What’s the Worst Sports Loss of Your Life?

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.

15 comments for “What’s the Worst Sports Loss of Your Life?

  1. Mike K
    March 22, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Glad my misery can at least provide some inspiration. First off, Bill Simmons’ “Levels of Losing” is mandatory reading:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/020528

    Yesterday’s MD loss is a level 2: The Stomach Punch

    Anyway, I tried coming up with my top 5 (I believe that all need to have post-season implications):

    1) Maryland loses to Mich St on a buzzer beater 3 (March 2010)
    The key to this devastation is that Kansas (and Georgetown) was no longer in the way. The Sweet 16 was the ceiling for this MD team, and that ceiling had been removed. Just brutal. It’s also a lovable team that always plays hard and had numerous wild comebacks this season, and an all-time player in Greivis Vasquez. And it’s going to be at least 2-3 years before the team is capable of making a run again – maybe not even then.

    2) Maryland loses to hated Duke in the Final Four (March 2001)
    The Terps had a 24 (!!!) point lead in the first half, which Duke gradually chipped away at, eventually winning by a comfortable margin. The killer with this one was that the game was taken away by the refs – and believe me, I’m not the type that complains about officiating. There were phantom fouls all over the place. I was probably most depressed about this one, especially since sports mean a little too much when you are 20 years old. But the reason I have this at only #2 is because the core of team was returning the next year (knew we’d be preseason top 5) and we DID end up winning it all in 2002. So I have essentially buried this game in my brain. Also, it was a nice accomplishment to actually make the program’s first Final Four.

    3) Maryland blows a 20 point lead at home to Clemson in the final 10 minutes. (March 2008)
    The Terps had been peaking at the right time, finally coming together after a poor Dec-Jan stretch. The team had been 8-6 in the ACC at the time, with this win locking up an NCAA bid, instead, they go into a tailspin and lose the final 3 games, missing the tourney.
    The kicker here is that I didn’t even watch the game because I was on my honeymoon in Hawaii! I called 1-800-TELLME for the score, heard we were up big and stopped worrying about it. I checked in about an hour later just to see what the final score was, and I was kicked directly in the balls. Which is also what my wife wanted to do to me when I ruined part of our honeymoon…

    4) The Jets lose to Denver in the AFC Championship game (Jan ’99)
    It’s all blurry now, but I think there were 6 Jets TOs, with most or all in the 2nd half. Pro sports were never the same for me after going to college, so this was the peak of my Jets fandom.

    5) The Mets lose Game 7 vs St. Louis (Oct 2006)
    I was in attendance – there’s nothing like seeing a euphoric crowd go immediately silent, with the visiting team celebrating on your field.

    This was cathartic, thank you.

  2. March 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    It’s funny you mention the Maryland vs. Duke final four game. This game turned out to be one of my greatest sports moments. I’m not a Duke fan but I had wagered a considerable sum of money on Duke that game. When they were down by 24 in the second half and I had conceded that I would lose my bet. Not only did they come back and win but they still managed to cover the spread! It was a great gambling victory.

  3. March 23, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Oh hey boys, I go to Duke! But no, I’m not one of those oxymoronic nerdy barbarians who live in a tent all winter to get into the UNC game. However, I do know which games you are talking about.

    And Mike K — for someone named Mike K, I find it pleasingly ironic to see you hating on Duke.

    John — I’m happy Duke could make you some quick cash.

    But for me, being a Duke fan/student, I must say that it is hard for me to choose what has been the worst sports loss in my life (very dramatic). Perhaps it was when Duke lost to UCONN in the 2004 Final Four, which was especially devastating because I live in Connecticut. Or maybe it was when Duke lacrosse lost to Johns Hopkins in the 2007 NCAA Finals the year after that whole stripper fiasco (and BTW, for all you cave dwellers out there, they didn’t do it). In actuality, I could probably list a large number of instances during which Duke crumbled under pressure.
    .-= Wynn Wygal´s last blog ..Ten Best Movie Sex Scenes =-.

  4. Mike K
    March 23, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Come on now, we’ve got a Yankee fan and a Dookie talking about worst sports losses? A LACROSSE game? Where are the tortured fan bases?

    The interesting thing about my Maryland fanhood is that I became a student in ’99, and was there for the greatest 4 year run in school history (plus a football ACC championship that came out of nowhere). While I was immediately a diehard fan, I couldn’t compare to those fans who lived through Len Bias’s death and sanctions in the late 80s. After a few NITs and rough NCAA tourney losses since I graduated, I kinda feel like I’m earning my stripes.

  5. Gary
    March 23, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    The tortured fan bases are too devastated to conjure up these memories. I could do a 20 worst losses and not even scratch the surface. That said, in addition to the Mets/Jets games Mike noted (I was at game 7 ’06 also), I’d add the Jets loss @ Pittsburgh in the playoffs after the 2004 season. I almost threw up on the bar after that game. I also physically witnessed the Mets lose to close out Shea and miss the playoffs, and the Tom Glavine first inning game to end the season the year before stung too. I mean, combined with ’06 that’s 3 games by the same team in 3 seasons. I hate myself right now just thinking of this. I hate you too, John. A Yankee fan can’t have a “worst loss.” Impossible. You know the next year they’re gonna win the effing Series again. You should have had me or some other pained soul write this piece. You want pain? I’ll show you pain. In fact, here’s my offer to write one for you right now, by a fan with true “worst” losses. I won’t even charge you. Jerk.

  6. March 23, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Hey…nine years is a long time to go between championships…at least for Yankee fans it is.

  7. Chevy
    March 23, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    1). Giants vs. 49ers, 2002 Playoffs. Up 24 in the second half. For a franchise that generally is pretty clutch in the playoffs, this was a gut-punch.

    2). Islanders vs. Maple Leafs, Game 7 2001 – Isles had a cinderella season, and with early upsets could have had home ice in the 2nd round and a pretty favorable path to the cup finals. Instead, they lost a heartbreaker to the Leafs.

    3). Mets vs. Cards 2006 – When Endy caught the ball, I thought we were gonna win the world series. Crushing.

    Runner-up: BC vs. Villanova, sweet 16 2006. That BC team had all the weapons to win a NC. Awful loss.

  8. G
    March 23, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Being a University of Cincinnati Bearcats fan, I’ll say any loss to Xavier.

    Being a USA Mens Soccer fan, I’ll say any loss to Mexico

  9. Mike
    March 23, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I remember 1995 when John collapsed on the living room rug after Griffey scored the winning run. He was face down for an hour.

  10. March 24, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Iowa State losing to Michigan State in the 2000 Elite 8 – on a “neutral” court – Detroit.
    .-= kosmo @ The Casual Observer´s last blog ..Why the Joe Mauer Contract is a Good Deal for the Minnesota Twins =-.

  11. ThatAintKosher
    March 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Do trades count? I’m a Mets fan and the Zambrano-Kazmir trade was pretty terrible. I pretty much threw a party when we fired Rick Peterson.

    It’s funny that you wrote a blog on this because I’m currently collecting opinions on the 25 Worst Sports Moves of the Last 25 Years- it should be up on my blog pretty soon.
    .-= ThatAintKosher´s last blog ..Social Distortion =-.

  12. ThatAintKosher
    April 5, 2010 at 12:20 am

    The Mets/Cards NLCS game of 2006 is a good one. I remember that I was at a bar with a bunch of my guy friends and I took it the hardest- I believe I shed actual tears.

    Also, does anyone remember in 2004 when the Yankees lost to the Indians 22-0? I was with my ex, who has a giant man-crush on Derek Jeter, and he practically had a seizure and then went comatose for an hour. I hate the Yankees, so I laughed my ass off.

    I’m surprised no one’s brought that up.

  13. DonPedro71
    May 18, 2010 at 9:01 am

    My worst kick in the balls loss? Easy…it happened Friday, May 14. Bruins lost to the Flyers in game 7.

    After three games, the Bruins had a commanding 3 games to none lead. The Flyers eventually won game 4 in OT, and then outplayed the Bruins the next two games to tie it 3 games each. The Bruins had trouble scoring in game 5 and 6. In fact, they only managed to score a single goal in the closing minutes of game 6 when they pulled their goalie and played 6 on 5.

    So when Game 7 started back in Boston with 3 quick goals for the Bruins, we were estactic. A three goal lead in game 7…what more could you want?!? Alas, the Flyers scored 3 times to tie the score. And then, with 6 minutes left in the game, the Bruins are penalized for too-many-men-on-the-ice. The Flyers score their fourth goal on the power play and the Bruins’ collapse becomes complete.

  14. Anthony
    July 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    One time when I was in 9th grade my team was up by 26 points in the 3rd quarter. The team we were playing was TERRIBLE and yes I know that the better team wins, but we all know that doesn’t always happenn. Well like I was saying, the team we were playing was one of the worst (lack of coordination, passing, and offense) but all of a sudden 2 of their guys just got on fire in the 3rd and 4th quarters from 3 point range. Eventually in the 4th our we were only up 3. Then with 1 minute were up 1, but then one of our guys got a technical, but we can’t blame hime because we should never have been in this situation anyways. The guy hit both freethrows and we were down 1. And since it was a running clock we inbounded with like 5 seconds left and got a half court shot that blasted off the back of the rim!! Worst sports loss :/

  15. Joe
    January 8, 2011 at 9:53 am

    The two worst losses IMHO were both AFC Championship Games involving Cleveland and Denver (I grew up in Cleveland FYI):

    “The Drive” – January 11, 1987. My Cleveland Browns let the Broncos tie up a 20-13 lead and lose 23-20.

    “The Fumble” – January 17, 1988. Earnest Byner fumbles thanks to one of those asshole Broncos and what could have been the game-tying touchdown ended up at a 38-33 loss.

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