I’ve been covering sports for a while, and I’ve learned that, sometimes, the final score isn’t the big story of the game. There are times when actions and individual performances are the big story.
For example, I was covering a Parker Broncs baseball game some years back and Josh Golding hit for the cycle (single, double, triple, and a home run). The Broncs won the game, but the big news was Golding doing something that isn’t done very often.
Sometimes, I’ve found the big story concerns one of the Broncs’ opponents. I’m reminded of the story about a fan in New York in the 1950s who was really heckling the players on the visiting team. Then, one of them smacked a home run into the seats. The fan stood up and applauded him.
“Hey,” the fan told people around him. “Ya gotta give a woithy opponent his due!”
One year, the Antelope Rams volleyball team took the Broncs to five games. Normally, Parker’s matches with Antelope were walk-overs, easy three-game sweeps. Not this time. The Rams kept it close and took Parker to the full five.
The Antelope girls were ecstatic. You’d have thought they had won. They were so thrilled at taking Parker to the full five.
Antelope’s coach told me this match really boosted their confidence. As for the Broncs, they learned a valuable lesson: you better take EVERY opponent seriously.
The Parker Broncs’ football team gave a similar lesson to the Lake Havasu Knights some years ago. The Knights had been dominating everyone they played, but the Broncs held them scoreless in the first quarter and sacked their quarterback twice.
The Knights went on to win that game, but it was clear that, after the first quarter, they were taking the Broncs’ seriously.
Sometimes, it’s an individual performance. In a softball game between Kingman and Parker in April 2019, I realized around the fourth inning that Kingman’s Lilliana Valdivia had a no-hitter going. The game was called after the fifth inning as Kingman won, 14-0. Valdivia had her no-hitter, and I had to go over and congratulate her.
Apparently, she didn’t know she had a no-hitter going until she was told about it after the game. I made sure to take a photo of her and send a write-up to the Kingman Daily Miner because I knew they’d want to hear about it.
Was I happy the Broncs lost like that? No. However, I realized a no-hitter was bigger than the score. I recognized I had to give a woithy . . . er, worthy opponent her due.
Of course, sometimes trying to get to the big story can backfire. On May 14, 1978, the Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 10-7. L.A. radio reporter Paul Olden recognized that the big story was the Cubs’ Dave Kingman hitting three home runs and driving in eight runs.
Needing some recorded comments to go with his story, Olden asked Dodgers’ Manager Tommy Lasorda about his opinion of Kingman’s performance.
“What’s my opinion of Kingman’s performance?” Lasorda responded. “What the @#$! Do you think is my &%$#! opinion of his @%$# performance?”
Lasorda then went on an obscenity-laden tirade about Kingman and being asked dumb questions. It’s become legendary in baseball circles.
Olden may have been looking for the big story of the game, but he wound up with a classic baseball moment, even if it is a classic for the wrong reasons.
You never know where a big story is going to lead.