There is a close friend of mine, whose brother is an alumnus of the University of Maryland. After Maryland lost on a buzzer-beater to Michigan State in the Second Round of the 2010 NCAA tournament, he posted on Facebook that it was the worst sports loss of his life.
That got me thinking. What is the worst sports loss of my life? As a HUGE Yankees fan, I haven’t had too much to complain about over the years. However, there have still been a few heartbreaking losses mixed in with all those titles.
The 2004 loss to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS is certainly an easy choice for most Yankees fans. Blowing a 3-0 deficit to the hated Red Sox was certainly difficult to swallow.
Yet after thinking about it, there were two other games in my lifetime that hurt just a little bit more…
The 2001 World Series vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks
With the Sept 11 Tragedy fresh in the minds of every New Yorker, the Yankees made a thrilling run back to the World Series. The Bombers won two of the most unbelievable games I have ever seen, hitting game-tying home runs with two outs in the ninth inning on consecutive nights! It almost seemed like it was divine intervention. It seemed like the Bombers were destined to win. (How else can you explain Bob Brenly going back to Byung-Hyun Kim in Game 5?)
The Diamondbacks outplayed the Yankees the entire series. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson were absolutely dominant but there the Yankees were, leading in the bottom of the ninth inning of game seven, with the greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball on the mound, needing just three outs to win to win their fourth straight World Series. Well… you all know what happened. There were some bleeders, a throwing error and fisted pop-up by Luis Gonzalez with the infield drawn in that gave the D-backs the title.
With all that had unfolded— Sept 11, winning games 4 and 5 in dramatic fashion, and losing with Rivera on the mound— It was more painful to me than 2004.
The 1995 Division Series vs. the Seattle Mariners.
I was just a young boy when this series took place. At this time of my life, I knew nothing of Yankee dominance. The Evil Empire had yet to rule supreme and the Yankees had been a joke for my entire life. However, there was one bright spot to the Yankees during these years: Don Mattingly. My favorite boyhood player had never seen the playoffs but he finally got his shot, in what would be his final season. The Yankees jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the series, thanks in large part to a Mattingly home run in game two at Yankee Stadium.
Things would go south from that point on as the Yankees dropped the final three games of the series. Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. abused the Yankees upon return to the Kingdome. The Yankees held a two run lead going into the bottom of the 11th of the deciding game— but it was Martinez and Griffey who once again teamed up in that inning to overcome the deficit and put an end to the career of a Yankee legend. The image of Griffey Jr. sliding underneath the tag to win the game will forever haunt me.
These two games are tied for the two worst sports losses of my life. Some other rough games for me include the Knicks loss in Game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals, the Knicks loss to the Pacers of Game 7 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semi’s, and the Jets OT loss to the Steelers in the 2005 AFC Divisional Round. Feel free to share yours in the comment section below.
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