By George Ferguson
I think there is something going on this week called the World Series. But if I'm not mistaken, my beloved Chicago Cubs aren't playing in it.
That must mean it's time for my annual column where I feel sorry for myself as a diehard sports fan whose teams always come up short. Indeed, last year at this exact time, I wrote a column basically feeling sorry for myself that the Cubs never get to play in the World Series and how the Cubs' perpetual losing has soured my love for postseason major league baseball.
Well, we all know what happened to the Cubs last week, so it is only natural that I vent to my three readers (Hi Mom) and complain as always. Since the Cubs' monumental collapse against the Florida Marlins in the National League Championship Series, I found out I really do believe in curses and that I am cursed as a sports fanatic.
I've come to believe that I'm eternally hexed because, as my esteemed sports editor has pointed out, I had so much jubilation as a Chicago Bulls fan. Yep, I loved Michael Jordan and I loved watching the Bulls own the NBA for the better part of six seasons. I drank from their glory, reveled in their wins, and bragged of their exploits.
All of those championships, all that success, made it good to be a Bulls fan. And it made me into "that guy." You know the guy that lived for the success and loved to tell people about it. The guy who rooted for a dynasty which is like rooting for dealer in a blackjack game, you know, "that guy" that people hated. Back then I didn't care. But now I'm paying for it.
Because of my past enjoyment as a Chicago Bulls fan, I now refer to my current situation as the "Curse of the Spoiled Bulls Fan." Since the Bulls disbanded following their last title, I have experienced very little success from my beloved sports teams. In fact I've had more than my fair share of heartbreaking moments as a fan.
So, I decided to compile my top 10 most hair-pulling, tear-falling and gut-wrenching disappointments that lead me to believe I'm cursed.
As a footnote, I must also say that any sporting event I have covered cannot be included in this list because I was to remain objective.
10. (Tie) Tiger and the triple crown: There are to sports in which the ultimate feat is extremely rare, and in my lifetime I have seen the failings of both. A true grand slam in golf (all four majors in the same calender year) is something that many experts said could never be done. That is until Tiger Woods came along.
After Wood's changed his swing in 1999, he went on a major tear, and by the end of 2000, he had completed the so-called "Tiger Slam", which meant that he won all four majors in a row but not in the same season. He started off the 2002 season by winning the Masters and then conquering what was said to be the most difficult U.S. Open ever at Beth Page Black in New York. He was halfway to the real Grand Slam when he arrived at the British Open. Tiger positioned himself for a run after the first two days, but then came the third round. An 82 from Tiger ended any chance of the Open, or a slam for that matter, and all but convinced me that as great as Tiger is, the "Slam" may be something I will never see.
Then there is the Triple Crown of horse racing. I am only a horse racing fan for two months out of the year and have been wanting to see a horse win the "Triple Crown" for a long time. Since 1997, I have watched five horses lose in the Belmont Stakes and come up short in their bid to be the first horse since Affirmed in 1979 to complete the historical feat. Again, maybe not in my lifetime.
9. Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants in 1989 NLCS: Oh, my beloved Cubbies. In 1989, I was 14-years-old and by then well aware of my ill-fated Cubs' postseason blues. I knew the Cubs had blown a 3-1 series lead against the Padres five years earlier. But 89 was going to be different. And it was. Just a different team from California and less games to boot. The Giants stomped the Cubs in five short games and left all of us Cub fans wondering, when will it be our turn?
8. 1991 Class A State football playoffs Havre vs. Colstrip: I was sophomore in high school in 1991 which is with out a doubt one of the best all-around sports seasons Havre has ever had. In the fall, the Blue Pony football squad marched its way to a perfect 8-0 record in the regular season and held the No. 1 ranking from start to finish. The first round of the playoffs was held at Blue Pony Stadium and Kenny Big Back and the Colstrip Colts ended any chance of a coveted state title in football in what many called an improbable upset in Montana high school football.
7. 1996 I-AA National Championship Marshall vs. Montana: This game should have been called the Randy Moss bowl. One year after the Grizzlies won their first national championship ever in football, they were back in West Virginia for a rematch with the Herd. However, Randy Moss and Co. drilled the Dave Dickenson-less Griz 49-29 and ended the Griz winning streak in national championship games at one.
6. The 1995 and 1997 North Carolina basketball teams: Like the Bulls, the Heels have been one of the most dominant powers in the history of college basketball, especially in the '90s where they went to five Final Fours, winning once in 1993. However, both the 1995 and 1997 Carolina squads entered March Madness ranked No. 1 only to be shocked by upstart teams in the Big Dance. Arkansas knocked off a loaded Carolina team in 95 and Arizona downed the Heels in the '97 Final Four. Because of the talent of both Carolina teams, these two games left me and most Carolina fans devastated.
5. 2002 Cat-Griz in Missoula: As a rabid Griz fan all I need to say, all I am willing to say, about this one is, Montana State 10, Montana 7, in Washington Grizzly Stadium. Hell officially froze over that cold and blustery day.
4. 1991 Class A State basketball tournament: Back to 1991 and more heartbreak. The HHS basketball team was loaded in 1991 and raced through the regular season and the Central A divisional tournament a perfect 21-0. Then came the Laurel Locomotives in the state semifinals. To most, a basketball state title was a lock, but Havre native Andy Dreyer and his Locomotives found a way to break the hearts of Pony fans and players alike. The loss sent the Blue Ponies reeling and they could only muster a fourth place finish that season.
3. 1998 NFC Championship Game Minnesota vs. Atlanta: The Vikings are the other of my lovable loser favorite teams. Four Super Bowls and no rings. But 1998 appeared to be different. Minnesota has a potent offense led by Randy Moss. They lost only two games all season and steamrolled through the playoffs. A super Bowl berth seemed eminent. But the Vikings found a way to lose anyway. Gary Anderson did not miss a single kick all season but in the NFC title game he missed the biggest kick of his life and the Falcons ended up winning 30-27 in overtime. When will it end?
2. 2000 I-AA National Championship game Montana vs. Georgia Southern: The Griz were back under new head coach Joe Glenn. They made it to Chattanooga in dramatic fashion. But early in the championship game the Griz fell behind 19-0 in a torrential downpour. Somehow, the fought their way back in the second half to take a late lead, only to see it slip through their fingertips on a 60-yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson. Despite having the ball inside the Eagle 20-yard line with under a minute to play, sophomore John Edwards could not find an open receiver and the Griz lost what many call the greatest I-AA football game of all time, 27-25.
1. 2003 NLCS Cubs vs. Marlins: There isn't much to say here. The Cubs did it again. They found a way to blow a 3-1 series lead and now the Marlins are playing the Yankees in the World Series as we speak. This is without a doubt the single worst moment in my sports history and it leaves me knowing, not wondering, that I will never see the Cubs win a championship in my lifetime. And I am only 28 - going on 78.