Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Thrill of Victory vs. The Agony of Defeat

Is it just me, or does every serious sports fan agonize over their teams' losses far more than they celebrate their wins? Only a few days after my team once again became champions of the baseball world, it already seems like old news. On the other hand, I'm still sometimes haunted by the memories of the 9th inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series (not to mention the 2004 ALCS). In fact, I still have that game on VHS, and for years I've been curious to go back and see if Scott Brosius really could have turned a double play on Jay Bell's failed sacrifice attempt, but I probably never will. Still, I never taped over it because it was the final game of one of the most exciting World Series in baseball history.

I sometimes wonder if Red Sox fans realized this after the 2004 World Series. A few hours of partying it up, a day of suffering through a terrible hangover, and one parade through the city later, and I'm pretty sure they discovered that their joy paled in comparison to the pain they felt from the previous season's ALCS loss and all the heartbreaks that came before. If anyone feels otherwise, I'd love to hear what you have to say.

The pain of losing, of course, is only half the story. There's also the level of stress that we experience during and between games. As an example, just hours after the Yankees' impressive 9th inning versus Brad Lidge gave them a commanding 3-1 lead in this year's series, I woke up worrying that their plan of pitching Burnett, Pettitte and Sabathia on three days rest for Games 5 through 7 was going to backfire.

So, why is this? Why are we as fans better able to live vicariously through our teams' losses than their wins? Or, is it just me who feels this way? Lastly, if you do feel the same as I do, is it all worth it? I still say it is, although I'm not really sure I could explain why.

That said, I'll close this post with a list of my all-time top five favorite sports championships:
  1. Super Bowl XLII (2008): New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
  2. 1996 World Series: New York Yankees 4, Atlanta Braves 2
  3. 1987 Fiesta Bowl: Penn State 14, Miami 10
  4. Super Bowl XXV (1991): New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19
  5. 1980 Winter Olympics: USA Hockey Gold Medal

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