Winning isn’t Everything but Losing sure is Nothing

So… Uhm…. How about the Red Sox? They opened the season well and they have a great shot to sweep the New York Yankees in the Bronx. They won two games today, with a 19 inning marathon that ended at 2:30 or so this morning and an 8-4 beat down this afternoon. There is hope for a great season with them!

That is some good news. The title of the blog is 100 Happy Days of Chris, but the sports fan in me is not having a very good day. So tonight’s post will be an expression of how much it hurts when your teams lose. The title of this post is borrowed from two people. When speaking of his Minnesota Vikings in the 1970’s, Jim Marshall said the quote up top. The phrase was also popularized by the Austraillian musician, author, and radio host Red Symons. This is such a true quote. Losing a game hurts like crazy, losing a championship game rips your heart out in a way that nothing else in sports can. I should say right now that it hurts much more for the players and the coaches, but it still hurts for me, the fan, who invested in the team and follow it closely. 

Ok I’ve rambled on long enoug. Let’s cut to the chase. The BU Men’s hockey team played the Providence College Friars in the TD Garden(Gahden) here in Boston. The Terriers were one of the best teams in college hockey for the whole season. They had the best player in Jack Eichel. They had won the Beanpot and Hockey East Titles on the same sheet of ice this season. They wanted to make it 3 for three and complete one of the greatest seasons in the history of one of the most storied programs in collegiate hockey by winning against a program that hadn’t won a national championship. They had a 3-2 lead in the 3rd period, the time of the game that they owned all year. They had everything going for them. But there was no perfect ending to a marvelous season. There was no national championship to craft a storybook end. Instead, the team imploded. Matt O’Conner fumbled a caught puck into his own net to tie the score at 3. Two minutes and seventeen seconds later, Providence Wing Brandon Tanev beat the BU defense and gave the Friars a lead they would not surrender. The Terriers did have one more opportunity to put the game into overtime. Nick Roberto and Cason Hohmann had an open net late in the game when the Terriers had pulled their goaltender and had an extra skater. They had an open net and a chance to tie the game, but they just didn’t put the puck in the net to tie the game and probably force overtime. Time ticked away and the Friars won their first national championship, while the BU Terriers were forced to cope with a choke job for the ages. 

Yes, I used the word that no athlete in any sport likes hearing: choke. There’s absolutely no way around that. They had a great chance to win the game and the championship, they were the better team talent wise, and they had a lead on what was essentially home ice. They blew the lead and blew a chance for a championship. Matt O’Conner committed an error on par with Fred Snodgrass for the Giants against the Red Sox in 1912, Bill Buckner for the Red Sox vs the Mets in 1986, and Fred Brown for the Georgetown Hoyas vs James Worthy and North Carolina in 1982. The team and the fans were shell shocked and the team fell apart from there. I should point out that I feel very bad comparing O’Conner to those guys for their sports gacks. By all accounts he is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. But sadly, he made a tremendous mistake that will affect his potential draft stock in the NHL, and the rest of his play at BU. He choked. Jack Eichel choked down the stretch, with his name not being called much if at all late in the game. The whole team fell apart in the game. Now they, and the entire university, have to accept that they lost in a gut wrenching way, almost completely creating a new way to lose. 

For me as a fan, I’ve only had this sort of shocked feeling a few times. 7 times to be exact. 

1. 2005 Red Sox. I was a young fan who was riding high after my team won a title the year before and they return to the postseason. I thought they’d win it all again this year. Instead they lost every game in the playoffs and were swept by the eventual world champion Chicago White Sox.

  

2. 2006 Patriots. Losing the AFC Championship game to Peyton Manning and the Colts after leading the game 21-3. None more need be said.  

 

3. 2007 Patriots. Super Bowl 42. None more need be said. 

  

4. 2010 Celtics. They blew a lead in game 7 of the finals against the hated LA Lakers. Ron Artest scored 20 points and hit the winning 3 pointer. Ron. Artest. Guhhhh. 

  

5. 2011 Red Sox. They were leading the division at the start of September, went 7-20 down the stretch and lost the division to the hated Yankees and the wild card to the Rays. 

  

6. 2011 Patriots. Super Bowl 46. None more need be said. 

  

7. 2013 Bruins. Leading 2-1 late in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on home ice against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Bruins choked late in the 3rd period and blew a chance for a game 7 and another championship.  

 

All of these teams  failed to achieve the goal of sports: winning it all. They were all talented and won many games. They were fun to watch and were all entertaining, but they all lost. The 2015 BU Terriers join that group of talented teams that had very good years that ended badly. I should emphasize that I had some wonderful memories and experiences covering and following this team. I called the BU BC game this season, I called a game in the Beanpot, and I sat in the stands as a fan for many games, including the Hockey East Championship game. It was a great season and a tremendous team. My friend Alyssa summed it up well when she commented “Best season of hockey I’ve seen as a Terrier.” She’s completely correct. But for right now, it doesn’t really matter. We lost. And congratulations to the Providence Friars, a tough and relentless team that played so tough and physical for the entire way. They earned their victory tonight. Sure BU made mistakes, but Providence won that game fair and square. But this game will rank as among the most disappointing and painful sports memories for me. It’s worse because I followed this team closer than many others. 

  

Well. Those are my thoughts on the game tonight. I hope the team comes back next year for an even better year, and I hope that Jack Eichel returns next season for an even better year. The operable word in that sentence is hope. That of course is the operable word of all sports fans. Winning makes it all worth it, but losing hurts like all holy hell. 

Well, season’s over. Let’s go Red Sox! 

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