The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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Top5Thurs: Top 5 Biggest Debacles in Sports

The Super League was good times. Remember Super League? It was glorious. Billions of dollars, millions of fans, hundreds of players, a dozen and a half or so of teams and one giant debacle.

It lasted about two full days before it collapsed under its own weight of incompetence. It unnecessarily alienated fans, invited worldwide negative PR and cost several prominent team leaders their jobs.

But rest assured soccer fans, this complete and total embarrassment was not for nothing. It inspired this week's Top 5 Thursday. What American sports debacles have occurred that could possibly measure up to European soccers most humiliating moment? Not your run of the mill failed trades, hirings or signings but the big picture screw ups that cost leagues dearly and in some cases continue to cost leagues dearly.

I think I've got a few. Without further ado, here is this week's list:

Top5Thurs: Biggest Debacles In Sports

5. The New NBA Basketball

  • David Stern had a rough couple of years in the mid 2000's. In 2005, he implemented a "dress code" in the NBA intended to change its image in the wake of the league struggling to grow after Michael Jordan's void. In 2007, Tim Donaghy brought the NBA to its knees but was more of a scandal than a debacle. That leaves 2006, when Stern decided to randomly change the NBA basketball. Out was leather, in was pleather. It was like watching NBA stars trying to dribble a ball wrapped in ice. It was immediately rejected by players and a complete and total disaster. Why would any league fundamentally change the material of their ball? Definitely a debacle.

4. MLB ASG/World Series Home Field Advantage

  • Bud Selig was the absolute king of taking strengths of MLB and turning them into giant disasters. His super hero power was overseeing a huge mistake, getting involved and immediately compounding that mistake and then keeping his job for over two decades. After the MLB All Star Game ended in an embarrassing tie in 2002, Selig introduced the concept of the league winner of the All Star game would be rewarded with home field advantage in the World Series. The only problem? Player opt outs, usage restrictions, managerial conflicts of interest and a 162 game regular season prevented anyone from taking the All Star game seriously enough to justify tilting the hallowed World Series in favor of one league over another. It was plainly stupid but like Selig, somehow lasted longer than it ever should have from 2003-2016.

3. All Other Professional Football Leagues

  • The original XFL, the rebooted XFL (this time they're serious!), the AAF and any other acronyms masquerading as football leagues were debacles. It doesn't matter who financed them, who was hired, who the players were, what the rules were or how many media partners they had, the leagues were all terrible. People do not want to watch any football you put in front of their face. They want to watch quality football with quality play and star power. Let's hope that message has finally sunk in to the rich guys that need to hear it.

2. The NHL Cancelled Season

  • Work stoppages in sports rarely produce a positive net result for the league. In 2004-05, the NHL lost an entire season due to a lockout. There was not a single second of professional hockey in America. Here's the crazy thing: The NHL had real momentum in the late 90's and early 2000's. The league had stars galore, rivalries that caught America's attention and feel good stories like Ray Borque to go along with traditional powerhouse dynasties like the Detroit Red Wings. I argued with friends about hockey in college! And then they got greedy, cancelled a season and have never been able to rediscover their stalled momentum. Oh, and that commissioner is still the league's commissioner. D-E-B-A-C-L-E.

1. The 1994 MLB Strike

  • Remember how I was dumping on Bud Selig for #4 on this list? I was being kind. The 1994 MLB strike was one of the darkest moments in American sports history. Baseball had never not played a World Series until Bud Selig and Donald Fehr got into their pissing match. The ignominy of making the wrong kind of history with no World Series is one thing but the reality that the strike likely set into motion a series of events that led baseball to the Steroid Era is another. Its the worst kind of butterfly effect that in 1994, Bud Selig wrapped his tentacles around baseball and in 2021, baseball is at its lowest point of relevancy in American sports history. Thanks Bud!

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