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The 9 cruelest ricochets in sports history

January 07, 2019
Wild Card Round - Philadelphia Eagles v Chicago Bears

Stacy Revere

There is no reason to a ricochet. No logic, no law, no justice. Only randomly selected triumph and randomly selected pain. Just ask Cody Parkey. Ask Khalil Mack, Maserati Mitch and Matt Nagy. Ask Ditka, Butkus and the ghost of Chris Farley. Ask the whole damn city of Chicago, who on Sunday night experienced one of the most all-consuming, life-altering losses in recent sports history when Parkey's Wild Card game-winning field goal was denied by both upright AND crossbar in front of thousands of screaming fans and one crestfallen bear:

But take heart, Chicago. Misery loves company and as the meanest, nastiest, most heartless ricochets in sports prove, you'll never walk alone.

9. 2010 Men's College Basketball National Championship

Victim: Duke haterz across the galaxy

Hope is what hurts the most. Half-court shots aren't supposed to go in. Butler wasn't supposed to beat Duke. But for one agonizing second in 2010, the world forgot as Gordon Hayward and his still-intact ankles launched a would-be game-winner that, as it turns out, wouldn't be. Instead, the Yankees of collegiate athletics celebrated their victory and Cinderella went home to scrub the floors.

8. 1994 Stanley Cup Finals - Game 7

Victim: Canada...all of it

In the pantheon of wacky major sports bounces, hockey's collection of caroms, rollers, and wristers can't be beat. But the NHL's most heartless aberration of physics is not some agonizing trickler or wild west ricochet. It's just a simple slap shot off the post, made excruciating not by the act as much as the context—Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, with the Canucks searching for a tying goal that they would never find. In the 25 years since, this remains the closest a Canadian team has come to taking home the Cup.

7. 2013 Adelaide Showdown

Victim: Quantum physicists across the globe

I know very little about rugby and even less about physics, but what I do know is flying projectiles do not suddenly make 90-degree changes in direction unless acted upon by an equal or divine force. Just ask Port Adelaide's Angus Monfries who, trailing arch rivals Adelaide Crows by eight with a minute and half remaining, launched this hopeful punt forward, which hit, skipped five yards directly to the right, and squirmed, however improbably, through the big sticks. An incredible comeback for the Power was on and across Adelaide, neighbors, baristas, bartenders, and brothers are still twisting the knife.

6. 2018 College World Series

Victim: Some sophomore business major

For many young men and women, college is a time of incredible personal growth and ceaseless learning, both in and out of the classroom. Just take Auburn right fielder Steve Williams, for instance, who, in the process of single handedly torpedoing his team's College World Series chances in the bottom of an 11th-inning epic, learned one of life's most valuable lessons: Sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes the bar eats you...but mostly the bar just eats you.

5. The Immaculate Reception

Victim: The Oakland Raidahs (full Chris Berman voice)

We are conditioned to view The Immaculate Reception as a triumph of Steel Curtain football and an all-time NFL moment, but the other side of the coin—the Raiders side of the coin—is fall-to-your-knees-and-curse-the-heavens level heartbreak. Hell, even the name suggests that God hates Raiders. And to be honest, can you blame him?

4. Revenge of the Immaculate Reception

Victim: The Cincinnati Bengals (what else is new?)

You reap what you sow when you've spent the better part of the last century putting chili on top of spaghetti. Sorry Cincy, we don't make the rules.

3. 2018 Merseyside Derby

Victim: Poor old Everton

To grasp the full cruelty of this one, you have to look at the numbers: Two clubs, one city, 0-0, the fifth minute of four minutes of stoppage time. Everton is mere seconds from claiming just their second point at Liverpool since 2014, and then Jordan Pickford—England World Cup semi-final goalkeeper Jordan Pickford—happens. Then an impossible doink off the crossbar. Then Divock Origi's forehead. Then pain. Oh so much pain...

2. 2013 Masters

Victim: Tiger Woods

Sure, the bounce is brutal—from right-on-it to in-the-drink so fast Tiger didn't even time to drop an F-bomb. It's what happened after, however, that makes this the baddest bounce in PGA Tour history. Tiger takes an illegal drop, outs said drop to ESPN, nearly gets DQ'd, and eventually incurs a two-shot penalty (plus the hazard penalty and additional stroke), missing the playoff by, you guessed it, four strokes. El Tigre hasn't been in contention at Augusta since.

1. 1986 World Series - Game 6

Victim: Bill F'n Buckner

The grandaddy of them all. The routine ground ball that convinced an entire city it was built on an Indian burial ground (spoiler alert: it probably was). But while Buckner has born the brunt of this one down the decades, the condition of Shea Stadium's infield is mostly to blame, with the ball clearly pinging off Half Dome just before reaching first base. That the Red Sox even roster a man named "Mookie" after all of this remains the biggest shocker in sports, proving that nothing heals the heart like time...and four World Series championships.