Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Upsets: A History

With The Super Bowl less than a week away and another blowout on the horizon, I feel it important to remind the skeptic in us all that upsets do happen, and often when they are most needed. A Giants victory over The Patriots would clearly be an upset, but not necessarily in the pantheon of all-time greats. Here now is a reminder why rooting for David is not always pointless, and why Goliath, aside from having no heart(a sling-shot? C'mon, that's weak Big G), is bound to take a fall.


Buster Douglass knocking out Mike Tyson:

When I heard about Iron Mike's defeat I felt ill. I literally got a stomach ache and wanted to vomit. I'm not sure why I liked him so much but it probably had something to do with his unique combination of killer punching power and sweet girlie voice. The black shorts, black shoes, the aura of physical menace, all created a feeling of inevitable truth in the ring and out: he was The Champ and the universe acted accordingly. Then he went to Japan, got fat, and got his ass beat by a guy named Buster. The Champ was no longer Iron Mike but literally a mark-ass Buster. The odds were 42-1. That means it should never ever have happened. Buster stayed champ for a few minutes, got Ruben Stoddard fat, and disappeared. Mike raped a girl, went to prison, got out of prison, knocked some more people out, bit off Holyfields ear, followed that up with incessant insanity, got himself knocked out, and hopefully now has vanished into Bolivian, just as he so eloquently once said.

Jets beat Colts in Super Bowl III:

Back in the 1960's there was The NFL and the AFL. The NFL was old and insufferable, the AFL was new and brash. At the end of the season the best teams in the leagues would play in The Super Bowl. The NFL team won the first two and it was assumed that The NFL, being the more established of the two, would continue to dominate for the foreseeable future. But a funny thing happened: Jets quarterback Joe Namath, between sleeping with every woman within a ten-mile radius and making drunken advances to the rest, boldly predicted his AFL Jets would beat the mighty Colts from Baltimore. He was right, his legend was secure, and he now gets away with whatever foul behavior he can conjure. Baltimore meanwhile lost the Super Bowl, eventually lost its football team, and now solely exists as the setting for the dramatized portrayal of all that is unfixable in American cities.


Jesse Ventura becomes Governor of Minnesota:

This one isn't as hard to comprehend now that The Governator has been running California for years, but back when this happened it was mind-blowing. Mr. Ventura, a former professional wrestler and film "star", apparently threw every voter in the entire state into a sleeper hold until they agreed to vote for him. Whether or not he did a good job I have no idea, but I don't think it's a coincidence that his tenure as Governor coincided perfectly with baseball's steroid era.

The Governator:

Okay, so among his competition was a porn star, a washed-up tv actor, and ten-thousand of The Golden State's amateur political freaks, but still, the idea that the man who channeled Conan the Barbarian so perfectly was now in charge of the 8th largest economy in the world was a troubling one. It is still hard to believe, Harry.

Box office:


I shit you not people, there was a time, prior to the release of this movie, when it was destined to be the biggest flop of all-time. Buzz on the movie was negative, it was over-budget, the filming went too long, the ending was no secret, and the stars were relatively unknown. Plus the movie was called Titanic, named after one of the all-time disasters. Well, then the move hit the theaters and every female between the ages of 8 and 30 went fifteen times at least. It was crazy. Millions of guys across the world now had to hear about Jack and Rose's incredible love, making this a truly upsetting upset. On the bright side there was a pleasantly surprising naked scene with Kate Winslet which showcased her unsinkable hull.


Julia Roberts marries Lyle Lovett:

I was never a huge Julia Roberts fan, even when Pretty Woman catapulted her to super-stardom and gave young runaway prostitutes the falsest of hopes. Honestly that's not even my favorite hooker with a heart of gold story. Nevertheless she was a star among stars and the entire world bowed down to her gynormous smile and winning charm. With the entire male population on a string Julia did what any normal woman would do: she married a hideous looking man with a weird name and Sideshow Bob hair. In retrospect this was a desperate cry for help, but even so it remains proof that Goliath is often confused and in need of therapy.

Mack 10 and T-Boz tie the knot:

To simply read the above sentence would hint at a bizarre unsolved mystery or violent crime, but to know the truth is to understand how fine T-Boz was and how disappointing the news of her marriage to fat, unskilled Mack 10 remains still. She preached No Scrubs but exchanged fluids and vows with a scrubbish fattie nonetheless. If I'm not mistaken they have since divorced; he treated her like a violent rapper dude.



Not entirely fictional since the film was based on actual events but not exactly true either, this stands as a Top 10 sports film of all-time. It has it all: the great lead performance by Gene Hackman as a hyper-competitive genius coach escaping his past, Dennis Hopper as the embarrassing town drunk, and Maris Valainis as the indomitable Jimmy Chitwood, the silent basketball savant who speaks only in bold statements:

"Coach goes, I go. Coach stays, I play."
"I'll make it"

Those are literally his only two lines in the movie. Putting all this aside for a second, what makes this such a momentous upset is simple: in the final game they play a powerhouse team with, not-coincidentally, an all-Black roster, and somehow the Whiteboys from Hickory pull it off. My 6 year-old brain nearly exploded when I saw this in the theater. I still own the poster.


The Mullet:

I may been in over my head at this point. Trying to categorize the mullet as a fashion upset is far too simple and maybe even uninformed. I had to find some room for the weird and bizarre, and in my mind there is a lot of both in the mullet phenomenon; sure, it is a hairstyle, a way of telling the barber to cut your hair, and perhaps nothing more than that. But it has risen from pragmatic option to amusing conversation piece to all-out cultural touchstone. Mullets are great. Mullets are hideous. Mullets are worn by poor hillbillies. Mullets are worn by people who think poor hillbillies are toothless inbreds and by imitating the haircut they have done some impressive fashion service in the name of detachment and irony. I have nothing against mullets, whether worn honestly or for kicks, but I think they belong in this list. Like I said, I could be in over my head. I'll also include crocs, the pegged pant-leg style, skinny jeans on guys, and spandex.


To finish the list I'll include my own experience with defying the odds. In 11th grade I got asked out by what was then maybe the hottest girl in school. I went to a Quaker school so I'll put it in Quaker terms: if all the boys in high school were ushered into meeting and forced to come to consensus on who had the most bubblelicious booty, we would reach consensus within minutes. The rest of her looked fine as well. She saw some promise in the young Asian dun and picked me up in route to a movie. My palms were sweating like a leaky faucet as Jerry Maguire dragged endlessly on the screen in front of us; needless to say I had neither the confidence, charisma, nor the necessary alcohol and drug assistance to make the evening more than a protracted display of my own lameness, but that's not the point. I went on a date with the hottest girl in school, and even got a goodnight kiss. Now if only we had gone to see Hoosiers, who knows how the night would have ended.

So you see friends, upsets do happen, and they can happen to you. Do I think the Giants can defeat New England on Sunday? Not really, but crazier things have happened.

Additional Notes:

-Yours truly and Eldiablogrande attended a very real and very selective luncheon with Ed Stefansky on Monday afternoon. The full report on what we learned about Willie Green's true role, Ron Artest's mental health, and Young Thad's amazing upside is coming this week. And I mean it, we really did have lunch with him.

-Keep in mind The DR's musical brother show, If It Ain't Broke, hosted by me, airs every Monday morning from 9-11am on Tune in and tune out of work, school, or wherever you may be. You might get to hear some of The DR staff on air.
Tune in anyway.

-The Mets traded for Johan Santana today. Don't fear Phillies fans, and always remember, we are the team to beat in National League East. JRoll said it and JRoll speaks truth.


  1. Long Live Frank Farian!!

  2. Can it be any coincidence that Chief Naka is shoutung out Milli Vanilli on the DR a mere 48 hours after rocking the airwaves with the soothing sounds of Boney M? I sense a Farian-fueled conspiracy.

  3. I don't remember you going out with Liz Fredette....

  4. Idiot, I was the hottest girl in school. I waited and waited for that flushed asian to make a move, but alas none was to be made. a yung'n can dream right?

  5. Perhaps the greatest post in the history of posting on the DR. A true inspiration. And what's more, you weaved emily hewes into the story, which is miraculous in and of itself. I raise my glass in your honor, Chief Naka

  6. a truly inspired bit of writing- and i'm not just saying that because we are blood related.

    btw- was i still living at home when this fabled date occured? i don't think i was- i'm fairly certain that if i was i would recall hounding you for gossip (which i would then pass on to mom), and teasing you endlessly about it....

  7. Nicely done, indeed. Incredible hyperlinks. Though I'm sure this has been viewed by all, the connection between Hasselhoff and Namath is:

    It wasn't Emily Hewes or Liz Fredette; it was Kara Goldman. Bubblelicious...Oh god.

    Other great sports movies in history besides Hoosiers which is In-credible. "My team's on the floor!":

    1. The Natural
    2. Bang The Drums Slowly
    3. Bull Durham
    4. Without Limits
    5. Vision Quest
    6. Gladiator
    7. Any Given Sunday
    8. Major League
    9. Diggstown
    10. Dodgeball
    11. Better Off Dead
    12. Rudy
    13. Bad News Bears
    14. Invincible (of course)
    15. Caddyshack
    16. Field of Dreams
    17. Baseketball (not that awesome)
    18. Blue Chips (again, kind of terrible)
    19. Our Lady of Victory (yet to be seen)
    20. Don't forget about Air Bud, Wide Retriever
    21. Naked Gun (not exactly a sports movie, but has a very memerable scene)

    I'm sure Willa would like to include the movie with Lil' Bow wow or Juwannaman, but I can't do that. I would rather watch Air Bud.

  8. If you ain't seen boxing this great, Riddick Bo's on HBO; just you wait.

  9. Can't believe I forgot to include the following films in the list:

    Raging Bull (raging mug)
    Karate Kid
    Teen Wolf
    (and many more)