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Saturday, March 31, 2012

So long, Cinderella!

So long, Cinderella!  We've become accustomed in the last couple of years to having a true Cinderella to root for in the Final Four.  Last year, Cinderella even brought a friend when Butler and VCU both made it to the final weekend of the tournament.  But this year, Cinderella was not invited to the dance.  Well, perhaps she was invited to the dance, but she was certainly not given directions to the after-party known as the Final Four.  This year's Final Four is made up of the historical giants of the game.  And, in a way, that has a charm of its own.

Kentucky was the overall #1 seed of the entire tournament, and the Wildcats have looked impressive in their first four games of the tournament.  Kentucky is perhaps the most storied program in the history of NCAA basketball.  They are clearly in the top five programs of all time.  Kentucky has won seven national titles and has made fourteen previous trips to the Final Four.  Another clear member of the top five most storied programs in history is Kansas.  They have also made it to the Final Four this year.  Kansas has won three championships ... the most recent being in 2008.  This is the Jayhawks' fourteenth trip to the Final Four.  Kansas will play Ohio State in the semi-finals.  Ohio State is more famous for their football program.  And rightly so.  But the Buckeyes' basketball prowess should not be overlooked.  The Buckeyes can count Clark Kellogg and Bobby Knight amongst their basketball alums.  OSU has not won a title since 1960, but this is their eleventh trip to the Final Four.  And it's not all ancient history.  The Buckeyes played in the title game in 2007.  The upstart in this year's Final Four is Louisville.  At a #4 seed, Louisville is the lowest seed to make this year's Final Four.  But, the Cardinals have won two national championships and are making their ninth trip to the Final Four.

So, while Cinderella might be home watching CBS with the rest of us tonight, the teams who are at the Final Four in New Orleans are a historically great gathering of royal guests.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Luck Ran Out

During the Banshee Blog Winter TV Review, I discussed the HBO drama, Luck.  Due to the bleak nature of some of the story lines, the show was at times hard to watch.  Nonetheless, it was different than anything else on TV, and it was clearly an artistic labor of love with big name actors.  Since HBO is not a slave to ratings in the same way that broadcast networks must be, it was announced in February that  Luck would return for a second season in 2013.

But, in the words of Lee Corso ... Not so fast, my friends.  Partway through the filming of Season 2, the production was brought to a halt ... for good.  One of the most noteworthy aspects of Luck was the dynamic and realistic filming of the racing sequences.  But, the cost of such realism was high.  During the filming of the racing sequences for the first season, two horses suffered injuries that required euthanization. Predictably, this drew sharp criticism from PETA.  Nonetheless, HBO pushed on and completed the first season.  However, when a third horse met its demise during the filming of Season 2, HBO pulled the plug on the project.  HBO released a statement explaining its decision.  It should be noted that the third horse was injured during a freak accident that was not related to the filming of any racing sequence.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

NASCAR Ain't Just Whistlin' Dixie

A few weeks ago, I was eating lunch in the break room at my office.  The TV was on in the background, and a story came on the midday news about how NASCAR decided not to include the Dukes of Hazzard's General Lee in the pre-race festivities at the Phoenix race.  There were about five or six of us in the room.  Even though I live in Virginia, I was the only person who was even a casual NASCAR fan.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I was the only person in that room who could identify any driver by their number.  Upon hearing this news, my boss, a middle-aged man who grew up in Connecticut, made some sarcastic remark about the silliness of banning the General Lee from such a hillbilly event.  He then donned an exaggerated, dullard, Southern accent and said, "You know what? I bet there will even be beer drinkin' there."  His subordinates chuckled and nodded.  The subordinates besides me, that is.  Personally, I thought this was a great decision by all involved.  And, I thought the Connecticut Yankee's general perception of modern NASCAR and anyone who follows it to be misguided.

Now, I know the history of NASCAR.  I know that it started as a sport where moonshiners from the Carolinas and Virginia gathered to show off the hot rods they used to outrun the revenuers.  And, I've been to enough races to know that you will still see the Stars and Bars fluttering over some RVs.  But, the idea that NASCAR in 2012 is exclusively for slack-jawed, Southern yokels who only wear shoes when they go to Sunday service is just flat out false.  My New York birth certificate, the anthracite coal on my desk and the degrees on my wall prove all those stereo-types false.  Also, I have two uncles and five cousins who work in the NASCAR industry.  Not one of them was born in the South.  Only one of them was really raised there.  Mostly, they grew up in industrial northern towns.  Allentown, Wilkes-Barre, Detroit ... those kind of places.

It turns out that I was not the only person thinking about the geography of modern NASCAR that week.  A website for young Civil War historians ran an article on the topic.  So, I decided to do a little analysis myself.  Since this whole discussion got started over the Stars and Bars on the General Lee, I will break this down in terms of Union and Confederate states.

The NASCAR season consists of 36 points races.  Those races are held at 24 different tracks.  Eleven of these tracks are located in states that fought for the Confederacy.  Eleven tracks are in states that remained loyal to the Union.  And, 2 of the tracks are located in Union territories.  In other words, only 46% of the tracks are in Confederate states.  Some tracks host more than one race in a season, but the ratio remains basically the same.  Nineteen of the 36 events take place in Union states or territories.  That is 53% of the action.

As far as the competitors ... well they have even less of a rebel flavor.  After today's race in California, Greg Biffle sits at the top of the NASCAR standings.  Greg Biffle is from Washington state.  The man in 19th place is from Bogota, Colombia.  Out of the top 20 drivers in the standings, only 5 of them are from Confederate states.  The only states with multiple representatives are Wisconsin and Indiana.

If people think that watching cars turn left for 3 hours is boring, that is fine.  If people think that an event with such a huge mechanical component should not be considered a sport, that is worthy of debate, too.  But the condescension and elitism towards NASCAR and its fans is both inappropriate and inaccurate.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Temper Temper: Sports Tantrums of Winter

Due to popular demand, Temper Temper will be a recurring feature on Banshee Blog.  The original version was published in January.  From here on out, I intend to make this a seasonal post.  Since today is the last day of Winter 2012, I present the following cold weather meltdowns for your enjoyment.

1.  Rick Carlisle has seen enough.  February 1, 2012.  Rick Carlisle's Mavericks are losing a frustrating game at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder.  This outburst gets him an early exit.  This is funny because Carlisle is a grown man wearing a $1,500 suit.

2.  Fight Night at the Garden.  Bad blood had been brewing between the Rangers and the Devils all year.  On February 7, 2012, the two teams squared off at Madison Square Garden, and they did not allow the hockey game to distract them from their feuding.  This is the opening face-off.

3.  Kevin Love and Louis Scola Feud.  It seems a little ironic for a guy named Love to make an appearance on this list.  But, sports is drama without a script.  The first video is from January 30, 2012.  The Minnesota Timberwolves were playing at the Houston Rockets.  Louis Scola of the Rockets throws the ball off Kevin Love and hits him in the man zone.

Scola's aim appeared to be more unlucky than malicious, so no technical foul was called.  The T-Wolves won the game, but apparently Kevin Love wasn't ready to forgive and forget.  Less than a week later, the teams were at it again.  This time in Minnesota.  On Saturday, February 4, Kevin Love got a chance to exact his revenge.

Amazingly, no foul of any sort was called on the play.  After the fact, however, the NBA did step in and punish Love.  Love was suspended for two games.

4.  Pete Weber Wins PBA U.S. Open.  February 26, 2012.  That's right.  The video you are about to see is of the man who won professional bowling's U.S. Open.  The Iceman Pete Weber goes absolutely nuts after capturing his 5th title.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mascot Madness

March Madness is now officially underway.  All the tourney sheets are filled out and turned in.  So, the hardcore X's and O's analysis of the brackets is behind us.  We now have time for a more frivolous bracket breakdown:  an in-depth mascot analysis.

All tolled, 68 teams were invited to the Big Dance.  Out of those 68 teams, 57 different mascots were represented.  The most popular mascot was the Wildcat with 3 entries.  The other mascots with multiple entries might surprise you.  Tigers, Cardinals, Rams, Spartans and Bulldogs all made multiple appearances.  But, the Golden Eagles and the Gaels both made multiple appearances, too.

St. Louis University Billiken
When it's broken down by category, animals were by far the most popular type of mascot with 38 entries.  People-type mascots contributed 19 of tournament entries.  There were 3 supernatural mascots.  That group included the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils, the Duke Blue Devils and the Detroit Titans.  Then there were 7 mascots that I really couldn't fit into a particular category.  Those included the St. Louis Billikens (arguably a supernatural mascot), the Syracuse Orange, the Harvard Crimson, the Alabama Crimson Tide, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, the Iowa State Cyclones and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Those are the raw numbers.  Now for the bracket by bracket breakdown ....

East:  Syracuse and Ohio State are both in this bracket.  The Orange and Buckeyes are certainly not common mascots, but they are at a disadvantage in this analysis because we have become so accustomed to seeing them on national TV.  The Loyola (MD) Greyhounds got strong consideration, but I have chosen the Vanderbilt Commodores as the best mascot in the East region.

Midwest:  I'm not sure what the selection committee was thinking here because this is a soft bracket.  The Detroit Titans and the St. Mary's Gaels are decent choices, but I deemed the Vermont Catamounts as the best mascot in the Midwest bracket.  Why?  Well, because it's basically a more creative way to name yourself a Wildcat.

South:  In terms of basketball skill, most pundits have declared the South region to be the toughest.  Same is true in terms of mascots.  The Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils were sort of in this region.  I say "sort of" because MVSU was eliminated in one of Tuesday's First Four games.  The Wichita State Shockers are also in this bracket.  But, my pick for best mascot in the South region is the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.  And kudos to the SDSU graphic designer.  That is the scariest looking rabbit I have ever seen.

West:  The West is home to the best group of mascots in the tournament.  The competition in this bracket was so tough that the Iona Gaels didn't even get more than a passing thought.  The St. Louis Billikens are in this bracket.  The Murray State Racers have a good basketball team this year and a good mascot.  Murray State is located in Kentucky, and Racers is a reference to horse racing.  But, I went with the underdog.  I picked the 16 seed LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds.  I personally find birds to be quite frightening.  I do not trust any animal if you can't look into both of its eyes at once.  So, LIU Brooklyn not only has a creative mascot, but a scary one, too.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sports Fashionista: Championship Week Edition

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  In the name of creativity, Nike and Under Armor put out some pretty outrageous uniforms during the college football season.  Well, not to be outdone, Adidas unveiled some wild new threads for the Championship Week in men's college basketball.  And retinas are still burning all across the nation.

On the left, the Cincinnati Bearcats celebrate their upset win over Syracuse in the Big East semifinals.  There is not much I can say about these uniforms.  There really are just no words to capture this horror.  I don't know which is worse.  The psuedo-camo on the shorts?  Or the fact that there is no camo on the jerseys?  And, if all that isn't enough, check out the socks and shoelaces.

On the right, you have the Baylor Bears.  During their conference championship game on Saturday night, Baylor wore uniforms that were very similar to the Bearcats.  It's arguable that was actually an improvement over the neon color scheme they wore on Friday.  The worst part about the Baylor uniforms is that they a very nice color scheme ... and neon yellow is not one of those colors.

Fashion distraction.  I know that UNC was playing the last few days without their best defender.  But, I can't help but think that some of the Tarheels' struggles can be attributed by the distraction created by Coach Roy Williams' sport jacket.  Who can concentrate on a pre-game speech when you're looking at that plaid mess?  Apparently, Mrs. Williams did not make the trip to Atlanta or she would have stopped that outfit from leaving the hotel room.

A class act.  In case anyone thinks that I'm just a nasty critic, I am not.  There were plenty of very nice uniforms on display during championship week.  They just usually aren't noteworthy because they are the traditional uniforms that we've seen for years.  But, Akron debuted new Nike uniforms this season.  I watched a lot of basketball in this week, and the Zips' uniforms were my favorites.  Unfortunately, Akron lost to Ohio in the MAC championship game, so we will not get to see these uniforms next week in the Big Dance.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Banshee Bracket Bonanza

Tomorrow is Selection Sunday.  Around 6:00 p.m. EST, the field for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament will officially be set.  And thus begins the month-long national holiday known as March Madness.  The best part about March Madness is filling out your brackets and putting your picks up against friends and family ... experts and strangers.
Therefore, I am pleased to announce the first annual Banshee Bracket Bonanza.  There is no entrance fee.  Just follow this link and sign up.  The winner will be awarded a fabulous prize:  The Jock Rock music collection.

The collection includes Jock Rock, Jock Rock 2 and Jock Jams.  With a prize like that on the line, I expect the competition to be fierce.  If you're concerned about your level of expertise, don't be.  As Left Gomez once said, "It's better to be lucky than good."  Come join the fun.

If you run into any problems signing up, send me an email.

Cooking with Banshee: Gold Margaritas

Banshee Blog exists to serve the people.  And the people want the recipe to the gold margarita that was pictured in the recent chicken enchilada post.  So, here it is.

Wild Banshee's Gold Margaritas.  

2 oz gold tequila
1.5 oz triple sec
1 oz lime juice
2.5 oz tangerine juice
margarita salt

Fill a salt-rimmed glass with ice.  Put a handful of ice into a cocktail shaker.  Add the tequila, triple sec, lime juice and tangerine juice.  Shake it up.  Strain into the salt-rimmed glass and enjoy!

The salt-rimmed glass is a big part of this recipe.  As you can see in the picture, I make my margaritas in a short glass tumbler.  To rim the glass with salt, I put a little bit of water in a saucer.  I dip the glass rim into the saucer and then dip the wet rim into a dish of margarita salt.  I do this before I start mixing the ingredients so that the salt can set up a bit.  You can buy a container of the salt in most grocery stores and liquor stores. 

As far as the ingredients are concerned, I use Cuervo Gold tequila.  I'm not a tequila expert.  If you have another favorite brand, go for it.  But, it does need to be gold tequila.  Also, the tangerine juice is easy to find.  Juicy Juice makes it.  I know these margaritas are sweeter than the authentic ones you'll get in San Antonio.  Regular orange juice will make these less sweet.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cooking with Banshee: Chicken Enchiladas

The tagline on this blog reads: Sports, Entertainment, FOOD, and more sports.  I have been caught up in some other things lately, but I did not forget the food aspect.  So, here is a new recipe.  This is not nearly as hard to do as it seems at first blush.  I found the basics for the recipe on Pintrest.  Someone named Joyful Mama claimed these were the best enchiladas of all time.  One of my friends tried the original recipe out and told me that the original recipe was a little bland.  So, the Wild Banshee went to work and came up with this version.  And yes, the picture on the right is the actual finished product that I made.  If anyone wants the recipe for the gold margarita in this picture, please email me.

8 soft taco shells
Rotisserie chicken from grocery store (2 cups of chicken)
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
3 Tbs HOT salsa verde (I used Mrs. Renfro's)
1 finely diced jalapeño.  Stemmed and seeded.
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 can diced chiles (4 oz)
1 cup sour cream
1 can Rotel

Grease a 9x13 baking pan.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove all the meat from a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.  It should be at least two cups.  Place all the meat in a medium mixing bowl.  Add 1 cup of the monterey jack cheese, 3 Tbs of salsa verde and the diced jalapeño.  Mix together.  Divide evenly and spoon into the soft taco shells.  Roll up the shells and place in the baking dish.  Spoon the Rotel over the rolled up enchiladas.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter.  Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock and whisk until smooth.  Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly.  Add the can of chilies.  Stir in the sour cream.  Keep stirring until smooth.  Do not let the sour cream boil because that will make it curdle.

Pour the sauce mixture over the enchiladas.  Top with the remaining cheese.  Bake in the oven for 22 minutes.  Broil for 3 additional minutes to brown the cheese a little.

This recipe is pretty spicy ... even by Wild Banshee standards.  If you want to tone it down a bit, skip the jalapeño in the chicken mixture.  Using medium or mild salsa verde in the chicken mixture will probably be an even more effective calming method.  I do not recommend skipping the Rotel because that adds a nice tomato flavor.

01 09 10

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Banshee on the Bounty

The big sports story for today was the emotional press conference held by Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning.  But, the early part of the week was dominated by talk of Bounty Gate.  This story broke on Friday afternoon.  So, I'm a little late with my reaction.  But, I had a specific request to post something on this topic.  A blog with a following as small as this one, I cannot ignore a request like that.

For those of you who follow this blog more for cooking tips and TV reviews, here is the basic gist of Bounty Gate:  The NFL has discovered that the New Orleans Saints had an organized program for several years that paid out cash rewards to defensive players for a variety of activities ... including, but not limited to, knocking opposing players out of games.  The bounty program was primarily funded by the players, but it was organized by members of the coaching staff.  Chief among them was defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ... now an assistant with the St. Louis Rams.  Head Coach Sean Payton and the team's GM have also acknowledged that they were aware of the bounty program.

So, after all that prelude, I am going to be as blunt as I can be.  The NFL must come down on the New Orleans Saints, and it must come down like a ton of bricks.  Now before anyone gets too worked up here ... I am not turning into a bleeding-heart liberal.  And I am not naive about the culture of football.  I know it's violent game.  As a seven year-old girl, I built a snow man with Vinny Testaverde's number on it and summarily destroyed it in preparation for the 1987 Fiesta Bowl.  And, I know that when my dad was playing on a freshman squad forty years ago, a coach placed a bounty on an opposing player.  I'm not condoning this bloodlust.  I am just trying to communicate that my opinion on the New Orleans Saints' situation does not come from an ivory tower of moral superiority.

The Saints must be punished severely for two reasons.  First, their conduct violates the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.  Second, the NFL is a business that must protect its public image.

1.  CBA Violation.  Odd as it may seem for such a high-paying profession, the NFL is governed by union bylaws and a collective bargaining agreement.  "Non-contract bonuses" are specifically prohibited by the current and past CBAs.  Therefore, pay-for-performance rewards that are not part of a player's written contract are not allowed.  That includes benign payouts for interceptions and fumbles as well as more malicious payouts for "knockout" injuries.  Another aspect of the CBA is the salary cap that each team must adhere to.  Granted, the sums of money involved in the Saints' bounty system were not large in comparison to the salaries being paid officially.  Nonetheless, any form of side payments that are organized by teams are a start down a slippery slope.  The NFL must punish the Saints severely to make it clear that the CBA cannot be side-stepped in any fashion.

2.  Business Image.  The NFL is, above all else, a business.  It exists to make money.  For quite a while now, the NFL has been a revenue-generating behemoth that is seemingly without peer.  But, in this country, there is a lot of competition for the entertainment dollar.  Therefore, the NFL needs to protect its image.  It's no secret that the NFL sells the brutal nature of its game.  But, the league cannot afford to actually cross the line from its current level of violence into a full on bloodsport.  Nor can it afford to appear to be crossing that line.  Bounty is a dirty word.  It just plain sounds bad.  And, it makes people feel bad, too.  Fans cheer raucously for a bone-jarring hit designed to separate a man from the ball.  But it's hard to feel fun about a bone jarring hit designed to injure a man in exchange for $1,500 in cash.  And the NFL must stay fun in order to stay wealthy.  Therefore, the NFL must come down hard on the Saints for openly embracing a bounty culture.

Friday, March 2, 2012

10 Most Bizarre Moments in Sports

In the early morning hours of February 28, 2012, the 3-Daystona finally came to an end.  The Great American Race was supposed to be run on Sunday, February 26, but rain pushed NASCAR's premier event into primetime on Monday, February 27.  This knocked FOX's regular Monday night lineup off the air.  As a result, thousands of casual fans were watching the Daytona 500 when Juan Pablo Montoya wrecked into a jet dyer during a caution on lap 160.  200 gallons of jet fuel spilled onto the track at Daytona International Speedway and exploded into fire.

This was truly one of the most bizarre incidents I had ever seen or even heard of in sports.  This led me to start thinking about the other most bizarre moments in sports history.  I'm sure there are plenty other worthy events, but this is what I came up with.

10.  Jeff Van Gundy vs. Alonzo Mourning's Leg.  The NBA has changed a lot in the last 15 years.  Back in the 1990's teams were expected to settle their own disagreements on the court.  Sure, there were suspensions after brawls, but fighting in the NBA was commonplace.  In the spring of 1998, bad blood had been building between the New York Knicks and the Miami heat for several years.  That year, they met in the Eastern Conference Finals.  In the Game 4, tempers erupted between Alonzo Mourning of the Heat and Larry Johnson of the Knicks.  Jeff Van Gundy, head coach of the Knicks at the time,  comes off the Knicks bench and latches on to Alonzo Mourning's ankles.  There are plenty of NBA coaches who are physically imposing men who can handle themselves in a fight.  Van Gundy is not one of those men.



9. The Band Is  On The Field.   This is one of the most famous moments in college sports, but most of this blog's readers were in diapers when this happened on November 20, 1982.  For the last 20 years, the Stanford-Cal game has not been particularly interesting.  But, I've studied enough history to know that there is a world that existed before Netflix and Lady Gaga.  And, in that world, the annual meeting between Stanford and Cal was known as "The Game."  In 1982, John Elway was the quarterback at Stanford.  Elway had led Stanford down the field to take the lead with just a few seconds left on the clock.  It appeared that Stanford had won the game.  Stanford's band was so confident of that fact that they rushed onto the field.  But, Stanford still had to kick off.  And that's when the miracle happened.  "In the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football, California wins the Big Game over Stanford."  Okay, this might not actually be a better football play than the Music City Miracle, but this play makes the list because the Cal player that scores the winning TD actually spikes the ball on a trombone player.

8.  Randy Johnson Kills a Pidgeon ... or some other bird.  On March 24, 2001, one of our feathered friends learned that a baseball field should be a no-fly zone.  On this day, Randy Johnson was pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks in a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants.  Just when the Big Unit was cranking up for a 95 mph fast ball, a bird flew through the danger zone.  The bird did not live to tell the tale.

7. End of a Legend.   In the 1978 Gator Bowl, legendary head coach Woody Hayes led his Ohio State Buckeyes into Jacksonville to face the Clemson Tigers.  With about two minutes to go, Ohio State was trailing by two points.  But, the Buckeyes were driving.  Then Gator's linebacker Charlie Bauman had the nerve to intercept a pass.  Then Bauman had the poor judgement to get tackled along the OSU sidelines.  Woody Hayes was beside himself with anger.  The head coach of one of the most storied programs in all of college football, punched Bauman in the throat.  Hayes was fired the next day before he had even boarded a plane to leave Jacksonville.  YouTube has plenty of footage of this incident.  This one is my favorite because it is accompanied by the Ohio State fight song.

6. Bobby Valentine in Mustache Disguise.  The Major League Baseball season in 162 games long.  That is a lot of games. And that's why we forgive manger tantrums that we'd never forgive from an NFL or NBA coach.  But, on June 9, 1999 Bobby Valentine got extra creative.  On that day, Bobby V was managing the New York Mets in a game against the Florida Marlins. In the 12th inning, Mike Piazza was called for catcher interference.  Valentine disagreed with that call and was ejected from the game for arguing.  Ejected means you have to leave the dugout.  But, Bobby Valentine was not content to watch the rest of the game from the clubhouse. Instead, he donned a fake mustache and a pair of sunglasses and re-entered the Mets dugout. Who won the game? I don't actually know. I do know that Valentine was fined $5,000 for wearing this Groucho Marx disguise.

Normal Bobby V
Under Cover Bobby V

5.  Monica Seles Stabbed.  Up till now, this list has been pretty funny.  But, what happened in Hamburg, Germany on April 20, 1993 was no laughing matter.  In he spring of 1993, Monica Seles was on top of the women's' tennis world.  Seles had won the French Open three consecutive times.  She had won the back-to-back US Open titles and had just won her second consecutive Australian Open when she headed to Hamburg, Germany for a run-of-the-mill event.  No one could have anticipated the violence that would occur on the court that day.  As Seles took a break during a side change, an obsessed and deranged Steffi Graf fan jumped out of the stands and stabbed Seles in the back.  I could not find a video of the actual stabbing.  This video is from the aftermath.  Seles returned to professional tennis in August of 1995.  Seles won the first tournament of her comeback, and she won the 1996 Australian Open.  But Seles never regained the dominant form she had before the attack in Hamburg.

4.  Rosie Ruiz Cheats at the Boston Marathon.  This would be much higher on the list if American sports fans actually cared about long distance races.  On April 21, 1980, Ruiz was interviewed as the winner of the Boston Marathon in the women's division.  Her time was 2 hours, 51 minutes and 56 seconds.  That would have been a record for a woman in the Boston Marathon.  Records are made to be broken, but Rosie Ruiz was an absolute unknown.  And, she didn't seem particularly sweaty or tired.  So, scrutiny ensued.  Turns out that Rosie actually wandered out of the crowd and joined the race with only a half mile to go.  Ruiz was initially given the gold medal and that fetching olive leaf crown because she had a valid marathon number and had validly qualified for the race.  Well, it turned out that qualifying wasn't on the up and up, either.  Further investigation revealed that Ruiz qualified via her time in the New York Marathon ... where she had commuted to the finish via subway.

3. Fan Man.  It's been a long time since we have had one here in the United States, but a heavyweight championship fight is one of the greatest spectacles in a all of sports.  On November 6, 1993, Riddick Bowe was defending his heavyweight title against Evander Holyfield.  The fight was held at Ceasar's Palace outdoor arena in Las Vegas, NV.  Holyfield ended up winning the title that night, but the fight is most remembered for the bizarre moment that occurred in the 7th round.  During the middle of the fight, a man equipped with a parachute and a fan strapped to his back descended into the arena and got caught in the ropes.  If that wasn't bizarre enough, Riddick Bowe's corner added to the craziness.  Once "Fan Man" was caught in the ropes, Bowe's entourage gets hold of him and beats him senseless.  Fan Man later quipped, "It was a heavyweight fight, and I was the only guy that got knocked out."  Another bizarre aspect of the incident was that Riddick Bowe's pregnant wife fainted in the aftermath and left the event on a stretcher.

2. Ice Princess Shattered.  When you think of figure skating, you think of sequins and princess costumes.  You do not think of blood feuds.  Well, all that changed on January 6, 1994.  Nancy Kerrigan was America's ice princess.  Tonya Harding was her primary rival.  While Kerrigan was known for her grace and beauty, Harding was known for her athletic prowess and tough personality.  1994 was an Olympic year.  Typically, the top two finishers at the U.S. Championships would be chosen to compete for Olympic gold.  After a practice session at the U.S. Championships, disaster struck Kerrigan.  And the disaster came at the hands of Shane Stant.  Stant struck Kerrigan in the knee with a collapsible police baton.  Although Harding herself was never linked to the attack, it was later learned that the attack was arranged by Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and his friend Shawn Eckardt.  Kerrigan was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Championships due to the knee injury.  Harding won the gold at the U.S. Championships.  But, the U.S. Olympic Committee still named Kerrigan to the Olympic team in favor of a very young Michelle Kwan.  Kerrigan was fully recovered seven weeks later and won the silver medal at the Lillehammer games.

1. The Bite Fight.  One of the best things that can happen in sports is when a clear good guy faces off against a clear bad guy.  The Holyfield-Tyson fights were classic examples of this.  The Holy Warrior versus the Baddest Man on the Planet ... and a convicted rapist.  In 1996, Holyfield shocked the world when he knocked Tyson out to win the WBA heavyweight championship.  The rematch was held on June 28, 1997.  In the third round of the fight, Tyson apparently lost his mind.  Tyson came out to start the round without a mouthpiece.  The referee spotted this and rectified the situation before the fight resumed.  But, Tyson was not deterred.  With forty seconds left in the round, Tyson bit Holyfield's right ear.  Tyson was docked two points for the infraction, but doctors determined that the fight could continue.  Then Tyson immediately goes after Holyfield's left ear.  This time, Tyson bit off a significant piece of Holyfield's ear and spit it out in the ring.  A melee ensued.  Tyson was disqualified, and Holyfield won the fight.  For those of you counting at home, this is the second appearance on this list for Evander Holyfield.  If you're paying very close attention, it's also the second appearance for referee Mills Lane.

And thus concludes Banshee Blog's count down of the most bizarre moments in sports history.  If you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment or email at