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The top blunders in sports history

By Jeffery Armstrong

Okay, it's up to me to set the record straight here. ESPN once again drew up another Top 25 list n this time it was the top 25 greatest sports blunders during the last 25 years.

The network called up the usual suspects n former Dallas Cowboys defensive player Leon Lett touching the ball in the snow against Miami, costing the Cowboys the game; the boxer's mom running into the ring and several more wild sports blunders.

But the network forgot the biggest sports blunder in the last 25 years: the Boston Red Sox's Bill Buckner misplaying a ground ball against the New York Mets in game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

I'm sorry, but that has to be the worst moment in sports. Buckner went from being known as a pretty good baseball player to being known for that mistake.

For those who don't know what happened, Buckner let a ground ball hit by the Mets' Mookie Wilson go through his legs into right field with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning. Ray Knight of the Mets scored from second base and the Mets won the game 6-5 and won game 7 and the World Series title two days later.

If Buckner had fielded the ball and stepped on first base, the game would've gone into the top of the 11th inning and the Sox would've had a chance to win the World Series that night. The Sox led 5-3 in the 10th, were leading three-games-to-two in the series and were one strike away from a title before the Mets got three straight hits that tied the game at five and put a runner (Knight) on second. Now sure, Buckner didn't give up those hits to tie the game, but his misplay did give up the game-winning run. Yeah, it's a team sport, but Buckner made a bad play and the Sox lost the game. That has to rank as the biggest sports mistake ever n along with possibly that fateful day in 1919 when the Sox gave away Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.

From worst play to best play: Keeping with the baseball theme of this column, I have to give my kudos to Yankees captain Derek Jeter. Last year, I wrote a column about how Jeter is the only pro baseball player I care to watch nowadays. The play he made in a recent game against the Red Sox, catching a popup and diving into the stands, only cemented that feeling for me. Jeter ran all the way from his shortstop position, caught the ball and fell headfirst into the stands, cutting his chin and bruising his shoulder and right eye. A Sox fan said to me that one player on Boston made a similar play a few innings earlier, but that really doesn't matter. Jeter is a four-time champion who could've rested on his laurels and not made that play. In fact, he could coast for the rest of his career, trotting to first on grounders, showing up pitchers and bragging about his accomplishments on a regular basis.

He does none of those things, yet Yankee fans booed him when he was hitting below .200 at the start of the season. With all that he's done for that team, he could strike out in every at-bat for a month and I wouldn't trash him. He's the very definition of what a baseball player should be and how one should play.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com.