hero Kent Hrbek told Roger Angell of The New Yorker. "My heart is this big for Minnesota."