There’s an unwritten rule in sports that you shouldn’t show up your opponents. You shouldn’t do anything that others might view as disrespectful. Case in point, when Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista hit a massive, game changing home run in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS and followed it up with the bat flip seen across the nation, Texas Rangers relief pitcher Sam Dyson chastised Bautista for his celebration. Let’s ignore the fact that Bautista had just hit the biggest home run of his career, that Dyson played with Bautista in Toronto and knows that he is the kind of guy that does whatever he wants regardless of what others think, and that if Dyson had struck out Bautista he probably would’ve done his own celebration with some sort of celebratory fist pump. The truth is if these unwritten rule carried any really meaning, someone probably would’ve taken the time to write them down.
At the end of the day it’s a game. Sports are something that most athletes begin playing as kids simply out of love and a desire to have fun. So why shouldn’t professionals be allowed to have fun too? There’s nothing more fun that getting excited about a big accomplishment. If someone wants to flip a bat, ride a hockey stick, or use a football as a pillow after achieving a feat then we should embrace their right so celebrate, so long as they have something to celebrate.
That last part of that sentence is a key point that the 15 athletes on this list all missed. They all began celebrating much too early and as a result it blew up in their face.
15. Nick Young
In a March 2014 game against the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Nick Young attempted a three pointer that looked like it was surely going in. Young turned his back to basketball, raised his arms, and made the “three“ signal with both hands which would’ve been fine only that the ball hit the inside of the rim before bouncing out. Young’s premature gesture didn’t matter much as the Lakers went on to win the game 127-96 with Young going 5-for-6 from behind the arc.
14. Chris Williams
Williams had a flair for the touchdown return during his time with the Hamilton Ti-Cats. He set a CFL record with six touchdown returns during the 2012 season. It should’ve been seven. In a July game against the Montreal Alouettes, Williams caught the football after a missed field goal and returned it the length of the field, 117 yards, but with about 20 yards to go Williams turned around and danced towards the end zone, The pursuing Alouettes defender caught Williams and tackled him just before he fell into the end zone. After the play was reviewed, it was ruled that Williams’ knee was down at the one yard line, negating the touchdown.
13. Adriana Pirtea
At the 2007 Chicago Marathon – her first marathon – Adriana Pirtea took the lead over Berhane Adere around the 35 kilometre mark and by 40 kilometeres she had opened the gap to 30 seconds. Towards the end of the race Pirtea began slapping fans’ hands and waving to the crowd, never looking back to see if her lead was secure. With less than 50 metres to go, Pirtea was surpassed by a sprinting Berhane who picked up the victory by three seconds. Pirtea might not have been able to keep up with Berhane’s pace had she seen her coming, but Pirtea’s early celebrating didn’t help her cause.
12. Jeon Jun-woo
In a 2013 Korean league game the Lotte Giants were trailing the NC Dinos 6-4 with a runner on second and one out in the bottom of the ninth when outfielder Jeon Jun-woo came to the plate representing the tying run. Jeon ripped the ball for what he thought was a surefire home run. Jeon flipped his bat, pointed to the crowd, and strutted down the first base line, only to see the ball easily caught at the warning track. The Dinos’ bullpen began laughing, while Jeon stood at first base for awhile, confused by what had just happened.
11. Tanguy Pepiot
At the end of a 2015 The Pepsi Team Invitational steeplechase race featuring runners from Oregon, Kentucky, and Washington, Oregon’s Tanguy Pepiot looked to have assured himself the victory and began raising his right arm to try get the crowd to cheer him on. Pepiot ended up being caught by a Washington’s Meron Simon who charged past him to win by 0.1 seconds.
10. Lindsey Jacobellis
In the inaugural women’s snowboard cross at the 2006 Winter Olympics, American Lindsey Jacobellis was nearing the end of the course with a three-second lead over Switzerland’s Tanja Frieden when she attempted a method grab on the second to last jump, twisting and grabbing the board in midair. Jacobellis landed on her heels and fell to ground, allowing Frieden to pass her for the gold medal.
Initially Jacobellis claimed the grab was an attempt to stabilize her board, but later admitted to showboating, saying,”I was having fun. Snowboarding is fun. I was ahead. I wanted to share my enthusiasm with the crowd. I messed up. Oh well, it happens.”
9. Kaelin Clay
In a 2014 college football game against Oregon, Utah wide receiver Kaelin Clay made a big catch and ran into the endzone, dropping the ball and celebrating with his teammates after what he believed was a 79 yard touchdown. Unfortunately for Clay he dropped the ball at the one yard line. Realizing that the side judge had not ruled a touchdown, Oregon continued playing and after another fumble, Oregon linebacker Joe Walker picked up the football and ran 99 yards in the other direction for a Ducks touchdown.
8. Patrick Roy
Patrick Roy had a Hall of Fame NHL career in which he won the Stanley Cup four times and the Conn Smythe Trophy three times, but many will always remember his gaffe in the 2002 Western Conference Final. With Roy’s Avalanche leading the best of seven series 3-2 over the Detroit Red Wings in a scoreless first period of game six, Roy made several big saves on Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman. After stopping Yzerman at point blank range, Roy lifted his glove in the air in what has been dubbed “Statue of Liberty” pose, but he dropped the puck and Brendan Shanahan tapped it into the net. The Avalanche went on to lose the game and the series.
7. Khalid Askri
In a shootout of a 2010 Throne Cup match against Maghreb Fes, FAR Rabat goalkeeper Khalid Askri made a save on a penalty kick and then immediately stood up, turned to the crowd, and pounded his chest. Unbeknownst to Askri, the backspin he put on the ball from the save caused it to cross the goal line and into the net. Maybe before a goalkeeper celebrates a save, they should know where the ball is.
6. Cibona Zagreb
Trailing by a point in the dying seconds of a 2010 Euroleague game against KK Partizan, A Cibona player hit a three pointer to take a one point lead with 0.6 seconds remaining. The whole team began celebrating by jumping up and down and hugging each other on the court. However, play continued on and KK Partizan inbounded the ball and threw up a 75 foot buzzer beater that banked in for the win.
5. Toronto Blue Jays
Jose Bautista’s celebratory bat flip in the 2015 ALDS may have been well earned, but the team’s decision to celebrate clinching a playoff spot when they still had a shot at home field advantage throughout the postseason was not. After the Blue Jays clinched the AL East title in the final week of the season the team celebrated with a champagne filled affair. The Jays clinched in game one of a doubleheader and manager John Gibbons chose to rest his starters for the latter game of the doubleheader with the Baltimore Orioles. He also rested his starters the next day and much of the final week of the season. Gibbons also gave number one starter David Price the final weekend off and pitched veteran Mark Buehrle on two days rest in an attempt to reach a career milestone.
All of these decisions led to the Blue Jays ceding home field advantage to the Royals, something that might’ve helped in their six game series loss to Kansas City in the ALCS.
4. Leon Lett
With the Dallas Cowboys already blowing out the Buffalo Bills in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXVII, a Bills fumble was scooped up by Cowboys defensive tackle Leon Lett. Lett ran down the field, 60 yards, towards the end zone, holding out the ball for the final few yards. Bills wide receiver Don Beebe hustled back and swatted the ball out of Lett’s hand forcing a touchback instead of a touchdown. It could have been a great Super Bowl moment, as big linemen like that rarely get a chance to grab the spotlight, but Lett did for all the wrong reasons.
3. Riccardo Russo
At the 2012 Italian CIV championship race, motorcycle rider Riccardo Russo began his final lap by slowing down and raising his arms in victory before standing up and pumping his fists to the sky unaware that he still had one lap remaining. In the meantime, the other riders raced past Russo to the finish line while the announcers of the race tried to comprehend what was happening. The mistake cost Russo the victory and landed him in 14th place.
2. Mark Martin
At the 1994 Goody’s 250 Nationwide Series race Mark Martin started at the pole position and led for the majority of the race. The race was slowed down by a caution flag for the final two laps and finished under caution. After Martin passed the white flag with one lap to go, the other drivers approached him and gave him a congratulatory wave. Martin thought the race was over and pulled down pit row 300 yards from the finish line. His costly mistake gave the victory to David Green.
1. DeSean Jackson
Washington’s wide receiver takes the spot on our list for making the same mistake on two separate occasions. In the 2005 Army Bowl, Jackson made a catch and ran towards the end zone, diving head over feet to score the touchdown, except that Jackson took off to early and landed on the one yard line.
Fast forward a few years and Jackson made a similar mistake as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. Jackson caught a long pass from Donovan McNabb and ran into the endzone for what he thought was a touchdown. In this case, Jackson threw the ball to the ground in celebration at the one yard line. We can forgive DeSean Jackson for not knowing where the end zone is once, but he sure could have learned his lesson after that.
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