May 19, 2007

The Final Showdown:
The Score is down to the finals for the greatest sports highlight of all time.

Is it "The Improbable Goal"?
Or is it "The Dunk of Death"?

Vote now!
(and check out all the other match-ups along the way)






posted by grum@work to fantasy at 12:55 PM - 63 comments

It's gotta be the goal. That's just ridiculous.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 03:57 PM on May 19

I'm still in shock after seeing that goal. Carter's dunk was amazing but damn, that goal left me speechless.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 06:55 PM on May 19

Yeah, I was watching Score Tonight when that goal came up in the semis against the Denis Savard goal. I thought "wow, it's going to be tough for some random soccer highlight to beat out a classic hockey highlight". Then I saw the goal. Yikes.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 07:08 PM on May 19

Frankly, I'm surprised (but in a good way) that the final two plays are not hockey related. I expected a hockey-sweep, considering the source, but this... I'm fine with this.

posted by mkn at 07:45 PM on May 19

The best part about "the goal" is the scientific breakdown they do for it on the Score television broadcast of it. They show the shooting angle (less than 1 degree), the distance (29 meters, or about 95 feet), the speed of the shot (112 km/h or 70 mph) and the total curve (about 1 meter, or over 3 feet). They mention how if the goalie had simply stood on the line and raised his arms and not moved, it couldn't have gone in. They talk about how it would have been a fantastic shot if it was a free kick, but in this case Carlos was running full tilt, the ball was bouncing, the player kicked with his weak foot, he kicked across his body, and he did it with the outside of his foot. The kicker for me: zero celebration from Carlos. He just waves at the crowd with a calm look on his face while his teammates go nuts. I have to admit though, listening to the French announcers lose their minds on the Carter dunk is pretty f*cking hilarious.

posted by grum@work at 07:58 PM on May 19

Previous discussion on the Score64. Since grum refuses to self-link, even in a locker room discussion.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 08:48 PM on May 19

As much as I loves my soccer, I gots ta go with the dunk of death. If anyone recalls that crazy curving freekick Roberto Carlos scored against France in 1997, they'll know he's quite comfortable with wicked left foot curlers. In this case (the finalist) the goalie was quite off his line and begging to be lobbed. That Carlos was running at full speed on the left wing and about a foot from the goalline when he shoots does add to the difficulty, but the shot was on his favored left foot (that's right, grum - his left is not his weak foot) and the keeper's poor positional choice must surely be taken into consideration. I loves me that goal, but the Brazil freekick tops this. As for Vince's dunk of death, that is sheer madness. It was in-your-face and over-your-sevenfoottwo-head, man! What more do you need? Holy spring-loaded shoes, Batman!

posted by worldcup2002 at 12:01 AM on May 21

That goal is fucking ridiculous, the dunk is wicked - and whichever wins is fine. But the best thing about this is the collection of highlights. Some of them have been removed, but most are still there. Check out Group 4 and the Bobby Orr video they have. It's four minutes of Orr making other guys just look stupid. A great primer for those of us who never got to see him play.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:49 AM on May 21

I have to side with grum on the French announcers. They sound like giddy children seeing something for the first time (which was probably the case). Maybe I'm jaded from seeing too many incredible soccer shots, but bending the shot, while scientifically significant given all the evidence I've seen, is just not as impressive as a guy jumping over another guy. Especially when the other guy is 7'2". So, I vote for the dunk, but either way, WOW!

posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:03 AM on May 21

Wooooow. I remember seeing both on sports center and I was speechless after both. I have to go with the dunk though just the by fact that he was jumping over a 7'2" giant from a distance, and still being able to throw it down hardly touched is just freakin insane.

posted by TelamarketersBeware at 09:06 AM on May 21

Yeah, it was insane (Vinsane, even), but Frederic Weis is the smallest 7'2" guy in history. Agreed on the goal and the dunk being both kind of absurd, though.

posted by chicobangs at 10:19 AM on May 21

Hearing the French announcers go off after the dunk is sweet. But, I think it's equally sweet hearing the relative silence of the soccer announcers clearly caught off-guard. It's pretty much "here's Carlos, there's a shot, whatever ... oh crap - that went in!" Thanks for the link, grum.

posted by littleLebowski at 10:42 AM on May 21

Excellent point, Lebowski; maybe I'd have voted for the goal if I hadn't been able to understand the announcers. That's probably part of the reason I thought the announcers on the dunk clip were so funny...I don't speak French, so I couldn't understand a damn thing they were saying, just the shock and disbelief in their voices, which was priceless.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 12:59 PM on May 21

I'm surprised that a Vince Carter highlight is even in the running considering that most voters are probably Canadian. That said, I'll have to go with the dunk. If the goalie hadn't misplayed the ball on the R. Carlos goal, we're not even talking about this.

posted by holden at 02:24 PM on May 21

Was it really such a terrible misplay, though? If I'm the goalie in that situation, I'm not playing the shot on goal, I'm anticipating the centering pass and moving to intercept that instead. Of course, I haven't played soccer since I was five years old.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 03:47 PM on May 21

I can see what you mean, DJE, but is the pass to the middle his responsibility? In hockey, the goalie's problem is the puck. Seems like a similar guideline would work in football, given a pass to the middle usually results in a header by someone other than the goalie anyway.

posted by yerfatma at 05:27 PM on May 21

I'll let the experts chime in, but my impression is that the football goalie's job is not just to block shots. In the case of a centering pass from the goal line, which is what this play looked like, the goalie is much better off trying to intercept the pass then waiting on his goal line to stop a header coming from 10-15 feet away.

posted by qbert72 at 05:49 PM on May 21

And there is the goalkeeper's dilemma: Stay on the line or come out for the cross? It's one of the hardest things to coach, as it involves quickly assessing the situation and acting decisively. There are no right answers in any given situation, and not even international 'keepers can get it right all the time. Which reminds me - where are the kicking' chicks reports? Tex?

posted by owlhouse at 05:56 PM on May 21

So in this case, can you really blame the goalie for observing both the ball and Carlos moving quickly, and assuming that there would be no immediate shot on goal?

posted by DrJohnEvans at 06:17 PM on May 21

(that's right, grum - his left is not his weak foot) I stand corrected. I'd made my assumption of his "footed-ness" based on a previous kick I saw him take with his right foot (and the more common). I just assumed that would be his natural. Nevertheless, it's crazy-bonkers with any foot.

posted by grum@work at 06:22 PM on May 21

Especially if it's the dreaded third foot. Or metre, as you clowns call it.

posted by yerfatma at 07:28 PM on May 21

Oh, and I just want to add that I can never get enough of Bobby Orr highlight reels. Here's a direct link to the one Weedy mentioned above.

posted by qbert72 at 08:04 PM on May 21

So in this case, can you really blame the goalie for observing both the ball and Carlos moving quickly, and assuming that there would be no immediate shot on goal Not really, Dr J. The worst thing for a 'keeper is probably to be beaten by a shot or deflection at the near post. It looks like he was expecting the cross, but was not too far out, so he and the defenders had reasonable positions in terms of marking and in case of deflection from the cross, but hey - nobody could have expected that kind of a shot from that kind of angle.

posted by owlhouse at 09:35 PM on May 21

OK, sorry if this is insulting to King Roberto Carlos, but no way is that a shot - that's getting to the byline and trying to stick one on someone's head on the edge of the six-yard box. In short, it's a misshit. He tried to cross it, half shanked it, and it went past the keeper who was (quite rightly I think) coming out to meet the cross. So the winner of the contest is... a fluke. Does that make it less of a great moment? I think it does. From any sport I've ever played, the most gratifying, precious, memorable moments are the ones when you try to do something a bit special and it comes off. Allow me to quote Thomas Hardy's Jude: "It is a difficult question, my friends, for any young man - that question I had to grapple with, and which thousands are weighing at the present moment in these uprising times - whether to follow uncritically the track he finds himself in, without considering his aptness for it, or to consider what his aptness or bent may be, and re-shape his course accordingly. I tried to do the latter, and I failed. But I don't admit that my failure proved my view to be a wrong one, or that my success would have made it a right one; though that's how we appraise such attempts nowadays - I mean, not by their essential soundness, but by their accidental outcomes." His free kick for Brazil against France? That was brilliance. He tried something audacious and pulled it off. The goal that won this online contest? A lucky misshit.

posted by JJ at 04:04 AM on May 23

For a similar example of an intended cross that was so bad it went into the goal instead of onto the head of a fellow player, see Konchesky's third for West Ham in the 2006 Cup Final [YouTube]. ... and enjoy the rest of the highlights of that game by way of easing the tension as the Champions League final approaches... *nailbite*

posted by JJ at 04:19 AM on May 23

Holy crap, did JJ just quote "Jude the Obscure?" LitFilter!

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:24 AM on May 23

From now on, I would like to be known as JJ the Obscure. That is all.

posted by JJ at 05:53 AM on May 23

All human actions are equivalent and all are on principle doomed to failure. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 08:16 AM on May 23

My cat's breath smells like cat food. -- Ralph Wiggum

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:34 AM on May 23

Everything comes down to poo. Dr. John Dorian

posted by hawkguy at 08:48 AM on May 23

Where else on the Internet can you see Sartre and Wiggum quoted cheek by jowl?

posted by JJ at 09:09 AM on May 23

Wherever the post Masters Theses nowadays.

posted by yerfatma at 11:04 AM on May 23

In short, it's a misshit. He tried to cross it, half shanked it, and it went past the keeper who was (quite rightly I think) coming out to meet the cross. I just don't think so. He deliberately put that spin on the ball. I don't think it's possible for Carlos to misshit the ball so badly as to put the wrong spin on it. If he's trying to cross it, wouldn't he want it to spin AWAY from the keeper (not towards him), or no spin at all?

posted by grum@work at 11:08 AM on May 23

Is it me or is this where Sportsfilter hides out during the day?

posted by yerfatma at 11:47 AM on May 23

Shh! Don't let the rubes in on the Algonquin Round Table.

posted by lilnemo at 12:40 PM on May 23

Fatty, I would agree with that assessment.

posted by hawkguy at 01:00 PM on May 23

I've seen the Vince Carter dunk 1000 times, and up until 10 seconds ago I would have voted for it without even looking at the other plays. Something made me play the footage of the goal...

posted by yay-yo at 05:19 PM on May 23

Was it Jesus?

posted by yerfatma at 06:40 PM on May 23

Bet it was Kobe Bryant.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 07:03 PM on May 23

Now I'm trying to work JJ's Hardy/Jude reference about accidental outcomes into this project evaluation report I'm writing...

posted by owlhouse at 10:02 PM on May 23

90% of everything is shit. The rest is pee.

posted by billsaysthis at 10:43 PM on May 23

I don't think it's possible for Carlos to misshit the ball so badly as to put the wrong spin on it. If he's trying to cross it, wouldn't he want it to spin AWAY from the keeper (not towards him), or no spin at all? I don't think the margin between swinging it away from the keeper and swinging it into the keeper is so big when he's running at such pace. Fair enough if it had been a free kick then it would have been a hell of a misshit, but he's all out of balance when he hits it. I think he throws his foot at it just trying to rifle it across the six yard box in the hope that it hits someone and goes in (something Liverpool could have done with trying a few times last night). I suppose only Roberto Carlos really knows what he was trying to do with it, but I'm sticking to my guns - I reckon it was an accident. He's a pretty cool customer, but even he would surely have got a bit more excited if he had tried something so ridiculous and managed to pull it off. To me, his reaction looks almost embarrassed. Now I'm trying to work JJ's Hardy/Jude reference about accidental outcomes into this project evaluation report I'm writing... I spent half an hour using it as the basis for my rant in the pub last night about the accidental outcome of Pirlo's free kick.

posted by JJ at 04:10 AM on May 24

I don't think that Carlos' intent is as important as we're making it. I agree with JJ that he was trying to just whip the ball through the box, hoping for a good bounce, but the fact that he got the best bounce you can imagine shouldn't take away from how good the shot was. Sort of a "I'm going to bend this pass back to the goal as much as I can to make it as close a play as possible, and it'd never go in on its own, but wouldn't it be funny if it did?" Sure, the fact that the ball actually goes in is a huge bonus, but that doesn't mean it's not a fantastic shot.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 09:06 AM on May 24

I still don't think you can call it a "fantastic shot" because I still don't think it was a shot. I think it was a crap cross with a very pleasing (for Roberto Carlos, Real Madrid, and us as viewers) accidental outcome. I suppose it depends what you want from your sport - excellence or sensation. His free kick was a perfectly made dessert, the goal in this video was a Snickers. Most footballers know there is a difference, even the dishonest ones like Inzaghi who is claiming that the first goal last night was a planned move, often practiced in training, and therefore a perfectly executed thing of beauty - a soufle of the highest order. I suspect the rest of us could see it for the lucky deflection (or Mars bar) it was, but either way it changed the game. I'm going to see if I can go through the whole of SpoFi now and derail ALL the threads so that they're all about the Champions League final. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

posted by JJ at 10:06 AM on May 24

Don't let me stop you.

posted by yerfatma at 10:17 AM on May 24

Are you suggesting that Snickers is anything short of a perfectly crafted confection? There's chocolate, there's caramel, there's nougat, there's peanuts. Peanuts, JJ! It's delicious! I'm going to see if I can go through the whole of SpoFi now and derail ALL the threads so that they're all about the Champions League final. If you're open to opinions on where to start your journey, I've got a few.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 10:20 AM on May 24

Was it Jesus? People have been looking for Jesus for 1000's of years and I found him on the internet? Bet it was Kobe Bryant. Kobe and I usually watch Texas Hold'em together. He's not much of a futbol fan.

posted by yay-yo at 10:25 AM on May 24

It's delicious! Not if you have a nut allergy. Was it Jesus? No, he was too busy owning Kaka.

posted by JJ at 11:00 AM on May 24

Not if you have a nut allergy. It could still be delicious. I don't recall Socrates complaining about the flavor of the hemlock.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 11:25 AM on May 24

Are you suggesting that Snickers is anything short of a perfectly crafted confection? There's chocolate, there's caramel, there's nougat, there's peanuts. Peanuts, JJ! It's delicious! I preferr the Nestle $100,000 Bar.

posted by hawkguy at 11:43 AM on May 24

I suppose it depends what you want from your sport - excellence or sensation. His free kick was a perfectly made dessert, the goal in this video was a Snickers. Can we really even compare this play to his free kick, though? While regular play is about following certain guidelines of strategy as one reacts to the ebb and flow of play on the field, free kicks are a set play with a specific goal. They're really two difference things—you could even argue that they're essentially two different games, albeit with the same basic goal of putting the ball in the net. Which brings me back to your very valid point about the difference excellence and sensation: excellence as crafted by pure human skill, sensation as created by infinite variables of chance and opportunity. The free kick, as you said, was pure excellence: he had a specific objective, and he fulfilled that objective as best as anyone has ever fulfilled it. That's terrific and exciting, and surely the greatest example of human skill you could see in the sport. But I believe most sports fans enjoy a mixture of the two rather than one over the other, which hinders the free kick highlight somewhat: it establishes a ceiling for its attractiveness. As impressive as it is, that's all it is, and you can't get any better than that. It's a marvelous exhibition of skill, but it suffers from a lack of intrigue because it's skill and skill alone. The unpredictability of sensation has to be a valid part of the reason why we watch sports. We watch to see skilled players perform their task well, but we're also attracted by the chance to see something we've never seen before. That's just human nature. The situational nature of most sports play lends itself well to this: a player's minute-to-minute objectives may vary wildly over the course of the game, which lead to situations we've never seen before, which can lead to successes achieved in ways we've never seen before. A desparation get-to-the-ball-before-it-goes-out-and-center-it-before-the-defence-sets play combined with a skill-requiring centering pass that very few players in the world could make results in a highly unusual goal, and that in itself is spectacular.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:53 AM on May 24

+

posted by yerfatma at 11:57 AM on May 24

That goal would not have been possible before they changed the ball. It was like we saw in the World Cup with kicks making strange turns and bends. He just hit it right of center like a pool shark (only not on purpose) and bent it around the near post. It's kind of like Gretzky with the "impossible angle" goal.

posted by yay-yo at 12:12 PM on May 24

That was eloquent poetry, Doc. Well said. I would put up, though, against "unpredictability of sensation," the notion of tension and release as an equally valid draw to sports. The play here -- actually, both plays up for vote, for that matter -- have no abnormal build to tension, because there is absolutely no reason to expect what is about to happen. In a free kick (and, to include another of JJ's passions, in every shot of golf) there is a tremendous build up of tension around the upcoming event, which will very certainly result in success or failure of execution. That is the draw of baseball as well -- the opportunity for the observer to get inside the head of the athlete and contemplate what the athlete is contemplating. I will agree with you that the greatest moments in sports, for my money, are when either the athlete selects a strategy that hadn't occurred to the viewer -- "I can't believe he thought he could bend that shot like that" -- or when the outcome of the event is of an unexpected level of success (Kirk Gibson's home run, for example). But for these moments to occur, there has to be some level of expectation that there will be success or failure. By that measure, I would select the dunk over the shot in this matchup. Neither allows the viewer to draw a strategy while watching the play unfold, but when viewed in retrospect Carter had to contemplate scaling a 7'2" man with a very strong possibility of total failure (and possibly injury) while Roberto Carlos' shot had no real risk of failure -- if he missed the shot, maybe it becomes a success by another venue, as a pass, or maybe it just becomes a continuation of play with nothing really lost. That's how I view it anyway.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 01:23 PM on May 24

Very true, Souse. That's really the weakest part of the Carlos goal.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 01:39 PM on May 24

Well, if we include the criterion "something has to be at stake" then neither are really important plays. If the only criterion is sheer awesomeness, then I think the selections are appropriate. Besides, it's an online voting campaign. These things almost managed to make an All-Star out of Rory Fitzpatrick.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:47 PM on May 24

I don't really see it as a "something at stake" issue so much as a "holy crap, what if he missed" issue. Which doesn't take away from the awesomeness factor, it just enhances it a bit. You're right about online voting -- it's just an example of the majority ruining life for the sensible minority. I'm becoming troubled by the frequency with which I pick winners. I only picked three Yankees for the MLB ASG, so maybe I'm getting better?

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 02:18 PM on May 24

I'm becoming troubled by the frequency with which I pick winners. I always think of that as "British Beauty Pageants", not because it's some clever thing like "Irish Confetti"1, but because an econ professor once told us that John Maynard Keynes theorized the stock market worked like said regional contests: apparently papers used to print photos of women and encourage the readership to vote for the most attractive. One of the voters was chosen at random for a valuable prize (trip or cash or something). The catch was the person was chosen randomly from the entries for the winning contestant, so people wound up voting not for whom they found the most attractive, but for the person they thought others would perceive as attractive. Our professor then explained the stock market was a random walk and Keynes was full of it. Of course, Keynes made millions in the market, so I think he might have just been wrong in theory2. All-Star ballots definitely seem to follow this trend, and it makes sense: I may have a strong opinion about David Ortiz being the best DH in the AL, but it's unlikely I hold similarly strong opinions about the best SS in the NL, so vote totals tend to sway opinion. 1. Bricks. 2. Markets being less efficient back then and information less open/ reliable.

posted by yerfatma at 04:26 PM on May 24

yerfatma - have you read "The Wisdom of Crowds"? Covers a lot of the issues about voting, and those between Keynes and your prof.

posted by owlhouse at 05:10 PM on May 24

Yeah, I consumed all those econ-lite books at one point or another. They always leave me wanting more math, but then I get a book with real math and that stops me cold. I would say the Bayes-ian sort of idea behind "The Wisdom of Crowds" (that 50,000,000 fans of anything can't be wrong) is a different conclusion*. I suppose the difference comes down to, like everything, information. In some things it's clear to anyone who cares to take a look what is right and what is wrong. In other fields it requires specialized knowledge or practice. * An asshole would say "orthogonal", or "diametrically opposed".

posted by yerfatma at 06:15 PM on May 24

Absolutely... but I still don't think it was a shot.

posted by JJ at 03:34 PM on May 27

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