Bracket mania: One-hit wonders
In any arena where someone can be worshiped there are legends, tragic figures and of course, one-hit wonders.
But which one is the greatest of them all? Is it a sports team? An athlete? Someone from the ranks of pop culture?
Let's find out as Page 2 continues its bracket madness by narrowing down the field of 64 to determine whose 15 minutes of fame reign supreme.
Winners in bold.
(1) Buster Douglas vs. (16) Cedric Maxwell
Douglas stunned Mike Tyson, handing "Iron Mike" his first career defeat. Maxwell once won NBA Finals MVP honors, and his name sticks out on that list like Lindsay Lohan in a meeting of girl scouts. "Cornbread" was a cool nickname, but beating the '81 Rockets (the worst team ever to make an NBA championship game) hardly compares to knocking out the invincible Tyson.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
In the playoff someone must have reminded Mitchell that he was playing for the Lions.
(8) Jack Fleck vs. (9) Scott Mitchell
Fleck, an unknown from Iowa, defeated the venerable Ben Hogan in a playoff to win the 1955 U.S. Open. He went on to win only once more on the PGA Tour. Mitchell had one monster year in 1995, throwing for more than 4,000 yards and 32 TDs and leading the Detroit Lions into the playoffs. Where they scored 37 points. And lost by 21 points.
(4) Mark Fidrych vs. (13) Keith Smart
Smart's shot from the corner won the 1987 NCAA title for Indiana, but Fidrych was a national sensation as a 21-year-old rookie for the Detroit Tigers in 1976, winning 19 games with a 2.34 ERA, completing 24 of his 29 starts and starting the All-Star Game. Plus, he talked to the baseball, manicured the mound and wore his hair shaggy and curly, which earned him the nickname "The Bird" for resembling the "Sesame Street" character Big Bird.
(5) David Tyree vs. (12) Rashaan Salaam
Salaam rushed for 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns for Colorado in 1994, but considering his quick disappearance from the NFL, he has settled in as the most anonymous Heisman Trophy winner ever, not including those two dudes from Yale in the '30s. We'll take the Helmet Catch.
(3) Timmy Smith vs. (14) Ickey Woods
The battle of Super Bowl rookie running backs. The obscure Super Bowl star (204 rushing yards) versus the Ickey Shuffle. Just think, if Woods (who scored 15 touchdowns in 1988) tried to perform his celebration now, he'd be ridiculed by bloggers, chastised by pundits, compared to T.O. and fined by the NFL.
(6) Leon Spinks vs. (11) Akili Smith
Spinks earned one of the great covers in Sports Illustrated history after beating Muhammad Ali in 1978 to win the heavyweight title in just his eighth pro fight. Impressive, but Smith became the third pick in the NFL draft after just one full season as the starting quarterback at Oregon.
(7) Tony Mandarich vs. (10) John Paciorek
Paciorek had the perfect career: one game with the Colt .45s in 1963, going 3-for-3 with two walks, three RBIs and four runs scored. He had back surgery in 1964 and never again played in the majors. Maybe he should have taken steroids.
(2) Don Larsen vs. (15) Paul Henderson
Sorry, we're not Canadian, so we'll take leaping into Yogi's arms.
(1) Buster Douglas vs. (9) Scott Mitchell
Douglas was not intimidated.
(5) David Tyree vs. (4) Mark Fidrych
OK, it was the catch of a lifetime. But Tyree did not become the first athlete to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone.
(3) Timmy Smith vs. (11) Akili Smith
Akili Smith goes to Cincinnati. Throws five career touchdowns. Flames out of the CFL. But he was awesome in the standing broad jump. NFL scouting -- anyone can do it! At least for the Bengals.
(10) John Paciorek vs. (2) Don Larsen
Larsen's virtuoso World Series performance inspired one of the great first sentences in sportswriting history: "The imperfect man pitched the perfect game." (Suggested by columnist Dick Young, but appeared under the byline of Joe Trimble.)
Ken Levine/Getty Images
In the end, even if he brought a hammer in the ring Buster would get knocked out.
Round of 16
(1) Buster Douglas vs. (4) Mark Fidrych
Douglas' feat was a flash of brilliance, the destruction of another man's career, but with no happy ending for either party. Fidrych's season was a fairy tale; he was a quirky personality in the aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate, enjoying the ride. We like fairy tales.
(11) Akili Smith vs. (2) Don Larsen
What's amazing about Larsen is that while his career record was a mediocre 81-91, he actually started two World Series Game 7s -- and lasted just 2 1/3 innings both times.
(4) Mark Fidrych vs. Don Larsen
Fidrych hurt his knee during spring training of his sophomore season but soon returned and was pitching well when his arm suddenly went dead. Torn rotator cuff. Never the same. How good was he? The evidence suggests he actually had a lot of luck in '76, as he struck out just 97 batters in 250 innings. It's hard to keep succeeding with a strikeout rate that low. Which makes 1976 all the more improbable, unlikely and unforgettable.
(1) Harper Lee vs. (16) Alex Winter
Keanu Reeves (Ted) became a movie star. Sort of. If you ignore the actual acting ability. Alex Winter (Bill) went on to guest star in an episode of "Bones." Life isn't always fair. Neither wrote "To Kill a Mockingbird."
(8) Eliot Ness vs. (9) Michael Cimino
Ness took down Al Capone, but the rest of his life was marred by drinking problems and divorces. His career fell so far that at one point he was teaching soldiers about venereal disease. That sad tale has nothing on Cimino. He won an Oscar for directing "The Deer Hunter" in 1978. But his follow-up, "Heaven's Gate," was a financial disaster that nearly bankrupted United Artists. He was hired to direct "Footloose" but was fired a few months intro production. His meteoric rise and fall was over.
(4) Ben Affleck/Matt Damon vs. (13) Mira Sorvino
Our two favorite Red Sox fans won Oscars for writing "Good Will Hunting." Fluke? Luck? Or maybe somebody else actually wrote the movie? Sorvino won an Oscar for "The Mighty Aphrodite," but they should take back the trophy for her appearance in "WiseGirls," a movie about a bunch of waitresses who work in a place owned by the mob. One of the other waitresses? Mariah Carey.
(5) J.D. Salinger vs. (12) Pets.com
"The Catcher in the Rye" -- symbolic work of teenage angst or overrated, self-indulgent muck? Who cares. Pets.com moves on.
(3) Margaret Mitchell vs. (14) Shawn Fanning
Mitchell wrote one book -- "Gone with the Wind." No, we haven't read it. But we did see the movie, and since we haven't downloaded anything from Napster since 2000, Mitchell moves on.
The advocacy efforts of Mr. Billingsley helped countless youths not shoot their eyes out.
(6) Peter Billingsley vs. (11) Amanda Peterson
Sure, guys who were teenagers in the '80s always will have a certain affection for the star of "Can't Buy Me Love." (Whatever happened to her co-star, anyway?) But "A Christmas Story" is a classic.
(7) "Playmakers" vs. (10) Jack Kerouac
The most interesting thing about Kerouac isn't "On the Road," his only book of note, but his creation of a fantasy baseball league as a child that he continued to play until his death from alcoholism at age 47 (was it the fantasy baseball that led to the drinking?). "Playmakers," however, was reality disguised as fantasy.
(2) Neil Armstrong vs. (15) Grant Wood, painter, American gothic
Quick, name one other thing Neil Armstrong accomplished!
(1) Harper Lee vs. (9) Michael Cimino
Lee, who is still alive, completed "To Kill a Mockingbird" in 1959. It's the only book she's published. And every junior high kid has read it. Except for those who went to one of those schools that banned it.
(4) Ben Affleck/Matt Damon vs. (12) Pets.com
Well, the commercials were amusing.
(3) Margaret Mitchell vs. (6) Peter Billingsley
The book did inspire the highest-grossing movie of all time (inflation adjusted). Did we mention we haven't read the book?
(7) "Playmakers" vs. (2) Neil Armstrong
That was a pretty awesome achievement, however.
Round of 16
(1) Harper Lee vs. (4) Ben Affleck/Matt Damon
Hey, there always is hope that Affleck/Damon once again will set pen to paper and write another Oscar-winning script. Like the '04 Red Sox, don't count them out.
(6) Peter Billingsley vs. (2) Neil Armstrong
We kid, Mr. Armstrong, we kid. But, damn, we almost went with the kid here.
(1) Harper Lee vs. (2) Neil Armstrong
The great American novel versus the great American moment.
(1) 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey vs. (16) 1989 Seton Hall
"Do you believe in miracles?" is an easy victor over Seton Hall. Where have you gone, Andrew Gaze?
Rhona Wise/Getty Images
Don't let the '97 trophy out of your sight, Edgar, or Wayne will try and sell it.
(8) 1997 Florida Marlins vs. (9) 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning
The Marlins didn't even win their division that year. As for the Lightning, the next season was the lockout, and they have won't a playoff series since.
(4) 1966 England World Cup vs. (13) 1914 Boston Braves
We're going to apologize in advance to all soccer hooligans; just call us ignorant Americans if you wish. Anyway, we know English fans love soccer with a passion that surpasses Duke students on a binge of Red Bull. We know our soccer league sucks compared to yours. But why has England reached even the World Cup semifinals only one other time?
(5) 1983 North Carolina State vs. (12) 2006 George Mason
Next time you start debating the need for a college football playoff system so we can crown the best team, ask yourself this: Was North Carolina State really the best college basketball team in 1983?
(6) 1990 Georgia Tech vs. (11) 1998 Atlanta Falcons
The Yellow Jackets split the national title with Colorado after going 11-0-1 to win the ACC (their only conference championship between 1953 and 1997) and beating No. 19 Nebraska in the Citrus Bowl. But they didn't have Eugene Robinson.
(3) 1968 New York Jets vs. (14) 2006 Miami Heat
Joe Namath never won another playoff game.
(7) 1994 Western University vs. (10) 2000 Baltimore Ravens
Let's face it, Western U. was never the same after landing on probation for three years for, among other things, giving Neon Bodeaux a car. That's enough to edge out the Ravens, who until this past season were never the same after letting go of Trent Dilfer.
(2) 1969 New York Mets vs. (15) 1969 Seattle Pilots
OK, the Pilots weren't a wonder, but they did last just one year. The Mets move on.
(1) 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey vs. (9) 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning
Seriously, Tampa Bay won a Stanley Cup title? Man, Canada must really hate us.
(4) 1966 England World Cup vs. (5) 1983 North Carolina State
England finished fourth in the 1990 World Cup. Otherwise, no other trips past the quarterfinals. Uruguay has won two titles. West Germany/Germany has finished first or second five times since it lost the 1966 title to England. Turkey, Korea, Croatia and Bulgaria all have reached the semifinals since England last did. What, in the name of Bobby Charlton, sez you, England?
(11) 1998 Atlanta Falcons vs. (3) 1968 New York Jets
How improbable were the '98 Falcons? They went 14-2, the franchise's only 10-win season over a 12-year span. But they didn't win the Super Bowl and then fade into a 40-year span of futility, did they?
(7) 1994 Western University vs. (2) 1969 New York Mets
The Dolphins cheated to achieve their success. Although some would argue that the Mets did as well. Anyway, the Mets won 100 games in '69 and followed that up with seasons of 83, 83, 83 and 82 wins. At least they were consistent.
Round of 16
(1) 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey vs. (4) 1966 England World Cup
In an upset, England advances to the regional final! Bend it like Beckham, baby! Truth is, the U.S. team wasn't a one-hit wonder. After beating the Soviets, it still had to beat Finland to win gold.
Who knew the entire Jets franchise would be one and done after Broadway Joe?
(3) 1968 New York Jets vs. (2) 1969 New York Mets
You knew they had to meet. It's like Magic-Bird. Wilt-Russell. Ewing-Olajuwon. Only they're not basketball players. The Jets might have proved the worth of the AFL, but the Mets were a miracle.
(4) 1966 England World Cup vs. (2) New York Mets
Really, maybe England needs to try baseball or basketball or some other sport. Or just stick to snooker.
(1) Vanilla Ice ("Ice Ice Baby") vs. (16) The Buggles ("Video Killed the Radio Star")
Vanilla goes rollin' in his 5.0 right over the robotic almost-was that was The Buggles.
(8) Right Said Fred ("I'm Too Sexy") vs. (9) Men Without Hats ("Safety Dance")
Let's go to the lyrics to settle this one: "I'm so sexy it hurts" or "Everybody look at your hands." Sorry, Fred, the men wanted it more.
(5) Sinead O'Connor ("Nothing Compares 2 U") vs. (12) Sir Mix-a-Lot ("Baby Got Back")
To whom was Sinead singing this sad ballad? Apparently, her career. Sorry, Sinead ... in the words of the royal knight Sir Mix-a-Lot, "You ain't it Miss Thing."
(4) The Rembrandts ("I'll Be There For You") vs. (13) The Divinyls ("I Touch Myself")
Any song that conjures up images of David Schwimmer frolicking in a fountain has first-round upset written all over it ... and by upset, we of course mean our stomachs.
(6) The Knack ("My Sharona") vs. (11) Gloria Gaynor ("I Will Survive")
Ladies, we get it. You've got all your life to live, and we're not welcome anymore. But guess what? So do we, and we're happier than ever and signing "My Sharona" full-blast as we drive away.
(3) Soft Cell ("Tainted Love") vs. (14) Baha Men ("Who Let The Dogs Out")
There are two mysteries mankind needs solve: One, how did the Baha Men have a hit record? Two, what the [BEEP] makes that sound at the beginning of "Tainted Love"? Is it somebody rubbing the legs of their parachute pants together in a bizarre '80s mating dance?
Evan Agostini/Getty Images
"Nothing helps me deliver the news better than a tall, cool glass of Afternoon Delight."
(7) Starland Vocal Band ("Afternoon Delight") vs. (10) Toni Basil ("Mickey")
Toni can't hold a pompom to what has to be the naughtiest song this side of "Baby Got Back." A song so great Ron Burgundy once declared, "It is simply the greatest composition in human history, and if you disagree, I will fight you."
(2) a-ha ("Take On Me") vs. (15) Dexys Midnight Runners ("Come on Eileen")
Dexys can't keep up with the high notes as the pride of Norway takes this one in a walk.
(1) Vanilla Ice ("Ice Ice Baby") vs. (9) Men Without Hats ("Safety Dance")
While Men Without Hats did dare to shoot their video at a Renaisannce festival, they can't go to the extreme and rock a mike like a vandal, nor can they light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle.
(12) Sir Mix-a-Lot ("Baby Got Back") vs. (13) The Divinyls ("I Touch Myself")
In a showdown of the top two songs you would never put on your mom's iPod, royalty reigns as Sir Mix-a-Lot shakes his healthy butt into the next round.
(6) The Knack ("My Sharona") vs. (3) Soft Cell ("Tainted Love")
Here's a trick my friend Jessie taught me -- take every song with the word "love" in it and replace it with "lunch." See, "Tainted Love" just got even better.
(7) Starland Vocal Band ("Afternoon Delight") vs. (2) a-ha ("Take On Me")
Sure, the celebration of the "nooner" is a noble cause, but when you weigh that against wrench-wielding renegade motorcyle racers? Exactly.
Round of 16
(1) Vanilla Ice ("Ice Ice Baby") vs. (12) Sir Mix-a-Lot ("Baby Got Back")
Sir Mix-a-Lot's Cinderella run ends as he turns back into a pumpkin ... or more like two pumpkins ... big pumpkins ... that are right next to each other. You get the point.
(3) Soft Cell ("Tainted Love") vs. (2) a-ha ("Take On Me")
The men of a-ha end this matchup by stealing a line from their opponent: "Now I'm going to pack my things and go."
Paul S. Howell/Getty Images
Seriously, we all used to listen to this ... on purpose.
(1) Vanilla Ice ("Ice Ice Baby") vs. (3) Soft Cell ("Tainted Love")
The dulcet tones of Soft Cell are easy prey for Mr. Ice after he declares he's "deadly when I play a dope melody, anything less than the best is a felony."
Mark Fidrych vs. Harper Lee
In his third major league start, Fidrych threw an 11-inning complete game. In his fourth major league start, Fidrych threw another 11-inning complete game. Of his first 13 starts, he completed 12. He started 13 times on three days' rest that rookie season. Is the conjecture of "what might have been" a bigger wonder than a writer producing one masterpiece?
1966 England World Cup vs. Vanilla Ice
We love England. Mind the gap. Big Ben. The Queen. And there's nothing like a good pint of English beer. As long as "Ice Ice Baby" isn't playing on the jukebox.
Harper Lee vs. Vanilla Ice
Harper closes out the title using the words from her first draft of Atticus Finch's closing arguments: "Word to your mother ... "