Hearts aching across nation

first_imgThere I sat, head in hands, all the energy and life sucked from my body. Less than one minute earlier, I had been standing, screaming my lungs out in anticipation and with an excitement never felt before.With bases loaded and two batters out, the playoff hopes and dreams of Brewers fans everywhere were hanging in the balance and all-star MVP candidate Prince Fielder at the plate. But Mighty Fielder grounded out, and the Brewers flickering hopes for the postseason more or less died. If you’re a sports fan, the ebb and flow of a game or season can build you up, giving you some of the most euphoric feelings imaginable. By the same token, it can tear you down just as quickly. Almost never was that more painfully evident than the last seven days in the world of baseball. For Brewers fans, the decisive day was last Thursday. The Cubs had just lost their second game in a row to the Marlins, sending cheers up throughout tailgates in the Miller Park parking lots. If the Brewers were to make a move in the Central division, it would be that night.In what was the biggest game of the year for the Brewers (arguably the biggest game since 1992, the last time the Crew had a shot to make the playoffs), they laid a total egg: a 9-5 loss in which the team booted and threw the ball around for five errors.As heartbreaking and depressing as the result on the field was, equally depressing were the fans in the stands — rather, the lack thereof.This was the biggest game for the franchise in the last 15 years and far fewer than the announced crowd of some 34,000 actually showed up. As a Brewer fan, I was, and am, embarrassed by that. In the middle of a pennant chase, the team should be selling out every game, no excuses.But the heartbreak wasn’t limited to the Midwest. On the east coast, the Mets undertook one of the most heartbreaking collapses in baseball history. Up 7 1/2 games with only 17 games to play, the Mets went into an all-out tailspin, losing 12 of their last 17 games, including six of the last seven.Just two nights ago, more heartbreak ensued. Up two runs in extra innings, the Padres lost the tiebreaker Wild Card game to the Rockies with the all-time saves leader on the mound. Trevor Hoffman gave up three runs in the bottom of the 13th, the last one in very controversial fashion after replays showed Matt Holliday apparently did not touch home plate with his face-first slide.On the flip side of all the heartbreak, however, is sheer joy.For diehard Cubs, Phillies and Rockies fans (can they actually exist for the Rockies if the team has been around less than 15 years?), those heartbreaking cases were nothing short of amazing.Scenes of the towel-waving masses that packed to Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park the brink joyously celebrating a post-season berth stood in stark contrast to the drab and downtrodden masses which filled Shea Stadium as Mets fans realized their team’s season was coming to a swift end. The carnage isn’t just limited to the diamond. On the college football scene this past weekend, top-ranked teams like Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia all saw their national title hopes essentially go down the tubes with losses to lower-ranked teams.Fans who started the season posting on message boards about lofty expectations for their teams and quietly planning out roadtrips to the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans are now left to the depressing realization of needing to make new arrangements to travel to a lesser bowl.Here in Wisconsin, Badger fans have been able to avoid that heartbreak so far. But somewhere in the back of everyone’s mind is the knowledge that that empty feeling in the stomach and head-in-hands moment always could be just one play around the corner. Ben is a junior majoring in journalism and political science. Feeling heartbroken after a tough loss too? Contact him at bvoelkel@badgerherald.comlast_img

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