#TBT World Cup Sports Blog: Diego Maradona’s Hand of God Goal

the hand of God goalToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers the most famous missed call in the history of World Cup soccer.

The botched call occurred on June 22, 1986 in front of 114,580 fans in Mexico City’s Estadia Azteca.

Known by the divinely inspired nickname the Hand of God, the controversial goal has never been forgotten and has been forever memorialized in sports blogs like these for the past 32 years.

During the 1986 World Cup quarter-final match-up between Argentina and England, Argentina’s Diego Maradona illegally punched a loose ball in the box into the back of the net. Maradona’s obvious hand ball goal should have been immediately disallowed by Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser.

However, the goal stood and eliminated an angry English team from further competition in the tournament.

Video footage confirmed Maradona’s illegal goal. Yet, the small, chubby Argentine striker credited this unlikely goal to his head and to the Hand of God.

Maradona’s Hand of God Goal Replays Itself in Heated World Cup Debates

More than 25 years later, the Hand of God goal replays itself in heated debates. This happens whenever Maradona’s name is mentioned or when the 1986 World Cup game between the two countries is discussed.

I’m certain that Diego Maradona’s dubious score will even be referenced sometime during FOX Sports’ World Cup coverage during this quadrennial’s global tournament held in Russia.

Oddly, Maradona’s other goal in the second half of Argentina’s 2 – 1 victory over England should be as keenly remembered.

Maradona brilliantly dribbled through five English defenders before finding the back of the net. This was called the goal of the century by FIFA in 2002. On this goal, Maradona scored legally with his foot and not with his hand.

Maradona continued his brilliance in the semi-final match against Belgium, scoring twice. In the finals against Germany, a heavily marked Maradona assisted on the game winner to allow Argentina to win the World Cup 3 – 2 against the Germans.

When discussing the best footballers of all time, Diego Maradona is instantly named along with Pele, Lionel Messi and Johan Crujff.

He’s also featured in my sports book about all-time FIFA Favorites.MIKE FIFA FavoritesMaradona’s deft touches, sudden bursts of athleticism and amazing soccer skill secure his lore among the sport’s greatest icons.

Fans’ initial memories of Diego Maradona’s incredible career will focus on what he did with his dazzling feet on the soccer pitch.

However, recollections of Maradona will never forget how the Argentine illegally scored in a vital World Cup victory for his country with a little help from the Almighty or the Hand of God.

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#TBT Sports Blog: The NBA Showtime Lakers

NBA Los Angeles LakersWatching the Golden State Warriors dominate this year’s NBA Finals has prompted me to pen today’s #TBT sports blog.

My post remembers a talented tinsel town team that perfectly fit the Hollywood hype of its spot on Showtime nickname.

This once dominant NBA franchise just completed another underwhelming NBA season.

So, a fast break down memory lane should buoy the sunken spirits of its proud Purple and Gold fan base.

Check it out…

Los Angeles Lakers Once Electrified NBA Fans

With their quick paced form of fast break basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s electrified NBA fans. Their style of play entertained the many movie, music and television celebrities who attended their home games at the old Great Western Forum.

Much of the Showtime nickname is credited to Lakers star Earvin Magic Johnson. This 6’9” point guard and overall number one pick in the 1979 NBA Draft became famous for his no look passes and extra bright smile. He led the Showtime fast break like an expert director of a major motion picture.

Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson

Johnson handled the basketball like his namesake – a magician. His recipients were Hall of Fame forward James Worthy and a tireless group of smart, athletic teammates. His fellow Lakers included Jamaal Wilkes, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon and Kurt Rambis.

Magic Johnson was also as good a passer in the half court game. He smartly fed fellow Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul Jabbar for easy points in the paint.

Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley scripted and managed the widely admired Showtime attack. The Lakers flourished in the 80s and advanced to the NBA Finals eight times during the decade.

Showtime Lakers Won Five NBA Titles

The Showtime Lakers captured five NBA crowns during that popular era. They were so popular a draw, that the most popular celebrities of the time like Jack Nicholson, Dyan Cannon, Arsenio Hall, Walter Matthau and assorted members of the Jackson singing family sat courtside to cheer them on.

The surroundings of the Great Western Forum, both on and off the court, transformed the Showtime Lakers. They went from being an entertaining basketball team to a team of star-studded Hollywood entertainers who also happened to play basketball.

Los Angeles Lakers Now Worth $2.7B per Forbes

Nearly 30 years later and with 16 titles to their credit, the Lakers remain one of the NBA’s most successful franchises.

Thanks in a major way to Magic Johnson and his Showtime Lakers teammates, the Lakers are ranked as the league’s most valuable team.

With an estimated worth now of $2.6 Billion+, the Lakers’ Showtime teams of the 1980s helped create a Hollywood blockbuster by any industry standard.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Boston Bruins’ Bobby Orr

MIKE Comic 219 Bobby OrrToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers Bobby Orr, the Boston Bruins’ most celebrated hockey player ever.

In 1964 the Boston Bruins boldly gambled when signing a fresh freckle-faced 14 year-old from Parry Sound, Ontario.

The Bruins’ pick is my #5 choice in my new FREE sports comic book Boston Sports Icons.

Undersized at just 5’6” and weighing in at only 135 lbs., Bobby Orr lived with his parents during his first season with the Bruins’ Junior A hockey team, the Oshawa Generals.

Despite his small size, Orr’s incredible speed and amazing skill at such a young age failed to disappoint. The phenomenal prospect not only grew taller, gained strength and developed a keen awareness for the game. He also demonstrated a superb hockey ability that prompted the Boston Bruins to promote him just four years later. As an 18 year-old, he had matured into an immensely talented 6’ tall and 200 lb. defense man.

Bobby Orr quickly flourished in Boston, becoming a fan favorite and earning the respect of both teammates and Bruins competitors. Whenever he took the ice, #4 distinguished himself with an enviable all-around game. In addition to making hard checks and blocking slap shots, he showed his strength and toughness by moving opponents away from the net and even fighting when needed.

Injury Shortened Bobby Orr’s Stellar Career

Although his career was shortened due to nagging knee injuries, Bobby Orr’s name is immediately mentioned when fans discuss all-time NHL greats like Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby.

Throughout his 12 year career, Orr displayed excellence on the ice. A speedy defense man with exceptional puck skills, Orr collected a closet full of NHL hardware during his days as a Boston Bruin.

Bobby Orr earned just about every regular season NHL award a player could receive: the Colder Trophy as the 1968 Rookie-of-the-Year; two-time Ross Trophy winner for total points in a season; three-time Hart Trophy recipient for MVP and eight Norris Trophy selections as the league’s best defense man.

Orr rightfully belongs in any conversation involving NHL’s all-time best players. His career highlights came in 1970 and again in 1972. In both years, he led the Bruins to Stanley Cup Championships and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup Finals MVP.

Bobby Orr’s Career Highlight

Perhaps Orr’s most memorable career highlight is his overtime goal during Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals. An iconic picture of an air born Orr with his stick raised in front of the St. Louis Blues’ goal after scoring the series winning goal is widely regarded as one of the top photos in sports history.

The Bruins rewarded their star by signing him in 1971 to the most lucrative hockey contract ever. Orr inked the first $1 million deal in hockey history by agreeing to play for five years at $200K per season.

Unfortunately, Orr’s hard charging style of play caught up with him. His fabulous career eventually succumbed to knee injuries and this incredible defense man retired in 1978.

The Hockey Hall of Fame wasted no time in recognizing this amazing athlete. It enshrined him into their illustrious family a year later.

A once small and undersized prospect, Bobby Orr became a force on the ice and a huge star for the Boston Bruins.

Boston Sports Stars and LandmarksIt’s no surprise that #4 easily skates into the #5 spot in my book Boston Sports Icons.

Click on the purple cover above to safely download my free sports comic book Boston Sports Icons.

Enjoy the read and feel free to share the ebook with your family, friends and co-workers.

In the free sports comic book, you can also read about other Boston sports luminaries like Tom Brady, Larry Bird, Big Papi, Yaz, the Old Boston Garden, Fenway Park and more. Each chapter chronicles the exploits of great Boston athletes and landmarks and also includeds unique sports comics extolling the Boston sports icons.

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Thanks again for reading my weekly #TBT sports blog.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Hockey Footer

#TBT Sports Blog Remembers NBA Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer

Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers irritating Detroit Pistons Bad Boy center Bill Laimbeer.

Few basketball fans would disagree that if the NBA brought back its once popular “BIG” marketing campaign from the late 80s, this former all-star would easily have been nicknamed the Big Jerk!

That’s because uttering Laimbeer’s  name immediately sparked agitation and heated debate in basketball circles everywhere – except maybe in the state of Michigan.

One would think words like champion, all-star, terrific rebounder, rugged defender or great teammate would best describe this player.

However, complimentary references to Detroit Pistons’ Bill Laimbeer were, and still are, about as rare as the Cleveland Browns winning a Super Bowl.

Watching the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Bad Boys brought back to mind the boorish and, at times, brutal play of this gangster of the hardwood.

Bill Laimbeer: Known for Flopping and Downright Dirty Play

Known as much for flopping as he was for overly aggressive and downright dirty play, Laimbeer may be the most reviled NBA player of all-time. And, the ESPN 30 for 30 film left few to challenge it.

The mention of the name Bill Laimbeer always ignites heated basketball debates.

Fans and opposing players cringe upon hearing Laimbeer’s name and quickly vent their disdain toward him.

Former Piston Isiah Thomas Once Said

Even Laimbeer’s Detroit Pistons teammate and friend Isiah Thomas once said of the demonized center, “If I didn’t know Bill, I wouldn’t like him either.”

Few NBA fans liked the cold, callous and cocky Laimbeer who appeared to still carry a boulder sized chip on his shoulders.

Yes, the nickname His Heinous – meaning scary, evil, rotten, awful and beastly – expertly describes Bill Laimbeer for his nasty play on the basketball court.

A University of Notre Dame grad, His Heinous was that NBA player most fans loved to hate.

That’s why the burly Bill Laimbeer also elbows his way into #23 in one of my sports comic books Scary Sports Comics. Click on the purple cover below to safely download the sports comic book.

MIKE FREE Scary Sports Comic Books

In addition to His Heinous Bill Laimbeer, read about The Undertaker, The Executioner, The Embalmer and more in the book.

Their nicknames may seem intimidating, but their presence on the basketball court would not be nearly as scary as driving down the lane against former Detroit Pistons’ Bad Boy – Bill Laimbeer.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog Remembers The NBA Mailman Karl Malone

NBA Mailman Karl MaloneToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers one of the basketball’s greatest players ever –  The NBA Mailman Karl Malone.

This Mailman never deposited letters in a mailbox or drove a United States Postal Service truck. For Utah Jazz fans, however, his delivery was always guaranteed on both ends of the basketball court.

A 2010 Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame inductee, The NBA Mailman Karl Malone lived up to his nickname during his 18-year NBA career because of his performance dependability.

Like the picture of the United States Postal Service eagle, the Mailman soared during his playing days. Malone ranked second all-time in NBA history in points (36,928), field goals made (13,528) and minutes played (54,852) before retiring in 2004.

As the top pick of the Utah Jazz in 1985, Malone played 18 seasons with the club. He teamed with fellow NBA Hall of Famer, guard John Stockton, to run the best pick and roll plays in the history of the sport.

The powerfully built 6’9” and 265 lbs. Malone was the complete basketball package. He delivered defensively and ended his career as the NBA’s greatest defensive rebounder. The Mailman also proved his reliability from the free throw line. He still holds the league record for attempts (13,188) and makes (9,787).

This two-time (1997 and 1999) NBA Most Valuable Player also won two Olympic gold medals. The first was awarded in Barcelona as part of the original 1992 Dream Team. He received a second in 1996 in Atlanta. Malone was voted as one of the NBA’s 50 all-time greatest players.

The Mailman Karl Malone Never Won an NBA Title

Although this 14-time All-Star never won an NBA Championship, Malone participated in the NBA Playoffs every season he played in the league.

Mailmen deliver in all kinds of weather. In Karl Malone’s case, rain, wind, ice, snow and even talented NBA players could never keep this power forward from succeeding on both ends of the basketball court.

By reading today’s #TBT sports blog, here’s hoping NBA fans will never forget the stamp of basketball excellence The NBA Mailman Karl Malone left behind upon his retirement.

When it comes to NBA basketball, fans should quickly remember that this Mailman always delivered.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Boston Red Sox Carl Yastrzemski

MIKE Comic YazToday’s #TBT sports blog looks back on Carl Yastrzemski – one of the top 10 Major League Baseball players ever.

He was simply known as Yaz.

He’s also #7 in my FREE sports comic book Boston Sports Icons.

Yaz proved the best way to follow an icon on the same team while playing the same position is to become a Major League Baseball Hall of Fame legend, too.

That’s exactly what Carl Yastrzemski accomplished in 1961.

As a 20 year-old rookie left fielder for the Boston Red Sox, Yaz replaced the brilliant “Splendid Splinter” Ted Williams.

Yaz’s strong work ethic, marvelous athleticism and unparalleled commitment to the game equipped him to escape the looming shadow of the beloved Williams’ incredible career. He, too, would become one of Major League Baseball’s best players ever.

After 23 years in the same Red Sox organization, Boston’s iconic #8 etched the following impressive numbers in Major League Baseball history books upon retirement.

Yaz finished 1st in total games played with one team, 2nd in total games played in MLB history, 3rd in total at bats, 6th in bases on balls, 8th in hits, total bases and doubles and 13th in career RBI’s.

Yaz Voted into Cooperstown on First Ballot

It’s no wonder he became a first ballot Cooperstown inductee.

Carl Yastzremski was the son of Polish potato farmers living in Long Island, NY. Yaz never forgot the promise he made to his parents to graduate from college. Few fans know that Yaz originally attended the University of Notre Dame, playing for the Irish on a basketball scholarship. Additionally, he had once broken NFL Hall of Fame RB Jim Brown’s Long Island high school basketball scoring record.

However, like Jim Brown, Carl Yastrzemski chose another sport in which to excel. Yaz left college in order to join the Boston Red Sox franchise as a second baseman. The club quickly changed his position from infielder to outfielder, but fortunately failed to convince Yaz to change his unusual swing.

As soon as he got his start in the big leagues in 1961, Yastrzemski became known for his unorthodox batting stance. The young left-handed hitter held his bat high over his head. This odd approach led to a dramatic arced swing in which fans almost expected to hear an audible swoosh.

Immediately, baseball players of all ages copied Yaz’s batting stance, but none experienced the same success as the young Boston Red Sox left fielder.

Yaz dominated pitchers at the plate. He compiled a .285 career average, belted 452 dingers, collected 3,419 hits in 3,308 games and hit for the elusive Triple Crown as the American League MVP in 1967.

Yastrzemski also excelled in the daunting environs of Fenway Park. He won seven Gold Gloves for being the best at his craft in spite of dealing with the dastardly 37’ wall, the intimidating and unpredictable Green Monster, in Boston’s left field.

An 18 time MLB All-Star, Yaz may be best remembered for more than his athletic excellence. He was an amazingly committed and loyal guy who did more than just play his entire 23-year career with one organization.

Carl Yastrzemski kept the promise he made to his parents after skipping out on his basketball scholarship at Notre Dame. Yaz made his family proud in 1966 when he graduated from Merrimac College in North Andover, Massachusetts.

With a big bat and a bigger heart, it’s easy to understand why this son of Polish potato farmers swings in at #7 in Boston Sports Icons.Boston Sports Stars and LandmarksClick on the purple cover above to safely download my FREE sports comic book titled Boston Sports Icons.

And, even while reading the book, you’ll almost hear the audible swoosh of Yaz’s swing!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!baseball footer

#TBT Sports Blog: The NBA’s Portland “Jail Blazers”

Portland TrailblazersToday’s #TBT sports blog looks back on one of the best, but most dubious nicknames in sports history – the NBA’s Portland “Jail Blazers.”

Professional sports team management often turns a blind eye to the bratty behavior of their athletes when they perform well for the team and bring in big bucks for the franchise.

However, the sports world may never again witness the “pa-role model” line-up of this group of knuckleheads.

They were the NBA’s infamous Portland Trail Blazers or “Jail Blazers” of the early 2000s.

Portland “Jail Blazers”

Better named the Portland “Jail Blazers”, the franchise featured a team of felons, alcohol abusers and potheads. They were talented but troubled athletes. These jailhouse jocks quickly angered the team’s loyal fan base. They damaged the City of Rose’s reputation around the league as a model championship organization and brought embarrassment to the franchise.

This star-studded Portland team was expected to compete for an NBA title. However, the Portland “Jail Blazers” imploded as quickly as these great athletes filled the lane on the fast break. Their names regularly showed up in the local police station’s arrest reports.

Instead of taking the charge on the basketball court, these troubled athletes were being charged in police offices away from the hardwood. Ruben Patterson was charged for felony domestic abuse. Zach Randolph was booked for driving under the influence. Qyntel Woods was charged with animal cruelty and marijuana possession. Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire received misdemeanors for marijuana possession.

The “Jail Blazers” Irritated Portland Fans

While still on the court, other “Jail Blazer” players irritated Portland followers. Lazy efforts and abusive comments toward teammates, refs and coaches created more problems for the team. J.R. Rider, Bonzi Wells, Nick Van Exel and Darius Miles further upset their own fans. As if enough petals hadn’t already fallen off this rose, the team’s flaky center, Shawn Kemp, left the team in mid-season to check himself into a drug and alcohol rehab clinic.

Since the outbreak of the Trail Blazers early 2000s reputation, the Portland franchise has rebuilt its once respected team. The organization has drafted gifted athletes who also possess off the court character.

Instead of blazing a path to the local jail, here’s hoping these players pioneer a trail for the City of Roses back to the NBA Finals.

Kudos, sort of, to the former “pa-role model” Portland Jail Blazers.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: The NHL Golden Jet Bobby Hull

Chicago Blackhawks Bobby HullLike an easy open net goal, former Chicago Blackhawks great Bobby Hull effortlessly skates into today’s #TBT sports blog.

If you’ve ever visited Chicago’s United Center, you’ve seen his bronze statue standing proudly beside Bulls legend Michael Jordan and fellow Blackhawk great Stan Mikita.

Though he never actually skated inside this cavernous arena, Bobby Hull will always be remembered for what he accomplished as a Chicago Blackhawk, long before the team moved from the Old Chicago Stadium to its gleaming new home.

During his 23 year career, this legendary left winger played in both the established NHL as well as the then fledgling WHA.

Hull will always be wedded to the franchise that originally drafted him and ultimately lionized him with his life-sized likeness.

Bobby Hull Epitomized His Golden Jet Nickname

Between 1952 and 1980, Hull epitomized his Golden Jet nickname in more ways than one. The brilliant, blond haired Hockey Hall of Famer skated at an astounding 29.7 mph. In addition to his amazing speed on the ice, Hull recorded a 118.3 mph slap shot, making him the most physically gifted – and feared – hockey player of his generation.

Hull’s shot strength and banana bladed hockey stick proved such a lethal combination, especially for maskless goalies, that the NHL minimized the curvature of the sticks to reduce the danger (of his strokes / strikes).

Besides incomparable speed and a killer shot, Hull possessed an uncanny ability to put the puck in the net. In 1966, he became the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season, a feat he replicated another four times.

Hull led the NHL in scoring an impressive seven times, while accumulating career NHL total numbers of 610 goals and 560 assists in his 1,063 games.

Without doubt, Bobby Hull is best remembered as a Blackhawk for having won the 1961 Stanley Cup, two Hart Memorial trophies and three Art Ross trophies. In deference to the legend, the Hawks retired Hull’s famous #9 jersey, which he originally wore as a tribute to his own idol Gordie Howe.

Hull made hockey history following his earlier accolades and awards. In 1972, he eschewed the Chicago franchise to become the face of the new World Hockey Association. His decision also captured headlines because the Hartford Whalers signed him to the most lucrative hockey contract ever: $1.75 million over 10 years with a then-whopping $1 million signing bonus.

Hull went on to become the WHA’s greatest player ever. He scored a never before seen 77 goals during the 1974 – 75 season and led his squad to three AVCO or WHA championships.

There’s no doubt why The Hockey News named Hull #8 on its list of top 100 hockey players ever.

It’s also why The Golden Jet is revered as the most venerated hockey star in Chicago Blackhawks history.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: FREE Comic Book – Best About Sports

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog gives sports fans the opportunity to safely download the FREE comic book titled Best About Sports.

The book offers 25 comics and chronicles 25 short stories on what I find best about sports.

All sports fans can agree that the subject of sports, any sport, will always trigger debate.

Pick a player, celebrate a team or remember a championship moment and I guarantee that a lively discussion will quickly follow.

Animated, verbal altercations about any athlete and team embroil sports fans everywhere and foster what I believe is Best About Sports.

In a relative’s living room, at a neighborhood bar or around the office water cooler, the mere mention of a certain player or team will instantaneously ignite colorful conversation and more than likely ruffle some one’s feathers.

Reference the Yankees & impassioned Boston Red Sox fans will appear out of thin air eager to engage in an animated verbal altercation.

Criticize Kobe and Lakers lovers will immediately compare the Black mamba to MJ as well as list Bryant along with Magic, Wilt, Kareem, Shaq and even Mikan in their long line of NBA titles.

Praise the Pack and surely Steelers, Saints and Patriots faithful will some how seek to metaphorically kick you right in your Cheese Head.

Wear a FC Barcelona jersey in public and you’ll quickly feel the glaring eyes of Manchester United hooligans lurking ominously nearby.

Yes, the subject of sports stirs the embers of conversations from yesterday’s nationally televised game as well as from championship games from several seasons ago. Fans who can’t remember what they ate for lunch have amazing recollection of events on the ice, hardwood, pitch, end zone or home plate from decades back and always seek outlets to share their passion, opinions and angst.

Best About SportsPlus, sports are universal.

Sports transcends religion, cuts through cultural ties, eludes ethnicity, ignores bank account balances and fails to distinguish between sex, weight, age and even familial allegiance.

Your team is your team. Not your dad’s, your sister’s or even that of your spouse. Your inalienable right as a sports fan is to root for whomever you want.

Sure, your choice may defy logic, strain family ties, break stereotypes and shatter urban myths, but it’s your choice, never to be forced upon you at any time.

The right to root for your team and your favorite player is buried deep down in your DNA.

It’s your privilege and your prerogative in spite of what others think. That’s why this book is so important to me. It’s the culmination of the top 25 things I like, no love, about sports.

My top 25 in Best About Sports includes names and teams, stadiums and sports, plus sights, sounds and smells. Click HERE to safely download.

Remember, it’s my book! My opinion. My prerogative. My top 25.

Enjoy Best About Sports and that’s my 2 cents!

Shop for Thousands of 100% Authentic Autographed Sports Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comAlso, for fans interested in authentic sports merchandise or collectibles, simply click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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The Masters at Augusta National: A Tradition Unlike Any Other

Augusta National Golf CourseEach spring, tradition abounds at Augusta National Golf Club.

Sportscaster Jim Nantz’s instantly recognizable words, “a tradition unlike any other,” eloquently capture the essence of the golf’s most prestigious event.

One of four United States major golf tournaments held each year, the Masters is the only one hosted by the same private course.

Formerly an expansive nursery, Augusta National has flourished as one of golf’s most famous and highly sought out places to play.

The par 72 and 7,435 yard course has been continuously updated over the years to make it more challenging. Bigger bunkers, expanded water hazards and plenty of trees and shrubs have been carefully added.

In 2009 Golf Digest Ranked Augusta National America’s Top Golf Course

It’s no surprise that in 2009, Golf Digest ranked Augusta National the top American golf course.

Bobby Jones, famous for winning golf’s grand slam, is primarily responsible for transforming Fruitland Nursery into Augusta National Golf Club. Along with designer Allister MacKenzie and The Masters’ first Chairman Clifford Roberts, Jones set out to build his dream golf course and start a competitive golf tournament that would attract the best golfers in the world. The first Masters teed off in 1934 and has run successfully every year since except during WWII.

By every indication, Jones’ vision succeeded beyond everyone’s expectation. For more than 80 years, Augusta National’s gorgeous, challenging course has been painstakingly maintained and has attracted the best golfers on the planet to compete each year.

During its storied existence, The Masters has maintained many of the traditions that have been cultivated over the years.

The Masters’ Ceremonial Green Jacket

Most notably, each year the tournament winner receives the ceremonial Green Jacket. In keeping with deep rooted Masters’ lore that began in 1949, the previous year’s Masters’ winner presents the emblematic Green Jacket immediately after the tournament to the new champion at the course’s Butler Cabin.

Since 1952, a Masters champions’ dinner is held in the Crow’s Nest Clubhouse. Tradition holds that the defending champion gets to personally select that evening’s menu.

Beginning in 1956, CBS Sports started covering The Masters. It’s the longest standing, uninterrupted television sports programming contract for one network to maintain this lengthy and successful relationship with a premier sporting event.

Six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus called the par three, 155 yard 12th hole the toughest short hole in golf. Plus, the unpredictable swirling winds, Rae’s Creek and the overall length of the par four 505 yard 11th hole and par five 510 yard 13th hole contribute to the enormous difficulty of this gorgeous piece of golfing real estate.

In a 1958 Sports Illustrated article, golf writer Herman Warren Wind coined the name Amen Corner after Augusta National’s signature stretch of tough play on its 11th, 12th and 13th holes. He wanted to create a catchy nickname for this glorious combination of beautifully designed, yet extremely challenging holes.

Golf’s Amen Corner

Much like baseball’s Hot Corner and football’s Coffin Corner, golf’s Amen Corner was officially born at Augusta National.

Amen Corner at Masters Golf Tournament

Throughout the years, crystal vases and even larger crystal bowls have been awarded for player excellence. The beautiful glass trophies are awarded to those who score the lowest overall score, make a hole-in-one or demonstrate golfing excellence by recording a double-eagle.

The Masters’ rituals, steeped in the tournament’s unique traditions, differentiate the elite tournament from all others. In addition to being the only major golf tournament to allow for a highly dramatic, sudden death playoff to decide its winner, the Masters field remains the smallest on the circuit with fewer than 100 total participants.

Of the 90+ entries, The Masters invites the top five amateur players in the world to compete. In keeping with the event’s quirky traditions, the amateurs are allowed to spend their nights on the course in the Crow’s Nest Clubhouse.

Every great golfer has played in The Masters. The most successful have included Jack Nicklaus with six Green Jackets, Tigers Woods and Arnold Palmer with four and seven other champions to include Gary Player, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Nick Faldo, Sam Snead and Jimmy Demaret with three blazers.

Each spring, golf fans around the world look forward to the sport’s most cherished event not just because of the incredible collection of golfers who compete.

But, golf enthusiasts pine for traditions that the annual Masters tournament at Augusta National evokes.

The event is truly “a tradition unlike any other.”

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: All Sports Footer