Monday, September 22, 2008

The Year Of The Upset Continues

Has there ever been a year when so many major sports championships were won by the team who had absolutely no chance to win? Today being the first day of fall, it seems fitting to celebrate it by marking the complete collapse of yet another massive favorite.

In the Super Bowl, the Giants were in no way expected to compete with the Patriots, who were to be crowned the greatest ever. The NCAA baseball title was won by the first unranked team in history (Fresno State). The NBA Finals were won by the team that didn't have his eminence, Kobe Bryant. There were numerous huge upsets in the Olympics (U.S. men's volleyball, U.S. women's soccer, U.S. 400 free relay [the Jason Lezak race]). The NCAA football title was won in a complete blowout by the lower seed (though this might not really qualify because Ohio State is an embarrassment to everything that was ever ranked #1 throughout history). The Tampa Bay Rays are about to clinch to A.L. East. So far in 2008, only the Red Wings didn't screw it up and lose their sure-thing title to the underdog.

And now we can add the American defeatof the Europeans in the Ryder Cup to the amazing 2008 Major Sports Upsets List. It would have been a lot more fun had the Euro's been really whiny about it like the last time we won (a decade ago). But it will be fun to see Nick Faldo get ripped in the British press for the next few week, and then in two years when this all starts up again, for playing his best three players last on Sunday so it was all over before their points counted, and for benching his best twosome on Saturday.

It is always cool to hear how much elite professional athletes still get a charge out of competing for U.S.A. Kobe Bryant has famously said the Olympics are infinitely more fulfilling than playing for a "brand or a region." Chipper Jones called the World Baseball Classic the greatest thrill of his professional career. Anthony Kim said he would not trade his Ryder Cup experience for $10,000,000. Of course, $10,000,000 is about a half of a year's pay for many professional athletes, but you get the point.

In the climate of all of these upsets, this has to make fans of the Mets, Dodgers, White Sox/Twins and Rays feel good about the next month of baseball...or so I am trying to convince myself. I just found out that not only does the WNBA still exist, but they are in the postseason. Who knew? In any case, some team with an awkward collective noun/abstract mascot will likely be upsetting another soon.

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