My Mt. Rushmore of Sports Heartbreak

Sometimes I like to torture myself by thinking about times in my sports watching life that are almost apocalyptic. Well, to me at least.

As a true sports fan and having what could be called actual true love (nonphysical, because that would be weird and I’m not even sure how it’s possible, although this guy has sex with a car, so who knows…) for the teams that I follow, to think about the good almost goes hand-in-hand with the sludge and moments that scream to be forgotten, but can’t because they are permanently burned into your brain tissue.

My Mt. Rushmore of Depression begins with (my team in bold);

5. Game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals
New York Knicks vs. Houston Rockets (June 22, 1994)

Good Lord, I think John Starks is still shooting. I realize Ewing got outplayed by Olajuwon, but it was Game 7 and your #2 scorer was jacking up shots like the world was going to cease to exist if he stopped. Riley was ultimately to blame as he was the coach and Starks had given him every right to either demand he looked for his teammates or to sit him down
all together. He did neither. Riley has obviously done very well for himself, but even to this day the Schenectady in him just bleeds out.

I can still see him taking jumper after jumper and watching them clank every which way but in.

Starks line in that Game 7? 42 minutes, 2-18 from the field, 0-11 from three, and 8 points.

4. The Music City Miracle (AFC Wild Card)
Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans (January 8, 2000)

Miracle my fucking ass. That ball was an illegal forward pass.

Even more scary is that instant replay was actually re-instated before the regular season and thus the “Music City Miracle” was subject to being reviewed and when reviewed the officials on the field upheld the call. Ridiculous.

Also, Bills head coach, Wade Phillips could probably have avoided the whole mess if he had just started Doug Flutie (who started 15 games that year and lead the team into the playoffs, also, Flutie Flakes were quite the rage) over Rob Johnson (whose name alone elicits stomach pains and severe Tourette’s like symptoms from Bills fans such as myself).

3. Game 7 of 2001 World Series
New York Yankees vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (November 4, 2001)

For obvious reasons this was an important series for the moral of New Yorker’s (maybe everyone for that matter).

September 11, 2001 – a date we all know too well. The baseball season was pushed back as a result and so we ended up with the first the first ever World Series games in November.

After losing the first two games by a combined score of 13-1, things were looking grim. This particular Yankee team was rife with players who simply refused to lose and so they fought back the only way they know how.

Eventually winning Games 3, 4, and 5 each by one run, including the last two in walk-off fashion at Yankee Stadium to take a 3-2 series lead.

November 2001 actually started off quite well;

Game 6 was a mess and the Yankees lost 15-2 to tie the series at 3 all and back to Arizona for the 7th and deciding game.

To say the game was epic (but so was this whole series, being honest) would be like saying Muhammad Ali was just another boxer, epic only begins to explain everything that was wrapped up in this series and thus, this game.

Alfonso Soriano launched Curt Schilling’s 1-1 pitch over the wall to give the Yankees an 8th inning, 2-1 lead. No bloody sock to save the Schillster this time.

Bottom of the 8th and the great Mariano Rivera enters the game. He proceeds to annihilate the middle of the Diamondbacks order, striking out the side.

Bottom of the 9th and all this happened (my brother & father were there with me watching it unfold in stunned silence);

Mark Grace single to center. David Dellucci pinch runs for Grace.
Damian Miller reaches on error by Rivera. Dellucci to 2B.
Jay Bell pinch hits for Randy Johnson, bunts. Dellucci out at 3B, Miller advances to 2B, Bell safe at 1B. Midre Cummings pinch runs for Miller.
Tony Womack doubles to right. Cummings scores, Bell to 3B. Game tied, 2-2.
Craig Counsell is hit by pitch. Bases loaded.
Luis Gonzalez pops the ball up outside of the infield and just over (a drawn in) Derek Jeter’s outstretched glove. Bell scores. Game over. Diamondbacks win 3-2.

After the game I just sat there for a while. It all felt so surreal and it may sound ridiculous, but it felt like karma? fate? something was on the Yankees side. I could feel it and just like that it was yanked away. Through a black hole it went.

2. James Dolan
New York Knicks slow and painful demise at the hand of an angry little man (1999-current)

As any fan of the Knicks can attest to, he’s bad news (going on 13 years now! WOO!).

I couldn’t sum it up any better than Grantland’s Bill Simmons did here;

“…We’ve seen terrible owners before. Nobody was worse than Ted Stepien. Nobody shredded the size of a team’s fan base faster than Peter Angelos. Nobody has inflicted more damage over a longer period of time than Donald Sterling (not even you, Mike Brown). More recently, William Clay Ford and Al Davis sucked the life out of their fans in unprecedented ways. But Dolan’s reign of terror is different for this reason: He doesn’t seem to understand (or care) that his fan base regards his every decision with genuine terror.

Here’s a fun trick: If you know a Knicks fan, go up to him and ask, “Did you hear about Dolan?”

His response, guaranteed: “Oh, no!”

He won’t say “Oh, no, what did he do?” Or “Did we make a trade?” Or even “Is he selling?” You asked about Dolan; that means something bad happened. Oh, no. It’s a natural instinct when you assume the absolute worst at all times.”

1. Games 4-7 of 2004 ALCS
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox, (October 17-20, 2004)

I do realize that listing four games for one lone spot on the list is kind of cheating (or something), but I consider them together to be just one long series of unfortunate events.

My beloved Yanks were up 3 games to zero and (seemingly) well on their way to another World Series appearance. Then this happened;

Game 4

I was inconsolable.

No, really, I could barely manage a coherent sentence for a week. I shut down emotionally and even bringing it back up now is causing me to suffer an anxiety attack.

Jesus Christ, I need a drink…

Over and out.

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