Thursday, July 7, 2011
The Worst Blown Calls of All Time
Pity the lowly referee. There's no other person in a position of authority who gets routinely shitted on to his face by those he is paid to police (unless you're a police officer in Brownsville). Not only do they have to deal with drunken, sometimes violent, fans who think every call is either a conspiracy against their team or just incompetence, they also have to put up with spoiled millionaires calling them stupid or worse (not to mention the millions of degenerate gamblers who's kid's college funds and knee caps are at stake). It's easy for us to second guess bad calls that are replayed in super slow mo on a 50 inch screen and magnified 1000 times, while these guys have half a second to make a call that could influence the lives of several thousand bookies and neglected children. And then there's calls like the ones that make up our next list (sorry Blacky), that are so obvious to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the sport that we immediately want to believe everything that scumbag Tim Donaghy says.
5) Hue Hollins calls the foul on Pippen; Game 5, Knicks vs. Bulls Eastern Conference Semifinals 1994:
With Jordan riding a minor league bus around the deep south flailing at curveballs, the Knicks and their fans believed that this would be the year that they would finally beat the big, bad Bulls who had tortured a young Bagels year after year like the sadistic assholes they were (I'm not bitter though). Without this extremely questionable call, though, the Knicks might have had the agonizing embarrassment of losing to the Jordanless bulls and Hue Hollins name wouldn't forever be linked to Hubert Davis. Thank you, Hue, wherever you are.
4) Jeffrey Maier interferes with Derek Jeter's "Home Run"; Yankees vs Orioles ALCS Game 1 1996
Little Jeff Maier was just another 11 year old prick, rooting for the Yankees and probably playing with pogs in the lunchroom, when he was suddenly rocketed to stardom after interfering with Jesse Tarasco on what should have been a catch at the warning track in Game 1 of the ALCS. Lost in all the hub bub over this kid saving the Yankees season (I'm surprised they didn't give him a spot on a float in the parade or at least do a Michael Kay Centerstage with him) was the historically awful missed call by the umps. The O's would go on to lose and never win a playoff series again, and Baltimore is now the second shittiest place on the planet next to Detroit (at least that's what I've learned from watching the Wire).
3) Galarraga's Perfect game that wasn't
This one wasn't a playoff game and really wasn't a significant game at all in the grand scheme of things, but it might be the most remembered blown call of all time. This wasn't one of those instances where the call was huge but the party that was screwed could make themselves feel better by saying "that wasn't what lost the game for us, a play here or a play there blah blah". Nope, this one call was the sole reason that the virtual unknown Galarraga didn't join the exclusive list of Perfect Game pitchers and instead will probably make the hall of fame out of pity. And anyone who was sitting in the upper deck or watched the game on a black and white tv could tell you the runner was out by at least a half a step. Jim Joyce was standing 5 feet from the play (not a play in the 6th or 7th inning that broke up the no-no, but the FINAL OUT OF THE GAME). They gave Galarraga a Mustang or something and Joyce cried all over the field and everyone seems to have forgiven the guy (America loves and hates a man who cries), but this still remains as one of the biggest blown calls in history.
2) The entire game 6 Kings vs. Lakers 2002-
The Lakers dynasty was well on its way to being derailed before it could even be called such a thing. That is until the Lakers flexed their muscle and showed everyone why they would be the first team to 3 peat since Michael's Bulls: horribly one sided and biased officiating. This is the smoking gun in disgraced degenerate gambler Tim Donaghy's case against the league and watching it, it's hard not to believe that there really is a purple and gold conspiracy at work. I distinctly remember a play where Kobe almost took Mike Bibby's head off with an elbow (what would have been Bryant's 5th foul) and instead ended up with two free throws for the Lakers. Sometimes you're not paranoid, the officials really are out to screw you. Unfortunately for the Kings, this game was really the end of the line for them: they lost game 7 at home in overtime thanks to big play by Shaq and Peja Stojakovic coming up about 4 feet wide on an open 3 pointer. Today, Chris Webber is a mostly annoying TV analyst, Mike Bibby is a mostly useless Miami point guard, and Vlade Divac is best known for 3 things: smoking in the locker room, flopping like a woman and being traded on draft day for the guy on the other side of this officiating catastrophe. To paraphrase that homer Kings play-by-play guy: If you don't like biased officiating, you don't like NBA basketball.
1) Russia vs. the U.S. 1972 Olympics
The stakes don't get much higher than a Cold War era basketball contest between the United States and Russia. While perplexing non-calls or questionable decisions by Hue Hollins or other NBA refs might hint at the possibility of funny business, there's no if ands or nyets about this one. The fix is in. Never has a sporting event more infuriated a populace, or has a lay up made an entire nation want to do a Slim Pickens on a country like this farce of a basketball game. The Russians just couldn't let Uncle Sam beat them in a sport that we invented, so they did the next best thing and "coerced" the refs to give the Ruskies the game. Since then, of course, U.S. and Russian relations have warmed up, but don't tell my grandfather there's a dirty commie owning the team that's soon to call Brooklyn it's home. I wonder if Russia has any sappy movies about this game starring the Russian equivalent of Kurt Russell giving emotional speeches. Probably not.