DeadBall Awards: The Biggest Clutch Play of 2008

In any given sporting year you’ll see athletes do incredible things with the clock winding down. It’s what they’re hired to do, and the nature of the competitions they’re involved in to try and make these things happen.During the reign of Michael Schumacher Formula 1 drifted into tedium during the closing passages of the season frequently, with unassailable leads transformed into comfortable Championship wins.

That’s changed in recent years, and revitalised one of the great sporting competitions, but this year’s must have been the tightest of all time. Lewis Hamilton had recovered from a faltering start to head into the final race of 2008 with a slim 7 point lead over Felipe Massa heading into the final race of the season, Massa’s home Grand Prix in Brazil. This meant he needed to finish fifth or better, assuming Massa won, to clinch his first Driver’s Championship. Heading into the final lap of a wet, confused Grand Prix, the cards had seemingly fallen Ferrari’s way, with Massa leading and Hamilton agonisingly short in sixth. What happened next was what we’re calling The Biggest Clutch Play of 2008.

What Lewis Hamilton did, in altering the outcome of the entire 2008 Championship holding his nerve and passing Timo Glock after Felipe Massa had already won the Brazilian Grand Prix, and seemingly the Championship, was the most heart-stopping thing we saw all year. Some might argue that all Hamilton did was take advantage of circumstances which happened to him, rather he made happen, as Glock slid backwards on his dry tyres. But that completely underestimates the gravity of the situation he found himself in, the hunger to succeed just to put himself in that position… The kid did something beyond reason. Just look at the expressions on Ferrari’s faces as the first win, then lose the Championship by the slenderest of margins.

As far as sporting moments go, there was none more dramatic than that this year.

As a runner up we call far closer to home, Michael Witt’s try to keep the Warriors in the playoffs and create history, with Warriors upsetting the Storm to become the first 8th placed side to beat the minor premiers. The try was all down to Vatuvei, and the unquenchable faith of this Warriors side in one another, against a Storm team who seemed to believe the Premiership was theirs as of right. It was a beautiful thing, even if I can’t find footage of it.

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– Duncan

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3 Comments

Filed under Awards, Formula 1, Reminiscing, Rugby league

3 responses to “DeadBall Awards: The Biggest Clutch Play of 2008

  1. Tim

    The only thing more amazing than Hamilton’s move was the fact that he had to rely on a mistake from Glock to get there. Although he’s clearly an amazing driver (and yes I realise he’s only 22), he seems to have serious problems performing under the pressure/expectation of winning the championship. Without the mistake Hamilton would have made it 2 for 2 and been a choker of AB’s proportions (no pun intended). Witt/Vatuvai gets my vote – Hamilton would more appropriately be awarded DeadBall’s luckiest sportsperson of 2009 award.

    (note that my opinion heretofore is NOT a product of my unwaivering belief in, and support of all things Warriors).

  2. Mark

    I agree with Tim, this is not really a clutch performance, as it has much more to do with luck and someone else’s misfortune than Hamilton’s skill in the face of ridiculous pressure. Surely Tiger’s putt on the 18th at the US Open to force the playoff of Mediate is much closer to the definition of a true clutch play.
    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx2BS1u4fiw)
    Considering the injury he was playing with, how badly he approached the green and immense weight of expectation he faces every time he steps on to a course I think you should reverse this decision and go with my choice. Just for good measure he did it all again in the play off the next day.

  3. Yeah we kinda sat round debating this afterwards and agreed that this was just the most emotional/intense thing we saw all year. But what can we do? The post’s up. Tiger’s kinda in a class of his own though, you’d have to retire awards like this if you gave them to him. It was an amazing final round though, and that shot is seared into my mind. Drove very swiftly home with Telfer losing his mind to catch the final three holes. Felt AWFUL for Mediate though.
    But there was something about that race, the way the transition from wet to dry tyres and back was handled, the number of variables that wound into it. With Tiger it’s him and his club, with Lewis it’s him at the eye of this enormous storm… I think he drove incredibly well over those last few laps just to be where he was, and able to take advantage of Glock’s misfortune. Like you say Tim, he was on the verge of a very unwelcome rep, and he would be more aware of that than most, so just to stay in track in those conditions, to not push it too far through a corner… My heart nearly exploded. I can’t imagine how Nicole felt…

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