So there’s this crazy theory being bounced around by NASCAR fans. Some of these people are under the belief that Teresa Earnhardt intentionally ordered her people to sabotage the engines going into Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s cars, so he’d basically suck as he waves goodbye to DEI. Look, it’s a stupid theory (Teresa actually LOSES money in this scenario, which is just stupid).
That said, there are some sports conspiracy theories that make a whole lot more sense, and have gained steam through the years. Here are my 5 favorite.
5. Chan Ho Park grooved a pitch to Cal Ripken Jr. in the 2001 All-Star Game
We’ll never know if this one is true or not, or if there was an order from above to Park to groove that pitch. But even if the pitch was “grooved”, Cal still had to hit it, and hit it well enough to knock it out of the park. Still, things seemed a little to “Hollywood” that night, and our cynical senses kicked in. I’m gonna call BS on this one, but I can see why people believe it.
4. NASCAR fixed the results of the 2001 Pepsi 400 so Dale Earnhardt Jr. would win
Search for “2001 Pepsi 400 fixed” on Google and you’ll come up with nearly 400,000 results. I’m not saying that’s proof that it was fixed, I’m just saying a LOT of people out there believe it was. And once again, this theory stems from people having a hard time believing a “Hollywood” ending. Dale Earnhardt died during the 2001 Daytona 500, and amazingly his son wins the very next race at that track, in primetime on national TV. I gotta say, I believe NASCAR had a hand in this one.
3. Mike Piazza tipped Roger Clemens’ pitches in the 2004 All-Star Game
Let’s be honest -- we all know the history of bad blood between these two. So it’s more than fishy that when Clemens started the 2004 All-Star Game, with Piazza behind the plate, the American League started the game with 6 runs on 5 hits in the 1st inning off Clemens. There’s no proof that this happened, but I hope to God it did. Clemens is a douche and he totally deserved it. Plus, it was cool when Crash Davis did it in “Bull Durham”, so why wouldn’t tipping pitches of a douchey pitcher be bad in real life?
2. David Stern rigged the 1985 Draft Lottery so the Knicks would win
This has all been covered in detail before, but earlier this year, Bill Simmons actually found the video evidence. This HAPPENED! Stern clearly knocks the Knicks envelope on the side of the barrel, making it identifiable. He then makes sure that one gets picked as the winner. I’m convinced that this rigging, and the karmic consequences behind it, are the reason the Knicks didn’t win the title (even when Stern tried to rig it for them in 1994, an entirely different conspiracy for a different column).
1. Michael Jordan’s 1st retirement was a secret gambling suspension
I wrote about this in WAY too much detail on one of my old sites, and if I can, I’ll try to track it down in the next few days, but for now, I’ll just say this: all the pieces fit. Using the Google results meter as a gauge of possibility, there are almost 300,000 results for “Michael Jordan secret gambling suspension”, which is way too high for there not to be something to this. I’m pretty sure this is true, and I’m also pretty sure only 3 people know the whole truth: David Stern, Jerry Reinsdorf and MJ himself. In fact, it’s possible that the 1994-1995 MLB strike was stalemated by Reinsdorf as a way of forcing Jordan back into basketball, after he’d decided he didn’t want to return. The truth is out there.