An era ended Sunday. In honor of the final episode of the spectacular HBO series "The Sopranos," we offer this list of the Top 10 Sports Moments in Sopranos History:
1. Furio Sez: "Bet a wit' a you head, no o'er it!": Nothing can top a guy whining in front of a mobster about a bad NFL beat that involved missed extra points. Of course, in real life, missed extra points almost always come back to screw bettors, making this one more moment where David Chase got it "exactly right" in all regards. The drink in the face was a nice extra touch.
2. A.J. Passes Out At Football Practice: A bench warmer for most of his "career" A.J. Soprano makes one play -- one! -- a recovery of a fumble and is instantly promoted to defensive Captain! A capo! His response to the moment: passing out. Just like his dad. This bit of foreshadowing -- that the son is in no way "captain material" in football or mob terms -- is another David Chase gem that you sort of discover when thinking back to the show's myriad moments. Bonus points if you recall A.J. as good ol' No. 98.
3. The Crew Tries to Bribe Meadow's Soccer Coach: Coach Hause is the best soccer coach young Meadow has ever had -- the best! Too bad then, that there's a newspaper rumor that he's leaving for another team. That springs Paulie Walnuts into action with a 55-inch plasma as incentive to stay. When that fails, Christopher helps "find" the coach's "lost" dog. Further intimidation is not needed; when they find out the coach is sleeping with one of Meadow's friends. Tony thinks briefly about having him whacked instead, but he relents.
4. The Endless Pie o' Mie Handout: Tony's prized racehorse wins, and co-owner Ralphie Cifaretto is all smiles and a wad full of cash afterward. Then Tony walks up, puts out his palm and watches Ralphie peel down that wad o' cabbage to almost nothing as his smile drains out.
5. Jackie Jr. Takes Down Local Hi-Stakes Poker Game: What, not a sports moment? Poker is a sport. Just ask ESPN or USA Today! Okay, maybe we're reaching, but it's still one of the most intense scenes in series history, helping seal his death warrant. Bonus points if you remember fat (and not yet gay) Vito as the gunman who whacked Meadow's boyfriend.
6. Furio & Tony Visit Dr. Kennedy on the Links: Squeezing somebody who can do you a favor knows no bounds. It doesn't matter that he's a doctor, or on his private golf course during a round. Tony and Furio drive helter skelter to pin him against the edge of a water hazard, and then back him in to his ankles. The perfect flourish was Furio throwing the Doc's hat into the lake after him, claiming there was a bee on his hat. Nice.
7. Vito Invites Fin To the Yankees Game: Just plain creepy. How would you like to go to a baseball game with a fat gangster who you now know is gay? When Vito tells him to meet him at the big baseball bat outside the stadium, the creep factor is off the charts. Fin, wisely, decides to skip it.
8. Janice Goes "Fist City" on Fellow Soccer Mom: You gotta love when Tony's fat, obnoxious, pain-in-the-ass sister causes more problems by delivering a family-style smackdown to an obnoxious parent at a youth soccer game. Hey, if she can steal a Russian caretaker's leg, shoot her fiancé in the chest and treat the hired help like garbage, this was nothin' for the big-bosomed one with the Rolling Stones tattoo.
9. Tony "Loses" By "Winning" on the Jets: Another classic gambling moment, where Tony is beyond pissed that Carmela didn't let him take her massive haul from her spec house and roll it over into the Jets, minus the points, against the Chargers. Tony again delivers a gambler's classic lament when he screams: "Has it ever occurred to you that I might know what the hell I'm doing here?" Sure. Of course you do. We all think that when we are on a roll.
10. Tony Watches Big Fight With Rapper in Hotel Room: I like this moment only for it's total stupidity. Obviously, Chase himself doesn't subscribe to DirecTV, otherwise he'd re-write the whole thing. For one, hospital windows don't open. Sick patients have this nagging habit of thinking about jumping out. Two: how are you going to secure that dish? Lag bolts, two-by-fours, and quickcrete? Like the nurses won't see that? How are you going to get the phone line?
Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.
A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.