For every winner, there’s a loser


It’s not easy being the goat; the bigger the stage, the greater the pain.

If you grew up reading the comic strip Peanuts, you know all about Charlie Brown—the round-headed kid who seemingly couldn’t do anything right. He was an awful pitcher on an equally lousy team. He whiffed kicking the football because Lucy always pulled it away at the last second.

The difference between most athletes who play the role of goat and Charlie Brown is that most professional athletes have had a considerable amount of success.

This year’s baseball playoffs featured a line drive that should have been caught but wasn’t by Matt Holliday of St. Louis. If he had caught the ball, the Cardi­nals would have won the game and evened the series against the Dodgers. As it was, they ended up losing the game and shortly thereafter, the series.

Twenty-three years ago, Bill Buckner let a simple ground ball go through his legs in a game that could have given the Red Sox their first title since 1918. What looked like sure victory turned into the agony of defeat.

The line score for the Red Sox that day was 13 hits, 5 runs, 3 errors. Of course, not many remember the 13 hits or five runs. And while there were three errors, most fans only remember the one by Buckner.

In an ESPN.com story in October 2006, Buckner said, “It just amazes me. I don’t quite get it. I have come to the understanding that it is here to stay, so I try to look at it in a positive way.”

Super Bowl XXV cemented Scott Norwood’s name in football history when he missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt at the end of the game, giving the New York Giants the victory. Sportscaster Al Michaels had the call: “No good! Wide right.”

Before the game, Norwood was kicking balls at the right upright and watched them hook left and through. Norwood played his fourth-quarter kick just like in warm-ups, only this time the ball didn’t hook, it kept going straight and wide right.

Unless you’re a diehard Giants or Bills fan, chances are you remember little else about the game—the great plays or the missed tackles.

After every major blunder, someone is celebrating. What is misfortune for one team is good fortune for another.

Unless you’re particularly cold blooded and heartless, part of your heart has to go out to the person who, for whatever reason, blew it.

Who among us can’t identify with one who errs? Who hasn’t made a mistake, said the wrong thing at the wrong time, or wished for a mulligan?

Sports mirrors life. For every winner, there’s one who loses. And some of those losses are particularly humbling.

So, why do bad things happen to good athletes?

Deep down, we all know why. We’re human.

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Writing for ESPN.com, Jayson Stark made an interesting observation this fall before the Yankees made it to the World Series.

Stark pointed out that, for the Yankees, nine years is a very long time to go without winning a World Series, particularly when $1.8 billion has been spent in player salaries during that time—almost enough to build two Yankee Stadiums, or more than double the gross national product of Liberia.

*?*?*

“Football is only a game. Spiritual things are eternal. Nevertheless, beat Texas.” Seen on a church sign in Arkansas prior to the 1969 game.

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After losing 51-0 to Notre Dame, USC coach John McKay’s postgame message to his team: “All those who need showers, take them.”

McKay also was quoted as saying, “We didn’t tackle well today, but we made up for it by not blocking.”


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