What is it about underdogs that make them so appealing? Why is it that I can turn on the radio during the NCAA basketball tournament and find myself rooting for a small school that only moments before, had never entered my thoughts?
This has been a good week for underdogs. Little Northern Iowa, located somewhere, I suppose, in Northern Iowa, defeated mighty Kansas who many had picked to win the whole tourney. There were other upsets including Cornell, who one expects to produce Nobel Prize winners and not basketball wins and St. Mary’s, but it doesn’t get any bigger than a school with a direction in its name (I mean who even knew that Iowa HAS a North?) defeating a mighty Goliath?
From Baseball comes the news that the Minnesota Twins resigned hometown hero Joe Mauer at a hometown “discount” of $184 million over eight years. Mauer who grew up in the Twin Cities, will stay at home and remain the face of the franchise. Getting over the shock of the numbers, Mauer could have earned (if one can use that term in this context) as much as $300 Million over 10 years if he had entered the free agent market and allowed superpowers like my beloved Red Sox and the hated Yankees get into a bidding war. Increasingly that is what happens in Baseball. It is nice to see a small market team win big.
Finally, from the world of running is the victory of Peter Kamais over Haile Gebrselassie in this past week’s NYC Half Marathon. It wasn’t supposed to be much of a race as much as a coronation for Geb. Still, Kamais who is hardly a household name (even for running geeks like me) defeated one of the all-time greats.
We are used to the favorites winning. There is, after all, a reason why they are the favorites. It gives us hope to see the real life script turn out like the movies. It is nice to see the little guy rise up, even if for but a moment and remind us that the race is not always to the swift. I know who I’ll be rooting for on Thursday night when Cornell takes on Kentucky.