Tag Archives: MVP

10 Great Athletes Who Never Won The ‘Big One’

THIS STOPS ME FROM COMITTING SUICIDE BECAUSE…….Knowing that not all great athletes are superhuman.

[Guest Writer: DBoi]
The debate about the greatest athletes in every sport has been done to death. But what about the ones who didn’t win? The ones who missed out on their chance to win the big championship. When their opportunity came for sporting immortality, they didn’t take it. This list is dedicated to the people who will forever be known as the “one who let the big one get away”.

10. Greg Norman (Golf)

Never won: Major US title

Greg Norman is regarded as one of the most talented but also one of the unluckiest golfers in history. He was known for his unique style of play and having one of the best swings in the game. He is generally thought of as the greatest driver of the ball bar Jack Nicklaus. He won the British open twice but never won any of the three US majors. On 5 occasions he finished second in one of the three major US titles; the Masters, the US Open and the PGA Championship. In many of these he led for most of the tournament but always stumbled at the final hurdle.

Interesting fact: Bill Clinton fell down a set of stairs outside Greg Norman’s house in 1997, tearing tendons in his right knee cap.

9. Jimmy White (Snooker)

Never won: World Championship

Nicknamed the ‘People’s Champion’, Jimmy is one of the most popular snooker players in the history of the sport. The left hander was known for his attacking style of play that enticed fans. He made it to an incredible six World Championship finals, including 5 in a row between 1990-94, but lost on every occasion. Four of those defeats were at the hands of Stephen Hendry, the most successful snooker player of all time. His most agonising defeat came in 1994, in the last of his six finals. Needing to pot just a few more balls in the final frame of the match, he missed a routine black off the spot allowing Hendry an opportunity to steal an 18-17 victory. Some will say that Jimmy never quite had that killer instinct to get over the line on the big occasions but no one could argue that he was unlucky to play in the same era as two of the games’ greats: Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry.

Interesting fact: Jimmy’s bull terrier, Splinter, was dognapped and held for ransom in the late ‘90s.

8. Brazil 1982 (Football)

Never won: World Cup

Brazil has won the World Cup a record 5 times yet their 1982 team is consistently voted their greatest ever side and the best football team of all time. Many regard that team as better, even than their ‘Golden Era’ team of the ‘70s that included the likes of Pele and Carlos Alberto. They went into the ‘82 World Cup in Spain as heavy favourites and their campaign got off to the perfect start. They cruised through their first three group games scoring 10 goals in the process. They had a mouth watering attack comprising of Zico, Eder, Socrates, Junior and Falcao whose slick passing and movement mesmerised their opponents. Their philosophy was simple: however many you score, we’ll score one more. In the second round they were drawn in the ‘group of death’ with Argentina and Italy. They breezed past holders Argentina 3-1 but lost 3-2 to Paulo Rossi’s Italy in one of the best World Cup games ever. If the Brazilians had a weakness that year, it was their defence. The brilliant Rossi scored all three goals in that game and went on to score again in the final as Italy beat West Germany.

Interesting fact: The Brazilian Gold Frog is the smallest frog in the Southern hemisphere; it grows to just 9.8mm.

7. Dan Marino (American Football)

Never won: Super Bowl

Known for his powerful arm and quick release, Dan Marino is one of the most prolific passers the NFL has ever seen. In his 17 year career with the Miami Dolphins they reached the playoffs on no fewer than 10 occasions. He became a starter for the Dolphins mid way through his rookie season and by the end of his second season he was named NFL MVP and had set 6 single-season NFL records including 48 touchdown passes, destroying the previous record of 36. At the end of that season he made his first and only Super Bowl appearance, losing to the great Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. Although he would never make it to another Super Bowl, he continued to smash record after record. At the time of his retirement in 1999 he held almost every major NFL passing record, many of which still stand today.

Interesting fact: Marino made a cameo appearance in the Adam Sandler movie, Little Nicky, in which he asked Satan for a Super Bowl ring.

6. Gilles Villeneuve (Formula 1)

Never won: F1 World Championship

Gilles Villeneuve’s short F1 career tragically ended in 1982 when he was killed in a high speed collision during qualifying for the Belgium Grand Prix. Despite racing for less than 5 years he had a long lasting impact on the sport and his rivals. He was famous for his all out attacking style of driving, no better demonstrated than during an extremely wet practice at the US Grand Prix where he was at one point, 11 seconds faster than any other driver. He recorded just 6 wins from 67 races but this was mainly due to the fact that he spent the majority of his career in uncompetitive cars. Villeneuve came closest to becoming World Champion in 1979. Had he beaten his team mate, Jody Schecketer, in the Italian Grand Prix he almost certainly would have won the title, but he agreed to follow team orders and not challenge his team mate for the lead. He lost the championship that year by 4 points to Schecketer.

Interesting fact: His less talented son, Jacques, became F1 World Champion in 1997.

Honourable mention: Stirling Moss

5. Ted Williams (Baseball)

Never won: World Series

Ted Williams was probably the greatest pure hitter that baseball has ever seen.  He had a career spanning 21 years although he only completed 16 full seasons for the Boston Red Sox as he was twice called up to do military service as a Marine Corps pilot. His scientific approach to hitting changed the way baseball was played forever. In four separate seasons he won Most Valuable Player and the Triple Crown twice each. However, he had a poor relationship with the media and his team’s fans. He often vented his anger in public and never tipped his cap to the crowd. These were probably the reasons he didn’t get the public following that the more charismatic, but maybe less talented players, such as Joe DiMaggio had. In his only appearance in a World Series in 1946 he produced a poor display going 0-for-4 in the last game as the Red Sox lost in seven. Five days before the game Williams was struck on the elbow by a curveball and was taken to hospital, possibly hindering his performance.

Interesting fact: Williams was a keen fisherman and was inducted into the Fishing Hall of Fame.

Honorable mention: Ty Cobb

4. Ivan Lendl (Tennis)

Never won: Wimbledon

Despite never winning Wimbledon, Ivan Lendl is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He dominated men’s tennis in the 1980s, holding the number 1 ranking for the best part of 5 years. He has 3 US Open titles to his name, 3 French and 2 Australian Opens. Lendl made 19 Grand Slam finals in total and appeared in at least one Grand Slam final for 11 consecutive years, a record only matched by Pete Sampras. He played mainly at the baseline, known for having machine like consistency with his ground strokes. However, the uneven bounces seen on Wimbledon’s grass courts somewhat neutralised his baseline style. He was forced to change his tactics for the grass court season but his serve and volleying was not consistent enough to deliver him a title. He still had a very impressive record at Wimbledon making two finals in 1986 and 1987 and 5 other semifinals.

Interesting fact: In 1986 North Korea issued a postage stamp of Ivan Lendl.

3. Charley Burley (Boxing)

Never won: World Title

Born to a black father and a white mother, boxing managers of the 1940s have said that Charley Burley was ‘too good for his own good’. He was so feared as a fighter that he never got a title shot against any welterweight or middleweight champion of the ’40s. The list of fighters that ducked Burley include: Billy Conn, Marcel Cerdan, Jake LaMotta and even Sugar Ray Robinson, considered the best pound for pound fighter in history. To make things worse, most of the top white fighters also refused to fight him, a problem for so many black and mixed race boxers of the era.  Because of this, Burley had a limited choice of opponents and regularly fought and knocked out fighters from welterweight to heavyweight divisions. He had to work, sometimes as garbage collector, throughout his career because he simply couldn’t get enough fights to pay his bills. He retired to go to work full time because no one would fight him. By the end of his career he had knocked out three world champions in three different weight categories.

Honourable mention: Sam Langford

Interesting fact: Burley had a chance to appear in the 1936 Olympics but refused due to Germany’s racist policies.

2. Johan Cruyff (Football)

Never won: World Cup

The three time European footballer of the year was recently voted the 2nd best player of the century, only behind Pele. In his only World Cup appearance he led Holland to victories over Argentina and champions Brazil before they eventually lost in the final to West Germany. Cruyff was instrumental in Holland’s success and was named player of the tournament that year. After helping Holland qualify for the 1978 World Cup, Cruyff surprised everyone by announcing his retirement from international football. The Dutch again made the final in ’78 and many believe that had Cruyff been in the side, they would have beaten winners Argentina. He made up for his lack of success with his country by the 10 league titles and 3 European Cups he won with Ajax, Barcelona and Feyenoord as well as countless individual prizes.

Interesting fact: Cruyff was the first Dutch player to be sent off and received a one year ban from the Dutch FA as a result.

Honourable mentions: Ferenc Puskas and Eusebio

1. Paula Radcliffe (Marathon)

Never won: Olympic Gold Medal

In her first London Marathon she set the second quickest time in women’s marathon history. A year later she had already set the two fastest times, over 3 minutes faster than anyone else. A leg injury in 2004 meant that she was unable to compete at anywhere near her best in Athens. She only managed to start the race by taking high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs and wasn’t able to finish the marathon for the first time in her career. After missing out in 2004 she was determined to complete in Beijing and despite being diagnosed with a stress fracture just 3 months prior to the event she recovered in time for the 2008 games. She started well but struggled towards the end with cramp and only finished in 23rd. She still holds the women’s marathon record and she now has 4 out of the 5 fastest times in women’s marathon history. Radcliff is without doubt greatest female marathon runner in history and only misfortune has cost her an Olympic Gold.

Interesting fact: Paula suffered from both asthma and anemia, conditions that drastically effect running performance.

Winning isn’t everything…


Posted by on May 19, 2011 in DBoi, Sports


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The Voting System Problem

This prevents me from comitting suicide because…….You realise that you don’t have to settle for what we have now.

[Guest writer: DBoi]

Most people put a lot of time and thought into deciding how they will vote in an important election, but do you ever give any thought to the method used to determine the winner once your vote has been cast? Well you should! With a voting referendum coming up soon in the UK, voting systems have become a highly debated topic in recent weeks. But why should you care and what difference will changing the system even make? To answer those questions I thought I would draw your attention to a clever example that demonstrates just how crucial the voting system is. In fact, this example shows that the voting system can be just as important, if not more than, the actual votes themselves…

Suppose 5 candidates, conveniently named Alex, Bartholomew, Chester, Doris and Edwina are up for a position on a committee.  The 9 current members of the committee have to vote on the 5 candidates to choose 1 for the role. Everyone ranks the candidates from their most preferred to least preferred and the table below shows their rankings. So four members ranked the candidates in exactly the same way shown by group 1. Similarly a second group of three members ranked the candidates in the same way and the final two members ranked the candidates in the same way shown by group 3.

  Group 1 Group 2 Group 3
Ranking 4 members 3 members 2 members
1st A B C
2nd E C D
3rd D E E
4th C D B
5th B A A

I will now show, using 5 different voting systems that are in common use around the world, that we can produce 5 different winners based on the same vote.

Method 1 – Simple plurality procedure

This is sometimes known as first-past-the-post and it is simplest and most common method of voting. It is the current system used in the UK general election and is also used in Canada, India and some US election.

Each voter gets one vote and the candidate with the most votes is the winner. In our example, A receives 4 votes, B receives 3 and C receives 2, so Alex is the winner.

Method 2 – The plurality runoff procedure

Also known as the Alternative Vote (AV). This is the method that is proposed the UK changes to in the May referendum. It is currently used to elect: the Australian and Fijian House of Representatives, the leader of the Labour party and Liberal Democrats and most importantly the Oscar for Best Picture.

Each voter gets one vote. If a candidate has more than half the votes they are the winner. Otherwise, the candidate with the least number of votes is removed and another vote is taken between the remaining candidates. This continues until a candidate receives more than half of the votes. In this situation the first three rounds provide the same result and there is no winner. Candidates D and E are removed after the first two round and C is removed after the third. In round 4 everyone in group 1 and 2 will again vote for A and B respectively. The voters in group 3 will vote for B as it is higher than A in their ranking. So Bartholomew now has 5 votes and is the winner.

Method 3 – Pairwise Comparison

This is probably a fairer voting system than the previous two, in my opinion, but it is not widely used by any national government. The main reason for this is that it doesn’t always produce a winner or can even produce everyone as the winner! However, it is used by several major private organizations.

In this method we consider pairs of candidates being placed in a vote against each other. Every candidate goes in a vote against every other candidate. The winner is the candidate that beats all other candidates in the pairwise votes. For example E will beat A because A will have 4 votes from group 1 but E will have 5 votes from groups 2 and 3. We can see that Chester is the winner in this example. He beats A by 5 votes to 4, B by 6 votes to 3, D by 5 votes to 4 and E by 5 votes to 4.

Method 4 – Borda Count

The Borda count is named after the 18th-century French mathematician and political scientist Jean-Charles de Borda, who devised the system in 1770. It is currently used for the elections in Kiribati and  Nauru, which are apparently countries, but is more widely used throughout the world by various private organizations and competitions. This is the method used to determine the MVP in baseball, the winner of the Heisman trophy in college football and the Eurovision song contest winner.

This method gives points to candidates based how they are ranked by the voters. In our example with 5 candidates, each voter’s 1st choice is given 4 points, their second 3 points and so on. And so their last place candidate receives ‘nil poi’. Tallying up the points we can see that A gets 16 points, B gets 14, C gets 21, D gets 17 and E gets 22. So Edwina is the winner.

Method 5 – Approval Voting

This is a relatively new method of devising a voting system. It is not known to be used by government but it was used by the UN to elect Ban Ki-Moon as their Secretary General so it must be pretty good!

Each voter can vote for as many candidates as they want. You can give each candidate either 1 or 0 votes. The candidate with the largest number of votes is the winner. We would need to know more about each individual to know how they would vote using this system but if we assume that everyone in group 1 votes for their top 3 candidates and everyone in groups 2 and 3 votes for their top 2 candidates this wouldn’t be too unreasonable an assumption. Counting up the votes we see that Doris is the winner with 6 votes.

So we’ve got 5 different systems and 5 different winners! Which is the best, it could be argued, is entirely subjective, and often depends on the situation. You can have a look at the votes again and see who you think should get elected and which system achieves this (personally I’d plump for Chester). A lot of media coverage in the UK has been devoted to the political consequences of the referendum with very little explanation of the mathematics behind them. You have seen now, how several legitimate voting systems can provide completely different results for the same vote and I hope I have highlighted just how important the voting system is as well as shedding some light onto the workings of the current system and proposed new one.

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Posted by on March 12, 2011 in DBoi, High Brow


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