24 April 2012

U is for Underdog

is for Underdog.

The underrated, the unlikely, the unable - why do we want them all to prove themselves? And it doesn't matter the event or the contenders, be it sport for team or country, or success in academics, or oppression thrown off in war - those who should not win, should not succeed, or couldn't possibly be free, give us the most pleasure when they do the unthinkable.

Perhaps there are so many underdogs among us, ourselves included, that we need to see the unbelievable. Perhaps it feels a bit like justice, like oppression lifted - even in athletics.

In sports there is no better example than the Dodgers of 1988 - at least, they are why I will always love to see the Dodgers win, and I will always remember their title run.

1988 was supposed to be the year of the Mets and the A's. New York spent the year watching a man named Strawberry blast home runs all over the park, and Oakland had everyone, including a young Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco - the bash brothers. Yet the boys in blue stunned the Mets in seven games. And what did the critics say? The World Series would be a joke - the A's will certainly sweep all four games.

The unnamed Dodgers would find the knockout punch in game one.

The newest Dodger was Kirk Gibson; he joined a team of practical jokers and quickly turned the clubhouse into a professional place, one where the team expected to win. October 15th, game one of the '88 Series, Gibson expected to win just like any other night, except he didn't play. Gibson was injured in the National League Championship Series and watched 8 2/3 of the game from the bench.

Until he couldn't watch anymore.

The A's looked as though they would begin their sweep of the Dodgers, they were winning by one run with only one out to get and Dennis Eckersley on the mound - an all but untouchable closer. Gibson limped to the plate, and proceeded to launch himself permanently into Dodger lore.

This is a great summary of that moment:

Gibson's limping, fist-pumping trip around the bases is fixed in every Dodger fan's memory - and every A's fan's, too. In fact, the home run was so powerful, and the game one victory so improbable, that the A's couldn't recover. The Dodgers won the '88 World Series in five games on the back of that hit and Orel Hershiser's pitching.

Unthinkable. Unimaginable. It's what the underdog does.


Read more about my theme this April in my intro to the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Or visit the home page here.


Kay said...

Nice post - how are you finding the a to z? Exhausting?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post-I fondly remember where I was when Gibson limped around the bases! Because I'm the unlikely underdog it gives me hope to see the unlikely overcome!

michelle said...

I'm visiting from the A to Z circuit.
I've always been a champion for the underdog.
Enjoy the rest of the challenge.

Ro @ Eat Live Move said...

I always want the underdog to win! Besides, I really enjoy a come back/triumphant story.

Eat Live Move: Intuitive Eating from A to Z!

Alex said...

The story of the underdog is a very common thread running throughout redemptive history. God will always use the one, measly individual to give Himself the maximum amount of glory.

Anonymous said...

I've always had a soft spot for underdogs. Great subject!

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