Do You Believe in Miracles …


 

Over the years, there have been many great moments in sport …

… in college football, The Play (“The Bears Win, the Bears Win”)…

… in professional football, the Immaculate Reception and The Catch …

… giving a nod to Major League Baseball about which I otherwise don’t care … the historic home runs by Bobby Thomson, Bill Mazeroski and Kirk Gibson …

… and the Olympic triumphs of Billy Mills in the 1964 10,000 meters, Dave Wottle in the 1972 500 meters and the incomparable long jump by Bob Beamon in the 1968 Olympics …

… BUT …

… when it comes to great moments in sport, the greatest of all, in my opinion, occurred 35 years ago today …

The Miracle on Ice

… the 4-3 win by the U. S. Olympic Hockey team over the Russians …

… immortalized by the call of Al Michaels …

Do You Believe in MiraclesThe Russian hockey team came to the 1980 Olympics, held at Lake Placid, New York, as prohibitive gold medal favorites …

… they were, after all, a team of professionals in what was then supposed to be an amateur sport …

… supported full time by the Russian government.

The American team, on the other hand, was a collection of amateurs who were molded into a formidable opponent for the Russians by their hard-driving coach, Herb Brooks …

The Miracle on Herb Brooks CoachThe Americans and Russians met in one of the Olympic semi-final games on February 22, 1980 … and the Russians held a 3-2 lead going into the third period …

… the American team, however, rallied to tie the game at 3-3 …

… and then, with ten minutes to play, team captain Mike Eruzione scored what proved to be the game-winning goal.

The Miracle on Mike Eruzione Game Winning GoalOf course, that left the Russians lots of time … but a stubborn U.S. defense and the incomparable goal-tending of Jim Craig …

The Miracle on Goalie Jim Craig … turned away the Russians time and again … until there were just 11 seconds to play in the game …

… at which point Al Michaels …

Do You Believe in Miracles Al Michaels portrait… counted down the remaining time …

Do You Believe in Miracles Al Michaels… to the American victory.

The Miracle on Ice celebration with Herb BrooksThe Miracle on Ice celebrationOBIT BROOKSThe Miracle on Ice groupTwo days later, the Americans clinched the gold medal by defeating Finland 4-2.

Sports Illustrated celebrated the win over Russia with one of its most unusual ever covers …

The Miracle on Ice Sports Illustrated cover… it was headline news around the country …

The Miracle on Ice New York Daily News front page… became the stuff of books & a movie …

Do You Believe in Miracles book cover… and a legend which endures to this day.

——————–

Team Captain Mike EruzioneThe Miracle on Mike Eruzione Team CaptainGoalie Jim CraigThe Miracle on Goalie Jim Craig autographThe Gold Medal Winning 1980 U. S. Olympic Hockey TeamThe Miracle on Ice team photo______________________________________

Thee Dot … 102

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“Tiger Woods is an idiot.” If …


.

… you believe the San Francisco Chronicle’s would-be sports columnist Gwen Knapp, who starts today’s column with this startling assertion:

“Tiger Woods is an idiot. A mesmerizing, peerless, incandescent idiot.  If he’d used his head at all, he would never have entered the U.S. Open last week ….”

The only idiot in this piece is Gwen Knapp, whose prose is neither mesmerizing nor incandescent, though she is peerless in her lack of understanding of what makes a great athlete.  Tiger’s victory in this Open was an inspirational example of courage in the face of adversity, a concept Miss Knapp is obviously incapable of comprehending.

With this performance, Tiger joined a small group of extraordinary athletes, exemplified by San Diego Charger Kellen Winslow against the Dolphins in the 1981 NFL playoffs … LA Dodger Kirk Gibson in the 1989 World Series … Mary Lou Retton in the 1984 Olympics … New York Knick Willis Reed against the Lakers in the 1970 NBA Championship game … and the Boston Red Sox’ Curt Schilling against the Yankees in game 6 of the 2004 ALCS.

The stuff of legend.  If Tiger never takes another swing, this exceptional win will be the exclamation mark at the end of his amazing career.

Knapp’s entire column can be viewed on the SFGate.com website at:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/06/19/MNBG11B9JP.DTL

For another view of Tiger’s win … in a Chronicle of another persuasion (the Houston variety), see:

http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl?id=2008_4586818

In this column, a sportwriter … Jerome Solomon … who understands and appreciates the significance of Tiger’s accomplishment, offers his perspective, which starts with the question … “How special was Tiger Woods’ victory at the U.S. Open on an injured knee and bum leg?”

Solomon answers his own question … “With all he had going on – at the most difficult tournament of the year, on the longest course in major-tournament history – Woods was like a one-legged-man in a you-know-what kicking contest. And he still kicked everybody’s you know what.”

And concludes:  “… if you’re really curious about how special Tiger’s performance was – tear your ACL, then continually twist your body around with the force that comes to a locked left knee on a golf swing that generates more than 130-mph clubhead speed.  Or forget the ligament. Just have someone hit you in the shin with a bat every so often – for five days.  Actually, save yourself the pain and accept that this ranks among the great “injured athlete” performances of all time.

Yes, Mr. Solomon … and Miss Knapp … it surely does.