May 10, 2001
As the brainchild of wrestling impresario Vince McMahon, the XFL is an orphan, and yet--on Feb. 3, 2001--the football league debuts to enormous television ratings and sold-out stadiums in Las Vegas and Orlando. Fittingly, these are the twin capitals of make-believe, and Americans, after Week 1, tune out, almost to a man. When the plug is pulled three months later, games are drawing the lowest prime-time ratings in the history of network television. He Hate Me, indeed.
July 18, 1999
With a three-shot lead on the 72nd tee of the British Open, France's Jean Van de Velde need only make a double-bogey six on the par-4 18th at Carnoustie to win the claret jug. That fairway is crossed three times by a creek, and yet Van de Velde, inexplicably, hits driver off the tee and into the rough. From there he need only get back onto the fairway with a wedge, but Van de Velde unaccountably chooses to hit a two-iron, and his ball bounces off the greenside grandstand and into deep heather. He does manage to get out of the heather, but unfortunately, in doing so, he gets into the creek. After taking a drop in the gorse, he chunks a wedge into a bunker. Mon dieu, is this happening? From the beach, Van de Velde does manage to get up and down for triple-bogey 7, which puts him in a playoff with a stunned Paul Lawrie, who promptly wins his first, and almost certainly his last, British Open. Says Van de Velde afterward, "Next time, I'll hit the wedge."
Aug. 4, 1993
Feeling insufficiently pained after being struck by a Nolan Ryan fastball, White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura decides to charge the mound. The 26year-old throws himself headlong at the torso of the 46-year-old Ryan in the posture of a bullied freshman preemptively bowing to accept a headlock. The Texas Ranger obliges, putting Ventura into a textbook noogie hold before delivering six consecutive punches to his immobilized noggin. With each blow, the pitcher appears to be hammering out a message in Morse code: Don't mess with Texas.
June 19, 1984
With the first pick in the NBA draft, the Houston Rockets select Hakeem Olajuwon, who will bring two championships to the city. With the second pick, the Portland Trailblazers take 7'1" center Sam Bowie, who sat out two seasons at Kentucky with manifold physical afflictions. Not everyone is impressed with Portland's selection. "The risk," writes Alexander Wolff in the '84 NBA preview issue of SI, "is ... that selecting Bowie in the first round instead of Michael Jordan might remind Portland fans of the Blazers' screw-up in '72, when they chose LaRue Martin instead of Bob McAdoo." Blazers fans still LaRue the day.
April 14, 1968
Roberto de Vicenzo shoots a final-round 65 at the Masters, but his playing partner accidentally puts him down for a par 4 on number 17, instead of the birdie 3 de Vicenzo actually made. When de Vicenzo signs this incorrect card, 66 becomes his official posting, and he misses the green jacket by one phantom stroke. Afterward de Vicenzo's spirit and English are both broken. "I lose my brain," he says of his gaffe, then he utters the most famous line of self-flagellation in all of sport. Speaking for so many others, he says, "What a stupid I am."