If the immediate reaction to Manny Pacquiao's split-decision loss to Timothy Bradley is to be believed, boxing lost a boatload of fans Saturday night. Permanently. Even in a sport with eyebrow-raising outcomes, this one was over the top. Many of the expert observers on site had Pacquiao winning 10 or 11 of the 12 rounds. Yet, two judges said he lost. That's a decision that will be questioned for decades to come. It ranks among the worst decisions in sports history. We take a look at those bad decisions, discarding heat-of-the-moment blunders such as Bill Buckner's error or Chris Webber's infamous timeout. This is a look at bad decisions people had time to think through, yet did nothing to avoid.
Irwindale's 'good faith' money
In 1987, when the Raiders were based in the Los Angeles Coliseum, Al Davis was shopping for a new stadium for his NFL team. The city of Irwindale, a suburb east of LA with about 1,000 residents but several corporate headquarters, was ready to oblige. It struck a deal with Davis to build a $115 million stadium by filling in gravel pits that dominated the city landscape. Davis, however, demanded a $10 million, unconditional "good faith" payment. The starstruck city council approved the payment, but the stadium plan never got past the environmental studies. Davis, who died in 2011, took the team back to Oakland, $10 million richer for his flirtation with Irwindale.
Mr. Clemens goes to Washington
Roger Clemens was as competitive as they come on the mound. That's part of the reason he has a record seven Cy Young Awards. Another reason might be steroids. Clemens' name was prominent in the 2007 Mitchell Report on steroids in baseball. His name sullied, the pitcher voluntarily testified in front of a congressional committee that he never used HGH or steroids. Again, he volunteered to go; he was not under subpoena. Clemens' former trainer, Brian McNamee, testified that not only had Clemens used, but he injected the pitcher many time. The feds believed McNamee, as Clemens was indicted on six counts of lying to Congress and obstructing a congressional inquiry. About four years after his voluntary testimony, Clemens was on trial and facing jail time. Perhaps it would have been wise to stay home in Texas back in 2008.
The 'Heidi' game
Perhaps this one is better called an indecision. When the New York Jets faced the Oakland Raiders in an American Football League playoff game on Nov. 17, 1968, the movie "Heidi" was scheduled to air at 7 p.m. ET on NBC. The commercial sponsor, Timex, had a contract clause that said the "Heidi" airing had to start on time. That left a three-hour window for football. As the game started to run long, network executives, previously told to start "Heidi" at 7 no matter what, huddled and decided to reverse the order and stay with the game. But they could not get word to the technicians in time. So, with the Jets leading 32-29 with less than a minute left, the network cut away for the movie in the eastern half of the United States. Those viewers missed the Raiders scoring two touchdowns to win the game.
The Humphries-Kardashian wedding
The only beneficiary of the Kris Humphries-Kim Kardashian marriage was the E! network. Sure, the couple's wedding on Aug. 20, 2011, was a ratings bonanza. And, yes, it elevated Humphries' recognition factor. But he came to be known as a reality-show doofus more than a serviceable NBA player. Like his 72-day marriage, he's now considered somewhat of a joke. He was booed in arenas around the league and lost any opportunity for a quiet offseason for years to come — note the "Is Humphries dating a Kim K look-alike?" headlines. Maybe he was after a big divorce settlement all along, which begs the age-old question, "At what price fame?"
Figure skating scandal
As boxing fans know, any time an outcome is determined by a judge, there's room for suspicion. During the 2002 Winter Olympics, the suspicions were well-founded. Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier (pictured) were denied a gold medal in pairs despite a flawless free program. The gold went to Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. Analysts on TV were dumbfounded. An investigation found the outcome was essentially predetermined. Judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne of France confessed she was pressured by the head of the French skating union, Didier Gailhaguet, to favor the Russians. The Canadians were elevated to gold-medal status, but the Russian pair, who knew nothing of the judging shenanigans, kept their gold, too. The French officials were suspended for three years.
Television producer Tom Werner wasted little time making an impact after he purchased the San Diego Padres in June 1990. And not in a good way. On July 25, 1990, he asked one of his stars, comedienne Roseanne Barr, to come to Jack Murphy Stadium to perform the national anthem. Apparently, Werner never bothered to ask if she could sing. Barr, who delighted in offending on stage, did the same on the field. She screeched a version of the anthem that had fans booing instantly. She made an obscene gesture and spat when she was finished, which she explained away as a comic tribute to ballplayers. The ensuing furor caught the attention of President George H.W. Bush, who called Barr's anthem disgusting and a disgrace. Padres fans felt similarly about Werner's ownership, which lasted only four years. He later found success in baseball as a minority partner with the Boston Red Sox.
Few outside Cleveland would have begrudged LeBron James for leaving the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. But how he did it — ugh. Making an ESPN spectacle of "The Decision" instantly turned neutral obvservers into an army of LeBron haters. The "me" aspect of the whole thing simply turned people off. LeBron joined Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez on the most-hated athletes lists. James compounded his blunder by participating in a smoke-filled introduction of the Big Three — James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — that was staged in Miami for Heat fans. That's where LeBron vowed to win "not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven" championships.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley
Boxing fans are accustomed to chicanery. Fixed fights and oddball judging are part of the lore of the sport. But in recent decades, the big-time pay-per-view bouts have seemed above the fray (aside from Mike Tyson making dinner out of Evander Holyfield's ear). That changed when Manny Pacquiao stepped into the ring against Timothy Bradley on Saturday in Las Vegas. Pacquiao connected with more punches and more power punches. Veteran boxing analysts had Pacquiao winning 10 or 11 of the fight's 12 rounds. Yet, inexplicably, two of the judges scored it 115-113 in favor of Bradley, a split decision against the popular Pacquiao. Outraged fans vowed to give up the sport. More than 24,000 signed an online petition calling for the Nevada governor to overturn the decision.
Drafting Sam Bowie
Poor Sam Bowie. He really doesn't deserve to be so prominently placed on so many "worst" lists. He simply had the misfortune of being selected one spot ahead of Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA Draft. The Portland Trail Blazers took the 7-foot-1 Bowie at No. 2, thinking they were set with Clyde Drexler as their star guard. Jordan, selected third by the Chicago Bulls, made the decision look silly by becoming the best player in league history. Bowie, meanwhile, suffered numerous leg injuries that limited him to 25 games in a three-season span. The Trail Blazers weren't the only team to pass on Jordan, but the Houston Rockets get a pass because top pick Hakeem Olajuwon is a Hall of Famer who won two NBA titles in Houston.
Selling Babe Ruth
The Boston Red Sox won three World Series from 1915 to '19 with Babe Ruth, and they hadn't even turned him from a pitcher to a full-time outfielder until that last season. The New York Yankees, meanwhile, had no championships. Cash-strapped Red Sox owner Harry Frazee balked at Ruth's demand to double his salary to $20,000 for the 1920 season and instead shopped him to other teams. On Dec. 26, the Yankees agreed to pay $125,000 in cash, three yearly payments of $25,000 and give Frazee a $300,000 loan. It took the Red Sox 86 years to win a championship without Ruth. He became the No. 1 gate draw in sports in the 1920s as the Yankees franchise grew into a powerhouse. The Yankees won four World Series with Ruth and now boast of 27 championships all time.