Winners & Losers Of 2008 (Part One)

Winner:  Peter Eastgate
19 years ago, a self-described “Poker Brat” made history.  24-year-old Phil Hellmuth became the youngest Main Event winner in the history of The World Series Of Poker.  During the final table of the No Limit Texas Hold ’em World Championship in May 1989, he ousted Johnny Chan to win $755,000.  Including Hellmuth, there were 178 participants in the No Limit Hold ’em competition altogether that year.
Fast forward to 2008.  With 6844 players vying to divy up over 64 million in prize money, Hellmuth was eliminated by a 22-year-old Denmark native who he lovingly referred to as an “idiot from Northern Europe”.  He finished a respectable 45th earning a total of $154,400. 
So, how did the “idiot from Northern Europe” do?  He won the entire event.
Peter Eastgate became one of The November Nine, the collective nickname for the players who made it to the final table of The Main Event.  (According to Eastgate, before the historic match, Hellmuth rather graciously “wished me luck and gave me a handshake.”.)  In a gripping two-hour presentation that later aired on ESPN in America and TSN in Canada, the young Dane, who had never won a tournament before, had to fend off his last opponent, the intimidating Ivan Demidov, a 27-year-old Russian who played brilliantly aggressive poker that final night.  (Hellmuth and numerous other spectators witnessed it all live in person.)  But in the end, when Demidov pushed all-in with two pair (2s and 4s) on the last hand of the match, Eastgate could not be pushed off his 5-high straight.  Besides breaking Hellmuth’s record by 2 years, Eastgate took home an astounding $9,152,416.  Not bad for an “idiot from Northern Europe”, eh, Phil?  As for Demidov, don’t feel bad for him.  For finishing second, he earned $5,809,595.
Loser:  The New England Patriots
They were on an incredible streak.  They looked invincible.  They blew it.
After winning 15 straight regular season games the most dominant team in the National Football League faced The New York Giants in their final battle of the year.  In a tight contest, The Patriots prevailed by a score of 38-35.  That victory made history.  The 2007 Patriots became the second team to have an unblemished regular season.  The Miami Dolphins, who won 12 games in a row in 1972, were the first.  The Dolphins also won every game in the post-season that year, as well.  It was a record coach Bill Belichick and his roster were hoping to match.
After just two playoff wins against The Jacksonville Jaguars and The San Diego Chargers, The Patriots were one victory away from winning Super Bowl 42.  Their opponents?  The New York Giants.  In an event that was attended by over 70,000 fans and witnessed on Television by almost 100 million viewers, the final result was decided in the final minute of the fourth quarter.  In one of the most exciting finales in sports history, Giants quarterback Eli Manning fought off the strong possibility of being sacked on third down in the final minute to spiral the pigskin to a leaping David Tyree who made a memorable reception.  He caught the ball in his right hand and pressed it firmly against his helmet, landing on the 24-yard line.  The score at that point:  Patriots 14, Giants 10.
With less than 40 seconds remaining on the clock, Plaxico Burress (yes, the jackass who accidentally shot himself in a club this month) caught the winning touchdown pass.  When time ran out, The Giants had 17 points and The Patriots had 14.  Peyton Manning’s little brother had done it.  After a few seasons of frustrating unevenness, and with his big brother in attendance applauding him all the way, Eli had led The Giants to their first Super Bowl victory since 1991 when they beat The Buffalo Bills in another close match-up.  Tom Brady and company, 12-point favourites going into the big game, were stunned.
If that weren’t impressive enough The Giants have thus far had an incredible 2008 season, as well.  Already eligible for another post-season run, as of this writing, they are 11 and 1.  The Patriots?  Try 7 and 5.  Not so dominant this year, are ya, fellas?  I wonder why.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 6, 2008 
1:33 a.m.
Published in: on December 6, 2008 at 1:34 am  Leave a Comment  

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