Our Worst Sports Days Part 2

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By Paul M. Banks, Peter Christian, Quentin

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It’s Championship week: for some, hopes will inevitably be dashed and hearts will imminently be broken as numerous college basketball seasons will end. Next week during March Madness, expect more of the same. For many, emotional devastation is inevitable. Perfect time for our TSB panel to reflect on the worst sports days of our lives. 

I don’t mean to take anything away from fans of teams who are perennial losers. All in all my teams have at least been good enough over the past decade to be involved in some very big games. However, it seems that here in Minnesota we have to deal with more heartache along the entire sports spectrum than any other sports hub in the nation. The five worst sporting events of my life are as follows (in inverse order):

5. August 1, 2001
When my dad told me to get out of bed before six in the morning, I knew something was wrong. The night before we had briefly discussed that Korey Stringer was brought to the hospital for dehydration, but then hearing that he died from heat stroke crushed me. The Vikings had just gone to the NFC Championship for the 2nd time in less than five years but suddenly the team’s chances went to hell without “Big K.”

4. March 2, 2005
The day the Vikings traded the most talented player ever to wear the uniform will always haunt me. From the moment during his rookie season that Moss torched the Packers at Lambeau to his faux mooning of the fans, I loved every minute of Randy Moss as a Viking. To this day I still think Moss’ ability is amazing and is totally worth every single one of his notable “antics.”

3. April 15, 1993
Thanks to the scum of the scum of the earth (Norm Green) the North Stars played their final game as the Minnesota North Stars. The following fall, the team was to be relocated to Dallas with the word “North” being dropped from their name.  After the announcement was made earlier that spring, every home game featured thousands of fans in a unison chant of “NORM GREEN SUCKS” which still echoes around the Mall of America to this day.

2. March 6, 2006
On the previous day, the Twin Cities news was all about Kirby Puckett’s massive life threatening stroke. All day long it was expected that he would pass, but there was no announcement even through the 6 o’clock news. Then that evening as my family had sat down at my parent’s house to watch “24,” a crawl started on the bottom of the screen and immediately I knew. The face of Minnesota sports during my youth had passed away. My heart still hurts thinking about that day.

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1. January 17, 1999
I don’t think I’d ever felt like I was going to throw up for 14 consecutive days before the 1998 season’s NFC Championship game. The Vikings dominated the game and had three different opportunities to seal it in the 4th quarter (most notably Gary Anderson missing his first FG attempt of the season that would have made it a two score game with two minutes to play). Instead the Falcons tied the game and Denny Green made the call to take a knee instead of trying to go for the winning drive with 49 seconds left. In overtime…you know the rest. Two weeks later, in what should have been the most exciting Super Bowl in history, the Falcons laid an egg against the Broncos.

Honorable Mention: July 31st, 2007
The man that effectively replaced Kirby Puckett (Kevin Garnett) as the face of Minnesota sports is traded in a deal that guarantees the Timberwolves will not be in the play-offs until the next decade. Thanks Kevin McHale, you’re awful at your job.

-Peter Christian

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5. Tie 1984 NLCS Padres eliminate Cubs, 2003 NLCS Marlins bounce Cubbies.
Yes, I’m a White Sox fan, but the drama of the collapse and the poetic method of their demise still haunts me. As a six year old in ’84, I cried. As an employee of a Cubs newspaper in ’03, the Bartman game hurt…quite a bit. The game 7 loss just seemed like an inevitability because I felt the Cubs were essentially done after game 6.

4. Super Bowl 42.
The whole nation was rooting against my Patriots. This ‘Humble Pie’ tastes like crap. This game was anything but ‘Belichickian’ in its final result. Two contributors from this site, The Soxman (who always roots against the empire) and Professor B. (a Giants fan) were exceedingly happy in the result. They can both kiss my a$$! This wound is still a bit fresh.

3. 1994, #2 Penn State 35, #24 Illinois 31.
Simeon Rice and the nation’s best defense had an undefeated team in a 28-7 whole at home on a late November evening. With under a minute to go, PSU QB Kerry Collins had to start a drive with the nation’s best offense from his own 4 yard line. Let us not speak of what happened next. A couple people have told me that I look like Kerry Collins. Those people have been dismissed from my social circle.

2. The 2005 National Title game UNC 74, ILL 70
I really don’t feel like writing about this now.  

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1. Seattle Mariners eliminate White Sox in 2000 ALDS
Whenever I get down about anything, I just to try remember what I’ve endured and overcome. Then I take measure of what I’ve gained since then. This day was bad for one of my sports teams, but it also came at one of the roughest points of my life. I associate my first battle with Hodgkin’s disease, (the same lymphatic cancer that Mario Lemieux had) with the 2000 White Sox because I remember feeling too weak to get off the couch when they went on the 7-0 road trip through Cleveland and New York. I watched every inning of the first three games; then on the fourth day I was properly diagnosed. Because of a couple previous misdiagnoses, the disease was pretty far along. It was during this road trip that I learned the awful truth.

I attended game one of the 2000 ALDS with a nasty fever, (I hope my oncologist doesn’t read this) my fever spiked even higher for game 2 the next day, and my parents had to physically restrain me (wasn’t hard given how I felt then) to give up my ticket. Both were Sox losses. I was so weak that I fell asleep on the couch watching the third game in Seattle, but my pet Bastet, a kitten my sister gave me after I was released from the hospital, jumped up and awakened me so I could see the miserable final inning when the Mariners sent the Sox packing. Somehow the animals know!

Chemo put my lymphoma in remission and I was clear and healthy for two years. Then I had to fight the monstrous disease again in 2003. Through much more rigorous treatments and rehabilitation, the disease was put in remission and I recovered. After being clear for four years, the doctors decided in November of ’07 that they’re not even going to bother with my annual check ups!  That’s how confident they feel in my triumph. The Sox had their own victorious conquest too between then and now…you might remember the 2005 World Series! However, on this October day in 2000, you would have a hard time convincing me that I would ever feel joy like I did on October 26th 2005 and November 9th, 2007. Of course, the penthouse suite of life wouldn’t feel so sweet and luxurious, if you haven’t done your time in the basement.
–Paul M. Banks

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5. May 19, 1995 – Orlando Magic eliminate the Bulls from the playoffs (shortly after Jordan came back)
It doesn’t feel as personal as these others do today, but I still remember the disappointment. I guess what happened the next three years dulled the pain a bit. 

4. March 1, 2008 – Georgetown at Marquette
Certainly hurts more b/c it’s recent, but going in I was 100% sure Marquette was going to win this game and I had been waiting for it all season. It was memorable for plenty of reasons, like the overwhelming din in the Bradley Center as Jonathan Wallace hit 3 straight free throws to tie it or the roof nearly getting blown off on Dwight Burke’s put-back dunk. But it ended in disbelief as Marquette failed to even get off a shot down two with 9.5 seconds left in OT.

3. February 15, 2003 – Louisville at Marquette
At some point late in this game, I braggingly said something like “Reece Gaines!? What’s he done today??!!” to a friend because Marquette had held him relatively in check. That friend hasn’t ever let me forget it: Gaines hit a long 3-pointer with 5 seconds left to win it 73-70 for Louisville. And my wife wonders why I’m so superstitious about jinxing my teams…

2. October 15, 2003 – Cubs vs. Marlins (Game 7 of the NLCS)
When Kerry Wood gave up 3 first inning runs, I told everyone he’d make up for it. When he homered in the second to tie the game, the bar exploded and I felt responsible. Sadly, I didn’t make any claims about what might happen later. 

1. April 5, 2003 – Marquette vs Kansas (Final Four, national semifinal)
What was probably the worst sports day of my life, also doubled as one of the best. The buses from Milwaukee dropped us off near Bourbon Street with a few hours to spare before the games started. Dozens of friends convened at a bar hundreds of miles from home and we felt like we owned the city. A torrential downpour hit just before we were set to leave for the SuperDome, there were no cabs and we ended up running the few miles to the game in the rain. That didn’t hamper our excitement, but Kansas soon did. It was over before it felt like it had even started. A few weeks later, we graduated and girls started throwing around that “Don’t be sad because it’s over, smile because it happened” quote. It took some time and I’ll never be “happy” with the result, but I have to admit the truth in that. Nonetheless, it was the most emotionally involved I’ve ever been with a team, making the loss hurt all the more.

–Quentin

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Comments

  1. Clearly, mine are in the opposite order and not numbered. Marquette losing certainly meant more to me than the Bulls loss.

  2. paulmbanks says

    I just fixed that now. if that was my only mistake…that’s pretty good, when you consider I posted this at 2:50AM after returning from a media professional “networking” party. Yes, that was quite a shindig.

    btw, I love that you can find anything online. even scans of 2000 MLB pocket schedules

  3. Tim St.Sauver says

    Peter – As a Minnesota native, your list hit home. All of those days were painful. Paul – Thanks for posting my Big Ten preview!

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