Today, I wanted to dress in all black and feed ducks in the park, Michael-Scott-style. But I need to spend a bunch of time staring at Microsoft Word on a daily basis to make money. So now you have to hear about the pain of being a sports fan, from a representative of the most annoying fan base on the planet.
I have developed a messy tradition after tough Philly playoff losses over the last year of drinking enough alcohol to make Andre the Giant blackout. For those of you who aren’t being constantly reminded of what the city of brotherly love has been through with its sports teams over the course of the last twelve months, I’ll remind you. First the Phillies lost the World Series. Next, the Eagles lost the Super Bowl. Now, the Sixers just lost another second-round playoff series, their fifth in the past six years. My liver will certainly never recover from this, but I’m also starting to believe that my outlook on life will never recover from it either.
The end of the Phillies’ run was painful, but being in college in Philadelphia gave me some of the most fun nights of my life. At the end of that run, I felt like Charlie Sheen when he talked about making Mick Jagger and Frank Sinatra look like, “droopy eyed, armless children.” I was on top of the world, and despite the heart break it ended in, those guys are all heroes to me. The memory of watching the National League home run champion bunting his last pitch of the season behind the catcher for a strike three still hurts more than any heart break or sack tap I’ve ever suffered in my life. That being said, Kyle Schwarber will never pay for a beer at any bar that I’m at, and neither would any of those other guys.
The Eagles’ run was different. From early on, they became one of the favorites to play in the Super Bowl, and they walked their way there. The people who seemingly make a living pouring salt in my wounds on Twitter will tell you that their schedule was easy, but they dominated everyone before the Super Bowl. The Birds played a good game, but the they blew it. Blame Johnathon Gannon. Blame the refs. Blame the field. It doesn’t matter. I cried. I blacked out. And I didn’t feel the same for weeks.
The Sixers’ playoff run proves my lack of intelligence. All season, I said I wouldn’t do it. I said I wouldn’t let them get my hopes up. They swept the Nets in the first round. Big whoop. The problem came when we won the first game of the series against Boston, without Joel Embiid. I bought in so hard. I dropped enough money to feed myself for several weeks on a ticket to game six and watched us get out to a big lead against the Celtics. In the last five minutes of the game, the MVP of the league didn’t touch the ball. Coincidentally enough, the Sixers didn’t score in that stretch. The series, and quite possibly Joel Embiid’s career in Philadelphia, ended right there.
I wish I could get over these losses and move on with my life like most sports fans do. Losing is a part of sports, but in Philadelphia, we build our history and emotions off of it. The Phillies have lost more games than any professional American sports team. That’s the opposite of a fun fact. Also, the Eagles sold their soul for one championship, and I don’t know if they’ll ever win again. Now the Sixers are just continuing an all-time stretch of playoff mediocrity. Throw in the fact that the Flyers are one of the worst hockey franchises ever assembled, and the fact that people love pointing out that the Union lost the championship, and my childhood passion suddenly makes me want to scream.
The past year, I’ve come to my third realization that a championship coming to the city I love during my prime drinking years was squandered. Each time, I go through a depressive phase of realizing that this opportunity might not come again for any of these teams. Today, the combination of these losses hit me so hard you’d think I was a pitch thrown by Aaron Nola. I just want to climb a telephone pole in celebration. And to stop having embarrassing public freakouts that leave me with more hang-xiety then I can deal with the following morning. But I’m a Philadelphia sports fan, so I don’t know if that’s going to happen.