"Okay, I have the basketball. I am closely defended. There are 27 seconds on the shot clock and eight minutes on the game clock. I'd better launch a 26-footer! GET THE BALL OH MY GOD GET THE BALL OH MY GOD GET THE BALL OH MY GOD GET THE BALL Okay, I have the basketball. I am closely defended. There are 27 seconds on the shot clock and eight minutes on the game clock. I'd better launch a 26-footer! GET THE BALL OH MY GOD GET THE BALL OH MY GOD GET THE [cont'd]"
- stream of consciousness of every basketball player in the 2011 NCAA Tournament
Monday's Butler-UConn NCAA Championship game was a hyperbolized version of what we should have expected, given the 66 games that came before it. The shooting was terrible, and so was the shot selection, the post-9 p.m. tip-off time, and Jim Nantz.
Our own Andrew Sharp has already given the business to all parties involved, and his piece made me wonder whether this game should rank as one of the worst championship games ever played, in any sport. I tend to do the "this thing that just happened is the most [descriptor] thing ever" with such irresponsible frequency that I am threatening to render the term meaningless, so this time, let's take a step back and look some other terrible sporting finales.
1998 World Series
Who: Yankees vs. Padres.
Outcome: Yankees swept the Padres in four games.
Why it was bad: The 1998 season was one of the most historically significant in the history of baseball. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Ken Griffey, Jr. were locked in their home run chase. Sosa led the Cubs into the postseason after a one-game playoff. Cal Ripken retired his consecutive-games streak. Mike Piazza was the centerpiece of one of the biggest blockbuster trades of the last 20 years.
By the World Series, baseball apparently ran completely out of fun and replaced it with a methadone-like synthetic fun compound, the result being one one-run game and three three-run games. Scott Brosius hit two home runs, so they gave him the World Series MVP award. Free Darko's Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball's suggestion that Western civilization completely bottomed out in 1998 is pretty much on the money.
What you could have been doing instead of watching this: installing Napster on your Gateway 2000 computer and using it to download the latest hit songs from critically-acclaimed artists Semisonic, Lit, or Eve 6
Super Bowl XXVIII (1994)
Who: Cowboys vs. Bills.
Outcome: Cowboys defeated the Bills, 30-13.
Why it was bad: Of the 10 Super Bowls preceding this one, eight were complete blowouts. Young football enthusiasts such as myself were so conditioned to it that I was absolutely fascinated when Super Bowl XXXII in 1998 was close to the very end.
This game teased us for an entire half with the possibility that the Bills, who had been summarily destroyed by the Cowboys in the previous Super Bowl, could upset Dallas in a hard-fought game. And then, after all the suck had cleared from the Clint Black/Travis Tritt/Brooks & Dunn/Judds, the Cowboys reverted into kill mode and delivered yet another one-sided Super Bowl.
What you could have been doing instead of watching this: playing pogs, insisting that pogs are worth money, declaring that pogs that say "THE BOMB" or an 8-ball are especially valuable, referring to all pogs with foil/shiny embossing to be "hologram pogs," trying to trade away the "Six Days Of Creation" pogs you got at the Christian bookstore.
1932 World Series
Who: Yankees vs. Cubs.
Outcome: Yankees swept the Cubs in four games.
Why it was bad: In what would turn out to be Babe Ruth's final World Series appearance, the Yankees' hitters ripped apart the Cubs pitchers, whose combined ERA was 9.26 over the series. There were a combined 14 errors over four games.
What you could have been doing instead of listening to this on the radio: standing in a bread line back when "bread line" was an actual thing and not a twee colloquialism, installing those ridiculous four-prong telephone outlets in every single room and only bothering to install like one power outlet in the entire house (THANKS, A-HOLES).
2007 NBA Finals
Who: Spurs vs. Cavaliers.
Outcome: Spurs swept the Cavaliers in four games.
Why it was bad: The Spurs, who everyone was tired of seeing, had won three of the last eight NBA championships. Most of American wanted to see LeBron's Cavs win their first title; instead we were treated to a couple of decisive wins and the lowest-scoring game in finals history.
What you could have been doing instead of watching this: waiting for your YouTube video to load, sitting and wondering whether the years 2007 and 2011 will be as different as, say, the years 1993 and 1997, between which a whole lot of stuff happened.
1940 NFL Championship
Who: Bears vs. Redskins.
Outcome: Bears defeated the Redskins, 73-0.
Why it was bad: well, perhaps this isn't necessarily bad. Perhaps watching abject suffering is your thing. The Bears took out their starters, only for their backups continued to slaughter the Redskins. Chicago threw seven times, spending most of the game running up and down the field unabated.
What you could have been doing instead of listening to this on the radio: gazing up at the sky, which was actually blue, before the bombs fell and bleached the sky this ugly pale shade we think of as "blue".
2008 Sun Bowl
Who: Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh.
Outcome: Oregon State defeated Pittsburgh, 3-0.
Why it was bad: I decided to include only one college bowl game here, because it's too easy. I asked Spencer Hall to name a horrible bowl game. He named this one and opted to describe it as "un****ingwatchable."
I didn't watch the game, but the autopsy report is enough to horrify me. THERE WERE 20 PUNTS IN THIS GAME. The teams were a combined 5-for-32 on fourth-down conversion attempts. Oregon State quarterback Lyle Moevao attempted 42 passes, ensuring the 60 minutes of game clock would eat up plenty of time on the civilian clock. OSU and Pitt managed 2.7 and 2.4 yards per carry, respectively.
Let's not stray from the larger point, which is this: A 3-0 COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME IN THE YEAR 2008. The result couldn't have been more antediluvian unless the game were decided by a single safety, there were no forward passes, and the referees threw anvils with parachutes instead of flags.
What you could have been doing instead of staring at the Sun Bowl: Staring at the sun, staring at a bowl.
The above six finals are mere examples, meant more than anything else to illustrate how capable sports are of building us up for an entire season only to lose us deflated. If you're like me, none of your teams ever even make it to the championship. So perhaps you jump ship and root for another team, or you simply root for a good game, and you're let down all over again. We're suckers, is what I'm saying.