Sports can be torturous for fans. The ups and downs of a team’s successes and failures have driven many a fan crazy. There are the famous examples of course, whether it’s Bill Buckner letting the ball trickle through his legs in 1986 or Auburn taking back a missed field goal to upset Alabama. Let’s take a dive into three strange, sad battles with luck that professional sports teams have had to deal with.
The sad, sad tale of the Columbus Blue Jackets:
Coming into the league in 2000, Columbus put up flat-out bad numbers. According to Hockey Reference, they never once posted a winning season until 2008, where they were promptly swept out of the playoffs by the Red Wings. After that, they never really improved significantly, but made enough progress to gain more popularity.
After yet another disappointing season in 2011, they got the number two overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and picked up the defenseman Ryan Murray. When NHL teams draft players, they can send the player back to their junior or college team to play before they come to the big leagues. The Blue Jackets returned Murray to the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League to keep growing and developing. And on top of all of this promise, the league awarded them the All-Star Weekend game and festivities for the upcoming season. Things were looking on the up and up in Columbus.
Well, then came a one-week stretch from November 16 to November 23, 2012 that really put a damper on things. On November 16, Murray suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder, which sidelined him indefinitely, and required season-ending surgery. He didn’t make his Blue Jacket debut until October 4, 2013. And on top of all of this, because of an ongoing labor dispute between the Players Association and the League, the NHL stripped Columbus of its All-Star Weekend on November 23. That’s a rough week for Columbus General Manager Scott Howson (who was fired three months later).
The 100-year anniversary of Fenway Park:
I’m sorry Boston fans, but the entire Bobby Valentine-managed 2012 Red Sox season could’ve been the focus of my article. One of the worst moments came on the one-hundredth-year anniversary of the beloved Fenway Park.
The official anniversary festivities were planned for the game on April 20, 2012, and it naturally made sense to play the New York Yankees on that anniversary. The Red Sox held a beautiful commemoration ceremony and paid homage to the history of the park. According to the Boston Globe, Sox legends like Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr made appearances. To cap it all off, both teams wore throwback jerseys to represent how the teams looked back in 1912.
The Yanks spoiled the first game that weekend, but it was the second game that made things even worse.
The Sox got off to a great start, pounding the Yankees early. Through two innings, they were up 5-0, and held a 9-1 lead going into the seventh inning. Finally, it seemed, the Sox would erase the memory of the game before, pound on their rivals and send the fans home happy, celebrating the one-hundredth-year anniversary of Fenway Park.
Then Red Sox relief pitcher Vicente Padilla ruined everything. A one-out grand slam off the bat of Nick Swisher set off a Yankee rampage that would last through just two innings. The seventh inning ended, the Sox clinging to a 9-8 lead. That lead quickly became a thing of the past as the Yanks rattled off seven more runs in one inning and pounded the Sox 15-9. Any other weekend, this loss may not have stung so badly, but this one hit Sox fans extra hard because of the anniversary. Who knows, maybe they’ll get ‘em on the two-hundredth-year anniversary.
The worst of the worst: The Early 90s Buffalo Bills.
This is the one that made me cringe the most. Losing multiple Super Bowls isn’t unheard of in the NFL. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots and Denver Broncos have all lost three or more Super Bowls in their histories. As a matter of fact, the Vikings share the Bills’ Super Bowl Record of 0-4. But there’s one thing that the Bills have that no team across any major professional sport has ever done before.
The Buffalo Bills made it to all four Super Bowls from 1990-1993. They lost those four Super Bowl games back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Just imagine your favorite team making the championship game four times in a row, and having it ripped from them all four times.
As if that isn’t enough, those losses came after being eliminated in the playoffs two seasons in a row prior to that, and then losing in the playoffs four times in the following six seasons.
So to recap, from 1988 to 1999, the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs a total of 10 times, including four consecutive Super Bowl trips, and came home completely empty-handed.
After going through that absolutely depressing stretch, the Bills have since never seen the playoffs. It’s almost as though they just crawled back in a shell, posting one winning record (9-7 in 2004, per Pro-Football-Reference) in 14 seasons. I can’t even fathom the emotional turmoil that Bills fans must go through.
No one ever said being a fan is easy.
Ray Waldron can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org