From the Sidelines: A YouTube sports Top 10

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 13, 2008

While covering a 9-10-year-old Cal Ripken game recently, I overheard two of the players talking about some of their favorite videos on the site.

One of the realities that accompanies the internet phenom is that certain moments, no matter how amazing or embarrassing, will be forever immortalized, especially in the realm of sports.

In light of that point and with a little help from Bobby Mathews, here is a list of the Top 10 sports-related videos on YouTube. Some are touching. Some are comical. Others are downright jaw dropping. Either way, here they are, counted down in true David Letterman fashion.

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10. Minor league baseball player Rodney McCray&8217;s effort chasing down a fly ball, and running through the outfield wall in the process, merits the No. 10 spot on the countdown. It also is enough to give the otherwise irrelevant ballplayer his 15 minutes of fame.

9. The infamous in-ring KO of referee Burt Lowe is worth a few Web hits. Lowe might not carry the star power of &8220;Judge&8221; Mills Lane, but he can definitely take a punch; a fact he proved while absorbing a left hook from Cuban fighter Pedro Cardenas that was intended for Canadian standout Willie de Wit.

8. When ESPN did the story on Western Oregon softball player Sara Tucholsky&8217;s homerun, it likely didn&8217;t grasp just how many people &8220;Touching Them All&8221; could touch if it hit YouTube. In her excitement of hitting what was to be the first homerun of her career against conference foe Central Washington, the WO senior missed first base, tearing her ACL in an effort to correct her mistake. What ensued stands as a heartwarming beacon of sportsmanship to a society that often needs such reminders.

7. Run of the mill football fans likely don&8217;t know the name of Arizona Cardinals&8217; safety Adrian Wilson. But a lot of YouTubers do. The video account of the freakishly athletic DB&8217;s 66-inch vertical leap is the stuff of Internet legend.

6. While Wilson&8217;s feat is eye-popping, Brazilian mixed martial artist&8217;s Gabriel Gonzaga&8217;s feet are eye closing. His devastating knockout of Mirko &8220;Cro Cop&8221; Filiopovic is one of two infamous kicks to make the countdown.

5. As inspirational as it is awe-inspiring, the video of Jason McElwain&8217;s coming out party during the final two minutes of the last home basketball game of his senior year has already cemented its place in sports lore. Diagnosed with highly functioning autism, the high school student from Rochester, N.Y. served as the manager of the basketball team and was allowed to suit up for the final game. Once inserted into the lineup, McElwain promptly air-balled his first shot before shooting the lights out by nailing six three-pointers. It was a performance that tied a school record and earned McElwain an Espy nod over Kobe Bryant&8217;s 81-point game.

4. Sports fans in this area are no strangers to the name Tyrone Prothro. His ridiculously acrobatic catch over the back and against the helmet of a Southern Miss defender in 2005 was enough to earn the Pontiac Game Changing Performance Award while still standing as one of the most astounding vids on the Web.

3. The other kick on the countdown is one of the most comical and out-of-context moments in baseball history. Izzy Alcantara propelled his name from the abyss of anonymity when he decided to do his best Shawn Michaels impersonation on the opposing catcher before charging the mound.

2. With his second Sidelines shout out of the week, Kentucky Little Leaguer Adam Bender holds down this spot on the list. The triumphant and touching story of the one-legged 8-year-old who defies odds and naysayers is enough to move even the hard-hearted.

1. &8220;God bless those kids. I want to throw up.&8221; The heartfelt exclamation of the play-by-play man during the closing moments of a 1994 Texas State Championship football game between Plano East and John Tyler summed it up. After overcoming a 43-14 fourth quarter deficit by recovering three on-side kicks and punching in the go-ahead touchdown, the impossible became nauseatingly real when the boys from PE watched the Tyler return man streak down the field, through the end zone and into history with a &8220;That just happened&8221; moment that would make even Mike Honcho blush.

So there they are, the Top 10 sports-related videos on YouTube. Doubt them if you will, challenge them if you must. But make sure to take the time to enjoy these moments of moving picture magic.

Jeremy D. Smith is sports editor for The Times. Reach him at (334) 289-4017.