Monday, December 27, 2010

My nine most agonizing moments as a sports spectator

Apropos this article, I submit my personal list of agonizing sports moments.

1981 Canada Cup Final: The evil Soviets trounced Team Canada 8 to 1 in the final game.  Anytime, the Commies win, it is a bad thing for humanity.  I still get a sick stomach thinking about this game.

1998 Minnesota Vikings lose the NFC Championship game.  It looked to be the Vikings year.  They were 15-1 and had a magnificent offence.  Still they were in tough in the NFC title game against the Falcons, but if Anderson had made a field goal, they would have been on the way to the Super Bowl.  As it was, Anderson missed -- it was a very rare miss for him  that season and it couldn't have come at a worse time.  The Vikings would have had a ten point lead and a spot in the Super Bowl.  Instead, the Falcons came back to tie the game and then win in O.T. -- the ugly, ungainly Falcons.  (At least, I had the satisfaction of seeing the Falcons trounced in the Super Bowl.)

1980 Mike Schmidt's home run against the Montreal Expos in the 161st regular season game.  The Phillies and Expos were tied for the National League East division lead entering the final weekend of the season, each having played 159 games.  Their final three games were to be played at Montreal's Olympic Stadium -- it was essentially a best of three playoff series.  The Expos lost the Friday game.  The Saturday game went to extra innings.  Mike Schmidt hit a home run off Stan Bahnsen to give the Phillies the second game of the series and the NL East Division Title.

1981 Montreal Expos lose the National League Championship series to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  It was Mike Schmidt all over again as this time Rick Monday hit a ninth inning home run, in the fifth and deciding game, off stater turned reliever Steve Rodgers to put the Dodgers in the World Series.  It was to be the closest the Expos ever got to the World Series.

1985 Toronto Blue Jays lose the American League Championship Series to the Kansas City Royals.  The Blue Jays blew a three-one series lead.  Again, a Canadian team was denied a berth in the World Series.

2001 Seattle Mariners  The Mariners won 116 games in the regular season only to lose to the Yankees in the ALCS.  The Mariners still haven't made it to the World Series.  A Seattle radio station played "That's Life" by Frank Sinatra the day after they were eliminated.

1982 Winnipeg Blue Bombers  The Bombers could have made it to the Grey Cup that year if their kicker hadn't missed two field goals in a 24-21 Western Final loss to the Edmonton Eskimos.  The Eskimos went on to win their fifth consecutive Grey Cup.

1990 Winnipeg Jets Lose game six of a playoff series to the Edmonton Oilers.  It was game six of a first round playoff series and it was played in Winnipeg.  A Winnipeg victory would have put them in the second round against a weak L.A. King team.  The winner of this Oilers-Jets series would most surely have won the Stanley Cup that year.  The Winnipeg Arena was packed with fans expecting what would have been a historic victory for the Jets.  (Winnipeg had gone into incredible ecstasies when the Jets had won a game in O.T. to take a three-one series lead.)  But game six saw the Jets came out flat, and the Oilers jumped to a three nothing lead in the first period.  But brought on by their rabid fans, the Jets fought back to tie the game at three.  Late in the game, however, an unguarded Jari Kurri was able to skate to the Jet net and score the goal that broke Jets fans hearts.  There was simply no way that the Jets were going to win the seventh game that was played in Edmonton....

2003 Chicago Cubs There was moment in their National League championship series where the Cubs seemed to be on the verge of gaining a berth in the World Series.  It was game six of the best of seven and the Cubs had the lead late in the game.  The Cubs were leading the series three games to two. But the Marlins, a franchise that should never have come into existence, scored eight runs in as agonizing and painful a sequence of events that I can ever recall.
Other moments that could be on the list:  Don Sweet misses a field goal late in the 1975 Grey Cup game; The Yankees beat the Red Sox in 1978; The Blue Jays lost the last seven games of the 1987 season; and several NCAA basketball finals.

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