Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Not getting what we want is a fundamental part of being a sports fan. Whether it's a heart-breaking defeat in the playoffs, or a washout season that leaves us waiting for a high draft pick, our favorite teams lose. Our favorite players get traded, leave in free agency, get injured and retire. People we admired turn out to be scumbags, and people we already knew were scumbags win championships and make commercials. Life isn't fair, and nothing has taught us that lesson more clearly than our love of sports.
But another part of being a sports fan is that every once in a while, dreams come true. That high draft pick turns out to be the savior we needed, our favorite player makes the Hall of Fame, the last guy off the bench makes an incredible play to clinch the win, and so on. In those moments, sports do what very few other things in life can match: the impossible becomes possible. I've seen games that, if they were in a movie, you'd laugh off as unrealistic and cliched. When those things happen in real life, they do what the movies never could.
Of course, for every dream that comes true, there are 100 that don't. Everyone has their own ideas of heaven, but here's mine.
If there is a pro football heaven, it's a place where:
* We get to find out what happens in the alternate universe where Peyton Manning plays for the Patriots, and Tom Brady plays for the Colts. Also, Dan Marino plays for the 49ers and Joe Montana plays for the Dolphins. And while we're at it, let's flip Bart Starr with Johnny Unitas or Sonny Jurgensen, and Norm Van Brocklin with Otto Graham or Bobby Layne.
* We get to see what Doug Flutie would have done in the NFL from 1991-97, if an NFL team had used him the way the Bills did in '98.
* Herschel Walker, Tombstone Jackson, and Kenny Easley are in the Hall of Fame.
* Daniel Snyder has never owned a professional football franchise.
* Brett Favre stayed retired.
* The Steelers never, ever, wear their throwback jerseys.
* Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus didn't rip up their knees.
* Ernie Davis lived.
If there is a pro basketball heaven, it's a place where:
* No one uses Comic Sans.
* The 1990s Utah Jazz, with John Stockton and Karl Malone, won a championship.
* Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Rasheed Wallace, and Jermaine O'Neal play on the same team.
* Michael Jordan never tried to play for the White Sox.
* These teams compete in a tournament.
* No one skips the Olympics.
* Len Bias lived.
If there is a baseball heaven, it's a place where:
* Batters don't step out of the box between pitches.
* We get to see what Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and other Negro League stars would have done in the majors.
* And Sadaharu Oh.
* No one used performance-enhancing drugs.
* Sandy Koufax never blew out his arm.
* The Montreal Expos won the 1994 World Series.
* Joe Morgan never became an announcer.
* No one skips the World Baseball Classic.
* Sidd Finch lived.
And if there is a sports heaven, it's a place where Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith have never been on television, Bo Jackson played until he was 40, no one attacked Monica Seles, the NCAA's mission is to help young athletes, there's a New Year's Eve MMA show in Japan every year, and Ty Webb won his eighth and final Masters over Happy Gilmore.