Saturday, April 10, 2010

Butler's Shot Was Almost The Greatest; Giants Sizzle; Angels Hollow On Air; Braves Title Bound; Bare Baylor

Gordon Hayward from half-court! No good!

One inch to the right, and Butler wins the championship!

Wow, was that ending for all time or what?

What, really. With the miss, Duke beat Butler 61-59 last Monday for college basketball's crown.

If Butler had cashed in that Hail Hayward? We'd be calling it the shot heard round the universe.

Because it would've been otherworldly. Think of the greatest plays to finish championships. None would touch the Butler Bomb.

Consider the backdrop. Tiny school. Against a hoop giant. Down by two. Full court to go. Heave. Ho, if he had only hit it.

As it is, Coach K's crew won the Carolina college's fourth title.

And the boys from Indiana will forever recall their "Hoosiers" moment — when Jimmy Chitwood's winning movie basket almost replayed in Indianapolis.

After Hayward's wayward shot, I thought of other plays for the ages.

Basketball. Keith Smart. His baseline jumper as the clock melted really was a Chitwood re-enactment. It gave the Indiana Hoosiers the title over Syracuse in 1987, the year after the movie came out.

Baseball. Bill Mazeroski. Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. Pittsburgh and the nuclear New York Yankees were tied 9-9. Bottom of the ninth. Pow. Maz mashed one over the left-field wall at Forbes Field. The fans poured over the Pirates.

Football. Adam Vinatieri. The 2002 Super Bowl. New England was tied 17-17 with St. Louis' big-time favored Rams. Bang. Vinatieri nailed a 48-yard field goal with no time left to give the Patriots their first NFL title.

Hockey. Bobby Orr. Boston led the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals three games to zip. But St. Louis had fought to a 3-3 overtime in Game 4. Orr shot. He flew over the ice. The puck pounded the net. The Bruins were on top.

Too bad Butler didn't do it too.

The good news. Duke and Butler reached the final with a unique concept — upperclassmen, players who attend class. The Kentucky types who rode one-and-done talent went nowhere.

The Duke-Butler way puts the college back in basketball. And gives hope to my Missouri Tigers. Mike Anderson coaches our guys to get degrees on the patch to wealth after hoops. Now that could mean an NCAA title as well.

Giant stuff. You notice San Francisco's sizzling start this baseball season? Brings back memories of "The Giants Win the Pennant" 1962 album that filled my ears. There was Lon Simmons saying, "The Giants were looking for more than hamburgers. They were looking for steaks." Time for more calls like that in Frisco.

Speaking of calls. Can't get into Angel TV and radio games. The knifing of Rex Hudler and Steve "Light up the Halo" Physioc leaves the Orange County team with zero on-air vibe. I'll just have to catch games at the stadium.

So who wins it all? You have to like the Yankees' chances to repeat. I mean, all they did was add silver bullets to their ordnance. But I hate picking the obvious. Mark me down for Atlanta to give Bobby Cox the World Series trophy in his last season as skipper.

Don't look now. But isn't Baylor women's hoop center Brittney Griner a guy? Sure dunks and talks like one. Better check him out, especially after the track people uncovered South African impostor Caster Semenya for what he is.

Bucky Fox is an author and editor in Southern California who runs

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