Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 17, 2013

AARON SNYDER: Seven not so lucky in sports

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

ASHLAND — Seven has been widely considered a lucky number since the earliest days of Earth.

It’s associated with importance and positivity throughout Biblical history, ancient Greek history and even our country’s history — America declared its independence from Britain during the seventh month and there are seven articles to the Constitution.

Is seven lucky in sports?

Upon the not-so-shocking self-admission that Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his captivating career, coupled with recent baseball news, I decided this so-called “lucky” number had a more negative connotation when attached to athletes.

Here are seven reasons why:

‰Armstong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. In October, the International Cycling Union and the United States Anti-Doping Agency made the final decision to take away Armstrong’s titles after it was learned of his heavy involvement in team-organized doping.

Once considered such an awe-inspiring athlete who affected many, Armstrong became a fraud to the sport. UCI president Pat McQuaid’s words maybe cut the deepest. “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling; he deserves to be forgotten in cycling.”

‰Barry Bonds and his seven Most Valuable Player awards. As his statistics and hat size ballooned, MLB and its fans still remained entranced by Bonds’ hitting, even though there was obvious suspicion surrounding him. Last week, he barely received half the percentage of votes needed (75%) for a Hall of Fame induction. The home run king’s numbers, including seven National League MVPs, are forever tainted. Four of those MVPs were awarded after Bonds turned 36.

‰Roger Clemens and his seven Cy Young awards. Clemens and Bonds will forever be linked because of steroids and courtroom follies. Like Bonds, “The Rocket” couldn’t even garner 40 percent of the votes on the HOF ballot.

‰Seven members of baseball’s 500-HR club have been connected to steroids. Each of the following has either admitted to are alleged users of performance-enhancing drugs (career HRs in parentheses): Bonds (762), Alex Rodriguez (647+), Sammy Sosa (609), Mark McGwire (583), Rafael Palmeiro (569), Manny Ramirez (555) and Gary Sheffield (509).

‰Mickey Mantle’s freak injury. During the World Series of his rookie season (1951), “The Mick” moved to his right from his right field position as veteran center fielder Joe DiMaggio roamed to his left.

Running at full speed, Mantle stopped when he realized DiMaggio was settling in to make the catch. One of Mantle’s cleats planted into a piece of the underground lawn sprinkler device, spraining his right knee badly and ending his series.

Mantle never ran quite the same again throughout a great career that could’ve been much greater. He wore No. 7 for the Yankees.

‰Seven of the NFL’s biggest quarterback flops wore No. 7. The following names had so much promise but never even came close to living up to it: David Klingler, Danny Wuerffel, Kyle Boller, Ken O’Brien, Matt Leinart, J.P. Losman and Byron Leftwich.

‰”The Greatest” got stuck at six. Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player of all-time and one of the greatest athletes ever, racked up six titles with the Chicago Bulls. His final two years with the Wizards — after his second retirement — weren’t even playoff seasons. Maybe by being one of the “good guys,” six was a more fitting destiny.

Not so fast

If I was a lawyer making a case against myself, here are three pieces of evidence to refute the “Unlucky Seven” theory.

‰Babe Ruth had seven World Series titles.

‰Nolan Ryan recorded seven no-hitters.

‰John Elway wore No. 7. He won two Super Bowls and is considered one of the best QBs ever.

Maybe it’s 14

OK, if not seven, then what about 14? Baseball’s hit king wore No. 14 and he’s resorted to reality television. Like Armstrong, Bonds and others, Pete Rose should’ve just told the truth from the start. He’ll eventually be enshrined in Cooperstown, but he may not be alive to witness it.

Then, finally, Tiger Woods’ 14 major championships stopped tallying in 2008, not long before the scandal that shook the sports nation seemingly sank Woods’ personal life and golf game. Will he recover to make a run at Jack Nicklaus? Only time will tell.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.