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For This Sports Fan, It’s 1986 All Over Again

January 20, 2015

ToiletSomeone, once, said that sports metaphors shouldn’t be mixed. In some cases, that’s true, but there are situations that transcend all sports.

Losing is one of them.

Losing sucks.

Losing is a part of life. You can’t have a winner without having a loser. It’s predetermined by nature. Up does not exist without down. Left does not exist without right, etc. I don’t buy into the concept of an “acceptable loss”, “moral victory” or any other excuse for losing. If you lose, you lose. It’s that simple.

How the loss manifests itself is another story completely.

At the age of 22, I had to witness and stomach a loss that still haunts me (and millions of others) to this day: Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Yeah, yeah, Bill Buckner, Dave Stapleton, Bob Stanley, Calvin Schiraldi, John McNamara and so on. The game has been dissected, chronicled and analyzed more times than I care to remember. I still arrive at the same place:

Sick to my stomach.

I never thought I’d have that feeling, ever, again, watching a sporting event while cheering for my favorite team.

Until yesterday.

January 19, 2015. Seattle, Washington. The NFC Championship. My beloved 13-time World Champion Green Bay Packers vs. the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks.

The contest is, already, an “instant classic” which means I’ll be changing the channel every time it comes on.

It’s not that the Packers lost. Vegas installed the Seahawks as a seven-point favorite. People participating in “ESPN Nation”, overwhelmingly, predicted a Seahawks victory. Sure, I chose my Packers to win. As I analyzed the game all week, I, honestly, thought Green Bay could win, despite Aaron Rodgers’ well-documented calf injury. Still, Seattle is a great team. Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, that defense: it’s tough to pick against them on their home turf.

Despite “leaving points on the field”, Green Bay held a 16-0 lead at halftime. A fake-field goal resulted in a third quarter touchdown pass for Seattle and a 16-7 score. The Packers added a field goal just over four minutes into the final quarter.

As the fourth quarter progressed, I noticed how many people on Twitter said “this game is over” as Green Bay held that 19-7 lead. I felt doomed. All of a sudden, Green Bay couldn’t move the ball. Lynch was chewing up large sections of real estate.

Seattle scored a touchdown with 2:09 to play. Green Bay’s lead was paired to five.

Enter Brandon Bostick.

The third-string tight end had caught all of two passes in 2014. He’s a big guy, so his job was to smash someone wearing an opposing uniform so one of the “hands guys” could swoop in and retrieve the impending onside kick.

Enter the memories of sports “goats” of the past: Fred Merkle, Johnny Pesky, Bryon Russell and countless others.

The ball bounced off of Bostick and, well, the rest is history.

The Seahawks won the game in overtime. I won’t add to my misery by recounting the rest of the game.

Look: I know that no one feels worse than Bostick, an undrafted free-agent from Newberry College. He’s going to live with that #epicfail every day for the rest of his life. Seriously, the football gods put him in that position and, well, grrrr…….

The fourth quarter of that game and overtime brought me back to a place I hadn’t been in over 28 years.


It was as if I was reliving the aforementioned World Series game: bottom of the tenth inning, Boston leading by two runs, one strike away from their first World Series title in 68 years. For a moment, the scoreboard at Shea Stadium had congratulated the Red Sox.

It, all, fell apart.

It’s still surreal. I feel no better 28 years later and I doubt I ever will.

Last night’s game will be no different.

Repeat after me:

Losing sucks.







From → Sports

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