As someone who has lived in Michigan most of my life, and as an avid sports fan, it’s been tough to swallow the sheer amount of bad luck our sports teams have endured throughout my life. While most of our professional teams have had at least glimmers of success, the only real sustained greatness we’ve seen in my 42 years on this earth were during the Red Wings heyday from the mid-1990s to the late 2000s when they won four Stanley Cups in a stretch of 11 years.
The Pistons won back to back titles during the Bad Boys years and later a title with the Rasheed Wallace/Chauncey Billups/Rip Hamilton teams, but those were sandwiched between prolonged stretches of misery. Even my beloved Tigers, the one shining hope the past decade-plus have only brought us to the precipice and left us disappointed after getting blown out in two World Series appearances despite a team loaded with future Hall of Famers.
Feel the misery
I don’t have a good reason I’m doing this other than I was curious to see just how much Michigan sports fans have been forced to endure. I realize other cities like Cleveland and Chicago have gone through prolonged stretches of disappointment and failure, but man we’ve had it rough. Rather than talk about things in aggregate, I figured I’d pull some plays that are indicative of what it’s been like to be a fan of Michigan’s major college and professional sports teams. Let’s rip off the band-aid!
The refs/officials hate us. They just do.
No, the Tigers weren’t going anywhere in 2010, but for one evening in June they were must see TV. Armando Galarraga was just one out from a perfect game that would have at least brought a brief respite to the Tigers’ disappointing campaign, and then Jim Joyce decided that we couldn’t even have that.
Is there a more tortured fan base than the Detroit Lions? If you’re even a casual fan you likely remember the rage you felt when the “Calvin Johnson rule” was brought to life in a game versus the Bears.
Even the Red Wings had their fair share of ref induced shenanigans. One of the worst was the 2009 Western Conference Finals when the Red Wings apparently tied up the Ducks in the late third period. Well, they would have tied the game if the whistle hadn’t inadvertently blown just before scoring the game-tying goal.
Sometimes Michigan teams just manage to grasp defeat out of the jaws of victory. Michigan State seemed to have their NCAA tournament matchup against Georgia Tech in 1990. I actually walked out of the room because with just 13 seconds left MSU was up by four. Georgia Tech closed the game within two with six seconds left, but MSU superstar Steve Smith was at the line, so what could go wrong?
While Michigan State fans may remember this one fondly, Michigan fans will forever be scarred by the ending of the first MSU vs. Michigan matchup of the Jim Harbaugh era. No introduction needed for this one.
This one ruined my childhood. The Pistons were the up and coming team and were finally about to vanquish the Eastern Conference behemoth, the Boston Celtics. And then, Larry Bird happened…
Any other sporting heartbreak I missed? Let me know and we’ll add it to the list. And while this probably opened some old wounds, we’ll leave this on a positive note. Here’s the Red Wings beating the holy hell out of the Colorado Avalanche in 1997 in revenge for Claude Lemieux being a cowardly turd who took a vicious cheap shot and injured Kris Draper. Long live Darren McCarty!