PARIS, FRANCE – Admit it sports fans you’ve all screamed how your team was robbed before, probably on multiple occasions. Joe Jacobs is famously credited with the quote “we was robbed” after his boxer Max Schmeling, symbol of Nazi supremacy who split two fights with Joe Louis, lost a decision to Jack Sharkey in June of 1932. The most recent blatant case of grand larceny occurred Wednesday when the lads from my parents birthplace were robbed. Big time. With a coveted World Cup birth at stake the Irish needed to beat the 2006 World Cup runner up French squad in Paris to force a shootout which would decide who would advance. With the Irish well on their way to a 1-0 victory late in extra time there were two egregious non calls by the officials on one fateful play. The play began with two offside Frenchmen followed by a unmistakable handball by Thierry Henry which led directly to the winning goal. Oh, the humanity.
I haven’t been this upset with a smarmy Frenchman since Henri tried to steal Woody’s girlfriend on Cheers. Look at me Ireland, I’m going to steal your World Cup. Not surprising their names are pronounced the same.
In disgust, I’ve decided to list the Top Five Egregious Sporting Official Calls In My Lifetime:
Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings 1975 NFC Divisional Playoff Game – This is the most infamous football play in NFL history, known as “The Hail Mary” to Cowboy fans and as “The Push” to Vikings fans. With the Cowboys down 14 – 10 in the last minute poor Nate Wright was shoved sideways by Drew Pearson during a last second desperation pass. Pearson strode into the end zone looking like the cat that ate the canary. Vikings fans got some sort of revenge soon after when the ref was hit in the head with a whiskey bottle thrown from the stands. Unfortunately it wasn’t the ref that had blown the call, but close enough I guess.
USA vs. USSR Basketball Finals Munich Olympics 1972 – Damn Commies got to the refs in this one. The last 3 seconds of this game were replayed 3 times and I’m sure it would’ve been replayed dozens of times until a result in favor of Mother Russia was attained. The USA team never accepted their Silver Medals in protest. We got the last laugh when we stole Yakov Smirnoff from the Ruskies later that decade. Whatta Country.
Cardinals vs. Royals 1985 World Series – Don Denkinger blows the call at first on Jorge Orta’s leadoff grounder to second that leads to a two run inning as the Royals stave off elimination. The Royals will go on to win the series as Joaquin Andujar melts down the next night arguing with the umps, no doubt due to the frustration of the poor call the night prior. After Andujar’s ejection he took a bat and destroyed a toilet in the Cards clubhouse. The clubhouse staff were not phased by this since Steve Balboni had been destroying Royals Stadium clubhouse bathrooms in another fashion all season. This was a great sight for us Met fans who lost out to The Rat’s Cards during the last week of the season.
Missouri vs. Colorado 1990 – Bill McCartney’s Colorado criminals were given an extra down with time expiring versus upset minded Missou. The NCAA could have easily voided the last down but fearing the wrath of L.A. gang members who made up the Buffaloes roster decided to stay out of the fray. The Buffaloes went on to win a share of the national title with a 10-1-1 record. McCartney went on to form a group of religious nuts knows as the Promise Keepers. Hey the Crusaders were only doing God’s work as well. To add insult to injury Yakov Smirnoff moved to Branson, MO full time later in the 1990’s.
Argentina vs. England 1986 World Cup – The goal known as “El Mano de Dios” or “the hand of God” directed in by an Argentine munchkin footballer. Like Thierry Henry, Diego Maradona was an international superstar before this hand ball goal. In his defense he also scored the second Argentine goal and eventual match winner nicknamed “the goal of the century” five minutes later. Mentioning “the hand of God” to an Englishman is like saying Bill Buckner or Bucky Dent to a Red Sox fan. Most right minded people believed that the Brits had this coming to them after having just unleashed Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran and George Michael on the world.
I’m sure I missed a couple of hideous calls throughout the years so let me know if there are others you thought were more deserving.