The Ant Hill
By Anthony Jovinelli
The Pleasure of Pain
There is no more lively a phenomenon than that of pain. The impressions it leaves are certain, dependable and a lasting reminder of an unwanted outcome. Thinking about it realistically, what awakens the senses more than an unexpected shock to the system? Remember that time you were trying to navigate your darkened home in the need of a nocturnal bathroom run. Nothing will arouse you from your sleepy time wandering more than stubbing your toe on some unseen object. If it has ever happened to you, most likely, those sensations probably just dully echoed throughout your body just now.
There may well be a thrill to victory but Oh what about that agony of defeat? As sports fans, we seem more comfortable commiserating in our teams loses then rejoicing in their wins. In Boston, the Patriots are one of the most successful teams in NFL history. They are third in Super Bowl appearances and only the second team to compile three wins in a four season span. The Celtics have 17 Championships, the most of any NBA franchise. The Bruins have six Stanley Cups among their list of accomplishments and that ranks them as fourth on the NHL’s all time list for this category. Yet most Bostonians would rather dwell on the “Curse of the Bambino” that afflicted their poor Red Sox. Somehow they forget that the team had five World Series Pennants prior to that fateful day in 1918 when they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees. They have also added one more after finally breaking the curse back in 2004. What on earth could they have to bitch about now??? We’ll just have to give them time to get a couple of drought years under their belts again, I guess.
How about we take a look at Chicago in the meantime: The Phil Jackson/Michael Jordan Bulls are considered one of the most (if not the most) successful dynasties in sports history. This team accumulated six championships in the course of the same decade and dominated the NBA during their tenure. Then there’s ‘Da Bears’ with nine NFL Championships to include (Boo freakin Hoo) only one Super Bowl win. Da Bears also lay claim to having the most enshrinees in the Pro-Football Hall of Fame, to date. That’s right, Da Bears! How many of you thought it was the Packers?
Alright, so what about those Blackhawks? Well, they do have four Stanley Cup Championships. The last one in 2010 had more press because it was the longest drought in NHL history. Shouldn’t that have been okay though, they did have the Bulls and Da Bears to take their mind off of that; didn’t they??? Next we’ll take a look at the White Sox. I think most Chicagoans actually forget that this is one of their teams. The White Sox fans, wherever they are, have suffered through a championship drought that was actually longer than that of the Boston Red Sox. Two World Series Pennants prior to 1918, their next one wasn’t earned until 2004. If you have ever had the chance to discuss sports with someone from Chicago, take the time to explain all the good fortune their city has had over the past century and I guarantee you that they will respond “What about the Cubs?” That’s right, the lowly Cubs, those lovable losers from the north side who have never won a championship.
I write this as a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan. If anyone can qualify as an expert on masochism it would have to be someone from the City of Brotherly Love. For those of you that share in my pain by bleeding green or orange or red, white and blue, let us revel in our frustrations equally. As I write this, The Flyers have just succumbed to a game 5 defeat at the hands of the New Jersey Devils. So if the suicide prevention hotline has you on hold, aggressively pound six – six – six and hang up. As much as we long for a champion, what would we do if we had the success of a Boston or a Chicago?
Yes, I am aware that the Phillies won the World Series back in 2008. I am also aware that even though they have the envious distinction of being the oldest continuous one-name one-city franchise in all of professional sports. I am also aware that since their inception in 1883 the only other World Series Pennant came in 1980. That ninety-seven year drought eclipses that of both the Red and the White Sox as mentioned above. Not to mention that the last World Series appearance was a loss to the ever fabulous Yankees. Yes, a nation cheered for the team with the most championships in all of professional sports just because it was the last year they were going to play in “The house that Ruth built”…
The irony of that is that it seems to fit the enigma that is Philadelphia sports. I watched in amazement, yet not shock, as Ilya Bryzgalov bounced the game winning goal off of a Devil’s stick, back into his own net. It was actually kind of nostalgic as it reminded of the series that the Flyers lost to the Devil’s in which Damond Langkow put a game winning goal into his own empty net after the goaltender was pulled because a Devil player had committed a penalty. Oh, and the Flyers now own the record for the longest drought in Stanley Cup history which they took over when they were defeated by the previous holders, The Chicago Blackhawks. By the way, on a freakish goal that almost defied physics and had to be reviewed for that reason.
Let’s see whatzup with the Seventy-sixers. Their recent add campaign stated “The third most wins in NBA history.” All well and good but for the third most wins they have failed to mention that there was only one championship, which, by the way will have a thirtieth birthday next year.
And speaking of celebrating futility, in 2010 our beloved Eagles commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the 1960 Championship team. Being two years old at that time, I don’t really remember much about that team but gee whiz we should be honoring those pre Super Bowl era winners, shouldn’t we. I mean, yeah the Birds have made it to the Super Bowl twice, why am I griping. Well, every other team in their division has more Super Bowl victories than the Eagles have even appeared in. and our last visit was lost to the ever popular New England Patriots as our Quaterback (The one who believes he should be enshrined in Canton) was throwing up in the huddle.
Well, if you can feel my pain, then you must be from Philadelphia as well. So on that note, I would like to dedicate this article to all the Philadelphians who have lived and died loving their teams but never lived to witness a championship. I hereby close this article with the Philadelphia Sports Fan mantra. Say it with me people: There’s always next year. There’s always next year. There’s always next year…
“The Noblest question in the world is: What good can I do in it?”