Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Biggest Chokes in History

The Boston-Toronto Stanley Cup game was a horrible thing to watch if you are a Maple Leaf fan. It got me thinking what were the biggest chokes (comebacks) in history.

Last night's game will go down in history as number one. Prior to this the biggest choke was Edmonton against the Los Angeles Kings in 1982. Edmonton was loaded with young superstars, seven future hall of famers, including the great Wayne Gretzky. They had take their division easily with twice as many wins as the Kings. In Game 3, the Oilers took a five goal lead into the third period only to lose the game in overtime. Still, it was only Game 3 and the Oilers still had a chance to take the series. They failed.

In 1993, the Houston Oilers (is this nickname cursed?) played the Buffalo Bills. After intercepting a pass early in the third quarter Houston had an insurmountable 35-3 lead. Buffalo had done nothing all game and looked worst doing it. Then Buffalo's backup quarterback, Frank Reich woke up. In just seven minutes they had cut the lead to just four points. He threw four consecutive touchdown passes in the second half to take the lead. Houston managed to tie with a field goal with 12 seconds left in regulation but lost in overtime.

In 1999 the British Open was played at Carnoustie, probably the toughest course on the Open rotation. Frenchman Jean Van de Velde had a more than comfortable three stroke lead going to the tee on the final hole. His lead was so safe they had already engraved Van de Velde's name on the victory cup. Nobody realized that the golf god will not allow a Frenchman to win the British Open. Jean's tee shot ended up deep in the heather. His second shot ricocheted off the grandstands into even deeper rough. He duffed his third shot into the water in front of the green. A drop, a bunker, and a putt later and Jean had a triple bogey. That meant a tie and playoff which, of course, he lost.

On August 12, 1951, the Brooklyn Dodgers had a 13 game lead over the New York Giants. That day the Giants began a 16 game winning streak that highlighted a 39-8 end of season run. The Dodgers were a pedestrian 27-24 during the same period. Not bad but only good enough to tie the Giants for the pennant. The teams split the first two games of the playoff. The Dodgers were leading the third game 4-1 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Although he was exhausted, starting pitcher and ace Don Newcombe went out to the mound for the final inning. Newcombe gave up two singles and a double while recording only one out. He was finally replaced by Ralph Branca with the tying run on second and one out. His second pitch in the game, an inside fastball, was pulled by batter Bobby Thompson into the seats for a three-run homer. The famous "Shot heard 'round the world."


Anonymous said...

I thought it was Bobby Thompson who it the decisive HR.

KnightErrant said...

So it was. Hey, it was 62 years ago!

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