I'm a complainer, and I'm darn good at it. My wife would be more than willing to attest to that. I've had ample opportunity to polish this craft during the past 36 years. Make it 28 since I didn't watch sports until I was eight.
Born and raised in central Pennsylvania, my team loyalty has been drawn and quartered from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. In my defense though, I've been fiercely loyal and consistent from day one.
I'm just not good at choosing my teams. But didn't someone a lot smarter than me say you don't choose true love, it chooses you? Maybe it's time for an annulment.
My list of favorite PA teams (in order of favorite to least)
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Penn State Football
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Pitt Basketball
- Penn State Basketball
Better choices might have been the Steelers, Phillies, and heck, throw Villanova in there too—after all, they did dispose of Pitt last week and they're in PA.
When Super Mario wasn't busy saving the princess, he was winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in the early '90s. Unfortunately, my hometown didn't carry hockey until the playoffs back then, so I can't exactly say those titles fulfilled me.
I jumped on the bandwagon five minutes before it got there.
That means the ONLY championship one of my teams that I bled with ever brought me was the one delivered by Vinny Testerverde in the end zone in 1986. Thank you, Pete Giftopoulos.
As an Eagles fan, my only claim to fame is that between the Steelers and Eagles, PA has six Super Bowl rings.
The first professional sporting event I attended was at Three Rivers Stadium to see the Pirates when they were actually good and the Steelers weren't (talk about role reversal). Ever since, I've been a die-hard for life, with the emphasis on die.
In my sports watching life, the heartache to championship ratio has been skewed.
I've seen Penn State go undefeated with one of the most explosive offenses in the history of college football and not even get to play for the title.
Twice in the past four years I've watched them lose an otherwise undefeated season on the last play of a game that shouldn't have been that close in the first place.
I've watched Allen Iverson will the Sixers to the championship, only to lose in a five-game sweep.
I lived through the night in 1992 when Francisco Cabrera drove in the game tying and winning runs with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth in the NLCS that left both Andy Van Slyke and I unable to move. The Pirates followed that up with 16 straight losing seasons and counting.
The Penguins teased me last year only to be disposed of by a much more talented Detroit Red Wings team in the one series that counted most. And to think I was actually able to follow them the entire year this time, so it would have counted against my drought.
The Eagles, well...I think their big-game shortcomings over the past eight years have been well documented and dissected. Four NFC Championships and a Super Bowl branded with a big "L". Just once Andy, just once. Please!!
The Pitt Panthers have been one of the better programs in college basketball over the past several years, but in the big dance they've been no better than they were when Sean Miller commanded the court in '88. That is, until this year, when they got my hopes up. Thanks.
So now, with Penn State capping off five straight wins by defeating Baylor to win the NIT Championship, I ask—does this count?
If so, does it need one of those asterisks?