The Top Ten Painful Disappointments In The Last 40 Years

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The Top Ten Painful Disappointments In The Last 40 Years
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Been a long, hard slog as a sports fan these past 40 years (I go back further), but here's some memories by this native Michigander, and they don't only relate to Detroit or Michigan:

  • 10:  Michigan State loses to Georgia Tech in OT; Georgia Tech's shot after the buzzer:   One of Jud's best teams.  Steve Smith missed key free throws, but the shot that sent the game into OT WAS after the buzzer.
  • 9:  Kansas over MSU in 1986:  The Clock:  With 2:21 remaining in an NCAA tournament regional semifinal against Kansas, the clock stops for between 11 and 19 seconds of play.  And a great State team led by Scott Skiles goes down.
  • 8:  Pistons lose to Lakers despite Isiah Thomas' 25 in third quarter on bum ankle in 1988 sixth game:  Ouch.  The Pistons were the better team, and would win the next two titles.
  • 7:  Greg Norman blows a seven-shot lead to Nick Faldo in 1986 Masters:  Does anyone who saw it not remember wincing?  Norman came so close so many times.  Plus, he and Chris Evert are no more.  Hundreds of millions can't compensate (although it can't hurt).
  • 6:  Buckner and the ball against the Mets, 1986:  No emotional investment here, but how can I leave this one out?
  • 5:  Ruffian, Barbaro, Eight Belles die in Triple Crown races:  I am still traumatized.  Aren't you?
  • 4:  1983, Monte Clark prays on the sideline for Eddie Murray to hit a field goal in a playoff against the 49ers:   The image is seared in my mind.  It said everything that has needed to be said about the Lions since 1957.  RIP, Monte. You deserved better.
  • 3:  Red Wings lose to Penguins at home in Game Seven of Stanley Cup playoffs:   I was with dear friends back in Michigan and we expected a coronation.  Congrats to the Penguins, but that one was a shocker.
  • 2:  Tom Watson, 2009 British Open:   Rarely do you get a chance to see one of the top 5 moments in sports history—any sport, not just golf—unfold before your eyes.  59-year-old Tom Watson—13 years older than any Major winner ever—hit a great shot into 18 on the final day, but with one club too many given the adrenalin.  He lost to Stewart Cink in a playoff. 
  • 1:  Milt Wilcox loses a Perfect Game with one out left in the ninth inning:   A surprise to many, I am sure, but this Tigers' fan will never forget it:  Two outs, bottom of the ninth, Tigers vs. White Sox in 1983.  In 1984, the Tigers would just smoke baseball, going 35-5 and winning the Series 4-1.  But on April 15, 1983, Milt Wilcox—a quality journeyman pitcher—was unhittable that night against the White Sox.  But with two outs in the ninth, Jerry Hairston lined a clean single into center field.  I will never forget where I was, and how we started to notice from the fourth inning on.  Milt now trains dogs.  But I will never forget.

So sorry:   I have left out so many, including Tommy Hearns losing to Sugar Ray Leonard when he clearly won; many, many Spartans' losses, including that horrid one in 2004 in football in double OT to U-M (and too many others by my Spartans), and so many more.  Give me a few days, and I could revise this list.  But I will go with it for now, and invite your input.

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