Monday, January 16, 2012

A View From The Wrong Side...

One of the more interesting things on Deadspin during this NFL season has been the 'roundtable' feature presented during the week.  It is essentially a glorified email exchange, but one of the exchanges today caught my eye, and it's about how 'instant classic' games are seen.  Josh Levin explains...
Some losses are totally meaningless. (For 11 examples, consult the 2011 Washington Redskins game log.) Others, like the Patriots' 45-10 stomping of the Broncos, inflict a pain that's intense but fleeting, the result of an irrefutable beatdown by a superior opponent. A third category—the defeats the Giants piled up during their midseason swoon, for instance—become a part of team lore, the valley before the peak. And then there are the losses in which your team is doomed to forever play the mark in someone else's highlight reel. Depending on where your allegiance lies, these are either known as "classics" or "those times I went catatonic."
As a Philly fan, I can speak to this pretty well on both ends.  For example, a game better known as 'classics' (in Levin's words) would be the longest game in the expansion era (since 1967) of the NHL, when the Flyers took five (yes, FIVE) overtime periods to defeat the Penguins in Game Four of the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals.  My dad and I stayed up to watch this until the bitter end.  Never had a wrist shot been as pretty as when Keith Primeau sent one over Ron Tugnutt's left shoulder.  Never had we yelped so loudly at three in the morning.  Even though it 'merely' tied up the series, the Penguins played the rest of the series with a deer-in-the-headlights look and didn't win another game.

The other 'classic' I can think of off the top of my head is the famous '4th and 26' game - the Divisional Round game between the Eagles and Packers at the end of the 2003 season.  It was a devastating loss for the Packers, who only had to stop 26 yards from being gained with just over a minute to go and then couldn't do it, only to let the Eagles tie it up and then lose it to David Akers in overtime.

On the flip side, there is always going to be the two games of the 1993 World Series (Games Four and Six) that fit the 'instant classic' label, but the Phillies were on the losing side of both, including a series ending home run by Joe Carter.  Both of those games induced a catatonic state in the eleven-year-old me.  Interestingly enough, there aren't a lot of these in the other sports, since most of the defeats in football, basketball, and hockey were either full-fledged ass-kickings or losses we were completely expecting without any sort of last second or minute drama involved.   

This is just a reminder that not all losses (or wins for that matter) are created equal.  There are some we will remember much more for many different reasons - a point I covered when I looked at the Levels of Losing.  And so it must be, even if they all count the same technically.

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