I've often said, I think I'd be happier if I didn't like sports. It's a zero sum game in the sense that for every winner there's a loser. However, I'm upset a lot more than I'm happy. Because in the end, who cares if your team had a nice season if in the end they didn't win it all? Sure it's better than going 0-16, but that can actually make the final loss that much more painful.
In 1990, the 49ers finished with a 14-2 record, and played the NY Giants in the NFC Championship game. Leading 13-12, with about 2 minutes to play, the 49ers had the ball around the Giants 35 with a first down. Then the unthinkable happened. Roger Craig fumbled on first down, the Giants recovered and drove down the field to kick the game winning FG as time expired. The Giants then went on to beat the Bills in the Super Bowl. That was a great year for the 49ers, but it still hurts. I can't help but wonder what would have happened if Craig had held on to the ball. Steve Young never would have gotten the reputation for not being able to win the big game, and the 49ers would probably now have six Super Bowl trophies.
In 1998, the 49ers finally beat the Packers in the playoffs on a miracle pass from Young to Terrell Owens on the last play of the game. But my joy was short lived as Garrison Hearst got injured at the beginning of their next playoff game to the Falcons. The 49ers went on to lose the game 20-18. What would have happened if Hearst hadn't injured himself? Would the 49ers have gone to the Super Bowl instead of the Falcons? And that's just two years. In every year but five, 49ers fans can talk about a year that ended in unfulfillment.
So why do I keep coming back if it's a lot more likely the season will end in anger and frustration? I'll tell you why. Because when things do go right, the joy is a high unlike almost any other. Because when Joe Montana found John Taylor in the endzone to win Super Bowl XXIII, the shear rush of joy and happiness eclipsed the soreness from all the other years when they didn't win it all. Because watching Steve Young hug the
Lumbardi Lombardi Trophy as if his life depended on it, made it feel as if all was right in the universe. Because even after all the years, watching Steve Sabol of NFL films retell the story of past 49er Super Bowl glory can make me feel the thrill of victory once again.
It's like a drug. Sure the drug addict knows they'd be better off if they just quit. That they'd have money to actually pay their bills and their face wouldn't cause small children to run for cover, but the feeling of euphoria from the drug is just too strong of a pull to resist. So they go back, constantly chasing the dragon, even if they're not sure they'll ever catch it again.
Football is my first love and it always will be. But baseball is a close second. Maybe it's because I can go to a game without worrying if I wouldn't be better off using that money to pay my mortgage. My friends and I had a 20 game season ticket plan my Junior and Senior years in High School, which actually allowed my to be at game 4 of the 89 World Series. I sold my tickets to game 3 to my neighbor, who then sold them to a scalper as he ran for his life hoping a piece of Candlestick wouldn't land on him. I was at a sports bar for game 6 in 2002, as my warm buzz gradually turned into a drunken stupor. I still curse Dusty Baker for pulling Russ Ortiz to this day.
Now, after all those years of falling short, and with the 49ers failing to live up to preseason expectations, I get to feel the pure euphoric joy of a championship once again. I get to read every story covering every angle. I get to watch MLB network disect every pitch. I get to rewatch Renteria's 3 run HR over and over again, and all the while I'll have a smile on my face.
For the five people who read my story every week, I apologize. I'll be back next week, but this week I have to take a break. After all, it's not everyday you get to see your team win a championship.
Broncos 16, 49ers 24
OK, I guess I should at least mention this game. What a week for SF! The 49ers may only have two wins at the halfway point, but at least they came over the Raiders and in London. What makes it even better is that it was a horrible week for Dallas. Not only did they lose the World Series, but their football team actually has a worse record than the 49ers. And yes, knowing there are some sports fans out there suffering, even though i don't know them, makes me feel better. Because I'm shallow and vindictive.