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William Webb-Ellis: Locus of alternate histories

You want to talk what-if scenarios, serious parallel universe-creating moments from the world of sports? Forget relatively trivial stuff like Michael Jordan going to the Portland Trail Blazers in the draft or Harry Frazee taking up the Chicago White Sox’ offer for George Herman Ruth: Go back to 1823 to find a guy that, through simply wanting to gain an advantage in a sports match literally changed world history.

The overwhelming majority of North Americans have never heard the man’s name, despite his literal hand in the creation of three sports currently played and enjoyed by billions. Though he never recorded an official statistic, his effect on the sports universe was a cataclysmic bolt that changed everything. Though his innovation was sometimes called “cheating” by contemporaries, his mode of play now defines leagues all over the world.

Ladies of gentlemen, BuckBokai presents the single most important figure in the history of modern sport itself: William Webb-Ellis!

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Insights from parallel universe: Iverson goes to Olympiacos

Sometimes seemingly minor incidents in the grander scheme of sports history are exactly the opposite, for who can truly know the axis upon which events revolve?

Going into the 2009-10 NBA season, a handful of European news outlets tersely reported a rumor that those freewheeling, free-spending Angelopoulos Brothers running the Olympiacos basketball club had offered one Allen Iverson a huge chunk of change to come play in Greece with the Reds.

Yours truly’s speculation then was that ultimately substituting A.I. for Linas Kleiza – for as things turned out in the market last year, Kleiza was the highest-end free-agent the Brothers could coerce to jump the pond to play hoops – would have gotten the Reds off to the exact same start, namely near the top of the EΣAKE and Euroleague tables. (After all, i argued then, there’s nothing even A.I. could’ve done about the H1N1 that struck several members of the club numb for weeks.)

Now that this unfortunate season for both Iverson and Olympiacos are in the books, we have more details to expand the parallel universe of 2009-10 basketball.

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Moe Better Blues: Alexander Irvine’s “Agent Provocateur”

“I was Moe Berg’s biggest fan in 1940, even though he’d sort of officially retired at the end of the ’39 season. Like him, I loved baseball, and like him, I loved to read – a combination unusual among twelve-year-olds as it is in major-league clubhouses.” – from “Agent Provocateur” by Alexander Irvine

Seriously, how cool was Moe Berg? Perhaps the most incredible life-story of the 20th century never birthed as a formal biography (though an independent documentary on Berg was produced in 2007, it is apparently without distribution yet), Berg’s life was the stuff of 1940s childhood daydreaming: From playing professional major league baseball to traveling the world as a World War II secret agent was a multilingual misfit who blended in everywhere, a 13-year veteran of professional baseball who died couch-surfing in obscurity.

Now is it believable that Berg was/is a fulcrum point for the lever of the spacetime continuum itself as he was/is in Alexander Irvine’s “Agent Provocateur”? Absolutely.

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Dispatch from parallel universe: Remembering Super Bowl XXV (Bills 22, Giants 20)

Norwood: Synonymous with "clutch"

O sure, this piece is completely untimely with the World Cup coming to a head, baseball in full gear, and everyone hype on both sides of the ocean about which basketball free agents are going where.

Nevertheless, it’s Buck Bokai’s blog and Buck Bokai pretty much misses NFL football whenever the regular Sunday dosage isn’t forthcoming. For this writer, the love of this game all goes back to 1991 and Super Bowl XXV or, as Buck Bokai prefers to think of it, The Perfect Game.

Wow, remember the Buffalo Bills…?

Those of us who saw this classic matchup of the Bills’ revolutionary hurry-up offense vs. Bill Parcells and defensive coordinator Bill Belichick’s soon-to-be revolutionary defensive schemes will never forget a moment.

There was MVP Thurman Thomas’ 31-yard pinball-bouncing TD run and the Giants’ masterful 9-1/2 minute fourth-quarter drive. There were QBs Jim Kelly and Phil Simms, piling up workman lines: 18-of-30 for 212 yards against 20-of-32 for 222 yards and one TD. Neither threw a pick. Neither offense turned the ball over.

And the game was won the only way it could have been: With a last-second field goal that made the words “Scott Norwood” synonymous with “clutch.”

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“What if?” sports moments (or Without “Without Bias”)

One sphere wherein science-fiction and sports meet nicely is in the realm of alternate universes. O sure, in sports they call it the “What If” game, but endlessly do fans debate what might have been…

Infinite are the parallel universes that splintered off from reality when Bobby Thompson missed Ralph Branca’s inside fastball for strike two, when Harry Frazee took the Chicago White Sox’ offer of $60,000 and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson for Babe Ruth; when Scott Norwood makes the field goal; when the Portland Trail Blazers draft Michael Jordan at no. 2.

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