The best examples of "nemesistic" relationships have some unexplained element to them; they appear as messages from the gods. The Pittsburgh Penguins are 0-37-3 since 1974 against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Spectrum, but that's no big deal, because the Flyers have always had a better team. On the other hand, try to explain why Larry Jaster, a journeyman pitcher who won 11 games in 1966 for the St. Louis Cardinals, threw five shutouts that year, all against the pennant-winning Los Angeles Dodgers.
FUN FACTS ABOUT NEMESIS
1. Penn State is the football nemesis of Maryland. The last time the Terrapins beat the Nittany Lions was in 1961, when Dick Shiner was the Terp quarterback and his favorite receiver was Gary Collins. Penn State's last four victories have been by a total of 10 points.
2. The New York Rangers haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1940.
3. Beau Jack, the great lightweight champion, fought Ike Williams four times, but the best Jack could do was one draw. Now almost 67, Jack has told friends that if he ever gets to heaven, he wants to schedule a rematch with Williams—who is not there yet, either.
4. Pete Rose went 2 for 21 against Bob Owchinko from 1977 to '84.
The baseball diamond is a particularly good stomping ground for Nemesis. She can show up in the person of Ned Yost, a .212 career hitter who batted .833 (10 for 12 with two home runs) off 277-game winner Tommy John before retiring after the 1985 season. Willie McCovey owned Don Drysdale, but that's not as remarkable as Tom Hutton hitting .700 against Tom Seaver. Sandy Koufax was bedeviled by the likes of Gene Oliver, Jim King and even Bob Uecker. "I hit Sandy pretty good," says Uecker. "Got one of my 14 homers off him. Thank the Lord, I didn't destroy the boy's confidence."
Gordy Coleman, the Cincinnati Reds' lefthand-hitting first baseman from 1960 to '67, had his way with lefthander Warren Spahn. "One year," says Coleman, "I went something like 14 for 16 off him. He would get so frustrated that he would consult with his infielders on how to pitch me. One day, I think I was 4 for 4, I was walking down the runway when this big arm came around me. It was Spahn. 'Don't you realize I'm the world's greatest lefthander?' he said to me. Later he sent over a bat inscribed, 'To My Hero.' "
The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and even the biggest of them all had his nemesis.
THE GOOD DOCTOR