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Nashville Scene 100 Years of Qualitude

A few high-ranking moments

By Randy Horick

OCTOBER 4, 1999:  Only three more months until the year 2000. Which, of course, makes it high time we got on with the opinion-makers' official business of listing some of this century's sporting superlatives. Here's another installment of some of the achievements you're not likely to find on other lists, as provided by our panel of way insiders:

Best Love-Hate-Relationship

Nicknames Applied by Fans to Their Teams

8. Cincinnati Bungles

7. Indianapolis Dolts

6. Houston Lastros

5. New York Yank-Mes

4. L.A. Lambs

3. Northwestern Mildcats

2. New Orleans Ain'ts

1. Dem Bums (Brooklyn Dodgers)


Greatest Super Bowl Commercials

3. Pepsi. You know, the one where the Coke delivery guy brings down a whole rack of Pepsis as he tries to sneak his favorite soft drink.

2. Apple Computer, 1984. Now with Bill Gates as the droning Big Brother, this ad looks better and better.

1. "Paper or Plastic." It's not implausible that these guys would eschew the toilet paper and spend their last buck on beer. When they snatch the receipt from the gum-smacking checker, her startled expression makes the spot.


Greatest Sports Leads

2. Grantland Rice's famous opening to his story on Notre Dame's stunning rout of Army in 1924. "Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again."

1. Hunter Thompson's sportswriter-parodying "jackhammer thrust" lead after the 1973 Super Bowl: "The precision-jackhammer attack of the Miami Dolphins stomped the balls off the Minnesota Vikings today by stomping and hammering with one precise jack-thrust after another up the middle, mixed with pinpoint-precision passes into the flat and numerous hammer-jack stops around both ends."


Best Animal Nickames

Jack "The Golden Bear" Nicklaus; Greg "Baby Bull" Luzinski; Jim "Catfish" Hunter; James "Fly" Williams; Dave "The Cobra" Parker; Craig "The Walrus" Stadler; Kenny "Snake" Stabler; Ron "The Penguin" Cey; Bill "Moose" Skowron; Rich "Goose" Gossage; Fred "Crime Dog" McGriff; Eddie "The Eagle," British ski jumper; "Spider" Lockhart; "Tiger" Woods


Top Alternative Names for a Dunk

8. Stuff

7. Slam

6. Jam

5. Cram

4. Facial

3. Noczema (see Facial)

2. Flush

1. Gusjohnson, named for the New York playground legend for whom almost every other shot was a flush. (Also used as a verb, as in "I gusjohnson, you gusjohnson, we gusjohnson.")


Top Yogi-isms

8. "It gets late early out there," referring to the encroaching afternoon shadows in right field at Yankee Stadium.

7. "I thank everybody for making this day necessary," at his induction ceremony at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

6. "Good pitching beats good hitting, and vice versa."

5. "You look not so hot yourself," in reply to a compliment from the New York mayor's wife that Yogi looked very cool in his stunning lime-green leisure suit.

4. "It ain't over till it's over."

3. "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded," about a trendy New York restaurant.

2. "Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical."

1. "You observe a lot by watching."


Best Team Full of Nicknames

3. The Phi Slamma Jamma Houston Cougars of 1983, featuring Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon, Clyde "The Glide" Drexler, Larry "Mr. Mean" Micheaux, and the team's only white starter, Reed "Spot" Gettys.

2. 1974 Chicago Bulls, featuring Bob "Butterbean" Love, Chet "The Jet" Walker, Clifford "Chef" Ray, and "Stormin" Norman Van Lier.

1. 1934 St. Louis Cardinals, a.k.a. "The Gashouse Gang," with Dizzy and Daffy Dean, Ducky Medwick, Pepper Martin, Ripper Collins, and Leo "The Lip" Durocher.


Top Five Cliché Terms Used by Journalists to Describe Athletes That Journalists Are Now Too Embarrassed to Use

5. Gridders (football)

4. Cagers (basketball)

3. Cindermen (track)

2. Moundsman (pitcher)

1. Speed Merchant (code term used by racist Southern sportswriters to describe fast African American running backs)


Greatest NBA Masters of the Booty Pick

4. Paul Mokeski, Bucks

3. Rick Mahorn, Pistons

2. Wes Unseld, Bullets

1. Tom Boerwinkle, Bulls


Top Pro Football Championship Game Played in a Hockey Arena

In 1932, Wrigley Field was to host pro football's first championship game, between the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth (N.H.). But a blizzard dumped two feet of snow on the city, and there was no time to move the game. After a mad scramble, Bears owner George Halas arranged to play in the old Chicago Stadium, whose ice, fortuitously, was covered with dirt (and the occasional elephant dropping) while a circus was in town. There were no sidelines, and the corners of the end zones were rounded. To compensate for the 80-yard "field," each team was penalized 20 yards whenever it crossed midfield. Fans were so close to the action, they could hear conversations in the huddle. The Bears rallied to win 9-7, and Portsmouth was never heard from again.


Greatest Given Names Least Likely to be Repeated on a 21st-Century List

Yelverton Abraham (Tittle)

Christian Adolph "Sonny" (Jurgensen)

Aloyisius (Simmons)

Baskerville (Holmes)

Kennesaw Mountain (Landis)

Ephesians (Bartley)

Elijah Archibald (Manning)

Orenthal James (Simpson)


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