Top 10 Most Embarrassing Losses of the Year so Far
Not all losses are created equal.
There are times that players will pour their entire hearts and souls into a game—play the best they've played in their entire lives—and it still won't be enough. These are times when it's okay for them to walk off the field with their heads held high. They can tell themselves, "We did all that we could do, we got beat, and that's okay."
There are also times that teams lose close games on boneheaded mistakes, fall to a major underdogs due to lack of focus or play horribly after proclaiming their own greatness to the media.
These are the times that players walk off the field with their heads down, thinking to themselves, "Oh God, please don't show that on SportsCenter."
There are a lot of things you can do to make a loss really profoundly embarrassing.
You can lose to the wrong team.
You can lose in the wrong way.
You can lose too many times in a row.
You can lose by too much.
This year, much to the delight of the millions of mean-spirited fans in America, we have already seen a plethora of all of these.
Today, we count down the very best 10 of 2014.
10. Tigers Lose on 13th Inning Balk-off
It's every kid's childhood dream: You're up to bat in a tie game in the bottom of the 13th inning. The bases are loaded, and there are two outs. Pressure is building. The fans are on the edges of their seats.
The pitcher starts his windup...
And that's it! You've done it! You've drawn a bases loaded balk and won the game for your team! You're the HERO!
At least, that was my childhood dream. Some kids would rather hit a grand slam, but my general fear of the ball makes the balk my preferred method of RBI.
This scenario is precisely what happened in a game between the Tigers and the Indians on May 21. Tied up in the 13th, Detroit reliever Al Alburquerque began his windup and then stopped. The result was a balk that sent the runner on third home and the Indians to victory.
In a game where so many tiny things go wrong, the balk is one of the few things that is absolutely, 100 percent preventable. All you have to do to stop a balk from happening is to—well, you know, not balk.
Fortunately for the Tigers, this was an inconsequential game at the beginning of a very long season. With higher stakes, losing on a walk-off balk (a balk-off?) would have put Detroit a whole lot higher on this list.
9. World Cup: USA vs. Portugal
The group play match between the US and Portugal at this year's World Cup ended in a draw, but it certainly felt like a loss to the millions of hopeful American soccer fans tuned in around the country.
The US wasn't supposed to win this game, but they were about to anyway. After two heroic second half goals, the game was basically over, and the US was about to move on to the next round.
One minute remained. Fans could be heard in every bar and restaurant screaming, chanting and honking horns.
Thirty seconds remained. The entire nation joined in a rousing chorus of "I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!"
Fifteen seconds remained. Tears of happiness began flowing from the eyes of even the most recent additions to the bandwagon.
Ten seconds remained. Goal Portugal.
And just like that, in the most hilariously disturbing turn of events in the history of sports, every bar in the United States of America was completely silent.
Just think about the sick irony of the whole thing: You spend 35 years actively disliking a sport, then when you finally start to pay attention, this happens.
Yeah, that's what I thought. Go back to watching the end of your baseball game.
(Fortunately, the US did end up advancing in the tournament anyway. Soon enough, this game will be only a footnote in history. But at the time? Ouch.)
8. San Jose Sharks Blow 3-0 Series Lead
Everyone is aware of the fact that the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Rangers to win the 2014 Stanley Cup.
But people are forgetting something. A few week prior, it seemed pretty certain that the Kings wouldn't even make it out of the first round.
The Kings were paired up against the San Jose Sharks, and they got thoroughly destroyed in the first three games. San Jose outscored LA 17-8, and they took a 3-0 series lead.
Then the Kings finally won a game.
Then they won again.
Then they won again.
Then suddenly it was a Game 7 that never should have happened. The Kings won 5-1, eliminating their in-state rivals and making the Sharks the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead in the postseason.
7. 76ers Lose 26 Straight
The Philadelphia 76ers tied an NBA record this season when they lost their 26th consecutive regular season basketball game. This is sort of embarrassing, but also totally explainable: The Sixers were likely tanking the entire season to up their chances at getting the top pick in the NBA draft.
It was no secret that Philadelphia was extremely interested in Kansas freshman guard Andrew Wiggins.
Now let's get to the part of this whole ordeal that is truly the most embarrassing:
Despite their greatest efforts and their epic losing streak, the 76ers managed to get only the third pick in the draft. The top pick went to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had only a 1% chance at getting the spot.
Losing 26 games is embarrassing enough. Losing 26 games with the hopes of getting the top pick as compensation and ending up third?
That's just brutal.
6. Uruguay Loses Luis Suarez for 4 Months
It's always tough to lose the best player on your team when you need him the most.
It's even tougher when you lose that player because he bit an opponent during a match and picked up a suspension.
Unfortunately, such was the case for Uruguay and star striker Luis Suarez, who got just a little too hungry during the team's match against Italy during group play at this year's World Cup.
Suarez is as deadly on the pitch with his teeth as he is with his feet, as this exact same type of controversy has happened multiple times before.
It's a high risk, high reward strategy. At best, he handicaps his opponents with his dangerous teeth and instills a fear in them that prevents them from remaining focused on the match. At the worst, someone notices Suarez taking a little snack break and hits him with a gargantuan suspension.
Worth noting: It is literally always the latter, because, you know, it's hard to get away with a cannibalistic attack in a nationally televised sporting event.
5. Duke Loses to Mercer
Fun facts about the Duke basketball program:
- Won four National Championships
- Reached the Final Four 15 times
- Coached by Mike Krzyzewski, head coach of the Olympic team
- Produced NBA stars Kyrie Irving, Carlos Boozer and many more
Fun facts about the Mercer basketball program:
- Qualified for the NCAA tournament three times ever, including 2014
- Coached by Bob Hoffman, who does not coach the Olympic team
- Produced Sam Mitchell and nobody else
Needless to say, 14th-seeded Mercer's upset of third-seeded Duke was an upset of epic proportions, and the Bears' bizarre celebration was more than warranted.
4. World Cup: Spain's Early Exit
Upsets are as painful for the favorite as they are wonderful for the underdog.
Getting upset in an event that only comes around once every four years only increases the magnitude of those emotions.
Spain's national soccer team was only the top-ranked team in the entire world heading into this year's World Cup, and the defending champions were hoping to repeat their title in Brazil in 2014.
Instead, they started out the Cup by getting thoroughly stomped on by the Netherlands 5-1, then they were promptly booted from competition after a 2-0 loss to Chile.
Well, that got out of control in a hurry. Anyone else expect the US to advance out of the "Group of Death" while Spain became one of the first teams eliminated?
See you in 2018, fellas.
Don't worry—the expectations will be a tad easier to live up to next time around.
3. Super Bowl XLVIII
The two greatest teams in the NFL all year facing off in the most anticipated Super Bowl in years.
No. 1 seed versus No. 1 seed.
The greatest quarterback of all-time up against the stingiest defense of the past 20 years.
In Super Bowl XLVIII, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks were supposed to show the world what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.
Verdict: The unstoppable force is stopped over and over and over and over again.
This year's Super Bowl was exciting for about as long as it took me to walk into my kitchen and pour myself a bowl of chili after the kickoff—and for the record, it did not take me very long to walk into my kitchen and pour myself a bowl of chili.
The Seahawks won the game 43-8. You think Peyton's little brother ever lost a Super Bowl 43-8?
Look, I'm not saying...I'm just saying...
2. Miami Destroyed in Finals
So here's a funny thing to think about.
In 2007, LeBron led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals only a few years into his young career. To nobody's surprise, the Cavs were swept by the Spurs in a mismatch of a series.
Fast forward seven years. LeBron has evolved into one of the greatest players of all-time, and he has surrounded himself with superstars and future Hall of Famers. In 2014 he goes up against virtually the same Spurs team...and loses by more?
LeBron's 2007 Cavs lost four pretty close games. LeBron's 2014 Heat got absolutely destroyed in each of their four losses, despite pulling off a single win in Game 2.
"Distant second" isn't exactly what James, Wade and Bosh had in mind when they formed the big three in South Beach four years ago.
1. Alabama Loses on 109-Yard Field Goal Return
Oh, how quickly an entire season can slip out of control.
Alabama was undefeated and the unanimous No. 1-ranked team in the entire country when Auburn suddenly turned the entire college football world upside down with one of the most extraordinary game-winning touchdowns in the history of the NCAA.
I'm not even sure who gets the blame here.
Nick Saban for calling a field goal attempt that had about a 1 percent chance of success?
The kicker for missing so terribly?
The entire Alabama special teams unit for failing to show up at the most crucial time?
Goodbye, BCS National Championship Game. Hello, Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Oh, how quickly, and how wonderfully, the mighty have fallen.
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