Wednesday, September 16, 2009

World Cup 2010: Top 50 World Cup moments

Maradona, Pele, Cruyff... Celebrate the greatest moments and greatest players in World Cup history with our definitive list, complete with YouTube clips.

By Rory Smith

Bobby Moore and Pele: Top 50 World Cup moments
That tackle, that save: Bobby Moore (left) swaps shirts with Pele after the epic 1970 World Cup encounter between England and Brazil in Guadalajara, Mexico Photo: AP

1. Maradona’s two minutes, 1986

No player has ever dominated a tournament as wholly as Diego Armando Maradona managed in 1986, taking a workmanlike Argentina to their second World Cup title. How he did it is encapsulated in his two goals against England in the quarter finals; the first a masterclass in the art of deception - he cheated - and the second, simply a masterclass. They were the moments that made him an icon.

Watch YouTube clip one

Watch YouTube clip two

2. Pele’s pass, 1970

In 1966, Brazil, winners of the previous two World Cups, sent a team of cloggers to England and promptly embarrassed themselves. In 1970, they made up for lost time by sending “five number 10s” – Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino, Gerson and Tostao – and playing some of the best football ever seen. Pele’s pass for Carlos Alberto’s goal in the contemptuous demolition of Italy in the final provided a fitting epitaph for the greatest team ever to grace the finals.

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3. The Goal That Never Was, Maybe, 1966

Taken from a neutral perspective, the 1966 World Cup final is arguably the best of all 18, featuring a late equaliser to send the game into extra time in a six-goal thriller between two arch-rivals. Geoff Hurst’s second, England’s third, killed off the West German resistance and kick-started a debate that still rages today, and not the one about Hans Tilkowski’s hat.

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4. Cruyff’s turn, 1974

There a few tricks employed quite so often on the playground as the Cruyff turn, a devastatingly simple premise barely noted by commentators in the all-singing, all-dancing age of the Premier League. It is, then, testament to Johan Cruyff’s abilities that nobody thought of it until he unveiled it to the world against Sweden, and the hapless Gunnar Olsson, in Germany in 1974.

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5. They Think It’s All Over, 1966

So iconic is Kenneth Wolstenholme’s commentary that his words almost overshadow both Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick goal in a World Cup final and excuse the small-scale pitch invasion that, should it happen in 2018, would be targeted by a Home Office inquiry resulting in banning orders.

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6. The Miracle of Bern, 1954

Where England places Kenneth Wolstenholme, Germany puts Herbert Zimmermann, the man whose screams of “tor” provided the soundtrack to a nation’s rebirth. Two goals down to the Hungary of Puskas, Hidegkuti and Kocsis – who had beaten them 8-3 in the group stages – Germany somehow recovered before Helmut Rahn sent Zimmermann into raptures.

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7. The Wail Heard Around The World, 1950

It is believed the Maracana held more than 200,000 people for the 1950 final between heavily-fancied hosts Brazil and minnows Uruguay. It was all going to plan for the home fans when Friaca put Brazil, in white, ahead, before Juan Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia turned the world on its head. So upset were the hosts that they forgot to give Uruguay the trophy, the 200,000 sat in “silence too difficult to bear” and the national team refused to ever wear white again.

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8. The night before the morning after, 1974

Like Hungary in 1954, Holland were clearly the greatest team on the planet as they swashbuckled their way through the tournament in Germany 20 years later. But their plans fell apart when German newspapers published details of a party at the team hotel on the eve of the final against the hosts – legend has it that Johan Cruyff spent all night persuading his wife nothing amiss had gone on – and their campaign did likewise, as Paul Breitner and Gerd Muller cancelled out Johan Neeskens’ early penalty.

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9. Zinedine Zidane’s sister, 2006

What Zinedine Zidane was to football, Marco Materazzi is to winding up opponents. After a tournament in which he had enjoyed the most glorious of swansongs, the French legend decided to go out in style, giving his side the lead in the World Cup final before, in extra time, responding to one barb too many – reportedly about his sister - with the head-butt seen around the world.

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10. Welcome to Pele, 1958

Brazil’s World Cup pedigree when they travelled to Sweden in 1958 was comparatively poor; when they left, the idea of samba football had been born, largely thanks to the soundtrack which accompanied them as they trained. But the star of the show was the unknown black 17-year-old who saw off Wales in the quarter-finals, scored a hat-trick in the semis and then announced himself to the world with that goal against the hosts in the final.

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11. The Battle of Santiago, 1962

David Coleman, moral arbiter of sport, decried this game between Chile and Italy as the “most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.” Two players were sent off, noses were broken and all manner of chaos broke loose. Everyone watching probably secretly enjoyed it.

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12. Everything Brazil did in Spain, 1982

Football, by all accounts, only remembers the winners. Eder, Junior, Zico, Falcao and Socrates were not winners – Paolo Rossi put paid to that – but, their countrymen from 1970 aside, no more memorable team has ever played in a World Cup finals.

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13. Cry Baby, 1990

Paul Gascoigne’s tears for his booking in the semi-final of Italia 90 did not simply endear the Geordie schemer to a nation, but laid the ground for the gentrification of football into the sport it has become.

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14. The wall breaks, 1974

Zaire did not have much fun at the 1974 tournament, but those watching them did. Faced with the might of Brazil, right-back Ilunga earned his own place in history thanks to his decision to undertake probably the funniest thing ever to happen in Germany.

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15. Battiston’s teeth, 1982

What is truly remarkable about the worst foul ever seen at a World Cup – and possibly in all of football – is that Harald Schumacher was not even booked for what was at least assault on Patrick Battiston. The Frenchman was left unconscious, his front teeth knocked out, needed oxygen on the pitch and, of course, the Germans went on to win.

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16. The thrown game, 1978

Needing to win by four clear goals to beat Brazil to a place in their own World Cup final, Argentina easily saw off the previously impressive – well, adequate – Peruvians by six, prompting reports the Argentine military junta had fixed the game. That Peru’s goalkeeper, Ramon Quiroga, had been born in Argentina hardly helped matters.

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17. USA! USA! 1950

Joe Gaetjens, a Haitian student drafted into the US side for the 1950 World Cup, only played three games in international football, but his contribution – the goal that beat Walter Winterbottom’s England – produced the biggest upset in the tournament’s history.

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18. The ephedrine scream, 1994

Drug cheats all over the world know the best way to avoid detection is not to draw attention to your altered state of mind. Such a ploy was not for Diego Maradona, not after a wonderful goal against Greece. Had nobody felt the need to test him before his celebration, they probably realised they had better check after it.

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19. Marco, Marco, Marco, 1982

Paolo Rossi, recently returned from a ban after becoming embroiled in a match-fixing scandal, fired Italy to the World Cup final, but it was Marco Tardelli’s strike which defined their victory. He denies screaming his name repeatedly as he wheeled away, insisting: “It was just a noise, I could not say anything.”

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20. Banks’s save, Moore’s tackle, 1970

The reigning champions’ defeat to their heirs apparent in the heat of Guadalajara was notable for Jeff Astle’s miss, Jairzinho’s goal, Bobby Moore’s tackle on Pele and, of course, Gordon Banks’s remarkable save from the planet’s greatest player, as well as the mutual respect on show after the game.

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21. Archie’s Army, 1978

It may not have been enough to save Ally McLeod’s side from ignominious elimination, but Archie Gemmill’s waltz through the Dutch defence to help Scotland to a 3-2 win at least salvaged some wounded Caledonian pride from the 1978 tournament.

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22. Pak Do Ik, 1966

Along with the USA’s win over England in 1950, North Korea’s elimination of Italy from the tournament 16 years later ranks as the greatest shock ever seen at a finals. It was Pak Do Ik who delivered the hammer blow before Portugal overturned a three goal deficit to send the Communist side home in the quarter finals.

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23. East 2-1 West, 1998

When Iran and the USA were drawn together in the group stages of the 1998 World Cup, it was thought the game would not be allowed to go ahead. But go ahead it did, and goals from Hamid Estili and Mehdi Mahdavikia gave the Islamic Republic the win against their Great Satan.

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24. The Ronaldo Incident, 1998

It was the toothy striker’s talent which took Brazil to the second of three consecutive World Cup finals, but it was the controversy over his inclusion which may have cost them the 1998 tournament. He apparently suffered a fit, brought on by stress, but was eventually included in the starting line-up, despite originally being replaced by monkey-baiting forward Edmundo. Amid rumours Nike had forced him to play, Ronaldo looked a shadow of his former self and France romped home.

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25. Clive Thomas, 1978

Some things never change. Players have always dived, managers have always complained and referees have always been possessed of a streak of officious incompetence, best summed up by Clive Thomas’s decision to disallow Zico’s winning goal against Sweden in the 1978 World Cup.

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26. Pele’s Dummy, 1970

The greatest goal never scored, shortly preceded by the best piece of play ever to grace a football field that did not involve touching the ball.

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27. Kuwait a Minute, 1982

With his side 3-1 down to the French and hardly likely to launch a comeback, Sheikh Fahid Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah would have been forgiven for accepting Alain Giresse’s controversial fourth as inconsequential. Not a bit of it. He marched his team off the pitch, forced the Soviet referee to cancel the goal and no doubt watched in fury as, minutes later, Maxime Bossis notched a legitimate fourth.

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28. Maradona v Belgium, 1986

Had the diminutive Argentine not gone on to score that goal against England, his effort to see off a talented Belgian side would probably have gone down in his history as his piece de resistance.

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29. Animals, 1966

So incensed was Alf Ramsey by the spoiling tactics employed by Argentina – and their captain, Antonio Rattin, in particular – that he refused to allow his players to swap shirts after seeing off their opponents. He did not, though, call the Argentines “animals”, though he probably thought it.

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30. Higuita and Milla, 1990

The two unlikely stars of the 1990 World Cup. Rene Higuita, the perm-sporting Colombian goalkeeper, and Roger Milla, the all-dancing Cameroonian pensioner who captured the planet’s hearts. Honourable mention, too, to Benjamin Massing and his assault on Claudio Caniggia.

Watch YouTube clip one Watch YouTube clip two

31. Gerry’s pacemaker, 1982

Hosts they may have been, but Spain were hardly a side to be feared in 1982. After drawing with Honduras, they lost to Northern Ireland, thanks to Gerry Armstrong’s goal, and only just scraped through. That should not detract, though, from the proudest moment in Northern Irish World Cup history.

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32. Owen’s goal, 1998

An untested, unproven 18 year-old before he raced away from the Argentine defence to give England a 2-1 lead in the second round of France 98, afterwards Michael Owen was a global superstar.

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33. Gobbing off, 1990

Holland against Germany is always a tense affair, especially after the Dutch gained revenge for 1974 in the 1988 European Championships, but spitting is probably the wrong way to relieve the stress. Seeing Frank Rijkaard’s phlegm in Rudi Voller’s curly mullet remains one of the most disturbing scenes ever produced by television.

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34. Diana Ross v Roberto Baggio, 1994

Had Roberto Baggio converted his spot kick in the 1994 World Cup final and Italy gone on to win, his contribution would have matched that of Maradona in 1986. Diana Ross’s probably would not have, even had she scored.

Watch YouTube clip one Watch YouTube clip two

35. Silly boy, 1998

As one of football’s elder statesmen, David Beckham now seems a different person to the one sent off in England’s second-round fixture with Argentina in 1998 for his petulant response to Diego Simeone’s endless baiting. Effigies of the Manchester United player were burned in the streets, and, until his rescue act against Greece in 2001, the golden boy remained tarnished.

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36. Dennis Bergkamp’s control, 1998

Perfect control, a swift turn and a curling finish past Carlos Roa. Dennis Bergkamp’s third goal of France 98 – the strike that made him Holland’s all-time leading scorer – was his international masterpiece.

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37. Bald eagle, 1994

The reigning champions, Germany, looked a good bet to win a poor tournament until they ran into a Bulgarian side inspired by Hristo Stoitchkov – along with Gheorghe Hagi and Roberto Baggio, the competition’s star – and a bald, journeyman midfielder by the name of Yordan Letchkov.

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38. Cruyff leaves Holland in the mire, 1978

Johan Neeskens famously observed after losing to hosts Argentina in the 1978 final that “if we had won, we would not have left the stadium alive.” He may have been thankful then that Johan Cruyff, for either political or domestic reasons, refused to travel to South America, leaving the likes of Arie Haan and Robbie Rensenbrink – rated as better than Cruyff by some – to help Holland go close, again.

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39. Sticks and stones, 1930

It’s a wonder the World Cup ever got off the ground. First the European entrants for the first ever tournament had to travel by the same boat to Uruguay, then fears over violence were so great for the final that the referee demanded a launch be readied in case he needed a quick escape. When the hosts beat Argentina to win the trophy, their consulate in Buenos Aires was attacked by angry mobs.

40. Platt’s volley, 1990

The moment when England began to believe. Converting Chris Waddle’s chipped free kick with a smart volley in the last minute of extra time, Platt sent Bobby Robson’s side to a quarter final with Cameroon and presented them with their best chance of winning the trophy since 1966.

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41. Leonidas, 1938

The Black Diamond was the undisputed star of the third edition of the competition and the pioneer of the free-running, expansive style which has come to define Brazil in the eyes of the world. Dropped for the semi-final in which Brazil crashed out to Giuseppe Meazza’s Italy, he still finished top scorer.

42. Andres Escobar, 1994

Pele’s tip to win the World Cup – never a good form guide – Colombia were eliminated in the group stage after Escobar’s own goal handed the hosts a 2-1 win. He was shot dead weeks later in Medellin amid speculation his error had cost the city’s powerful drug barons millions in gambling losses.

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43. 27 seconds in, 1982

Captain Marvel Bryan Robson notched his place in World Cup history with the fastest ever goal at the finals – a half-volley against France in their opening game – but even that could not get Ron Greenwood’s side past the second group stage, where they missed out to West Germany.

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44. The minnows in the sun, 1958

With Scotland inept and England’s hopes decimated by the Munich air disaster, it was Wales and Northern Ireland who bore the brunt of Britain’s hopes. Had it not been for Pele, Wales may have made the semi-finals, while only Just Fontaine’s exploits halted Northern Ireland’s run.

45. Hitler’s bad luck continues, 1938

Desperate for sporting success to prove Aryan supremacy, the Fuhrer co-opted some of Austria’s wunderteam into his German side for the 1938 tournament, held in France. Two years after the Berlin Olympics, it was Switzerland who filled the role of Jesse Owens, knocking the combined side out in the first round 4-2 after a replay.

46. Fashion with Jorge Campos, 1994

In his wonderful treatise Football In Sun and Shade, Eduardo Galeano wonders whether goalkeepers wear bright colours in a bid to overcome the isolation of their role. Campos, the colourful Mexican shot-stopper who fancied himself as a striker, must have been lonelier than most.

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47. The Fix, 1982

With a win for West Germany enough to take both them and near-neighbours Austria through at the expense of Algeria, both sides stopped playing after Horst Hrubesch gave the Germans the lead in the 10th minute. Algeria protested, Fifa turned a blind eye and the greatest fraud in World Cup history was complete.

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48. 'The Fix', 2002

First Italy, then Spain. Conspiracy theories abounded in southern Europe as South Korea, co-hosts of the 2002 tournament, saw off two major superpowers – thanks to some truly dreadful refereeing decisions – on their way to the semi-finals, where a third proved too much to ask.

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49. Cubillas does for Ally’s Army, 1978

Ah, hubris. Scotland travelled to Argentina on a wave of optimism, their side full of some of the best players in Europe and their song topping the charts. Defeat to Peru, though, scuppered their best ever chance of getting past the group stage.

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50. The most beautiful goal, 2006

Italy may have won the tournament, France and Germany may have provided the romance, but Jose Pekerman’s magnificent Argentina, a poetic, balletic side pivoted around Juan Roman Riquelme, were the best team on show in 2006, a fact beautifully demonstrated by Esteban Cambiasso’s 26-pass goal in the 6-0 trouncing of Serbia.

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Briatore out over Renault fix row

Nelson Piquet Jr crashes in Singapore

Watch Piquet's Singapore crash

Flavio Briatore has left his position as boss of the Renault team after they decided not to contest charges of fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Executive director of engineering Pat Symonds has also left the team.

Renault were summoned by governing body, the FIA, after Nelson Piquet Jr claimed he had been asked to crash to help team-mate Fernando Alonso's race.

An FIA spokesperson confirmed a World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris on Monday would go ahead.

Renault have been called to answer charges that they "conspired with Nelson Piquet Jr to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix with the aim of causing the deployment of the safety car to the advantage of its other driver, Fernando Alonso".

The hearing will attempt to attribute responsibility for the Singapore "crash-gate" despite the departure of Briatore and Symonds.

Flavio Briatore
Briatore has lost his job over the Singapore race-fix charge

The FIA could still impose sanctions if Renault are found guilty, including excluding the team from the championship, although that must be considered unlikely given the two people Piquet said were responsible have now left the team.

When asked for his thoughts on Briatore's demise, Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said: "Well, I feel sorry for him actually.

"Obviously, I am surprised at what has happened, and I am taken by surprise today that they've decided to walk away."

Piquet crashed in Singapore two laps after Alonso had come in for a routine pit stop.

That meant that when race officials sent out the safety car to clear up the debris from Piquet's car, Alonso was alone among the front-runners in not having to stop for fuel and tyres.

Renault's double world champion went on to take the chequered flag at Formula 1's inaugural night race and claim the team's first victory in two years.

Nelson Piquet Jr crashes out of the Singapore Grand Prix in 2008

BBC's Andy Swiss reports on case

At the time, Piquet attributed the crash to a simple error, but after being dropped by the team after July's Hungary GP the race-fixing allegations emerged.

The Brazilian has since testified to the FIA that he was instructed by Briatore and Symonds when and where to crash.

Renault's response was to accuse the 24-year-old and his father Nelson Piquet of false allegations and blackmail, going as far as saying they would begin legal action against them.

But on Wednesday the team said in a statement they would "not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix".

The statement added: "The team also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team."

BBC pundit and former team boss Eddie Jordan said he was surprised by Renault's announcement but believes it was effectively an admission of guilt.


"Suggesting they are not going to contest the allegations is in itself an admission," Jordan told the BBC.

"I don't know what goes on in teams, and certainly in the Jordan team you would contemplate all sorts of things, but you certainly couldn't contemplate that."

It remains to be seen whether this latest controversy, and the exit of Briatore and Symonds, will affect Renault's decision to stay in Formula 1.

Briatore had denied speculation that the French team's future was under threat and the team have signed a new Concorde Agreement to stay in F1 until 2012.

But this latest controversy, coupled with a decline in cars sales, could yet have repercussions for the staff of around 700, who are are employed at the team's headquarters in Enstone, in Oxfordshire, and Viry-Chatillon in Paris.

Former grand prix winner John Watson told the BBC: "The fact that Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have left the team was the only solution to Renault.

Pat Symonds
Symonds was Michael Schumacher's race engineer in the 1990s

"A company on the scale of Renault, a world-scale motor company could not afford to have a scandal of this magnitude rattling around in the boardroom."

As it is, Renault's statement appears to end the F1 career of two of the sport's best-known protagonists.

Briatore became Benetton team principal in 1988 and when Renault bought Benetton in 2000 to run under its own moniker, the 59-year-old Italian was chosen to lead the team.

Symonds started his F1 career in 1981 at the Toleman team, which morphed into Benetton and Renault, and worked his way though the ranks to become executive director of engineering in 2001.

Briatore was also heavily involved in the teams' association Fota, as it sought to reach an agreement on the future of the sport with the FIA this season.

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Throwback Ref Unis: WTF Or Whataburger?

During tonight’s Monday Night Football clash between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots, the teams broke out their AFL throwback uniforms. That was awesome. Unfortunately, the refs also wore their AFL throwbacks. When I saw them in these clownsuits, I could only think of one thing…


Seriously, I didn’t know whether to scream at them over calls they blew or order a burger, fries and a shake. When Leodis McKelvin pulled a Munson, ran the ball out when he should have taken a knee, then fumbled, it was utterly hilarious to see a six-pack of these bozos gather around the pile. This is what the work uniform would look like if Foot Locker merged with Whataburger. The hats are absolutely hideous, I think I saw one of those in my grandpa’s closet before he passed.

To make matters worse, the refs in the San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders game are wearing the same thing. I wonder if just putting those on raises your cholesterol. Ugh, they look like what you’d see if an inmate screwed a jack-o’-lantern. The NFL really needs to figure out the difference between throwbacks and throwaways. Please. I’ve been adjusting my TV set all night thinking the color was off.

More pics of these abominations after the jump…



(Adam Best is the senior editor of the Sports Network and the twisted mind behind The Best View. Follow him on Twitter.)

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NCAA president Myles Brand, 67, loses fight with cancer

Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News

After fighting pancreatic cancer for nearly a year, NCAA president Myles Brand died Wednesday. He was 67.

Brand became a sports figure when, as Indiana University president, he fired basketball coach Bob Knight following the institution of a "zero-tolerance" policy that Brand judged Knight to have violated by verbally confronting an IU student.

Brand subsequently was hired to replace Cedric Dempsey as NCAA president in January 2003. In his NCAA position, he was known for his advocacy of athletes' issues, such as advocating the increase of funds for their emergencies and for championing a more just freshman eligibility process.

Mike DeCourcy is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at

10 Craziest Baseball Rules

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The guy in the photo above is Alexander Cartwright, and he’s credited with inventing the modern game of baseball. Only problem is that those initial rules from the 1840s were pretty messed up, in comparison to how baseball is played today. We’ve lauded a lot of these old timey baseball guys with handlebar mustaches in the past, but we might have to take it all back. In the 1800s, baseball was a goofy game with a lot of stupid rules. These guys would probably crap themselves if they had to face guys like Justin Verlander or Alex Rodriguez today. Here are The 10 Craziest Baseball Rules You Would Never Believe Existed. Besides the whole “no minorities” thing that we’re glossing over, that is.

10. Pitchers Could Cover Balls With Just About Anything
Before 1920, pitchers could cover the ball with spit, Vaseline, road kill, Nickelodeon slime or whatever the hell else they wanted. It apparently worked. That Babe Ruth guy didn’t start hitting a billion home runs a year until they outlawed it. We don’t actually know for a fact they used road kill, but that whole ‘Dead Ball Era’ thing would make more sense if they did.

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9. Balls And Strikes Didn’t Really Exist
When baseball started, hitters just kind of stood at the plate whacking away until they hit the ball somewhere in fair territory. That created a question of what constituted a walk (see Rule Four) or a strikeout. In 1887, walks were even considered hits. And that was also the first year that batters were awarded first base if they got hit by a pitch. Called strikes didn’t even exist until 1858. And until 1863, base runners would run advance on foul balls. And as you’ll see in Rule Three, they didn’t necessarily run to the correct bases.

Have you ever seen a Little League game with 6-year-olds? It’s pretty terrible. That’s how we imagine old timey baseball must have looked. We even picture an old farmer so terrible at hitting, that his coach has to bring out a tee.

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8. Catchers Had Zero Protection
See that old timey idiot in the picture below? It’s not his fault. Chest protectors weren’t introduced into baseball until 1885. It wasn’t until six years after that when catchers got to wear padded mitts. These poor bastards just had to stand there in a dumb stance and wait to get their goddamn faces blown off with a foul tip. But, then again, you’ll see from #1 that these guys weren’t really facing ‘the heat’ from pitchers until 1883. It’s just amazing it took the rules committee two years to realize that catching was a fairly dangerous job.

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7. Pitchers Used To ‘Throw’ From 45 Feet
You’ll notice in the picture below that the pitcher (who isn’t even on a mound) looks crazily close to the batter. That’s because the whole 60-feet-6-inches thing didn’t exist until 1893. But hey, that’s 15.5 feet shorter to hurl your heavy-as-hell Vaseline/spit/pubes ball towards your poor bastard catcher.

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6. Hitters Had Flat Bats
For some reason that we can’t figure out, hitters used to have flat bats until 1893. They really took their cricket influence seriously. Why did they want to use paddle bats? Maybe they wanted to spank the ball. Sounds pretty lame to us.

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5. Pitchers Couldn’t Step Towards The Plate When They Threw
Seriously. In 1863 a rule was instated which said pitchers had to have both feet on the ground at the same time they threw. Was sh*t getting way to crazy until 1863? Modern day Major League batting practice is probably way more entertaining than old timey baseball. Either that, or it it mostly resembled weird-rules baseball from a middle school P.E. class.

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4. Hitters Got Nine Balls Before They Walked
We said in Rule Nine that baseball rule makers had a real hard time with balls and strikes, but in 1879 it was decided that nine balls made a walk. How bad did a pitcher have to be to walk somebody in 1879? You would’ve had to be blind. It wasn’t until 1889 that the number was finally whittled down to four.

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3. Base Runners Didn’t Have To Touch Every Base
From 1858 – 1864, base runners didn’t have to touch every base in order. Did they also play the “Benny Hill Show” song while these goofballs ran all over the field?

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2. Batters Could Call For The Type Of Pitch They Wanted
From 1867-1887, batters had the privilege of calling for a low pitch or a high pitch. What was the point of pitching? Did the pitcher also have to wipe the batter after they went to the bathroom?

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1. Pitchers Threw Underhand
That should blow your mind. Major League Baseball officially started in 1876, but it wasn’t until 1883 that pitchers were allowed to throw overhand. The initial rules of baseball stated that pitchers had to throw the ball as if they were pitching a horseshoe. So these old batters got to call for their pitch and get it thrown to them underhand. They couldn’t step towards the plate. No wonder the pitchers covered the balls in battery acid and pig manure.

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Love baseball (or battery acid and pig manure)? Check out our lists on 10 Baseball Players You Wouldn’t Want To Sit On You and 10 Worst Baseball Teams Of The Past 30 Years.

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