Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Upsets that Never Were of the Last 20 Years

People have such a boner for upsets in sports, I figured I'd do something a little different.  And no this won't be some sort of "lost rings" bullshit about teams that should have won championships and didn't.  This will be about teams that came this close in games or series in which they had no business competing.  It will be about heavy favorites that came this close to pissing away what should have been an easy win.

#11). 2001 World Series
Arizona Diamondbacks defeat New York Yankees 4 games to 3, outscoring them 37-14 in the process.

This was the last World Series I watched in full, mostly because I refused to watch another game until someone nuked the Yankees off the face of the planet.  They're like that douchebag coworker you might like if you only had to deal with them once in a while instead of all the fucking time.  The Yankees were clearly the inferior team in this series, evidenced by the fact that the Diamondbacks beat the ever loving shit out of them at home.  And you can't cop out and say the D-backs were only superior when they had Johnson or Schilling on the mound when the Yankees scored a max of 4 runs in a game all series.  I'm glad Mike Mussina got shelled in Game 1.  Eat a dick you sellout.

It's #11 because I think that it actually was an upset according to Vegas, but I'm too lazy to look it up.

#10). 2007 Super Bowl
Indianapolis Colts Defeat Chicago Bears 29-17

I don't think any sane person expected Rex Grossman to win a super bowl on a lucky team with an easy schedule, but IT ALMOST FUCKING HAPPENED!  For one quarter anyways.  Thanks to Devin Hester and a Peyton Manning interception, the Bears exited the first frame with a 14-6 lead.  And then everyone in the building remembered that the Bears' quarterback was Rex Grossman and it played out pretty predictably from there on out.

It's #10 because no one ever thought the Colts would actually piss away a Super Bowl to Rex Fucking Grossman.

#9). 1997 Super Bowl
Green Bay Packers Defeat New England Patriots 35-21

The Packers were favored by 14 heading into this game, but found themselves down early 14-10 to the Patriots, and later holding onto a slim 27-21 lead until Desmond Howard (another DH return man, what the fuck?) put the team on his back and returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a fuck you fatass Parcells...er...touchdown.  I remember watching this game and hating the Packers because they'd beaten my then beloved 49ers earlier in the playoffs.  When everyone loved Brett Favre, I fucking hated him.  Who was right all along?

It's #9 because winning by two touchdowns isn't exactly a close game.

#8). 1999 Stanley Cup Finals
Dallas Stars Defeat Buffalo Sabres 4 games to 2 (13g-9g)

An absolutely stacked team with two of the greatest forwards (Hull and Modano) and two top tier defensemen (Zubov and Sydor) needed a wonky goal in triple overtime to beat a team that was Dominik Hasek and a bunch of guys.  Dallas rolled through the west, picking up the top seed.  Buffalo was the 7th seed and had Dominik Hasek.  Dallas had Modano's 81 pts in 77 games and Hulls 32 goals in 60 games, not to mention Zubov's and Sydor's 51 and 48 points respectively.  Buffalo had Satan's 66 points, Peca's 56, and was led on defense by Jason Wolley and Alexei Zhitnik...and Dominik Hasek.  Yeah...

It's #8 because we'll never know what would have happened if overtime continued.

#7). 2004 Stanley Cup Finals
Tampa Bay Lightning Defeat Calgary Flames 4 games to 3 (13g to 14g)

Tampa Bay, the east's top seed found themselves staring down elimination in game six to the sixth seeded Calgary Flames.  It took a double overtime victory in that game just to extend the series and a one goal victory in game seven to clinch.  This game might have been rated higher if the Flames weren't a pretty good team in their own right.  They only finished twelve points below Tampa Bay playing in a brutal Northwest Division while Tampa Bay got to fuck their way through the NHL's sped division all year.  The teams were more evenly matched than their records indicated.

It's #7 because of what I just fucking said.

#6). 2004 Super Bowl
New England Patriots Defeat Carolina Panthers 32-29

Look, the Panthers were a good team in their own right, but the Patriots were a dynasty.  Plus they blew a 21-10 lead in the fourth quarter actually falling behind 22-21 at one point.  The Patriots might not have even been able to get off their last second field goal had Carolina kicker John Kasay not kicked the final kickoff out of bounds, setting the Patriots up on their own 40.  Luckily the Patriots would delight us all by actually blowing a game as a heavy favorite four years later.

It's #6 because I think the Vegas line was only 4 points or something.

#5). 2006 Stanley Cup
Buffalo Sabres Carolina Hurricanes Defeat Edmonton Oilers 4 games to 3 (19g-16g)

Where do I even begin with this one?  For starters, Edmonton was resigned to using their backup goalie for almost the entire series, a move that almost certainly cost them game one.  Carolina took a 2-0 series lead with a dominant shutout of Edmonton at home in game two only to blow that (and a 3-1 series lead) by returning the favor in a 4-0 loss in Edmonton in game 6.  Plus Carolina was a two seed and Edmonton was an eight seed.  You might think this is the very definition of my whole premise here, a vastly superior team nearly shitting the bed, but...

It's #5 because the above proves that Carolina was never that good to begin with.

#4). 2003 Stanley Cup
New Jersey Devils Defeat Anaheim Ducks 4 games to 3 (19g-12g)

Ahh, another juggernaut dynasty playing piss away the championship to an upstart team barely past the expansion phase.  It never gets old, does it?  All the usual suspects are there; the Devils were the east's second seed, the Ducks the west's seventh.  New Jersey was in their prime, and the Ducks were still in mid-adolescence.  What makes this series really interesting is that the Devils took a 2-0 series lead without letting Anaheim score a goal and then promptly forgot how to play hockey or something.  Even more interesting, in Carolina fashion, they completed a dominant performance to take a 3-2 series lead in game five, only to get their asses handed to them in game six.

It's # 4 because I didn't actually watch it, and J.S. Giguere played really well.

#3). 2000 Super Bowl
St. Louis Rams Defeat Tennessee Titans 23-16

Look, the Titans put together an awesome record, but they also needed an illegal play to defeat Rob Fucking Johnson in their wild card game.  Yes, the Titans had a good defense, and yes they were basically playing a home game in the nearby Georgia Dome...but the Rams were The Greatest Show on Turf...playing on Turf!  How the hell did they let the Titans get within one yard of the first Super Bowl to go to overtime?

It's #3 because the Rams were The Greatest Show on Fucking Turf.

#2). 1994 Stanley Cup Finals
New York Rangers Defeat Vancouver Canucks 4 games to 3 (21g-19g)

Enter the New York Rangers, led by Mark Messier, the East's top seed and the winner of the tough Atlantic Division.  Enter the Vancouver Canucks, led by Pavel Bure, the West's seventh seed and the second place finisher in the shitty Pacific Division which featured the 3rd, 4th, and 5th worst teams in the league.  After dropping game one, the Rangers take a 3-1 series lead, winning games two, three, and four by a combined 8 goals.  They'd so thoroughly creamed the Canucks, that they'd set a date for their victory parade.  Then the Canucks won games five and six by three goals apiece to bring the series to a game seven.  And what's more, the overrated Mark Messier and the New York Rangers were so fearful of losing, Adam Graves went out to goon Vancouver captain Trevor Linden in game six.  (Which almost backfired spectacularly as Linden nearly single-handedly Kariya-ed the Rangers in game seven.)  Only the 2006 Hurricanes might be more pathetic Stanley Cup Champions.

It's #2 because I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around #1.

#1). 2009 Super Bowl
Pittsburgh Steelers Defeat Arizona Cardinals 27-23

The 2008-2009 Arizona Cardinals were fucking terrible.  They went 9-7 in the regular season, winning six of those games against their joke of a division who was a combined 13-35.  They suffered blowout losses to the Jets (21 pts), Eagles (28 pts), Vikings (21 pts), and Patriots (40 pts) and won one game against a playoff team that had no business being a playoff team (Miami) and to top it all off, only scored one more point than they gave up.  They then proceeded to win three playoff games on Matt Ryan's inexperience, Jake Delhomme's inebriation, and Donovan McNabb's complete and utter inability to even form coherent sentences after the two minute warning.

While the Steelers weren't exactly a juggernaut, they won a better division that actually contained another playoff team (Baltimore) and compiled a 12-4 record in the process.  They then defeated two of the next three best teams in the AFC in San Diego and Baltimore to advance to the Super Bowl.

Then, in typical Steeler fashion they proceeded to play like they were the 9-7 joke of a team...and win anyways.  While the Steelers' awful performance can't hold a candle to Super Bowl XL, a game that no one still has any idea how they won, it was pretty awful.  The Cardinals outstripped them in virtually every statistical category.  Were it not for fatass crybaby James Harrison returning a pass that would've put the Cardinals up 14-10 at the half that instead swung the score to 17-7 in the Steelers' favor, the Cardinals might have walked out of Florida with a blowout victory (or at least a 30-20 victory).

The Steelers completely crapping the bed as a team that was so vastly superior to the Cardinals it was ridiculous easily deserves the number one ranking here.  You can tell how much of a shitstorm the game was by the MVP choice, when voters said, "fuck we have no idea, give it to a wide receiver."

I shouldn't complain too much though, I won $75 off the game.

It's #1 because I said so.

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