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Monday, May 22, 2006

One more thing ...

The New York Post's Phil Mushnick hates everything!

I've longed to type that sentence into my own blogspace – homage to The Boston Sports Guy of old, now ESPN's Bill Simmons. If you have no idea of that which I speak, see here for an example – actually, one of the most quoted/referred-to examples – of his work, "The 13 Levels of Losing." The column charts the many evil ways in which a loss can affect a viewer, such as:

Level XI: The Alpha Dog

Definition: It might have been a devastating loss, but at least you
could take solace that a superior player made the difference in the end ...
unfortunately, he wasn't playing for your team ... you feel more helpless here
than anything ... for further reference, see any of MJ's games in the Finals
against Utah ('97 and '98).

Personal Memory: Flipping things
around, remember Game 5 of the '99 ALDS (Red Sox-Indians), when Pedro Martinez
came out of the bullpen and slammed the door on Cleveland's season? Six
innings of no-hit ball with an injured shoulder? Nothing you could do
about that. Pedro came jogging in from the bullpen like Clint Eastwood ...
and Indians fans knew they were finished. See you next year.

Level IX: The Sudden Death

Definition: Is there another fan experience quite like overtime
hockey, when every slap shot, breakaway and centering pass might spell doom, and
losing feels 10 times worse than winning feels good (if that makes sense)? ...
there's only one mitigating factor: when OT periods start piling up and
you lose the capacity to care anymore; invariably you start rooting for the game
to just end, just so you don't suffer a heart attack ... bonus points because
one of these happened last night: Colorado's game-winning OT goal against
Detroit.

Personal memory: Game 1, Bruins-Oilers, 1990
Stanley Cup Finals, the tail end of my sophomore year in college, when everyone
from school trekked down to Cape Cod for seven days of drinking and general
mayhem. On this particular night, my buddy Sully and I skipped out of a
party to watch the third period at a Hyannis bar. Just the third period,
right? It ended up being the first OT. And the second OT. And the
third OT. Imagine the most nerve-wracking moment of your life, then
imagine it ballooning to three-plus hours. That's playoff hockey.

Anyway, by the time Edmonton's Petr Klima drove a stake into our
hearts around 1 a.m., we were drunk, drained, jittery and semi-suicidal. I
don't even really remember what happened after that. I think we ended up
walking down Route 6 and hitchhiking or something. Who knows? We
didn't even know what to do. If I bumped into Sully 50 years from now,
"Glen Wesley missing the net in the second OT" would be the first thing we
brought up. I can't even talk about this anymore.

Level VI:
The Full-Fledged Butt-Kicking
Definition: Sometimes you can tell right away
when it isn't your team's day ... and that's the worst part, not just the
epiphany but everything that follows -- every botched play, every turnover,
every instance where someone on your team quits, every "deer in the headlights"
look, every time an announcer says, "They can't get anything going," every shot
of the opponents celebrating, every time you look at the score and think to
yourself, "Well, if we score here and force a turnover, maybe we'll get some
momentum," but you know it's not going to happen, because you're already 30
points down ... you just want it to end, and it won't end ... but you can't look
away ... it's the sports fan's equivalent to a three-hour torture
session.

Personal memory: January '86. Pats-Bears. Super Bowl XX.
Ugh. I was so nervous before that game, I watched it by myself, surrounded by
all kinds of junk food, various magazines and newspapers and everything else you
could imagine, like I was headed for Sports Fan War. And within 30 minutes, it
was over. Watching Eason fold like an accordion, watching Grogan standing
helplessly on the sidelines, watching the Bears dancing and jiving, watching the
Pats roll over and die, watching the Bears whooping it up, and worst of all,
watching the freaking Fridge score a touchdown ... good God
almighty.

Level II: The Stomach Punch

Definition: Now we've moved into rarefied territory, any
roller-coaster game that ends with A) an opponent making a pivotal (sometimes
improbable) play, or B) one of your guys failing in the clutch ... usually ends
with fans filing out after the game in stunned disbelief, if they can even move
at all ... always haunting, sometimes scarring ... there are degrees to the
Stomach Punch Game, depending on the situation ... for instance, Sunday's
Kings-Lakers game and Monday's Celts-Nets game featured agonizing endings, but
they weren't nearly as agonizing as Cleveland's Earnest Byner fumbling against
Denver when he was about two yards and 0.2 seconds away from sending the Browns to the Super Bowl).

Incidentally, all of this got me to digging. I know my boy Josh, of the Buffalo Grove Joshes, hates Simmons and he likely isn't the only one. But I found a few decent pieces by those who wax nostalgic like me about the old Digital City days. I found this guy who appears to have revived the old BSG links model and properly attributes BSG as the inspiration.

I wish AOL's Digital City Boston had some kind of a shrine to the old BSG site that I could link. Alas, in the words of John Lennon, "The dream is over …" Oh BSG, how I miss your daily links of old and bore of your NBA columns of today. At least your ESPN site gives us tidbits, like this to remind us of the goofiness. One more time – I implore ESPN to buy the rights to the early columns from AOL and post them somewhere …

5 Comments:

Blogger weasel said...

Rikki; return greetings from another member of the Rock-around-the-clock-land bloggeratti. Simmons is still bringing his A game, even if it is on TV. Thought you might enjoy the work of this fellow Mushnickophobe, Can't Stop The Bleeding. He's a Mets fan but he rarely mentions Buckner.
Cheers
Weasel

1:56 PM

 
Blogger Rikki said...

Done. Anyone who rips Gammons for his alternatively annointing every upcoming prospect either as having ARod-type skills or being a "terrific human being" deserves regular visits to his site.

4:10 PM

 
Anonymous John said...

As an old Browns fan - I am not sure that the Earnest Byner fumble can be described as a punch int he stomach. It is much more like a kick square in the beans. I mean - think of the situation. THe year before - the Browns were SUper Bowl bound and John Elway somehow drove the Broncos 455 yards, converting what seemed like 16 4th downs in 2 minutes to drown the Browns super bowl hopes. Previous to that - the only time the Browns were Super Bowl Brown - Brian Sipe threw an interception in the end zone - when the Browns ONLY NEEDED A FIELD GOAL.
If I ever see Earnest Byner on the street - I am going to lay a line of vitriol down until he has to kick my ass to shut me up. He cost me my youth, my hopes, my dreams......and made me sleep with a really really fat girl to make the hurt go away - temporarily.

8:35 AM

 
Blogger Rikki said...

Well Played, Old Man! Hrrrmmpph!


That Byner fumble was surreal. It's sometimes lost in the hubris, but Cleveland (and Buffalo) have suffered as bad, if not as many or over as long a span of time, losses as have Boston teams. Between Byner and Norwood, the Indians' and Sabers' failures to get over the hump in the early-mid 1990s, those cities have endured. Oh yes. They have!

9:29 AM

 
Anonymous Tim said...

I know John.....Byner must have fumbled many, many, many times during his youth. Soemtimes, Byner must have fumbled two times in a weekend.

She had a mustache, for God's sake, how much could a fumble hurt?

Lastly, who did you sleep with when big Ben somehow tripped the great Nick Harper on his sprint to the end zone?

9:45 AM

 

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