Last night, I inadvertently watched the last few minutes of the NBA Finals game. (To read why I have had no interest in basketball for a solid month, check out my list on Cleveland sports disasters.)
After the game ended, tying up the series at 3-3, one of the overzealous L.A. local news types on TV said, "The two most exciting words in sports: GAME SEVEN." And, even though I'm down on these particular NBA Finals... I won't disagree. There's nothing like a game seven.
I decided to seize on the whole "most exciting 'two words'" thing and put together my list of the 11 most exciting two-word phrases in sports, ranked in order from most exciting to... well, not least exciting (least exciting would be "Duncan interview", "Favre's dilemma" or "ESPY Awards"), but 11th-most exciting.
I didn't include "point shaving" as an exciting two-word phrase.
"Game seven." I could watch the game seven of any sport. Even of the T-ball World Series where the kid in right field is picking dandelions and another kid hits the ball then runs up the third base line. Even hockey.
The thing I like about game sevens is that you finally get to see pro athletes trying their absolute hardest. Even guys who have reputations for "bringing it every day" and "giving 110 percent" and not saying "that's impossible, no one can give more than 100 percent, by definition that's the most anyone can give" -- even those guys can't truly get fired up for a Tuesday night road game two-thirds of the way through the regular season against a bottom feeder. But in game seven, everyone tries their hardest. (Even LeBron, in theory.)
"Super Bowl." I put the Super Bowl just a step behind a game seven because there's more to the Super Bowl than just football. After two weeks of hype, 10 hours of pregame and 25+ people cramming into a living room talking about expectations for the commercials -- the football itself is more of a relief than anything.
And sure, maybe this is because, as a Clevelander, I've never even sniffed a Super Bowl... so I have no idea what it's like to get excited to see your team play in one. Next time I see John Elway I'll ask him.
"Sudden death." Always, always exciting. (Unless you're talking about Len Bias. Then, not so much.)
March Madness was so much better when the players were getting paid.
"March Madness."March Madness has been hurt by the college basketball brand's incredible downward spiral -- next year's tournament might as well be sponsored by BP and Mediterranean Avenue -- but it still manages to captivate the entire country. Even though most people (including quite a few sports fans) barely watch a minute of college basketball during the regular season, we're transfixed on a down-to-the-wire first round game between the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Bozeman Tech.
"Triple Crown." If horse racing is the sport of kings then surely bowling is a very good sport as well.
Really though, I'm from a generation that didn't grow up giving two shuckses about horse racing. When we go to the track, it's to drink, make fun of dumb horse names, and bet crazy superfectas trying to turn $2 into a three grand. But even WE'LL watch a superstar horse in the Kentucky Derby... pay attention to him in the Preakness... and then, if he's got a shot at the triple crown, watch and cheer him in the Belmont. And as each year passes and the triple crown again eludes the horse-du-jour, we'll be more glued (HI-YO!) to the TV.
"Penalty kick." Maybe it's because I've caught a temporary case of World Cup Fever. (A disease known to afflict scores of Americans every four years. Side effects may include the formation of ill-advised national pro soccer leagues and use of the word "pitch" outside of a baseball and/or man-on-man sex context.)
I like penalty kicks. At its highest level, soccer's a game where, by all rights, it's virtually impossible to score. That's why goals lead to so much dry humping. But a penalty kick takes a game where it's virtually impossible to score and transforms it into a mini-game where it's virtually impossible NOT to. And that's exciting.
The late Harry Carey, pioneer of the phrase "Cubs Win."
"Cubs Win!" Everyone's got a little Cubs fan inside of them. I was in the Cubs bleachers a week ago and when you're there, it's impossible not to like the team. (Especially since they're absolutely no threat to your primary team in the playoffs or, especially, World Series.) All the beer, the fights, the diehard constantly talking bad about their team like they're Waldorf and Statler? That's how the Cubs really win.
"Prison rodeo!" Not just because it's better than a nice juice box. My girlfriend's roommate went to a prison rodeo in rural Louisiana last year, where she saw the following things (all of which the prisoners volunteered for in hopes of extra money/privileges/etc.):
Prisoner bowling, where 10 prisoners stood in bowling pin formation and tried to hold their ground when a bull charged at them.
Prisoner poker, where they played poker at a table while a bull ran free -- last man sitting wins.
And, for some reason, most importantly -- an event where there were monkeys riding dogs, herding sheep. Let me type that again: Monkeys riding dogs, herding sheep.
No photos were allowed. It was standing room only. If only we could all attend one of these one day.
I mean, is he even wearing shoes? How is that legal?
"Air Bud." I mean, really. Air Bud has been a superstar in basketball (in the original)... football (in "Air Bud: Golden Receiver")... soccer (in "Air Bud: World Pup")... baseball (in "Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch") AND volleyball (in "Air Bud: Spikes Back").
Air Bud has almost single-handedly reintroduced puns to movie titles AND he letters in more sports than A.C. Slater. Frankly, I should've ranked him higher.
"Curling orgy." It may not have as much significance to Americans as a game seven, Super Bowl, or golden retriever who excels at five sports and makes us believe in ourselves again... but if you were flipping channels and the SportsCenter anchor said, "There are reports out of Ottawa about a giant curling orgy," you sure as hell wouldn't change the channel.
This post was originally published on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Sports.