Well, it happened: the Worst Sports Weekend in the History of the World actually got worse. How much worse? Well…
- Firstly, Manchester United blew the closest thing to a “must-win” game in December as you’re ever likely to find. They should have won about 4-0; instead, they squandered their opportunities, were wasteful in front of goal, tried to ride out Alan Smith’s brilliant goal and instead were burned by a late equalizer as Fulham came back to tie 1-1. I didn’t see the equalizer, mind: we lost power at our house for a couple hours.
- Secondly, the Jeff George: Future Hall of Famer team did, in fact, lose its playoff game–in dubious fashion. Derrick Mason was, going into last night’s game, averaging 16.126 points a game; being as I needed him to get me 16 points, that seemed like a good sign. Then, in the first quarter, Mason pulled up lame while returning a punt. He sat for virtually the rest of the first half, and was used sparingly in the third quarter. He came on strong in the fourth quarter and even scored a touchdown, but in the end could only give me eleven points. Had he played the entire game I’d be prepping for my semi-final matchup against the ROCpile; as it is, I’m already contemplating my draft strategy for the 2005 season. What are the odds? His replacement, Drew Bennett, threw up 233 yards and three touchdowns, and while I’m not going to go so far as to claim that Mason was in line to produce those exact same numbers, you’ve gotta assume that somewhere in there were five more points that would have given me the win. The lesson, as usual: fantasy football is ultimately a crapshoot. You can draft brilliantly, score the highest manager rating in your league, steamroll to a 9-3 record and a division crown…yet never fully legislate for a #2 receiver who can’t get out of bounds on a punt return.
So that’s it. Saints and United draw, Vikings lose, Packers win, Proline ticket loses, fantasy football team gets knocked out of the playoffs. Just incredible. I remember back in 2001 a weekend in which United scored six goals, the Leafs beat the Capitals and the Vikings kicked the crap out of the New Orleans Saints in a playoff game. That was one end of the spectrum; this weekend represented the other end, the one that occurs with far more regularity and whose scars are much deeper. Can it get worse? It might, actually. This weekend I’m travelling to Detroit to see the Vikings. Minnesota is 8-0 versus the Lions with Sir Daunte at the helm, and Mike Tice–bless him–has yet to lose to Detroit. Should these trends be reversed this weekend, there’s a decent chance the Vikings will miss the playoffs–and to that effect, seeing my team lose a must win game in the flesh would easily represent a downward spiral from this, admittedly putrid weekend of fandom.
It’s happened to me before: I’ve been in attendance when the Leafs have been knocked out of the playoffs. It wasn’t pretty, but at least it was on home ice. Ford Field, for all its amenities, most certainly is not the Metrodome, and Detroit Lions fans are not my kind. And I’ll be there this weekend, hoping and praying that Daunte, Mike Tice and The Great Randy Moss don’t scuttle my team’s playoff chances. Again.
And if you love me, you won’t want that to happen–even if you happen to cheer for the Packers.