Five days have passed since “the loss.” And in that time, I have spent a few moments considering how last Thursday’s loss to the Lakers compares to other defeats I have experienced as a Boston sports fan. As part of this review, I have weighed several factors, such as what was the significance of the loss? Was the team playing with the house’s money? Did I have to hear any guff from the winners? What type of success had the team recently enjoyed?
After considering and answering some of these questions, I have come up with a list of my “worst Boston sports losses.” And as you can see, last Thursday’s defeat is right in the mix. Without further adieu, the ten worst …..
10) 1987 Game Four, NBA Finals versus LA: This was the Magic Johnson “baby hook” game that put Boston down 3-1 and pretty much ended a series that otherwise may have gone seven. This might rank a bit higher if it weren’t for the fact that Celts really should have lost to Detroit in the Eastern Finals and thus they were playing with plenty of monopoly money. That aside, Celts-Lakes back in the 80s was EVERYTHING so losing, no matter the circumstances, was a big deal.
9) 1986 Game Six of the World Series: Why isn’t this higher? Quite frankly, I wasn’t that upset that night. Remember, it was GAME SIX and there was still a shot to come back in game seven. Sure, I was angry at Calvin Schiraldi. And I was pissed at Bob Stanley. But I am trying to be truthful here and this one just doesn’t score all that high for me.
8) 1986 Losing Len Bias: I remember being crushed that day as Bias was a favorite of mine well before the Celtics made him the number two pick in the NBA draft. And once Boston selected Bias, I thought the Celts mastery over the Lakers and the rest of NBA would run on auto-pilot for the next ten years. Number thirty-four was that good. As it turned out, Bias had a heart attack, the Celts ran out of gas, and the Lakers/Pistons stumbled their way into a couple of gift championships.
7) 2008 Game Seven ALCS versus Tampa: There was a huge amount of house money in play here as the Sox had won in 2007 and pulled a rally out of their ass to stave off elimination in game five. Nonetheless, losing a game seven is never easy and losing it after your team has fought back from the brink is tough to stomach. Despondent, I took an unplanned trip to Barcelona a couple days later and didn’t even watch the World Series, the first I have missed since 1974.
6) 1978 Divisional Playoff versus New York: The Bucky Dent Game. In 1978, I was nine so I really hadn’t done enough at this point in my life to really be invested in the Sox. Yeah, they were my team but there is a big difference between having a childhood crush on a team and really being “all in.” Regardless, when you are nine years old, you don’t take losing all that well, at least I didn’t. And when Yaz popped up to end that game, I was not a happy camper. Home from school to watch, I can still remember marching around the house crying. If fucking Lou Pinella hadn’t been holding a lotto ticket out in right that day, it might have been Sox-Dodgers and I would have got to see my first World Series game.
5) 2010 NBA Finals: Up thirteen points in game seven against the Los Angeles Lakers and losing? How is that “groin shot” not higher? The reason it isn’t higher is two-fold. First, the competition is fierce. And two …. Again, the Celts this year had blown through expectations and the Finals were gravy. That being said, I am a big fan of gravy and when somebody pulls it away, the turkey don’t taste so good.
4) Game Seven of the 1986 World Series: This is where my pain kicked in. I know the cliché is to cite the Buckner error as the big crusher from 1986, but to this fan, it was the Sox blowing an early lead and then watching Bruce Hurst fail to bring it home. And when you add games six and seven together, you probably vault the 86 series a couple spots up the list.
3) 2006 AFC Championship: An absolute shit show where the game was just about over twenty-five minutes in. Most people forget this, but the Pats were leading the Colts 21-3 that Sunday and were heading in for another seven. That seven would have BURIED the Colts and set the Pats up for an easy win over Chicago in the Super Bowl. EASY I SAY. But the refs had other thoughts and for the first time in playoff history, Troy Brown was called for a pick, a first down at the Colts ten was called back, the Pats lost momentum, the Pats missed a kick and then, everything fell apart. The end result … Peyton caught the Pats at the finish line and the Pats missed out on Super Bowl number four. I walked home that night absolutely fuming.
2) 2007 Super Bowl: How is this not number one? Let me tell you, it’s close. Living in NY. Losing to the Giants. Losing to a Gump. Losing a perfect season. Having it fall apart when your all-pro corner drops the game winning pick. Having it fall apart AGAIN on a fluke play. Add it all up and you have a frigging disaster. Again, I walked home that night absolutely fuming but what made it worse than 2006 is the fact that I had to hear all the Giant whooping. Just goes to show you, it is never fun to lose behind enemy lines. Winning can be great but boy, those losses are brutal.
1) 2003 ALCS, Game Seven: Some call it The Boone Game. Others call it the Grady Little Game. I call it something else ….. the biggest shit show in Boston Sports History. Luckily, I didn’t have to walk home that night as I watched from my couch and it is a good thing because I would have certainly got in a fight that night. I can honestly say that I was in a bad mood after this loss until about January when the Pats began their march to the Super Bowl. And even with that Championship in hand, I wasn’t back to my “sports” normal until a year later and Johnny Damon smacked the revenge granny off Javy Vazquez. Payback is a bitch (and cathartic)!