|Readers: Worst championship teams|
From the Page 2 mailbag
Earlier this week, Page 2 listed our worst 10 team champions in sports history, and we asked you to send us your choices.
1. 2001-02 New England Patriots (147 letters)
Their win against Pittsburgh came because of a huge letdown by the Steelers. Pittsburgh had just manhandled the defending champion Baltimore Ravens and had used all their energy in that game. Pittsburgh was a much better team than New England this season and just suffered an immaculate emotional letdown. Kordell Stewart had an off day and was the main reason for the loss.
Although I give New England tons of credit for playing the perfect game, St. Louis was by far the superior team. For the way the teams played, to need a game-ending field goal shows that St. Louis was the better team. If that game was played 100 times, I am confident that St. Louis would have won 98 times.
Additionally, I am not sold on all this Tom Brady hype. He did a great job turning around the Patriots, but I consider him the worst player ever to be labeled Super Bowl MVP.
We'll see how he does this season against a tough schedule.
Tom Brady was the third, and maybe fourth (possibly fifth) best quarterback in the building that night, and he was not the MVP of that game, not after failing to move the ball through most of the second half and giving the Rams the opportunity to come back. This team was pretty much stupid enough to not realize how bad it was.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still celebrating. But as a NE sports fan (Bruins in the first round, perennially doomed Sox, centerless Celtics), I'm bracing myself for next year's 6-10 season, and for these words to happen over and over: "Brady throws over the middle ... picked off again!"
One word: "Tuck!"
2. 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens (118 letters)
To this day, I still cringe when I read the winning Super Bowl QBs of the last decade: Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Brett Favre, John Elway, Kurt Warner, and ... Trent Dilfer?
A team that, during the regular season, went 4 games without scoring and offensive touchdown, led by a mediocre quarterback at best, and beat a fluke New York Giants in one of the most boring Super Bowls ever. Two seasons later, the championship team constructed with millions of dollars was reduced to Chris Redman as starting QB and Todd Heap as their go-to receiver.
They won the Super Bowl with an offense where a three-and-out was considered a good possession.
Here's a hint. Craig Counsell. Tony Womack. Junior Spivey. Rod Barajas. Damian Miller. Miguel Batista. Greg Colbrunn. I can go on and on. Has a team ever been carried to a championship more than the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. No disrespect to Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, who are legitimate studs. No disrespect to Luis Gonzalez, who had a horrendous series except for the winning hit in Game 7.
But I think they are the worst team to win a championship ever for this reason: These weren't even young up-and-comers. That would be perfectly tolerable, maybe even interesting. These were a bunch of old never-were's, guys not traded but cut from teams like the Cubs, Marlins and Pirates, beating the mighty Yankees, going for their fourth straight World Series win after demolishing the 116-46 Mariners. Arizona didn't and still doesn't even belong on the same field, yet somehow they did it. If not the worst team ever to win a championship, they are certainly the most overmatched team to win a championship, not counting Super Bowls. The Super Bowl is one game, really anything can happen in one game in any sport. This team won a seven-game series against a team it had no business playing.
OK, maybe I'm biased and bitter, but I pick the 2001 Diamondbacks. Remember, this is a team that bolstered its rotation with Albie Lopez. Even with their two aces, they still only won the Series because of an error, and the guy who scored the winning run was only on base because his sac bunt failed.
They had two players -- Schilling and Johnson -- and rode them all the way to the title. Not only that, but they had the worst manager in playoff history in Bob Brenly. He single-handedly lost Games 4 and 5 with decisions to go with Kim, and then left Schilling in too long in Game 7 (Soriano's homer). Throw a couple of freak errors and bloops in the ninth inning of Game 7, and the team with the second-lowest batting average in World Series history wins the title.
If that isn't enough, the sight of Wayne Huizenga II (Jerry Colangelo), jumping up and down like he was having a seizure, makes me puke.
4. 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers (41 letters)
C - Scioscia (.257)
How unintimidating is that? Team batting average was .248!!
Of course, they had Orel Hershiser and his 23 wins and a team ERA under 3, but that lineup ... if they're pitching was just average, you could probably reverse their 94-67 record.
In the middle of the season, they made themselves worse by trading their second-best hitter, Pedro Guerrero, to get nine starts and arm trouble out of John Tudor. If it wasn't for Orel Hershiser pitching like the second coming of Sandy Koufax for two months, that team would've gone nowhere.
At least with the '97 Marlins, you could make a case that they could've won another championship if the team had stayed together. The '89 Dodgers were arguably about as good as the '88 Dodgers (while Kirk Gibson became a shell of his former self, they still brought in Eddie Murray and Mike Morgan and gave up Mike Devereaux and a bunch of nothing to get them, Willie Randolph was an offensive and defensive improvement over Steve Sax, and Mike Scioscia, Jeff Hamilton, Alfredo Griffin, Mike Davis, and Mickey Hatcher had better years than in '88) and they finished 77-83.
5. 1985 Villanova men's basketball (35 letters)
The team barely deserved to be in the tournament, let alone national champions. The only true explanation is that God wanted them to win. How else do you explain 79 percent shooting against Patrick Ewing and one of the best defenses in the nation?
6. 1997 Florida Marlins (33 letters)
In 25 years, people are going to look back and say, "The Marlins won a World Series?!" There you have it, everything that's wrong with baseball. Any team that finishes nine games back in its own division has no business being in the playoffs.
7. 1999 San Antonio Spurs (24 letters)
In five painful games, the Knicks (who, because of the shortened season, hadn't had time to take their usual plunge into mediocrity before the playoffs started) managed to out-lose the Spurs. Jordan's Bulls would have stomped the Spurs into the ground, as Kobe and Shaq's Lakers did just two years later.
The only way a championship team could be worse is if Allan Houston, Marcus Camby and the rest of those paycheck-collectors in New York had beaten the Spurs. You would have to disband the league on general principle if that had occurred.
8. 1987 Minnesota Twins (22 letters)
9. 1983 N.C. State men's basketball (18 letters)
As a Tar Heel, I can only conclude that they were the luckiest team ever, and the worst team to win a championship. I refuse to acknowledge any claims that they were the best team ever by knocking off so many heavyweights on their way to winning the ACC and then the NCAA.
10. 1984 BYU football (14 letters)