Big Jim Wilson 1941 to two weeks ago Thursday
This English session guitarist played on albums by Maryanne Faithful and David Bowie and everybody in between. He leaves behind those records and his likely-most-famous guitar part in this never-failing Tom Jones love song:
The New York Yankees 2012 Playoff Bid 2012 to Thursday
Every so often a death causes me to rejoice. As sad as it is to see my boy Ichiro lose, that cannot outweigh my schadenfreude at Jeter’s ankle and A-Rod’s meltdown. They leave behind a downcast Tri-State and a rejoicing rest-of-the-country.
Lance Armstrong’s Career (Part Deux: Endorsements) 1996 to Wednesday
Not only are we officially tied in Tour De France wins, I now have as many sneaker endorsement deals as Lance. Some Oregon athletic-shoe company named after the Greek Goddess of victory realized there was some kind of scandal last month and ditched Armstrong as an endorser. They even had these not-so-nice words to say to the former seven-time Tour de France title holder: “Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him.” Lance’s career leaves in its wake this uncharacteristically ethical act of Nike (beyond the evil of providing criminally ugly jerseys for the Oregon Ducks, there was that whole sweatshop thing) and, yes, more of those yellow silicone bracelets.
George McGovern 1922 to Present
This week, McGovern’s family announced that the former U.S. Senator is no longer responsive and is close to death. McGovern was so bad at politics (different from being a bad statesman) that his 1972 bid for the presidency ended in the third-worst landslide loss in U.S. history, in which the then-immensely-popular Richard Nixon buried McGovern by 23 points. His anti-war-in-Vietnam platform was as unpopular as was his bi-partisan humanitarian work with Bob Dole. Second only to Bob Barker as the greatest South Dakotan, he leaves behind those lovely “Don’t blame me, I voted for McGovern” stickers that graced the bumpers of the cars of condescending liberals in the wake of Watergate.
Arlen Specter 1930 to Tuesday
The five-term Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, Snarlin’ Arlen managed to find himself at the center of one Washington controversy after another. In his youth, he persuasively proposed to the Warren Commission that Oswald was the only gunman in Dallas. Decades later and much to the ire of his own party, he torpedoed the Supreme Court nomination of conservative Robert Bork only to regain GOP support in 1991 by ensuring a spot for Clarence Thomas on the very same bench by dismissing Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations. A centrist at heart, he was one of the six Republican senators who voted to acquit an impeached Bill Clinton. But his tendency to work across the aisle did him in. When he found himself losing the 2010 Republican primary to a Tea-Partier, he switched parties but still lost the Democratic primary. In the end, he wound up repugnant to both sides. He leaves behind a storied political career that proves the potential pitfalls of centrism and party swapping.