What is it about underdogs in sport?

Two great sporting underdog stories playing out this weekend.

In American League baseball, the Detroit Tigers play two games this weekend against the Minnesota Twins. They’re one shy of what they call, on their own web site (actually the official MLB Tigers web site) dubious history – the record for most losses in a season in modern major league history. Despite my natural affection for odd and superlative statistics, I’m rooting for ’em to win both and stay out of that particular section of the record book. They are my underdogs.

Meanwhile in the Vuelta a Espana, the quintessential underdog Isidro Nozal is on the brink of stealing away the great Spanish bike race from its rightful owner, Roberto Heras. I’ve been a Heras fan for years. He’s the little climber, and we love to love the little climbers, somehow underdogs as they cower in the pack among the big sprint boys on the flats, only to slip to the front and fly up the mountains when the pitch gets steep. Nozal is a boy, really, one of the youngsters of the peleton, a domestique who somehow found the jersey on his shoulders and rode like it belonged there, gritting up the mountains behind Heras’ dancing asssaults ever time things got steep and somehow holding on.

Mom’s rooting for Nozal, totally. I’m still hoping Heras can pull out magic today on the last steep climb they face, but a little part of me is cheering Nozal too. He’s our underdog.

Time to go ride the bike.