The trials of a fan, Pt. 1
Immense joy, unspeakable sadness, red-hot anger and and intense pride ... the life of a sports fan.
Granted, I'm still a young pup by most people's standards, but I've had my fair share of ups and downs as a sports fan.
I've jumped up and down in my living room in elation and I've throw a curse word or two at the television on plenty of occasions.
I've lingered in stadiums and arenas in disbelief and stormed football fields and basketball courts.
Before I became I a journalists I was allowed to be a fan. I still am to a degree, but I've conditioned myself to be an objective, unbiased observer for my career and it's slowly making its way into my everyday life.
I'm doing my best to hold onto the slivers of super fanhood that I still possess for my Panthers, Yankees and Charlotte 49ers, but it seems to get tougher as I exit my more youthful and exuberant years.
So to help jog my memory of my most memorable moments, I'll recap the times where I felt the most joy, sadness, anger and pride over the next four weeks. We'll start with joyous moments.
The first moment I'd like to illustrate may bring up some painful memories for a large number of you readers, but it has to be done.
The year was 2005, the date — November 25.
It was a frigid night in Bostic as the East Rutherford Cavaliers hosted the Shelby Golden Lions in the third round of the 2A state playoffs.
As you may have guessed by now, I was on the eastern side of the stadium sitting in the visitors' stands for this one outfitted in my Shelby letterman's jacket.
East Rutherford defeated Shelby just three weeks prior for the conference title, but on this night Shelby took it to the Cavs early on. However, East stormed back to tie the game in regulation forcing overtime.
The Cavaliers had the first crack at the end zone but had to settle for a Blake Bostic field goal.
Trailing 20-17, Shelby got its turn from the 10 yard line.
A 3-yard run followed by a 6-yard run set up third and goal from inside the 1 yard line.
Junior fullback Arsenio Parks was stuffed at the line on third down forcing a dramatic decision. The Golden Lions elected to bypass the field goal and go for the win.
This time, Parks went over the right side of the line and into the end zone for six points and the win.
Myself, a 16-year-old high school junior, hopped over the rail and stormed the field with countless classmates.
Shelby went on to win the state title that season as well as the next.
Now you can hate me for bringing this up or call me and tell me to go back to Cleveland County where I came from (it's happened), but that was one of the greatest high school football games I have ever seen. East Rutherford announcer Alan Carver and I reminisced about that night during an interview last year and he remembers the night as if it was yesterday.
"It was dead silent when Shelby scored. It was devastation. I couldn't even say anything," Carver said shaking his head.
But let's move on from that and turn the clock back a few more years.
The year was 2003, the date — October, 16.
My New York Yankees were playing the Boston Red Sox for the the 26th time on the season, but this time it was for a trip to the World Series in Game 7 of the ALCS.
Aces Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens squared off in a game that makes Yankees fan rejoice and Boston fans curse to this day.
Tied at 5-5 in the bottom of the 11th inning, Aaron Boone (who entered the game as a pinch-runner in the 8th) hammered Tim Wakefield's first offering of the inning over the left field wall and punched the Yankees' ticket to the World Series.
This is one of the few moments that I remember exactly where I was when it happened.
I was 13 years old sitting in a computer chair in the half-basement of my house at the time. My dad and I watched the game together, like we did every game prior to Game 7, on the large L-shaped sofa we eventually got rid of after owning it for what seemed like 80 years.
However, not unlike most MLB playoff games, this contest went well into the night and my dad, like he often does, fell asleep on the couch towards the latter innings.
I migrated to the computer seeing as my conversation partner was out of commission. Seeing as it was 2003 and I was a teenager in the days before text messaging and Facebook, I was probably on AOL instant messenger — 20-somethings know what I'm taking about.
Watching from a distance I saw the ball leave Wakefield's hand and jump off of Boone's bat. I jumped straight up and yelled, "DAD!"
By the time he rubbed his eyes I was on the couch jumping for joy telling him that we won.
I hate he missed the moment, but we saw plenty of replays on our 26-inch, tube television.
The Yankees went on to lose the World Series to the Florida Marlins, but I'll discuss that week.