Thursday, July 13, 2006

Most Awkward Moments In Sports

A friend of mine recently asked me what I thought the most awkward moment in athletics was, a question that I ended up spending the better part of my night contemplating (yes,the first shots of World War III may very well have just been fired in the Middle East and this is what I spend my days thinking about).

Without further adieu, here are my top 5 awkward moments in sports:

5) The kickoff tee retrieval

After an exciting kickoff and subsequent return, everyone's attention next turns to the lonely tee sitting by itself near midfield. The person sent on this Homer-esque retrieval adventure is usually a lowly trainer or manager who hasn't yet earned his or her stripes. Now sometimes teams, like U of L, will use kids to do the trick, and other times the kicker will simply pick the tee up himself, but neither of these two options are as fun so we'll focus on example number one.

The task is quite a quandry for the assigned party for numerous reasons. First, immediately following the kickoff will be a play, which means that you can't half-ass this, and that means that you can't bust out your pimp jog (we know you have one). Seeing you sprinting and giving your all in the middle of a packed stadium immediately makes the thousands of fans juxtapose you with the other 22 individuals on the field and the reasons they are giving their maximum effort. You don't come out favorably in this comparison.

Next, it's kind of a lose-lose here because if you do your job successfully it only means that you didn't fall or get run over by a 280 pound lineman named Joose. If you don't do your job successfully it means you did fall and Joose treated you to a sex change operation sans the drugs and medicinal tools. It also means you're going to be on Sportscenter and your trombone playing roommate with three ears is going to petend they don't know you.

4) The foul ball pop out

Everyone who played baseball at some point in their lives has experienced this moment at least once. You've waited at least half an hour for your big moment in the box. You dig in, stare down the pitcher, and then take the biggest hack you can muster only to watch as the catcher stands under your weak fly ball and then catches it four feet to your right.

At least when you hit a fly ball into fair territory you can do a cool bat toss and then attempt your best "I'm (first name) fuckin (last name), I'm gonna get drunk and get laid after this game and I don't give a shit if I just flew out" jog around first. Also the possibility exists that someone will drop they easy out, turning the focus on them and you can switch into still kind of pissed/slightly amused mode.

Popping out in fail territory, however, means that you have to stand in the batter's box (bat still in hand, mind you) and wait the 30-45 minutes it takes for your ball to come back down to earth, all the while thinking "this is great, even if he drops it I still fucking suck, and then I have to get back in there and do this again."

How to handle your disposition during this whole ordeal is another issue entirely. Do you rock the staggered legs? One hand on the hip maybe? Look away in disgust because whether or not he catches the ball, this is the first time in your life you have swung and not hit a home run?

The possibilities are endless, watch closely the next time you get a chance.

3) The casually missed short putt

This one applies only to the amateur game, and not like the college amateur game, the amateur game where you pee in a bush while your buddy tees off.

Here's the scenario: your three buddies have already putted out, two of them walk toward their bags while the third picks up the pin in anticipation of you drilling your two foot gimmie. You slowly stroll over to your ball, which you found in the brush earlier in the round, and prepare to send it home. You don't set your feet or take any practice strokes because, let's face it, you'd be on the PGA if you weren't such a valued member of the "Jeremy's Electronics" team. Your buddy is still slowly walking towards the cup with the pin as you nonchalantly stroke your putt which promptly misses the right side of the hole by four inches. Your friend turned enemy stops in his tracks and the two of you make brief eye contact as you contemplate whether to act angry, slightly annoyed, or amused. You give a slight laugh because it was such an easy putt it was practically a gimmie.

Wait a second, was it a gimmie? It was so close that it had to have been. Plus your friend was moving while you hit the ball which has to be some sort of penalty. You reach for your USGA rule book, but alas, you've left it at home yet again. Two of your friends have no idea, but the other (God damn him to hell) is waiting to see how you're going to play this. He knows your dirty little secret, and he'll hold this over your head for the rest of your life (God you hate him).

Finally the moment of truth comes. Your score keeping buddy asks the thousand dollar question as you all wait for the group in front of you to clear the 350 yard mark in the fairway. "4," you try to sneak in so he's the only one who can hear it. "What's that?" comes the response. Shit. You're goin for it, just say it, who cares? That guy has an ugly girlfriend, he has no business with you on your large, graceful horse. "I got a 4....hmm I think." Shit. No going back now, the blood on your hands is dripping all over the furry tee box, you have to come clean. "No I made a five, I forgot about that awful pitch, just one of those days I guess."

You hate your life.

2) The moments immediately following a jump ball

When a ball is loose, basketball players are taught to be animals. You have to claw, fight, kill for that ball. The other guy that wants it is your enemy, you do whatever it takes to pry that ball out of his satanic-like hands. All of the sudden the whistle blows and the game comes to a screeching halt. Players are asked to suddenly switch off the hatred and aggression that has fueled the last few moments of play.

Several possibilities exist when this happens.

1: One player will shove the other as his last drip of testosterone gets the better of him. This leads to the other player being forced to retaliate as well as several of his teammates getting involved. This is the best possibility.

2: One player utters a vulgar insult as he turns an walks away. The most likely response here is a retaliatory insult and the referee stepping in and calming things down. However, the end result in scenario one is also a possibility here, or perhaps sometime later in the game as a result of the incident. Scenario two has a large upside.

3: The players make nice with either a joke or a casual "I see you working" ass slap. This can be nice if your into this sort of thing. It also takes up the least amount of time which may also be a plus.

4: Nothing happens. This is the doomsday option. You get your hopes up for a feisty rowe, or heated exchange, and absolutely nothing transpires.

You hate scenario four.

It should be noted that in each of these cases, whatever happens is dictated by whatever player acts first. In this situation neither player has any idea of how to react and is usually just hoping to go off of whatever the other guy does. This is why when someone like Ron Artest or Ivan Drago from Rocky IV are involved in a tie-up it's best to pay close attention.

And Finally......

1) The foul tip strike three look back

Ahh yes, the creme de la creme of awkward sports moments.

The count is 1 and 2 and you've just fouled off would-be strike three, only you didn't change the trajectory of the ball very much and you heard a thud that quite possibly could have been the ball coming to rest in the catcher's mitt. Do you dare look back and face the inevitable embarrassment of not only striking out, but looking horribly awkward in doing so?

The look in that 1 1/2 second speaks volumes, hilariously awkward volumes. You can almost hear the poor bastard saying "OK, so I struck out? Alright, cool, I was just making sure. I'm gonna go ahead and trot back to the dugout now because I'm a fucking loser. I appreciate your time."

I really need to start reading more.

Peace, love, Cards.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was fucking awesome

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Hilarious, only I think you left out the awkward exchange between the players and ball boys in tennis.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Mike said...


1:25 PM  
Blogger Spirit of Jack Morris said...

Those 2 footers are a bitch... But then again, any time I putt, it's a bitch..

1:41 PM  
Blogger Dre said...

Good list, I would personally nominate either the pitcher picking you off with such a quick move that you aren't caught diving back, you're just standing there with a look like "Oh fuck, what just happened?" Or the strike three called in a clutch situation with men on base where the pitch was such a heater or great curve that it winds up down the middle with no swing at all from you. Just wipe the shit from your pants, turn around, and have a seat.

1:55 PM  
Anonymous baby arm said...

How about getting rung up after jogging three steps down the line on what you thought was ball four, or the swinging strike three where the bat ends up in the stands?

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Balmes said...

How about the look on a pitcher's face after either a bases loaded walk or a balk with a man on third. The second one, though rare, always reminds me of the look people get on their faces after committing a foul in basketball. Pro to pickup game, its always the same innocent face.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about having to run to first after the dropped 3rd strike? You have to make the effort, even though you know that you are just running there for no reason.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about when a coach/manager is being interviewed on screen and something really important happens in the game in that little PIP box. Either the commentators are trying to get out of the conversation or the coach runs and leaves the camera shot and screams something.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally enjoy seeing a player head towards first thinking its ball four on a called 3rd strike.... and for something more recent, whenever an NFL coach calls an instant replay challenge and they get their fugly-mug-close up on the teleprompter & on the network affiliate, whilst the referees deliberate the challenge.... Oh the ugliness!

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lest we forget, the oblivious effects of a wrongly called time-out, either when it is the last one available or when none exist and the alleged perpetrator basks in all his shameful glory

3:31 PM  
Blogger Toasty Joe said...

Good stuff.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dolphins used to (and may still) have a grown man, short and pudgy, dressed in Dolphin sweat shorts and shirt. He'd run for the kickoff tee, dive on it, and sprint back to the sideline while the crowd cheered him on.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I definitely need to go to a Dolphins game.

Great stuff guys, I wish I had thought of a lot of these myself.

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Don't some college teams use dogs to return the tee? That's embarassing for everyone else with the job. You only have it because the team doesn't have the time to train a dog to do it.

1:52 AM  

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