25 Years Later, Sports Needs a New Rocky Balboa
The sports world is getting a little stale these days.
*turns on TV* Hmm, more Tiger Woods scandal revealed...STAY TUNED!
*changes channel* Oh, good to know that Brett Favre is still undecided on his future..
*changes channel* Lets see...NBA Playoffs? Hmpf.
*changes channel* April/May baseball! Ugh.
Look, I'm not bashing these respective sports (minus the Tiger scandal bit, that's not a sport). I'm suggesting the US of A could use a big sports story that isn't a negative one. We shouldn't always have the top story being something that a sports figure did wrong.
I forget what writer it was who said it, and if you know, please comment below, (and I'm paraphrasing here) but, "the sports section is my favorite part of the newspaper. It's one of the few places where mans' accomplishments are highlighted, not their downfalls."
Like I said, paraphrasing, but the point is true. The sports section (or, more broadly, sports coverage) should be about the good things people have done through sports.
I'd rather hear about Derek Jeter's changed approach at the plate which led him to a put together a 20-game hit streak, or how Peyton Manning watched 21 hours of game film on the Saints, but the missing roll of tape the part time janitor spilled bleach on, was the play that Tracy Porter intercepted him on to clinch a Super Bowl for New Orleans.
What happened to the lighter side of sports?
But that's not my main concern here. Lets get back to the stale-ness of the sporting world, shall we?
It's not even just the USA. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are still "feuding." Does a feud really stay fresh for five-plus years?
Or how in the NBA we see LA, Boston, Cleveland, San Antonio every year in the playoffs. Where's my underdog who makes a run? Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder did a nice job in the first round of staying competitive, but they couldn't ever really seal the deal and gain momentum in the series.
The Bucks fell after leading Atlanta 3-2 in their series, with game six at home, and lost back to back.
Where's my Rocky Balboa beats Ivan Drago?
We all remember Rocky, right? The undersized, heart of a lion, fighter. He watches from ringside as Apollo Creed, his rival and good friend, is brutalized trying to win one for the USA.
Rocky takes this to heart, and goes on to face the machine himself, against all odds pulling off the improbable knockout victory.
I'm aware that's just a movie, and the scripted-ness does take away from its application here, but still, when will a team rise and beat down the heavily favored?
There are plenty of candidates.
How about a team like the Tampa Bay Rays, who would have to beat out the likes of Boston (even in a slumping start) and the reigning world-champion New York Yankees to get to the playoffs, let alone the World Series.
Or maybe a team like the San Diego Padres. Their pitching is plenty good enough to keep them close in games, and they have slugger Adrian Gonzalez. This team, with timely hitting and standout pitching could make some noise in the NL.
Maybe we'll see a 2010-11 Super Bowl match up of the Oakland Raiders and the New Orleans Saints. I think Rocky had better Vegas odds than the Raiders would in this one.
As a sports fan, I'd like to see more parity in sports, more David vs. Goliath match ups.
It gives the fan an underdog to root for, which is always fun, because if you pick the underdog, and by some miraculous aligning of the stars, they actually win, you look like the genius who stepped out on a limb and took a chance on a team.
The closest thing in sports to 1985's Rocky vs Drago match up, was 2007's New England Patriots (Drago) vs the New York Giants. The G-men have no chance against the Patriots, right? It was apparent that as the game was winding down, so was "Rocky."
The Giants were losing late, and as the camera panned to New England's Randy Moss and Tedy Bruschi celebrating, you could read their lips saying, "We've got this one. It's ours."
Yeah, until the bell rang for Round 15 and Rocky fired back with a hailstorm of right-left-right to Drago's glass chin.
Eli Manning led a career-defining drive, one which saw him break away from a sure-sack, a miracle on it's own, and then firing a strike down field to David Tyree. WHO?? David Tyree, folks. His helmet made the catch just as much as he did.
Rodney Harrison, a now retired safety of the Patriots, whom we can refer to as the bicep of Drago (power, tons of fight in him) swears to this day he couldn't have punched out that ball from Tyree's grasp, that it was fate which handed the Giants the eventual victory.
Just like Drago couldn't back up his "I must break you" line, the New England Patriots couldn't finish off the first ever 19-0 perfect NFL season.
Memo to all underdogs punching beef in meat locker freezers, running stairs, and training in Russia: We're waiting for you.
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