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Sports dynasties are impressive, but dark horses capture the imagination

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AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

(Read caption) Bryce Walker shoots baskets in a city park, Sunday, April 4, 2010, in Connersville, Ind. Connersville is the hometown of Butler University basketball player Matt Howard. Butler plays Duke for the NCAA championship.

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One of the most memorable experiences most people have is being part of a team. What often starts as a group of strangers eyeing one another warily can become a journey of mutual support that ends with a group hug.

While individual performance is inspirational, teamwork is where magic happens. Heroism, after all, is hard to clone.

Babe Ruth was a great player on the Boston Red Sox, but he was carrying a mediocre team. Traded to the New York Yankees, he anchored Murderer’s Row with Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs, Bob Meusel, and other greats. The Yankees became a dynasty.

Execution and precision by a team like that is magnificent to behold. It is also a little scary. There’s a fine line between success and domination, which for almost a century has made the Yankees both loved and hated.

The dream team for many people is the ad hoc, no-name crew. Even better if they are scruffy, have oddball nicknames, and a problem with authority. Best of all is if they pull out a miraculous win in the final seconds because of inspired teamwork. (Disclosure: Like many people who never made varsity, I have a special place in my heart for a motley crew, even if miraculous wins are vanishingly rare.)

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