Following the US Men’s National Team’s thrilling victory over Ghana on Monday, I’m in the mood to rank the five best and worst sports moments I’ve experienced in my life. These are all going to be single moments, rather than entire games or seasons that were amazing, which is why you won’t find the either of the Packers’ Super Bowl wins, the Badgers’ Final Four runs/Rose Bowl championships, etc. here. Also, this suffers from an inevitable recency effect, as the memory of huge moments fades over time. Deal with it. We’ll start with the bad, to send you out on a high note.
Top Five Sports Heart-breakers
Shameful mention: Shaun Marcum announced as Game 6 starter in 2011 NLCS, Kirk Cousin’s hail mary beats No. 6 Wisconsin, Ray Allen misses the tip-in to win in Philly in the game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals
5) 4th and 26
Date: January 11, 2004
Location: My parent’s living room
This play was so painful it has its own Wikipedia page. After their thrilling overtime victory over Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks a week earlier, the Packers were one play away from a berth in the NFC Championship. Two incompletions, a penalty and a sack left the Eagles facing, well, you know what, with 1:18 left and no timeouts remaining on their own 25 yard line, trailing 17-14. The probability of a loss for the Packers was just slightly higher than the likelihood of Lance Armstrong winning another Sportsman of the Year award. Instead, Nick Barnett blew his coverage, Darren Sharper blew his coverage, Bhawoh Jue blew his coverage, and the Eagles were able to tie. Moments later, a Brett Favre overtime interception (stay tuned for more!) set up David Akers for the game winner.
4) The Catch II
Date: January 3, 1999
Location: Hannah Spear’s birthday party
This would have been heartbreaking in it’s own right: On 3rd and 3 from the Packers’ 25 with eight seconds left and the Packers leading 27-23, Steve Young fired a strike to Terrell Owens to give the 49ers a miracle win after Favre had lead the team on what seemed to be the game-winning drive moments earlier as the Packers sought their third straight Super Bowl appearance (*huff huff huff* how about THAT sentence?). What made it even more painful was that replays clearly showed that Jerry Rice had fumbled four plays earlier in a play that the referees missed (replay review would come to the NFL the following season). Adding to the heartache, this would be Reggie White’s final game as a Packer, as he retired following the season (and then came back to play for the Panthers). I cried in my parents’ room for an hour after this game.
3) Aaron Harrison’s trey ends the Badgers’ title hopes
Date: April 5, 2014
Location: Replay Sports Bar
I’m still not over this. The building was absolutely rocking with about 300 of my closest friends living and dying on every shot. The collective “oof” when Harrison’s shot went in with 5.7 seconds to give Kentucky an improbable victory was palpable and awful. Even with all that time left on the clock, it just felt like the Badgers’ luck had finally run out, and indeed it had as Traevon Jackson’s prayer clanged off the rim as time expired. This game felt like a battle for the NCAA’s soul, with Bo Ryan and his scrappy team of four-year, team-oriented grinders fighting on the side of good against Calipari’s definitely-not-paid-yet, five-star McDonald’s All-American one-and-dones. As with Butler facing Duke in the championship game just a couple years earlier, it seemed like everyone in the country outside of Lexington was a Badger fan that day. And once again, the evil empire won the day.
2) Favre’s final pass as a Packer intercepted in the NFC Championship
Date: January 20, 2008
Location: E. Harmony Apartment in Whitewater
Playing in their first NFC championship game since 1998, the Packers seemed to be charmed and destined for a Super Bowl appearance in what was widely speculated to be Brett Favre’s last year (lol), After a wild, see-saw game, the teams headed to overtime after Lawrence Tynes missed the potential game winner from 36 yards out with four seconds to play, his second miss of the game. At this point, I’m already an absolute train wreck. When Favre threw the second pass of the overtime period right into Corey Webster’s chest near the home team’s sideline, I had to leave the living room and could only listen, lying face down on my extra-long twin size bed furnished by DLK Enterprises (UW-Whitewater s/o), as the game once again hung on the wildly inaccurate leg of Tynes. Shortly after he connected from 47 yards to put the Giants in the Super Bowl, my roommate and best friend Derek watched me pour the first alcoholic beverage I ever imbibed, the first of three I took before 21st birthday. It was a shot of UV Pink, and it tasted like heartbreak.
Date: September 24, 2012
Location: Mad Dog’s Sports Bar and Grill
Bugger that and bugger you, Seattle.
Top Five Best Sports Moments:
5) Ryan Braun’s extra innings grand slam beats the Pirates
Date: September 25, 2008
Location: Miller Park Terrace Level
Locked in a tie with the Mets for the Wild Card lead with three games to play, the Brewers were tied at one with the Pirates, a team they’d beaten 12 out of 13 times in 2008, heading into extra frames. Tensions in the stands were high with the left field scoreboard already flashing the NYM 7, CHC 6 final. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Braun drilled the 2-2 pitch into the Brewers bullpen, keeping the Brewers abreast of New York and sending 43,000 fans into delirium. This of course came two days after Prince Fielder’s own walk-off two-run shot against Pittsburgh, and three days before, well, stay tuned.
4 Graham Zusi and John Brooks shock Ghana
Date: June 16, 2014
Location: Jack’s American Pub
You’ve just seen it, so I won’t bore you with a recap. If you’re not aware, you don’t care anyway. The beautiful corner from one substitute to the second-touch header of the other to finally exorcise the Ghana demons just minutes after Ghana had equalized was one of the greatest moments in recent USMNT history. The bar was jam packed wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, and the the jubilation that occurred after the goal was amazing to be a part of. How much it will mean in the grand scheme of the tournament remains to be seen, but Brooks’ reaction says it all: “OH MY GOD!!!!! Oh my God….oh…my god…I need to lie down.”
3) Rodgers to Cobb puts the Packers in the playoffs
Date: December 29, 2013
Location: Shorewood Apartment
After suffering though two months of bad quarterbacks for the first time in my life, Aaron Rodgers made his triumphant return against the team that knocked him out in a winner-take-all NFC North championship game against the Bears. The lead changed hands four times, and with the Packers trailing by one with 6:24 remaining, the quarterback led the Packers on a game-winning drive that included two fourth down conversions, none bigger than the 48-yard strike to Randall Cobb, who himself had missed the previous 11 games, on 4th and 8 with 38 seconds to play. I watched this at home with some of my best friends, which is really how I should watch all important sporting events, because I don’t do losing in public all that well.
2) Wes Helms and Ryan Braun put the Brewers in the playoffs for the first time in 26 years
Date: September 28, 2008
Location: My cousin Jessica’s birthday party in Racine
The Brewers’ first potential playoff appearance since losing the 1982 World Series to the hateful Cardinals hung in the balance on the season’s final day, with the Brewers, hosting the Cubs, tied for the wild card lead with the Mets, hosting the Marlins. Both games started at approximately the same due to an hour long rain delay at Shea (lol rain delays), and both entered the eighth inning tied. Completely isolated in the corner watching this game on the tiny TV I was allowed to use while the rest of the family watched the Packers lose to Tampa Bay (probably Aaron Rodgers worst game of his career, incidentally), I was an absolute nervous wreck. In the bottom of the eighth, Ryan Braun drilled the first pitch he saw into the left field bleachers, giving the Brewers a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish. Moments later, FSN North cut away to Shea as former Brewer and confirmed terrible third baseman Wes Helms became a Milwaukee hero when he ripped a pinch hit home run, the first of a back-to-back pair with Dan Uggla, to give the Marlins a 4-2 lead in the eighth that also became the final. The Brewers ended their regular season with a nifty double play, the Mets completed their second consecutive September collapse, and playoff baseball returned to Milwaukee for the first time since the Reagan administration.
Location: Miller Park Terrace Level
After both teams held serve at home, the Brewers and Diamondbacks returned to The Keg for a decisive game five. The D-Backs struck first, scoring in the third, but the Brewers tallied in the 4th and 6th to carry a 1-run lead into the ninth, when John Axford served up three straight hits, including a Willie Bloomquist bunt single that tied the game. With the jam-packed stadium holding it’s breath on every pitch, Carlos Gomez laced a one out single to left, stole second on the 1-1 pitch to Nyjer Morgan, who then just tickled it into the outfield, scoring Gomez and sending 44,000 screaming fans into a sustained fit of delirium that lasted for well over a half-hour before we started to clear the seating bowl. In season full of Plushdamental moments, this one topped them all.
If you haven’t seen this already, first of all what is your deal, and second of all, watch this before reading further:
#LockInLuc is actually the second All-Star attack ad the Brewers have put out, the first being #GoForGomez which can be found here.
The Brewers have been struggling off and on of late, with my long blog post ranting about #WCW still being a thing and Jimmy Nelson continuing to not be a thing coming this week unless a miracle happens and we don’t see Estrada at Coors this week (bring the Icy Hot for that whiplash), so it’s fun to remember that we are in first place, and we can have a little fun with it. Everyone who isn’t an asshole hates the St. Louis Cardinals, and even the Cardinals’ fans I think probably have to hate Yadier Molina, who is basically the “The Mountain that Rides” of MLB: he’s big, he’s dumb, he’s an asshole, but he’s really quite good at the only thing that he does well (playing catcher for the former, and murdering people for the latter) (also, nerd check).
Basically I just want to say thank you to the people who made this happen. Also, stay tuned for what is sure to be a shoddily and hastily done retort from the evil empire:
— Brad Weimer (@bradweimer) June 17, 2014