Three straight walk off losses.
That’s what Rockies fans suffered through this past weekend. In three straight matchups with the division-leading Dodgers, the Rox went into the ninth inning with a legitimate shot to win, only to have the game ripped away in heartbreaking fashion.
First, on Friday, it was a Matt Beaty two-run homer. Saturday, the game was won on an Alex Verdugo solo shot. Then Sunday, in the series finale, Will Smith’s three-run blast provided one final punch to the gut.
There’s just no worse way to lose than on a walk-off. Ask the Rockies today. Ask the Rangers about Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.
I’ll even take it a step further, I’d rather lose a game in blowout fashion than have it stripped away at the last second.
There will be plenty of people who disagree. Their counter-argument is something along the lines of “at least in a last second loss I’d feel like I was in the game and had a chance.” I heard it today from guys on our station like John Davis and Tom Nalen. To me, that’s what makes the walk-off, or the Hail Mary, or the buzzer beater sting that much more.
The last thing I want is to watch my team steal defeat from the jaws of victory.
Take that 2011 World Series I mentioned earlier for example. As a Dallas native and diehard Rangers fan, reliving the events of Game 6 against the Cardinals makes me a little queasy. But for the sake of the argument, I’ll suffer through it.
Just one year before, the Rangers took on the Giants for a shot at the title and lost a non-competitive series four games to one. San Francisco was a better team and it was made abundantly clear in that 2010 World Series. As much as it hurt to watch loss after loss, it didn’t even come close to the agony I felt after Nelson Cruz flat out whiffed on a fly ball that would’ve ended the series in 2011. The subsequent David Freese walk-off home run drove that nail even further into my sports heart. Frankly, I think I would’ve rather seen that 2011 team get swept.
Here’s another example, one I know Denver fans will remember – Super Bowl XLVIII. I don’t think I need to recap what happened that February night, but just in case there’s someone out there who missed it, the game started with a Manny Ramirez bad snap that turned into a safety and ended in a 43-8 win for the Seahawks. The Broncos couldn’t catch a break all night and their performance on both sides of the ball was pitiful. I know that one hurt. It hurt me and I had no rooting interest at the time.
That pales in comparison to how Seahawks fans surely felt the next year. Seattle jumped out to a 10-point lead in the third quarter, then a Patriots rally made the score 28-24 New England with 2:02 left in the game. With just 26 seconds on the clock, however, Russell Wilson had the ball on the one-yard line, all but assured a go-ahead touchdown to win a second-straight title. Except, it didn’t happen. Malcolm Butler picked off a pass that shouldn’t have been thrown, the game ended shortly thereafter and the Seahawks’ fans were left wondering how on earth they lost a game they absolutely should have won.
That’s why I’d much rather lose a blowout. I can chalk it up as a bad day or a loss to a better team. I don’t have that luxury In a walk-off. When my team loses in the last second, I’m left wondering how and why.
The lingering what ifs – What if Cruz had been back two steps? What if Wilson had handed the ball off? What if the Rockies had picked up one more out?- is just salt in the wound and makes that loss feel so much worse.