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Human condition, part two

"Only a miracle could save the Bears!"

Too right was Joe Starkey as he made this remark during the 1982 game between the California Golden Bears and the Stanford Cardinals.

John Elway had just led Stanford from its own 13-yard line into California territory. Stanford managed a 35-yard field goal with just four seconds left to go up 20-19.

With one play left, Starkey began giving accolades to the Cardinals for that brilliant game-winning drive. But there was, of course, one more play - a kickoff return that would come to be known as "The Play."

The Stanford players celebrated their field goal, and Starkey knew that it would take something special to change the outcome of "The Big Game."

As much as I appreciate moments like "The Play," they are not complete without a holistic understanding of the situation. There is a story behind every play and every moment. In a vacuum, we can only appreciate a great moment on a superficial level. But what we really love, what we keep coming back to see, is the humanity of sports.

Making a turnaround jumper from the free-throw line while double-covered is impressive. But when Christian Laettner makes that shot as time expires to win an Elite Eight game against Kentucky, it takes on new meaning.

Any home run is impressive. But, as you know if you've ever seen it replayed, Kirk Gibson's home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is something more.

"All year long, they looked to him to light the fire and all year long, he answered the demands, until he was physically unable to start tonight," Vin Scully said as Gibson trudged out to the plate.

Gibson played with a knee injury for a good chunk of the postseason, and just before the World Series, he pulled the hamstring in his other leg. Virtually incapacitated, he was benched and spent most of Game 1 in the locker room with a bag of ice on each knee.

Gibson listened as his team entered the ninth inning down 4-3 to the Athletics. Before long, the Dodgers found themselves with a man on base but with two outs.

Enter Gibson. Hobbling into the dugout, he somehow convinced manager Tommy Lasorda to let him pinch hit. Unable to favor either leg, Gibson didn't so much limp as stagger out to face Dennis Eckersly, one of the greatest closers in history. Eckersly threw two quick strikes to go ahead in the count.

The odds were against the Dodgers.

The wiley Gibson, though, worked the count to 3-2. With a man on, the game was at the plate. Fate rested squarely on Gibson's shoulders.

On CBS radio, Jack Buck had the call.

"We have a big 3


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