Wow, wow, wow. Great concept, great list.
Thank you Jared for the inspiration/idea.
These are my favorite personal sports memories of the Decade:
John Ennis debuts on ESPN (April 10th, 2002)- I lived in Seattle and received a call from John (my best friend in HS) on the day of the game; “I’ was called up and I’ll be pitching vs. the Phillies.” Lo & behold, the game was on ESPN, and Chris Berman kept calling him ‘John Wayne.’ John not only pitched four+ sharp innings and nearly beat out a swinging bunt for a base hit, but made TWO awesome defensive plays, one of which actually made Plays of the Week.
Dodgers Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Plus Nomar (September 18th, 2007) – I was driving home from an Industry Show called Commission Junction University, and Charlie Steiner’s call, in the car (Irene’s car, no less), was one of the most magical moments I’ve ever had as a fan and one of (the only?) times I can say that I’d rather hear anybody call a game/moment over Vin Scully. His emotion was so genuine, his enthusiasm so real that it literally brought me to tears of excitement. I was fortunate enough to get home in time to watch Nomar win the game with yet another homerun in the bottom of the 10th.
Dodgers Game 4 Loss in NLDS vs. Cardinals – (October 10th, 2004) – My wife Irene and I were a fairly new couple at the time and one of her most endearing traits was her true Dodger Fandom. In the post-Fox/early McCourt era, the Dodger successes were far and few between and this Jim Tracy-led bunch that couldn’t score runs was somehow scratching away for wins, successfully. Following their first postseason win since the magical 1988 season behind Jose Lima (LimaTime!), Irene and I attended this game, only to see the true heartbreak of the Dodgers losing. . .yet again. I literally cried at the Stadium after the game.
Alex Cora fouls of 14 straight pitches. . .then hits a homerun (May 12th, 2004)
A regular Dodger game with my Pops (The Count), Alex Cora steps into the box and has possibly the most UNIQUE at-bat I’ve seen as a fan. Here is the pitch-by-pitch recap: Alex Cora, 7th inning: Ball, Strike (looking), Ball, Strike (foul), Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, A Cora homered to right, J Grabowski scored.
Kobe 81. (January 22nd, 2006) – Irene and I were at LAX en route to our Honeymoon when, at approximately 9:15pm Paul Saario gives me a call and tells me to turn on the Laker game. I told him the situation and just asked him to tell me what’s going on. . .”Kobe has 70 points and there’s still a few minutes left.” LIterally did NOT believe the guy, but rushed to an airport bar to watch the last few buckets of a game that will live in my modern pantheon of Greatest Individual Performances.
UCLA’s unbelievable underdog victory vs. LSU (April 1st, 2006) – The scrappy Bruins, heavy underdog (in typical Ben Howland fashion) pulled off a phenomenal upset of the Big Baby & Tyrus Thomas-led Tigers, leading to a Final showdown vs. Florida. The scene – at a bar, in Berkeley, was so far removed from my normal milieu that I was able to get more into the game than usual – and what a game it was.
De La Hoya vs. Mayweather (May 5th, 2007) – The fight itself was pretty obvious; two shrewd, slick, crafty, intelligent fighters that don’t particularly like to get hit literally ‘boxing’ each other. What made this significant was that it was the first time in nearly a decade that Boxing was King Again. “Just like the old days” of getting everybody together at my Parents’ house was phenomenal and you know what – this was the fight that saved boxing. Bravura, HBO for generating the hype and the 24/7 and congrats to the Sport that really is the best mano y mano showdown possible.
Lakers Comeback vs. Kings (May – June, 2002) – I was living alone in Seattle at this point, but the struggle, the heart, the comeback, the Shaqadociousness of the entire series was and is the Last Great Rivalry in the NBA. I think I called everybody I knew about 10 times each throughout Game 6 and the Overtime Thriller in Game 7.
Going to Packertown with my Dad & Ryan (December 9th, 2007) – What a thrill to visit the tiny village of Green Bay and realize what a true sports town really is. The people of Green Bay, the negative temperatures, the fried food, the football fanatacism – all shared with my Dad and a very close friend was truly the experience of a lifetime. I will never forget anything about the trip (Except maybe the score – the Raiders lost 38-7, but on that day I was indeed a Packers fan).
Reggie Bush vs. Fresno St., 554 total yards (November 19th, 2005) – In a 50-42 thriller (kudos Pat Hill for never backing down), Reggie Bush provided the second most dominant single-game performance of my lifetime, accruing 554 total yards in leading USC to victory. I was at a holiday gathering with Irene’s family – a family with a notable antipathy toward American Football – and by the end of this RB Masterpiece, every male in the household was gathered around the television to watch the Maestro at work.