When it comes to bad days for a sports fan, Sunday afternoon was more or less a perfect storm. At least for me.
It started with the Red Sox, facing elimination after two dreary performances on the West Coast. However, they always play better at home, and sure enough, they took an early lead and held on as the game went on.
Finally, with two outs, none on, a two-run lead and Jonathan Papelbon (he of zero lifetime postseason runs allowed) on the mound, it was possible to think of a Fourth Game in the series. Yes, the Angels were probably the better team, but stranger things have happened.
They happened in the next 10 minutes or so. Whap, plunk, whap, walk, whap, and the Angels were ahead for good. As it turned out, the Red Sox played all season to earn the right to play an extra week and lose three more games. I'm not saying I'd trade the summer's routing experiences with those of Mets' fans, but a little more drama before the end of the baseball year would have been nice.
Switching television stations to the broadcast of the Bills offered no relief either. The game with the Cleveland Browns appeared to be one of the dullest in recent memory. Those who are out-of-town and hear a score like 3-3 in the fourth quarter assume that a monsoon had struck Orchard Park. No, it was just two bad teams who were incapable of moving the ball very far.
With three minutes to go, I let out a loud sigh that caused my wife to run in from the kitchen. What happened?!? Roscoe Parrish had fumbled a punt deep in Buffalo territory, and Cleveland had recovered. The game was more or less instantly decided, and a season that started with a little bit of hope had taken yet another emphatic circle into the depths of an abyss.
After listening to a Bills postgame talk show for a while and hearing the anger and disappointment, I called my friend Mark, who I knew was at the Bills game and at this point would be walking to his car. Thanks, I said, for not inviting me to see the dullest game in football history. Yes, he said, it was an all-time stinker.
And then Mark, who has his picture next to the words "good-natured" and "upbeat" in the dictionary, said in a slightly shaken voice, "And just to put things perspective, we were walking to the car when we saw the aftermath of a drunk driver who hit two people on Southwestern Boulevard. It looked pretty bad." Indeed, they were seriously injured -- one was flown by helicopter on Mercy Flight -- and five others were hurt in the incident. The talk shows didn't seem so entertaining after that. (Luckily, they all apparently will be all right.)
I'm not going to ever apologize for an emotional attachment to sports and the games. In a way, it pays my salary, and has the added bonus of bringing so much joy to my life. But while I had a bad day today, I know of seven people and their families who had a much worse one.