A lot of rough endings for this holiday weekend. Some rookie Indy Car driver smoothly drifts into the wall in the last turn with a history making win all but locked up. Dale Jr., the beloved Little E, runs out of gas on the final lap to extend a long drought. Ohio State football fans are forced to part ways with their coach who had turned Michigan into their whipping boys. The summer lovin’ that Phillies fans had lined up for Vance Worley evaporated right before our eyes, it was quite a series of developments. It reminded me of how often as a sports fan you rarely get your way. The wins are great, but sometimes it is the losses that stick with you. I don’t want to try to rank losses, or factor in level of buckle, or historical significance, or anything like that. Too tall a task. Instead, my most gut-wrenching defeats as a fan. In no particular order…
1993 NBA Finals Game Six:
We have to turn the clock back 18 years to find a basketball game I really cared about. I had become a ravenous bandwagon Suns fan at this point. I essentially followed Charles Barkley wherever he went (Go Rockets!), paid some attention to A.I. and then gave up on basketball. But, back in 1993 this was the biggest event of my summer. Chuck in a Final. The Bulls dynasty. Jordan went off in this series, but somehow I maintained the faith. Game 6 back in Phoenix, things looking very promising and you leave John Paxson open with a two point lead. Why, oh why?
1993 World Series Game Six:
1993 was a rough year for game sixes. That Phillies season was easily the oddest thing I’ve ever witnessed (thank you steroids!). The Phillies had been bad for a very long time so it took everyone by surprise when they stormed out of the gate and hardly looked back. A pennant race against Montreal. How retro. Anyway, I got very into this team and got to see some of the playoff games in person. I could probably also put game 4 on this list, but game 6 was brutal because it was do-or-die and they teased you. I remember watching the improbable comeback before the home run, but not much of Carter’s homer itself. Must have blocked it out.
2009 World Series Game 4
Here’s one I witnessed in person. Huge because it was the Yankees, but also because the Phils totally lost grip of the series here. Cliff Lee was rolling and you knew he’d win game 5. If they took game 4 it was essentially like going up 3-2 headed back to NY. Things were looking bleak trailing by a run and turning it over to the Yankees pen, but then Pedro Feliz hit the game tying homer. It completely switched momentum, but only for a moment. Lidge came in, wasn’t effective, and then the Johnny Damon running wild, people not covering bases fiasco kind of added insult to injury. Yankees won and essentially clinched.
2000 Eastern Conference Finals Game 7
This was an improbable series. At this point as a Flyers fan you expected the worst when playing the Devils. In game two of this series, after losing the opener, the Flyers got off to a terrible start and if you wanted ground breaking pessimism you would have had to look no farther than my face. Somehow they came back that night and won 3 straight. The slow buckle would culminate in game seven. Eric Lindros had returned from injury to score a goal in game six, but his concussion at the hands of Scott Stevens early in game seven pretty much told the story. Flyers lost, it was the end of Lindros as well, who was my all-time favorite Flyer.
The year after Tiger Woods won in historic fashion, but before he became the dominant player in the world, the ’98 Masters was one of my favorites right up until the end. Jack Nicklaus ended up tied-6th at 58 years old, but Sunday came down to a shootout. After his standard blowup on 13, Fred Couples had reemerged in a tie for the lead with David Duval with a couple of holes to play. Mark O’Meara was one shot behind. It was a good situation for me, pulling hard for Fred with Duval as a real nice consolation prize. I assumed, I think like most other people that O’Meara would not be a real factor. He’d never done anything in a big event. I almost didn’t notice when he birdied 17 to make it a 3-way tie. I was still locked into Fred. Freddie went bunker to bunker on 18 to end his chances of winning in regulation, but was robbed a chance of a playoff when O’Meara rolled in that 20-footer. I still can’t believe it went in. Hate.
So, I guess that’s my top-5. Like I said, not ranked in order necessarily. Honorable mention to game 6 of the NLCS last year, game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals (F-you Leighton), the 1983 World Series (memory kernels), I see I have no football on the list, but screw ‘em, they’re locked out.
King of Unders, Day 6:
I couldn’t pull off the magical 4-1 week to start, and that was due mostly to Tim Lincecum. At least, that’s who I am blaming. I tried to get real flashy going under 6.5 and it didn’t work, but I liked my own conviction there. I think the hardest thing about these unders is really all it takes to blow one is one big inning. It’s a tightrope, but right now I’ve got the tiniest of upper hands.
Today’s Selection: Mets and Pirates, Under 7.5.
Pirates don’t score a ton of runs, and they’ve got a good pitcher going against New York’s depleted offense. They swung themselves out against Worley yesterday. Back to normal.