I recently witnessed a hockey team complete an amazing comeback. A hockey team who started a best-of-seven playoff series down 0-3 only to end up winning the next 4 games to advance to the next round. Sure it was in the Junior C loop and it wasn’t for the big prize. But it is these kinds of accomplishments that makes sport exciting. The same team was in the same position 4 tears earlier. A semi-pro baseball team in Ontario reeled off 4 straight wins to clinch the league championship after beginning the series down 3-0.
A perfect game, an undefeated season, a Stanley Cup winning goal… in overtime… on a penalty shot. Those are some things that we rarely witness whether it is in the regular season or the post season. Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Joe Carter’s come-from-behind, game-ending, World Series winning home run in 1993, the Buffalo Bills coming back from 32 points down to beat the Houston Oilers in a 1993 NFL Wild Card Playoff game. Those kinds of feats we may never see again.
But as exciting as they are, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Dave Stieb got his first and only no-hitter with the Blue Jays in 1990 but there were 6 others who accomplished that feat, 5 did so by themselves. There were 7 more no-hitters thrown in 1991. While Blue Jays fans were overjoyed by Stieb’s accomplishments, to the rest of the baseball world it was just another no-hitter. I can tell you hockey fans started growing tired of the shootout 3 years after it was implemented despite the number of highlight-reel plays it created. The luster of the novelty wore off. I’m worried that the outdoor winter game will suffer that same fate if the NHL continues to keep having these games beyond their annual New Year’s Day event.
People seem to miss the point that part of what makes these experiences exciting is because it doesn’t happen very often. If every Super Bowl winning team in the last 10 years went 19 and 0, would we look at them the same way as the 1972 Miami Dolphins? Of course not. I’m sure there are people in Boston and fans of their associated teams would say there is nothing like winning a championship each and every year. But I bet they will also tell you going through those lean times made those championships much sweeter.