Thursday, May 05, 2005

Top 11 Most Bitter Moments In Atomizer's Sports Life

[Editor's note: The following is a collaboration between the Warrior Monk from SPITBULL, the Nihilist in Golf Pants, and myself. In order to do this subject the justice that it so richly deserves, it required the work and recollections of all three of us. The only thing that could have made it better would have been to get input from the Missus, who's not doubt witnessed more than her fair share of sports related meltdowns by her hubby over the years. Heck, she could probably come up with her own Top 11 list in this area.]

The drama of sport. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. For some, they're silly games. For others, they're deadly serious. People allow their emotional well being to ride on the success or failure of their local professional sports franchises. People like our good friend Atomizer a.k.a. Ben from Fraters Libertas.

Atomizer has a storied career as a sports fan. He experiences the ups and downs of "his" teams like few others. Often it seems more than the players themselves. While the victories are cause for celebration, it's really the defeats that marks Atomizer as a breed apart. Most of the time he's an affable, mild-mannered, gentle soul. But when the fickle hand of fate deals his team a bad hand, it appears as if the demons of hell are using his body (and mouth) as a portal into our world. I swear I've seen his head spin completely around after a particularly painful defeat.

Sometimes even the victories can be tainted. And so, without further adieu, we give you Atomizer's (Ben's) 11 Most Bitter Moments In Sports:

11. 2005 Twins home opener. Ben buys his tickets for the home opener three months in advance and is brimming with anticipation for the big day. He's certain the Cy Young Johan Santana will be on the mound when the Twins host their first game of the season. The day finally comes and his anticipation soon turns to anger as starter Kyle Lohse surrenders two long balls in the sixth inning en route to a 5-1 loss to the hated White Sox.

10. 2002 Game 5 of the ALCS. The Twins are down three games to one against the Angels in the series, but if they can win game five in Anaheim, they would come back to the Metrodome for games six and seven, so there still is hope. We're watching the game at our house with a number of friends over. The Twins lead 5-3 in the seventh and Ben is laughing, drinking, and having a good time. Then some putz named Adam Kennedy hits his third home run of the game to give the Angels a 6-5 lead. The Angels end up scoring TEN runs in the inning, crush the Twins 13-5, and go on to win the World Series. Ben becomes surly, bitter, and withdrawn in a matter of minutes if not seconds. I follow him around the house and when he goes outside to have a smoke, because I fear that he's going to start breaking things. After the outcome of the game is no longer in doubt he screams, "Corey Koskie can suck my c***!" after the Twins third baseman strikes out. I also believe he did punch something with his hand, because it was bleeding later. This "fist of frustration" has made many an appearance over the years after a loss.

9. 1975. The Vikings have started the season 10-0 and are playing their 11th game in Washington on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Our family is driving back from Dubuque in a huge blizzard, listening to the game on the radio. Fred Cox misses a field goal in the closing seconds and the Vikes lose, 31-30. Now, on top of the driving snow and wind, our Dad has to deal with two weeping sons in the back seat.

8. 1971. Neighborhood mom takes four-year-old Ben and a bunch of other kids to Browndale Park. Ben has just reached the top of the slide when for some reason he becomes convinced that everyone is leaving without him. In his haste to rejoin them he . . . goes down the slide? Nope. Too easy. He jumps off, landing on his face and scraping half of it off. (Not sports-related in the strictest sense, but I think very influential in his psychological development. Embarrassing to boot.)

7. 1984 The details on this one are a little fuzzy, but we are in Ben's room drinking beer, playing cards, and listening to the Twins on the radio. Some Twins stopper--Jeff Reardon? Ron Davis?--blows a save, and Ben in a righteous fury heaves one of his poker chips at the wall. Splits it right in half (the chip, that is, not the wall). Not an easy thing to do, but Ben in a spittle-flecked Twins rage is capable of superhuman feats.

(An alternative version of this story: My memory is of us playing in-between at Ben's parents house when it was being rebuilt from the fire, so as teenagers we had beer & tobacco. I don't remember the Twins, although that could have been the time when Ron Davis was kicking away saves. Is 1984 right? Anyway, we started playing in-between. We had little money and the pot was something like $10, which would have been enormous to us. Ben gets an Ace/King, meaning he has an 88% chance of winning. He bets the full pot and draws either an ace or king, forcing him to work 3 hours at Burger King to pay up. In a fit of rage he tosses the chip so hard it breaks.)

6. 1987. The Twins win the World Series, but Ben is spending the semester in London, so he misses all of it. He is able to listen to the games late at night on Armed Forces radio . . . but he does so with a girl who dumps him for her old boyfriend as soon as they return to the States. Ouch.

5. January 2001 Bunny's bar watching the Vikings play the Giants in the NFC Championship. Five minutes into the game, the Vikings fall behind 14-0 (on their way to a humiliating 41-0 loss). Ben gives up on the squad at this point and launches into an anti-Vikings tirade. Another friend watching the game advise him to chill out and the two of them starting screaming at each other across the table. This went on for some time and I was prepared to step in and separate the two if they came to physical blows. Thankfully it did not come to that.

4. January 1999. The 15-1 Vikings are about to ice the NFC Championship Game with a field goal by Gary Anderson, who hadn't missed a single one all season. As they line up for the kick Ben says "That fucker's going to miss. I know he is." The fucker misses. Ben takes no solace in his spot-on predictive skills.

3. 1983. Late-season North Stars game at Met Center. A group of us have SRO tickets, the keys to the family Suburban, and, somehow, a bottle of Jack Daniel's. I'm the only one who has turned 16, so I'm the designated driver; Ben does his part by drinking my share in addition to his in the parking lot before the game. Needless to say, by the time we go inside he's shit-faced. The standing-room areas are at the very top of the arena, of course, but we find a good spot up against a waist-high ledge that fronts a stairwell down to some sort of maintenance room. Ben attempts to hoist himself up to sit on the ledge but forgets to stop until the floor of the stairwell does it for him a good eight feet below. He's flat on his back and mumbling incoherently--think Sgt. Hulka in "Stripes" when the tower collapses. I still don't know how we talked our way past the security guard who rushed up to find out what the hell was going on and who became determined to take Ben away for first-aid and what undoubtedly would have been his first drinking-related legal matter.

2. 1980. Vikings-Browns on a grey December afternoon at Met Stadium. We (Ben, me, my dad, and one of his friends) are sitting in our lousy season-ticket seats in the north end-zone bleachers (along the third-base line), which were true planks-of-wood-on-scaffolding bleachers and BITCHIN' cold when a winter wind whipped through them. By the end of the third quarter the Vikes are down by three scores and an underdressed Ben is about to succumb to hypothermia, so it seems wise to leave. We hear the stadium roar as we enter the parking lot--touchdown number one. We listen to touchdown number two on the car radio. And we reach home just in time to turn on the TV and see touchdown number three, a Hail Mary pass from Tommy Kramer to Ahmad Rashad to win the game as time expires in what I believe still ranks as the biggest comeback in Vikings history. Naturally, all three touchdowns were scored in our end zone.

1. 1990 watching Vikings-49ers playoff game at Timothy O'Tooles Gipper's bar. As the Vikes are getting blown out, Ben starts openly cheering the 49ers. At this point, a girl gets in his face, telling him he's cheering the wrong team. Ben responds, "No, you're cheering the wrong team, my team is up by twenty points." He then requests fellatio. She responds by aggressively placing a hand on his throat and attempting to strangle him.


Blogger pikkumatti said...

The blue-green folding chairs down lower in the north end zone were no warmer, believe me. And the view was worse.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Atomizer said...

Event #1 occurred at Gippers, not O'Toole's and the gal did not try to strangle me, she slapped me...and quite hard too.

You also forgot to mention the incredible self control I demonstrated by not slapping her back. I believe I actually raised my hand to do just that...but one look at my Dad's face, who was sitting across the table from me, made me rethink that course of action.

8:07 AM  
Blogger the wolf said...

Woo hoo! White Sox rule!

10:04 PM  
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