Did Johan Cruyff Really Sit Out the 1978 FIFA World Cup as a Political Protest?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the soccer/football urban legends featured so far.

SOCCER/FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: Johan Cruyff sat out the 1978 FIFA World Cup as a political protest.

There is a long history of countries using international athletic competitions as political tools. Just during a four year stretch during the 1930s, you had Japan trying to send a delegation from their puppet nation, Manchukuo, to solidify that country’s status as a “real” country in the 1932 Olympics, then Benito Mussolini using the 1934 FIFA World Cup to show Italian superiority and Adolf Hitler using the 1936 Olympics to do the same for Germany.

More recently, the United States and the Soviet Union used the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, respectively, to make political points through boycotts.

So when Argentina was named as the site for the 1978 FIFA World Cup tournament, it was a major political coup for the new military leadership of the country, who had taken over Argentina in a Coup d’état in 1976. Jorge Rafael Videla was the nominal president of a military junta (or council) that ran the country and made several human rights violations between 1976 and 1983.

In 1978, while people likely did not know the extent of the problems in Argentina (thousands of dissenters went “missing” in those years), they did know that there were some serious human rights problems going on. So a number of countries made noise when Argentina was named as the host country of the World Cup. However much bluster there was, no country ended up actually boycotting the event, not even Netherlands, which was one of the more vocal countries about the Argentine leadership.

There WAS one notable absence, though – Netherlands’ star player, Johann Cruyff, perhaps the best European football player of the 1970s, and the leader of the Netherlands team.

Cruyff helped lead Netherlands to the finals of the 1974 FIFA World Cup (where they lost to host West Germany) and was thought by many to have been the best player in that particular tournament, even though his team ultimately did not win it all. Cruyff retired from international play in October of 1977 at the age of 31. The presumption for decades was that Cruyff was protesting the military dictatorship and human rights abuses in Argentina – we now know that this almost certainly not the case.
Read the rest of this entry »

Did 40,000 Prostitutes Enter South Africa and Germany for the Last Two World Cups?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the soccer/football urban legends featured so far.

SOCCER/FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: 40,000 prostitutes enter the country hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2006 and 2010.

The World Cup this year is unique in that it is the first time in years that we haven’t seen a pile of stories about how there are tens of thousands of prostitutes coming into Brazil for the World Cup. That, though, is only because of Brazil’s laws about prostitution – in other words, no one would believe that you’d need to have 40,000 prostitutes come into Brazil because of the high amount of prostitutes already there. However, there ARE numerous articles about how prostitutes ARE coming to Brazil and in all of them, they cite the “fact” that 40,000 prostitutes came into South Africa for the World Cup in 2010.

Is that true?
Read the rest of this entry »

Did a Dog Seriously Discover the Stolen World Cup Trophy Before the 1966 World Cup?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the soccer/football urban legends featured so far.

SOCCER/FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: A dog discovered the stolen World Cup trophy soon before the 1966 World Cup began.

In 1966, the World Cup was held in England.

The festivities almost hit a major snag before the games ever began – the Jules Rimet Trophy (the trophy awarded to the winning World Cup team ever since 1930) was STOLEN!
Read the rest of this entry »

Did Benito Mussolini Threaten the Italian National Team With Death if They Lost the 1938 World Cup?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the soccer/football urban legends featured so far.

SOCCER/FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: The Italian national team was threatened by death by Benito Mussolini if they lost the 1938 World Cup.

In one of the most famous quotes in World Cup history, after the Italians defeated Hungary 4-2 to capture their second straight World Cup in 1938, Hungarian goaltender Antal Szabó said, “I may have let in four goals, but at least I saved their lives.”

This is based on a telegram sent to the team by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini…

that read “Vincere o morire!” which, translated literally into English reads “Win or die!”

Now it is possible that Szabó honestly believed that “Win or die!” meant that the Italians had to win or Mussolini would order them killed, but that’s not the truth of the matter.
Read the rest of this entry »

Was Anfernee Hardaway Named Anfernee By Mistake?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about basketball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the basketball urban legends featured so far.

BASKETBALL URBAN LEGEND: Anfernee Hardaway was named “Anfernee” by mistake.

Drafted third overall in the 1993 NBA Draft, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway came over to the Orlando Magic in a blockbuster draft day trade where the Magic traded the #1 overall pick, Chris Webber, to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for the Warriors’ first round pick (Hardaway) and three future first round picks. Teaming up with 1992-93 Rookie of the Year, center Shaquille O’Neal, Hardaway helped to make the Orlando Magic one of the most promising young teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

In 1995, Hardaway made the first of four straight All-Star Game appearances. In addition, in 1995 and 1996, Hardaway was named first team All-NBA. He was named to the third team, All-NBA in 1997, the first season he played without Shaquille O’Neal (who had left the Magic as a free agent to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers). Hardaway’s career was forever altered in the 1997-98 NBA season when he suffered an awful knee injury. After recovering from the knee injury, Hardaway played well in the 1999 strike-shortened season and then forced the Magic to trade him to the Phoenix Suns, where he would play in the backcourt with Jason Kidd. However, in the 2000-01 season Hardaway suffered a second knee injury that effectively robbed him of most of the skills that had made him an All-Star level player. He played another six seasons in the league, but he was essentially a bench player for most of them (barely even that towards the end of his career).

Besides his stellar play early in his career and a series of popular Nike commercials (with comedian Chris Rock voicing a puppet called “Lil’ Penny”), Hardaway is perhaps best known for his unusual first name. The origins of the name have become clouded over the years and today it appears that the general consensus is that his name was the result of a mistake on the part of his mother.

Is that true?
Read the rest of this entry »

Did Ricky Davis Really Shoot on His Own Basket to Try to Get a Rebound for a Triple-Double?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about basketball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the basketball urban legends featured so far.

BASKETBALL URBAN LEGEND: An NBA player tried to get a triple double though a somewhat…odd fashion.

On March 16, 2003, the Cleveland Cavaliers were hosting the Utah Jazz. The Cavs were in the midst of a pretty terrible season (which paid off in the long run as they had the best odds at getting the #1 pick in the 2004 NBA Lottery, and once they did get the pick, they took Lebron James who did pretty well for them, I’d say) but in this game they were creaming the Jazz, up about thirty points with only a few seconds left.

Cavs player Ricky Davis was having the game of his career, 26 points, 13 assists and 9 rebounds. Davis, though, wanted the “triple double,” which is what you call it when a basketball player reaches double figures in three statistical categories.

HOW he tried to get that triple-double was quite a shock.
Read the rest of this entry »

Did Dennis Eckersley Coin the Term “Walk Off” the Same Year He Gave Up Kirk Gibson’s Legendary Walk-Off Home Run in the World Series?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Dennis Eckersley coined the term “walk off” earlier in the same season that he gave up one of the most famous “walk off” home runs in baseball history.

Tonight, the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals will play Game 1 of the 2013 World Series. Twenty-five years ago, in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kirk Gibson won Game 1 of the World Series with one of the most famous “walk-off” home runs in Major League Baseball history…

kirk1016

It was October 15, 1988 (adding an extra round or two to the playoffs has pushed the World Series back a week nowadays) when Dodger Gibson (the 1988 National League MVP, who had been hobbled by leg injuries and would only be able to bat once during the entire series) hit a bottom of the ninth inning, two out, two strike, deficit-erasing (the Dodgers were down 4-3 to the Oakland Athletics) home run that won Game 1 of the World Series for the Dodgers, making it the first time that a player had won a World Series game with a home run hit while his team was trailing.

The home run is a “walk off” because the player hits it and everyone just “walks off” the field, as the game is over.

It is a great term.

And do you know who coined it?
Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

October 23rd, 2013 | Posted in Baseball Urban Legends | 2 Comments

Did Monster Cable Sue the Chicago Bears Over the “Monsters of Midway”?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: Monster Cable sued the Chicago Bears for their nickname “Monsters of the Midway”

Big corporations have a pretty big advantage in the world, particularly when it comes to lawsuits, so it almost feels wrong of me to sort of come to the defense of one such company over what I think are misleading statements about them, but hey, when something’s inaccurate, it’s inaccurate.

And in this case, the company that has been getting some very rough press over the last decade or so is Monster Cable, the San Francisco cable and entertainment company that has been in the news a lot over their aggressive defense of their trademark.

You see, they gained a trademark on the term “Monster” in a pretty wide area, and as such, they have protected that mark in a pretty wide area.

As you may or may not know, if you own a trademark and you do NOT protect your mark, you lose it. So if, say, your company is Eagle Appliances and you have a trademark on that name and you find out that a new company just formed calling itself Eagle Tools and Appliances, if you DON’T sue them you lose your trademark, as you’re effectively conceding that there isn’t a problem with the two companies being confused for each other (which is what trademarks are intended for – to avoid consumer confusion between companies).

Well, with a name like “Monster,” there are going to be a LOT of companies out there using that name, and Monster Cable has gone after many of them, and most of the time they win (by “win,” the other company will either change their name or agree to license the name FROM Monster Cable or do SOMEthing to differentiate themselves from Monster Cable).

In 2004, Monster Cable purchased naming rights for Candlestick Park, the home of the San Francisco 49ers, labeling it Monster Park.

Therefore, when the Boston Red Sox sought out trademarks for certain terms related to their famous fence, the Green Monster, Monster Cable took issue (since they had just gotten their own “Monster Park”).

And the Red Sox backed off.

The most recent case that made the news is when Monster Cable took issue with trademark registrations by the national chain of mini-golf courses, Monster Mini-Golf. Now, the first misconception is that they had a problem with the name Monster Mini-Golf. They did not. However, Monster Mini-Golf ALSO sought out trademarks for “Monster Entertainment” and “Monster” in terms of entertainment and recreations activities.

It is THOSE two trademarks that Monster contested, and, honestly, that sounds pretty reasonable to me if you have a Monster Park, you presumably would not want someone to be able to open up a Monster theme park.

Anyhow, along the way, a story sprung up that Monster Cable also sued the Chicago Bears for their nickname “The Monsters of Midway.” Is it true?
Read the rest of this entry »

Did a Rockies Fan Really Lose a Leg on an Escalator at Coors Field?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: A Rockies fan lost a leg in an escalator accident at Coors Field!

Unlike the so-called cyber-attack on the Rockies that we talked about earlier, a real “attack” occurred at Coors Field in July of 2003 when the escalators on Coors Field turned on its patrons!


Read the rest of this entry »

Were the Rockies Really Victims of a Hacker During The Sale of World Series Tickets Back in 2007?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: The Rockies were the victims of a “Denial of Service” computer hacker attack when they put their World Series tickets up for sale online.

The 2007 World Series was a historic one.

For the first time ever, the 16-year-old Colorado Rockies franchise was playing in the World Series! They were faced off against the 2004 World Champions, the Boston Red Sox…

To best put this achievement into perspective, the Rockies had reached the playoffs in 1995, their third season in the Majors, and then did not reach the playoffs again until 2007! In fact, before 2007, their last WINNING SEASON was in 2000, where they were 82-80!

So I don’t think you can properly gauge just how much excitement that there was over the Rockies making it to the World Series.

On October 22, 2007, the Rockies began selling tickets to Games 3 and 4 (and a possible Game 5) of the World Series, which would be played in Colorado. In a slightly controversial move, the Rockies made the tickets available “first come, first serve” over the internet to whoever wanted to purchase them, whether you were a Colorado resident or, say, Ticketmaster.

The sale ended after 90 minutes, with the site being shut down and only 500 tickets sold.

The day of the event, Paciolan, the company that powered the website used to purchase tickets, claimed that they were the victims of a “DoS” attack.

A “DoS” attack stands for “Denial-of-Service” attack, where a hacker decides to shut down the service of a website through various means, including consuming mass amounts of the bandwidth of the website. This results in the site slowing to a crawl and often just shutting down altogether.

A famous example of this would be when a group of students at a university in Ireland shut down the website for Ireland’s Department of Finance using a “DoS” attack.

However, was this instance REALLY a “DoS” attack?
Read the rest of this entry »