Everybody loves an underdog. Fewer people like the overdog.
Thanks to Michael Vick we can no longer use any analogies involving fighting dogs, so we must be careful while discussing the damage underdogs are doing this sport year.
The Miami Heat’s “Dream Team” bit the dust in the NBA Championships, losing to the scrappy Mavericks. The Philadelphia Eagles self-proclaimed “Dream Team” with Michael Vick and Co. appears to be in big, big trouble.
The Best Team That Money Can Buy, the New York Yankees, just took a powder against the Tigers in Game 5 of the American League Division series to the Tigers. And speaking of Tiger, professional golf’s former top star Tiger Woods continues to languish.
Now it appears his putter is laughing at him.
This begs the question, “Which Overdogs Do We Love To Hate The Most?” Here are some candidates. Feel free to comment:
NEW YORK YANKEES: The Steinbrenner boys have taken over for dad, but that hasn’t made this bunch any more likable outside of the greater New York City region. Their payroll has topped $200 million the last four years. Cameron Diaz fed Alex Rodriguez popcorn on national TV. The media treated Derek Jeter’s quest as if he were the first major league player TO EVER REACH 3,000 HITS. Enough!
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Many NFL fans see grimly focused coach Bill Belichick as pro football's Face of Evil. He roams the sideline wearing a discount store hoodie an anguished expressed. He is also a blatant and unrepentant cheater. And his quarterback, Tom Brady, hooked up with a supermodel and underwent hair restoration treatment. It's pretty easy to cheer against these guys.
MIAMI HEAT: It’s OK for LeBron James to take his talents to South Beach. This is America. He had phenomenal market value and he made the most of it. But that introductory party the Heat threw for fans was an affront to the rest of the league. Dirk Nowitzki and Co. made the Heatles pay for it.
KENTUCKY BASKETBALL: Coach John Calipari is pretty greasy, as hoops recruiters go. But the dude can win so the Wildcats hired him without flinching. He lands one NBA-bound player after another. It’s as if he is running a NBA Developmental League team in Lexington -- except that the players are better taken care of.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS ATHLETICS: Every time the UT athletic department flexes it muscles, it causes another team to leave the once-great Big 12 Conference. The Longhorns have more money than everybody else has. They woo armies of blue-chip athletes to their campus. Fortunately they also employ coaches incapable of consistently winning the big game. Iowa State beat the Longhorns on their own football field, which caused Lord knows how many Sooners fans to drink themselves into submission.
ALABAMA FOOTBALL: Nick Saban is an amazing coach, but he doesn’t make a lot of friends. Alabama fan Harvey Updyke got arrested for allegedly poisoning the famed oak trees at Toomer's Corner. And, oh yeah, the Crimson Tide are really, really good again, to the consternation of bitter SEC rivals.
TIGER WOODS: America has reveled in his endless suffering. He cheated on his wife in an epic fashion, opting for quantity over quality. A Perkins waitress? Really? Tiger blamed his support staff for his golf failure, changing swing coaches and caddies. His on-course implosions offer reality TV at its finest.
BOSTON RED SOX: People in that city believe they live in the hub of the universe. ESPN pretty much agrees. So when that collapsed in historic fashion this summer – causing wholesale organizational upheaval – the rest of America laughed itself silly.
DUKE BASKETBALL: Coach K is the face of college basketball . . . along with American Express and countless other corporations. Rich kids go to Duke. Smart kids go to Duke. Since most of us fall into neither category, it is exceeding easy to cheer against them.
THE OTHER JEFF GORDON: Once upon a time he ran roughshod over NASCAR, to the consternation of many citizens of Waffle House Nation. Hard-core stock car racing fans saw a lot of Tom Brady in him. With the No. 24 car has enjoyed a mild resurgence in 2011, that animosity has returned.