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Anyone who was breathing oxygen in the day of olive-colored linoleum, rotary phones, and console TVs most likely remembers the opening montage to ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The actual content of the show—from bowling to horse racing to gigantic South African men dragging Renaults—are now a blur, but the stirring music and distinct voice of Jim McKay: “The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat!” were anything but forgettable. And while the smiling faces and raised arms of those lucky enough to represent “the thrill of victory” have probably slipped your mind, we bet the images that accompanied “the agony of defeat” still glow as brightly as ever in your memories. One in particular…

The defining piece of opening footage from Wild World of Sports is the out-of-control ski jumper, Vinko Bogataj of the country formerly known as Yugoslavia, tumbling headlong off the ramp into a cloud of limbs, skis, and snow in a wipeout for the ages. Success just doesn’t linger in the mind or the stomach like failure.

Vinko Bogataj is The Worst of Sports. But there is so much more (you can read the pieces in RED by clicking the title):

Most Overrated moments:

  • Bill Buckner's groundball gaffe in the 1986 World Series wasn’t even the worst blunder he committed in a Fall Classic
  • Joe Namath's career aside from Super Bowl III (173 TDs versus 220 picks? Come on!)
  • The sociopolitical importance of Jesse Owens' four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Games

From terrible trades to head-scratching hirings to baffling free agent signings, sports will always be rife with Bad Management:

  • The New York Yankees curiously convenient relationship with the Kansas City A's in the 1950s
  • The All-Bad Free-Agent Pitching Staff
  • Robert Parish and Kevin McHale to the Celtics for Joe Barry Carroll and Rickey Brown
  • Joe Gibbs, one of the most successful coaches in NFL history, also made perhaps the dumbest play-call in Super Bowl history
  • How the Philadelphia Flyers obtained phenom Eric Lindros and turned the deal into two Stanley Cups… for the Colorado Avalanche

Sometimes Chokery is tough to watch, but often times it is high comedy:

Despite your Team's Issues— and most have plenty—you generally stick with them:

  • The Baltimore Orioles contribution to baseball's hex addiction - The Curse of Jeffrey Maier
  • Before the Steel Curtain and their 1970s dynasty, the Pittsburgh Steelers set the standard for ineptitude in pro football for nearly forty years
  • The Baltimore Colts' franchise collapse which led to their hasty departure to Indianapolis under the cover of darkness

There's so much ugliness in sport that you want to Look Away, but like a highway rubbernecker gawking at the meat wagon, you cannot:

It's not always the athlete, the manager or the front office doing the bungling, there are plenty of Fan Foibles as well:

Sometimes all you can ask is What Were They Thinking?:

  • Did Jerry Rice really ask retired Hall of Famer Steve Largent to wear his number 80 while playing in Seattle?
  • Did decathlon great Bruce Jenner really make his acting debut in the disco era musical comedy Can't Stop the Music?
  • Did tennis great "Big" Bill Tilden really get caught red-handed slipping his paw down a young boy's trousers?

The rewards and the fame provide too much of an allure, so athletes will attempt to win By Any Means Necessary:

  • Professional baseball in the 1890s was a much more "artful" game than it is now, and the Baltimore Orioles were as good as anyone at playing it
  • Spain, the Intellectually Disabled basketball champions in the 2000 Sydney Paralympics were disqualified for, well, being too smart
  • How one of the oldest and most respected college conferences in America cheated itself into oblivion in the go-for-broke 1980s
If you like what you see, order the book now. We promise you’ll laugh, you’ll learn, you’ll feel better about your teams—even if you’re from Cleveland.

Ten-Cent Beer Night

Blood in the Water
The All-Bad Free-Agent Pitching Staff
The 1999 British Open

Jesse, Matt and Charlie will be doing lots of sports radio to promote the book. We'll keep you posted on the particulars.
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