Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 10, 1999: The Bra

PASADENA, Calif. - If it wasn't for The Bra, would we even remember the game?

Would we remember the final of the 1999 Women's World Cup? Or that the game was the culmination of the largest women's sporting event in history? Would this game have even been a blip on the radar?

It should have been. It was pretty obvious during the World Cup that the United States and China were going to meet in the final, and as the long-awaited final got underway, and the game kept going, it was pretty obvious that these two teams were virtual equals. Anybody who thought that the United States was clearly the best in the world suddenly realized how very, very wrong they were. They might have been the best, but China was damn close.

People might remember that the game was scoreless, but they might not remember the close calls, like the Chinese header in overtime that got past goalie Brianna Scurry, only to be headed away by a perfectly placed American defender.

People might remember the penalty shootout, or at least that the United States didn't miss a kick. But does anybody remember Scurry's save in that shootout, her diving stop that gave the U.S. a lead they wouldn't relinquish?

It was likely the most dramatic women's sporting event of all time, a game that drew 90,000 people to the Rose Bowl, the most ever to see women play sports. It featured to great teams at the top of their game. It featured the inescapable drama and clutch performances of a penalty shootout.

And it featured a final kick, not by internationally known Mia Hamm, who went fourth, but by little-known midfielder Brandi Chastain. She was the one with the World Cup on her left foot, with all the pressure in the world on her. She was the one who drilled it into the top corner, a completely unstoppable shot.

And then she celebrated by taking off her shirt.

Would anybody remember the game if she had simply kept her shirt on? Maybe, but maybe not. So is it all right that this team is remembered more for one of their players exposing her bra in a moment of pure joy than for any other game they won? Or is it better to be remembered for SOMEthing, rather than not remembered at all?

The penalty shootout:

July 10, 1934: NEW YORK - Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Joe Cronin. All Hall of Famers. In fact, the entire American League starting lineup at the 1934 All-Star game is enshrined in the Hall of Fame; eight of the nine N.L. starters are there, too, as well as 10 of the reserves between the two teams. But the five listed above are the story here. Those are the five Hall of Famers Carl Hubbell struck out in succession in the first and second innings of the 1934 game. After letting two guys on base to lead off the game, Hubbell got Ruth, Gehrig, and Foxx to fan at his screwball to end the threat, then got Simmons and Cronin to open the second. His heroics weren't enough, though; the AL won 9-7.

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