The most excruciating type of sports defeat?

From the more recent posts, it is obvious that the most excruciating type of Sports Defeat is:


How about when you’re up 3-1 and the Warriors come back and win three straight games and steal the series?

Well, that would fall under the categories of 2# and 4# as listed in the OP.

Here’s another possible category:
Losing to a team that is later disqualified (for example, for having an ineligible player), but your team isn’t declared the champion as a result.
There are two groups of this:
1 - “Yes, you did lose the championship game to a team that had an ineligible player, and we took away their title, but you don’t get it instead.” This is what the NCAA does, under the reasoning (and I agree with them) that the other teams that the cheating school beat should have had just as much of a chance to play for the championship.
2 - “Yes, you did lose a semi-final to a team that had an ineligible player, but we didn’t discover this until after the championship, so, despite the fact that your team came the closest to beating the cheating school, the team that it beat in the championship game is declared the champion.” The two biggest ones that come to mind are the school in the book Friday Night Lights, and pretty much every non-USA team that played the team from the Philippines in the 1992 Little League World Series tournament. Something similar happened in 2014, when a team from Las Vegas lost the USA championship game to a team from Chicago which was later found to have ineligible players (the Chicago team lost the World Series championship game to a team from Seoul, Korea), so the Vegas team was declared the USA champion after the fact, but there wasn’t anything that Little League could do concerning the lost opportunity to play for the World Series title (at least, nothing that wouldn’t sound like it was the plot of a comedy movie).

There doesn’t seem to be any official winner of the Tour de France for 1999 through 2005.
While checking that, I happened to look up some details on earlier Tours. In the 1920s the routes (it changes every year) were well over 3,000 miles, compared to the low 2,000s these days. It must have been absolutely brutal.

Gotta win that home game.

Also 2-2-1-1-1 is bullshit.

That is a lot of traveling.

I vote losing because you’re too busy celebrating your win. Which happens a lot more often than you think.

Oh, yeah, that happened to me once in a Cub Scout pinewood derby. One of the cars was found to have illegal axles, but not until after it had eliminated mine, and mine stayed eliminated. And yes, it was pretty excruciating, at the time.

Eh, the refs never call it anyway.

A few years ago I had 3 of the starting 5 on our girls’ basketball team all in one class I taught. Two years earlier they got into the Ohio Division I championship game and lost in a game that wasn’t particularly close. Major “hey, we didn’t expect to be here, this is awesome” feeling. As seniors, they got down to the state final four and were severely outplayed by a team full of freshmen and sophomores – basically, our highly experienced team got rattled and taken off their game by a bunch of kids a year or two out of junior high ball.

Man, was that a tense week in class right after that loss. I don’t know which number it is when you get your butt handed to you in a crucial game by a team with half your experience and talent.

There’s another kind: “you’re smarter than the coach/player WTF are you doing???”

Grady Little leaving Pedro in…
Tito chasing W’s for Wakefield in 2011
Papelbon only throwing fastballs in 2009 ALDS game 3… It’s Guerrero !! He’ll swing at anything!! Throw one in the dirt WTF are you doing???

Your manager having a bunt fetish

That sort of thing.

How about the historical/legendary/30+ years-in-the-making loss?

I’ll explain.

My Aussie Rules team - Richmond - was great in the 70s. Since then, we’ve been rubbish. If we ever we have a reasonable year - we finish 9th (and the finals/playoffs are Top 8 only). In fact, one of the team nicknames (from opposition supporters) is ‘Ninthmond’. Lots of laughs at our expense.

However, in 2013 we had a great year - finished 5th. Woo-hoo - finals at last!!

Another team, however, received some punishment for having a drug scandal, and were kicked out of the finals. So that meant the team that finished 9th actually got to play in the finals. Oh, great - like that never happened in any of the years WE finished ninth!!

So, as the team that finished 5th, we get to play the team that originally finished 9th (now promoted to 8th) in the round of the finals (that’s how the system works). Oh well, that should be an easy win - after all they finished a long way behind us.

PS - Did I mention that the team that did get promoted into the Finals was our Arch Enemy and Most Hated Rival? The dirty, cheating, bastard scummy filth!!! (My brother-in-law is a fanatical supporter of them :slight_smile:

So play the game - we well in front at half-time - and then…

Yep. After years of finishing 9th and j-u-u-u-u-st missing the finals, we finally make it, and lose to that bloody team that finished…9th.

(Time to call my therapist again).

For me, the 2003 Red Sox loss to the Yankees qualifies as #3 (Grady Little left Pedro in for too long) and #4 (So damn close, Aaron bleeping Boone) and #7 (beating the Yankees in the ALCS would have been our own mini-world series). Lucky for me, that agony was replaced with the ecstasy of victory in only a year.

And I have to believe that 2004 Yankees fans, having gone on to lose the World Series the year before, suffered the most agonizing loss blowing that 3-0 lead. Not that I feel bad for them, of course, but I can’t imagine if that was my team. A couple of extra innings, skin of your teeth walk-off wins for the Sox followed by Schilling’s game 6 bloody sock and a soul crushing game 7 defeat in your own house.

On the other side of the coin, winning in that fashion was perhaps more satisfying than if the Sox had just swept the Yankees in 4 games that year.

Yeah, what happened to the 2004 Yankees is probably the worst thing I can imagine. I speak as a nut-kicked Mets fan who didn’t exactly shed tears for the 2004 Yankees, but I do have sympathy for the nigh incomparable suffering of their fans… It’s a little like feeling bad if a Rockefeller had his Bentley destroyed by a meteor in that few minutes right after he purchased it, but before the insurance company received the check to start a policy. It sucks that it happened to anyone, but hey, he had a garage full of Bentleys already, and he will eventually just buy another one.

As for the 1986 World Series, Game 6 - Bill Buckner - that was a huuuge surprise, to be sure, but at the end of the day, there WAS a Game 7 to follow, and the Red Sox even had a 3 run lead in it. It can’t be up there with a singular “had the title in hand and lost it” type moment, if it took a whole second game to not win the title.

Plus, Buckner gets way too much of the crap for that loss. He shouldn’t have been out there anyway. He was typically replaced with a defensive sub, but the manager wanted him on the field for the celebration… But the lead was already lost when Mookie’s ball came his way, from Mike Stanley’s wild pitch allowing the tying run to score from third base… While simultaneously also moving the runner from first to second base, to be in position to score the winning run on Buckner’s error (instead of merely reaching 3B with the score remaining tied).

As a baseball fan, a wild pitch with 2 outs and 2 strikes and a 1 run lead with runners at the corners…? THAT is far less forgivable than a gimpy legged veteran have a sharp ground ball hit “through the wickets”. If you’re gonna blow the lead, make the batter put the ball into play.


“Nebraska unnecessarily going for the 2-point conversion against Miami in 1984.”

Had we not gone for two, it would’ve tied the game (no overtime in 1984). Osborne wanted to win outright. The loss was crushing, but Husker fans got a lot of mileage over going for broke and not settling for a tie. Although now that I’ve watched some ESPN show on the game, Bernie Kosar had a point. If they make that 2 point, his Hurricanes would’ve had over a minute to get into FG range.

As a Husker fan, I swear I’ve hit all 7 in our glory years, especially the “blow the big one” Osborne era.

#6 was probably the hardest, when we lost to 17-point favorite Florida State in 1994 Orange Bowl in their home state. The refs had it in for us: A phantom clip call on an NU TD and an un-called fumble before a FSU TD dive. Despite that: we still lost only 18-16 on a missed FG.

Of recent games, #1 hurt the most. Our second year in the Big Ten and we were in the 2012 conference title game. Ohio State and Penn State were on probation, so we drew a 5-loss Wisconsin team whom we beat earlier this season. I remember debating whether I wanted a “Nebraska: Big Ten Champs” or “Nebraska: Rose Bowl” shirt. I swore my TV feed was being punked: Wisconsin 70, Nebraska 31.

As a younger Raiders fan, I always think back to two games: the Tuck Rule and Super Bowl XXXVII.

The Tuck Rule is arguably a combo of #5 (“only one play different”) and #6 (fucking refs) although it’s really more a case of stupid rule than bad refereeing. There’s also a fair amount of #3 (bad error) thrown in, because if the Raiders had just converted a 3rd-and-2 on the prior drive, they wouldn’t have even given the ball back to Brady and company. It’s also a bit undermined by being the opposite of #7 - the game was only a Divisional Round game, and the Raiders would’ve needed to go onto beat the Steelers in Pittsburg, and then the Rams in the SB.

So, losing the Super Bowl the next season in horrible fashion (#1) to me feels worse… but not because of the “getting blown out” reason, but because I think the Raiders actually would’ve had a good chance to win that game had Barret Robbins not gone AWOL right before the game. So I guess it’s sorta a #3? It also hits the mark for #7, because a win really would’ve meant a lot after the low point of the 90s. I’m convinced that Super Bowl loss took years off Al Davis’ life and is why he kept making desperate moves to try and turn things around for one last championship before he passed.

I think the most crushing defeat has to involve a number of different factors. It helps the ‘crush’ factor if it’s a team that has never won anything or hasn’t won in a long time, like the Cleveland Indians or Chicago Cubs. The crush factor goes higher if they had multiple opportunities to win, and failed to do so. And if there are controversial referee calls involved, then that adds yet more crush to the defeat.

I can only talk about sports I follow and games that I’ve seen or know about in my lifetime. But a few losses that come to mind are as follows:

Games 6 and 7 of the 1986 World Series: The Red Sox suffered not just one collapse with a chance to finish off the Mets, but two in two different games. Most everyone remembers the ball rolling between Bill Buckner’s legs. What people forget is that the Red Sox immediately retired the first two batters with a two-run lead before letting runners fill the bags, batter by batter. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Red Sox went out and took a 3-0 lead and left it to left-handed junk baller Bruce Hurst to work late in the game. Hurst had absolutely dominated the Mets in the first two games and was doing it again in the 3rd appearance until about the 5th inning. The Mets would eventually tie and finally put the game away in the 8th after a monster home run by Darryl Strawberry.

Games 6 and 7 of the 2011 World Series (more so game 6). In a series that was eerily similar to the Mets-Sox series of 1986, the Rangers appeared to have gained a nearly insurmountable 7-4 advantage heading into the bottom of the 8th inning. Allen Craig hit a solo homer to cut the deficit to two, but the Cardinals found themselves one strike away from defeat - until David Freese hit a two-run triple to tie it. What’s even worse is that the “triple” was more likely a fielding error by Nelson Cruz, who was out of position and clearly not familiar enough with the lighting and the dimensions of Busch Stadium. What probably would have been a third out catch by a NL outfielder more experienced with the park instead sailed over his head and off the wall. And yet the Rangers would go ahead again thanks to a 2-run shot by Josh Hamilton. And again the Rangers would have the Cardinals down to two outs and two strikes - and again the Cardinals (Lance Berkman) would counter to tie. David Freese would end it in the 11th. And yet despite the heartbreaking loss, the Rangers pounced on the Cardinals early in game 7 to take a 2-0 lead, and threatened to break it open until Carpenter finally calmed down and got out of the inning. Carpenter would settle down and get increasingly stingy through the night, and the Cardinals once again battered Rangers pitching to win the 7th game.

Game 6 NLCS 2003: Cubs collapse after Bartman’s attempted grab and interference with Moises Alou.

AFC playoffs 1993: Houston’s epic collapse against Buffalo: blowing a 35-3 lead and losing in overtime.

1998 NFC Championship Game: Atlanta stuns Minnesota to go to the Super Bowl. Not a completely unpredictable loss and not on the scale of the Houston-Buffalo game. However, considering that the Vikings were widely regarded as almost unstoppable, and considering that they had been dictated much of the game through 3 quarters, it seemed that all they had to do was maintain field position and turn it over to Gary Anderson, who had been perfect in field goals that year. When the moment game for Gary to connect with a relative chip shot, he missed. Atlanta came back in regulation and Falcons kicker Morten Anderson nailed a field goal to win in OT.

Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals: Portland Trailblazers were cruising to victory, only to choke away a 15-point lead with about 10 minutes to play and lose to a Lakers team that was talented but still inexperienced and still searching for its first meaningful win in more than a decade.

Ohhh, I had forgotten about that one.

Please don’t take this as a threadshit, but I believe the MOST excruciating type of loss is one where some game/match/race/whatever causes everyone’s world around me to implode over something that I didn’t even know or care about.

One example, back in college at The Ohio State University, the football team lost to Michigan one year. I never followed sports, and I didn’t even know the game was that day. Next thing I know I’m in the middle of a damn riot with people over turning cars, looting, police helicopters telling me to back home over the loud speaker. My sister’s house got broken into and she got punched in the face by some drunk jock idiot. Nothing like martial law imposed upon you because of some loss you didn’t even know or care about.