I’ve been a sports fan nearly all my life.  Here are my favorite sports moments.  I’ve included an “embezzler’s dozen” – my 11 favorite moments.

1. Holliday Slides Into Playoffs – You seen the play a million times.  Matt Holliday slides toward home, Michael Barrett drops the ball.  The ump calls Holliday safe.  The one thing that you can definitely say is that Holliday was not out on the play – he was not tagged before being ruled safe.  Further, even if he had been called out, all would not have been lost.  The Rockies would have been tied 8-8 with two outs, Todd Helton on base, Brad Hawpe (.926 OPS that year) at the plate, and a very shaky Trevor Hoffman on the mound.  Then there’s the can of worms about Garrett Atkins’ “double” in the 7th inning.  If that is properly called a homer, the Rockies would have won the game 8-6 in 9 innings.

I was chatting online with Bob Inferapels during much of the game.  When the Padres scored twice in the top of the 13th to take an 8-6 lead (and ace closer Hoffman was on the way in from the pen) Bob offered his sympathy.  My response was (paraphrased) “Yeah, Hoffman’s good, so it will be hard to rally – but we do have the heart of the lineup coming up, so you never know.”  Indeed.

2. Kosmo Races Three Miles in One Day, Lives to Tell About It – During my final two years of high school, I was a member of the track team.  I ran the mile with a lot of heart, but not a great deal of skill.  At the final meet of my senior year, I asked my coach if I could also run the two mile.  We have a tiny track team, so he said “sure”.  Mind you, I had never trained for this distance.

How did I do?  Not very well – but I did finish the race, and I did beat one person.  Later in the meet, I ran the mile.  I was completely gassed from the two mile earlier in the meet, and ran one of the slowest miles in my career.  Nonetheless, it was a great feeling of accomplishment.  The kicker?  It was the only meet my parents were able to attend.

3. Helton’s Hat Trick – I have been to two Rockies games in my life.  The first was at Wrigley Field when I was living in Illinois.  The second was during a trip to Colorado with my girlfriend at the time (now my wife).  We had seats a half dozen rows back of third base.  Lovely seats (and pretty reasonably priced).

The game was on May 29, 2003.  The Rockies were playing their hated rivals, the LA Dodgers.

In the first inning, Todd Helton – my favorite Rockie at the time – hit a homer.  In the third inning, he picked up a single.  In the fourth, Helton homered again.  In the fifth, he made an out.  In the eight, he capped off the scoring with another homer.  Total damage for the day – 4 hits in 5 at bats, 3 homers, 4 runs scored, 4 runs batted in a 12-5 romp.  It was one of only two times in his career that Helton had three homers in a game.

4. Matsui’s Slam – Kaz Matsui hit 4 homers during the 2007 regular season.  So when he came to the plate in the 4th inning of game of game two of the 2007 NLDS with the bases loaded and the Rockies down 3-2, Kyle Lohse probably wasn’t particularly worried.  But Kaz Mat launched a grand slam that propelled the Rockies to a 10-5 win en route a sweep of the Phillies.

5. Blythe Beats Nebraska – My all-time favorite Iowa State football player is former wide receiver Todd Blythe.  On November 6, 2004, he lit up the Nebraska Cornhuskers for 188 yards on 8 catches – in the first half.  Unfortunately, he went into half time with an injury and was unable to pad his stats in the second half as the Cyclones held on fora 34-27 win.

6. Cyclones Beat Hawks, Cold – In 2001, I bought season tickets to Iowa State football (at a discount for recent alums) and sold off all but one ticket – holding on to the ticket to the September 15th game against in-state rival Iowa.  Then the September 11th attacks happened, and the game was delayed until November 24th.  It was cold.  The Cyclones took a 14-0 lead into half time and hung on for a 17-14 win.  This was the only time I’ve been in the crowd for a win against Iowa.  It was awesome.

7. Wallace Goes Long Distance for TD – In a 2002 game against Texas Tech, Cyclone quarterback Seneca Wallace scored on a 12 yard run.  Well, officially a 12 yard run.  Wallace actually ran about 120 yards on the play, traversing the field as he tried to find a clear route to pay dirt.  The win against Texas Tech pushed Iowa State’s record to 6-1 (the only loss being a controversial one to Florida State in the first game on the season).  Iowa State was in the top 10 (for the first time EVER) and  Wallace was routinely receiving this sort of praise.  The ‘Clones would unfortunately lose 6 of the final 7 games (not helped by games against four teams in the top 15 during that span, all on the road).  But it was a lot of fun while it lasted.

8. Sanderson Caps off a Perfect Career – Cael Sanderson put the entire sports of wrestling on the map during his unblemished college career.  In the 2002 finals, he beat Jon Trenge of Lehigh 12-4 to finish his career 159-0 with 4 national titles.  Trenge was no slouch – although he never won an NCAA title, he finished in the top three on three occasions.

Fittingly, as I listened to Cael’s final bout on the radio, I was pulling into Ames for a visit (see next item).

9. Kosmo on ESPN – In the late 90s and early 00s, I was a regular at women’s NCAA tournaments.  Ames (home to my alma mater, Iowa State) often hosted games.  Tickets were relatively cheap, the games were entertaining, and it was a good excuse to go back and visit Ames.  On March 25, 2002, I was in the stands to see Tennessee knock off Vanderbilt in the regional final.

During the game, some of the lower seats became vacant.  I was at the game with The Crunchy Conservative‘s brother, and we decided to sneak down into the good seats.  We scored some serious camera time on ESPN (cross “be featured on ESPN” off the bucket list), including this shot which makes it appear as if I am coaching Vanderbilt (in actuality, their coach is stooped over, out of sight of the camera).  That’s me between #21 and #13 and Crunchy’s brother in the white hat to my left.


10. Hawks Beat Michigan – For the first part of my life, I was actually a fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes.  My wife jokingly (??) calls me a traitor for changing to Iowa State, even though I’ve been an Iowa State fan for more than 17 years now.

The defining football moment of my youth was on October 19, 1985.  As the rest of the family was going into the house to get ready for church, I was standing atop a five gallon bucket in the barn (the only place where I could hear the radio very well).  With two seconds remaining in the game, #2 Michigan held a 10-9 lead over #1 Iowa.  Iowa kicker Rob Houghtlin lined up for a 35 yard field goal – and drilled it!

Alas, the Hawkeyes would not finish the season undefeated, suffering a defeat to Ohio State in Columbus two weeks later (and then a dismantling by UCLA in the Rose Bowl).  If you’re wondering why I hate Ohio State, look no further.

11. Karlis Kicks Vikes to Victory – This one is a favorite just because it is so quirky.  On the surface, a 23-21 football game doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.  But this game, on November 5, 1989 between the Vikings and Rams (then still in LA) was not ordinary.  At the end of regulation, the score was 21-21.  The Rams had scored on a Jim Everett touchdown pass and two short runs by Greg Bell.

Rich Karlis had provided all of the fireworks for the Vikings.

Rich Karlis was the kicker.  He had belted a record-tying 7 field goals in the game (including 5 of fewer than 30 yards).

Think it couldn’t get any crazier?  The Vikings won the game when Mike Merriweather blocked a punt out of the end zone for a safety.  Merriweather obviously didn’t understand the rule about punts being blocked out of the end zone (I guess he thought it would be a touchback and go back to the Rams on the 20?) as he was visibly distraught after the play.

 

Those are my favorite sports moments – what are yours?

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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