This year is the 25th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus’s historic 6th Masters victory. The 1986 Masters is considered by many to be the most exciting golf tournament ever played. I’m sure there will be no shortage of Masters talk here in the coming weeks, but to kick things off, the ’86 Masters made me think of sporting events that I missed or was too young to see that I would have liked to have caught especially live, but at least on television. I was not a golf watcher in 1986, and the first time I remember hearing about the tournament was actually while I was watching a Phillies highlight video of some kind. It must have been a year or two later, but they were talking to Mike Schmidt and he said he’d love to ask Nicklaus what it was like coming up the 18th fairway at Augusta in ’86. So that planted the event in my mind and since I’ve seen the replay, highlight packages, and everything else dozens of times. I could tell you about Jack’s entire back nine, I can tell you the announcer’s calls, but I didn’t actually see it happen. It must have been incredible. To go along with the ’86 Masters, here are some sporting events I would have liked to see live or on television. They are too hard to rank, so in no particular order…
1980 NLCS Game 5:
It was last playoff season or perhaps during the ’09 playoffs that I said I wanted my generation’s version of this series. I am a known whore for tense games and would choose a 7-game win over a sweep every single time. This is another event that has been pounded into my memory through highlight videos, but I can hardly imagine the tension of watching it live. And, if you by chance had to be in the deafening Astrodome, I’m sure you would never forget the experience. Add in the fact the Phillies had never won a World Series in their history and had suffered disappointing playoff losses in ’76, ’77 and ’78 and it must have been the greatest sports drama ever.
Flyers beat Soviet Red Army Team in 1976.
I might pick this game over the Miracle on Ice (though go ahead and put that on the list too). I don’t know if that makes me a moron, but this is one of the proudest moments in the franchise’s history and a game that some people probably remember more fondly than winning the Stanley Cups. The Soviet coach offered, “We have never played against such animal hockey.” I think that sums it up nicely. I’ve seen bits and pieces of this game through the years and the recent HBO documentary on those Flyers teams did a nice job on this game. The Soviets had breezed through NHL competition, but the Flyers defended the honor of the league, North America, and anything else you want to lump in there. And, of all the old Philly buildings, I don’t remember ever experiencing the Spectrum at full throttle. That would be sublime.
1999 Ryder Cup Sunday:
I love the Ryder Cup. And, 1999 was a big year. The Americans had lost ugly in 1995 choking down the stretch, then even with Tiger Woods coming into the fold lost at tricked up Valderrama in 1997. Coming off those two straight loses the Euros sprinted out to a massive lead after two days. All along I had plans to go to a Phillies game that Sunday with some friends, and the way things were playing out I was almost happy to be missing the golf. I’d save myself the anguish of watching the loss unfold over the course of six hours of coverage. Well, we got to the game and they had the score of the Ryder Cup posted on the Vet’s amazing out-of-town board. Well, every inning or so, you’d see another point go up for the U.S. Before anyone could check anything on their phones I was just sitting there watching the comeback become complete in the simplest numerical form. I was pissed I missed the rally, when I saw how it went down, I couldn’t believe I went to that Phillies game.
1972 Olympic Gold Medal Basketball Game:
The most controversial game of all-time? I think these refs did that St. John’s game a couple of weeks back. The United States lost to the Soviet Union in the oddest finish you’ll ever see. I think the level of patriotism you would have felt watching this game would be overwhelming. There were several great moments before the disastrous ending, including Doug Collins (your Sixers coach!) making two of the most pressure packed free throws ever taken. Great sporting events require a villain sometimes, or at least someone to root against. This is the perfect example. And, I would have loved it when the U.S. refused to participate in the medal ceremony. I would have been right there heckling/cursing up a blue streak, and that is always satisfying.
I think I’ll stop with those five. Leave some space in case anyone wants to add their own preferences. Trying to think quickly of this list I realize that I’ve at least been parked in front of the TV for most major sporting events of my lifetime. I guess I need to branch out and grab a new hobby or two…
Quiz of the Day: Cheese Consuming Countries. Category: Cheese is Good/Europe. My Score: 18/20.