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Sports World Sees Week of the Underdog in Mariners, NWU

Column by Bo Light
Associate Sports Editor

This has been the week of the underdog throughout the sports world. From the Seattle Mariners, to Northwestern's football team, to O. J. Simpson, the team everyone thought had no chance pulled off the victory. This week, EA Sports looks at some of these big wins, and the big stories that accompany them.

Gridiron Report

Did someone make a mistake? Did Michigan really lose to Northwestern last week? Can the Wildcats really be 3-1? Make no mistake, everyone's favorite doormat means business this year. Maybe there was a bizarre nuclear accident near the athletic dorm, or maybe the players are just eating their Wheaties, but this team has been posting wins, and the Big Ten powers are watching. The lone black mark on Northwestern's record: a loss to Miami, Ohio. It could have been worse; they could have lost to a really bad team, like Miami, Florida.

Speaking of Miami, the Dolphins put themselves in hot water last week. Not only did they give up 24 unanswered points in a 27-24 overtime loss to (chuckle) Indianapolis, they also lost Dan Marino for the season. Marino had arthroscopic surgery this week; no reports of retirement have come yet. Marino, arguably the best player to have never won a Super Bowl, is running out of time. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have to hope that Bernie Kosar can resurrect his career and take them to the playoffs.

On the Ice

It's hockey season, folks, and one of the top teams early on is... the Colorado Avalanche? Yes, the team with the silliest name and the ugliest uniforms also has the best start, with big wins over Detroit and a tough Bruins team. Realignment has put the Avalanche in the rather weak Pacific Division, so look for this team to clinch a playoff berth early.

Meanwhile, the newly un-retired Mario Lemieux has started his quest for yet another scoring title. After scoring 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in his first two games, Lemieux trails only teammate Jaromir Jagr (8 points) early on. In fact, the top three scorers in the league are currently from Pittsburgh (Ron Francis also has 7 points). Yes, it's a long season, but the Penguins seem once again to be the best offensive team in the league. If only they could play defense...

The Batter's Box

Holy Comebacks Batman! The Seattle Mariners continue to surprise the world by winning. Last week, they beat the Angels in a one-game playoff to reach the second season; this week, they came back from a 2-0 deficit to send the Yankees home in the best-of-five Division Series. Tonight, the Mariners head to Cleveland, tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven American League championship. Can Seattle pull off another miracle? Maybe, maybe not, but they've given fans lots of reasons to hope. Now, EA Sports presents:

5 reasons to root for the Mariners

5. The Kid. Bob Wolcott, a 22-year old righthander, was called up from the minors on Tuesday. Wednesday night, he made his first postseason start of his career against Indians ace Dennis Martinez. Wolcott walked the bases loaded on thirteen pitches to open the game, then struck out Albert Belle and got himself out of the inning. Wolcott went on to give up two runs in seven innings, and got the first postseason win of his career.

4. They're the Best. The Mariners this year boasted the best pitcher (Cy Young-hopeful Randy Johnson), the best hitter (batting champ Edgar Martinez), and the best all-around player (Ken Griffey, Jr.) in the American League. With a cast like that, this team can play with anyone.

3. The Big Unit. Randy Johnson makes his first ALCS start tonight, but has already won three games since the season ended, including the one-game playoff against California. If the Mariners were to advance to the World Series, Johnson could conceivably pitch in eight postseason games. It's little wonder that Seattle's hopes are riding on his shoulders, or rather, his arm.

2. The Fans. They might move next season, but right now the Mariners play in the Kingdome, where the fans are some of the best in baseball. When Seattle is playing well, the noise level in the stadium drives opponents to distraction. When they fall behind, the fans still cheer, encouraging the players rather than getting down on them. They have more signs than a high school basketball game, and they rarely leave early. The fans alone have probably given the Mariners two wins in the postseason.

1. They're Due. Seattle failed to reach the postseason in their first nineteen years of existence. Now that they are here, the Mariners want to stay as long as they can. The energy and enthusiasm they have for the game has brought them to the playoffs, and it could carry them a long way.

We also have:

And one reason not

Everyone else is due, too. Cleveland hasn't won a pennant in forty years, the Braves have lost two World Series and one League Championship in dramatically tragic fashion, and Cincinnati... well, I guess not everyone is due. Maybe next year, Reds fans.

Trivia Question

Due to a network problem, none of the answers to last week's question were received, so the question stays around another week. Before this week, who was the last team to come back from a 2-0 deficit to win a five-game series? Send your answer to easports@the-tech.mit.edu. Winners will receive free passes to the MIT homecoming game.