Thursday, September 26, 2013

Awesome Awfulness: The Best of the Worst


Seriously, these people were at a real game:  Cubs-Astros
You'd love to go to the Super Bowl. I get that. You'd also love to go to the World Series, the NCAA basketball championship, the World Cup. Maybe Wimbledon or the Indy 500. Way to be creative on that bucket list, Mycroft.


This conversation topic came up a decade ago between me and two very good friends of mine, who shall hereafter be referred to as “The Monkeys.” (Details someday. Maybe.) The pondering eventually got turned around, and instead of the question being “What's the best sporting event you'd like to go to?” it became, “What's the worst sporting event you'd like to go to?”


Infinitely more fun to figure out, they decided they wanted to go to the Silicon Valley Bowl (yes, there was a bowl game in San Jose. It didn't last long. The best part was when they called it the “Silicon Valley Football Classic”) and paint themselves up to represent a team that wasn't even playing. Like they got so lost and didn't even care where they were, so long as they were at a bowl game. They hypothesized, “Wouldn't it be great if the game was Fresno State vs Georgia Tech and we came dressed as Kansas fans with a big sign that said 'Go Jayhawks!'?”


As a KU alum, I thought that was both horrible and fantastic at the same time. But why bother with going the extra mile? I thought it would be great fun to just go to a horrible bowl game just to say you were there. Hell, two things can happen at a terrible bowl game: the game sucks, and you can say “this sucks, but we expected it to suck, so that was awesome!” or, something really bizarre happens, and you can say “we expected this to totally suck, but this was awesome!” Clearly, there's no way to lose.


After the Silicon Valley Football Classic was dissolved (it survives, sort of, as the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, aka “The San Diego Bowl that's not the Holiday Bowl,” aka “The Bowl Named After The Flower That No One Can Agree On How To Pronounce”), we had to find another horrible bowl game for the list. That spot was filled in 2006 with the New Mexico Bowl (ironically, San Jose State played in the first NM Bowl, the team that the Silicon Valley Bowl desperately wanted to have). The Monkeys and I think New Mexico is an awesome place. To vacation. Anyway. The New Mexico Bowl is definitely on the list. When it gets to bowl season, I'll tell you why. Probably.


So, with the bowl game taken care of, I soon came up with a new addition to the “best worst” list: going to the worst baseball series that ends the regular season. After 159 games, usually there is a real stinker of a series. The rules for qualification are pretty simple: it has to be the series where the two teams have the worst combined winning percentage, and it can't involve the Yankees. (That being said, if the Yankees could ever lose 100 games in a season, that series would be the exception. And my god, it would be great to be at that series, especially if it were in the Bronx. So much heckling.)


I want to go to a series like this so I can go up to everybody there (it would only take about 20 minutes) and ask them why they're there. I want to meet parents of a September call-up who will make his major league debut (maybe). I want to meet college students skipping class. I want to meet the die-hard who refuses to miss a home game. I want to find out just why the hell you would go to a game between teams that are this bad. I want to experience awesome awfulness.


Last year, the Cubs (100 game losers) played the Astros (100-billion game losers) in the final series of the season. Unfortunately (for us) those games were in Chicago, so it was pretty much guaranteed to still have a decent crowd. If those games had been in Houston, I think the players would have outnumbered the fans, and you wouldn't have even needed 40-man rosters to do it.


This year, for whatever reason, baseball scheduled poorly (for the purposes of this list) and have a lot of over-500 teams playing sub-500 teams on the final weekend. The Astros have an astounding 108 losses.... but they're in the Bronx. The Marlins have 100 losses, but they're hosting the AL-Central leading Tigers (you may have heard Jim Leyland bitch about this). The White Sox have 96 losses, but they're hosting the miraculously over-500 Royals. The Cubs have 93 losses, but they're at the NL-Central leading Cardinals. Minnesota has 92 losses, but they're hosting the trying-to-make-the-playoffs Indians. The Mariners have 89 losses, but they're hosting the AL West Champion A's.


So we are forced to pick a series between two teams with losses only in the high 80's (BBBBBOOOOOOORRRRRRRRR-INGGGGGGGGGGG). The 71-87 Brewers are at the 73-85 Mets. I mean, that's okay, but can't there be anything worse?


(Checking the matchups)


Oh no.


(Re-checking)


This can't be.


(Staring)


Yep. It's the worst series to end the season: The 74-84 San Diego Padres at the 73-85 defending World Champion San Francisco Giants. My team. Dammit.


I emailed the Monkeys in hopes that I had overlooked something. In hopes that somehow Bud Selig would issue an executive order for the Astros to fly to Miami and put the Tigers in New York to get two multiple 100-game losers playing for the second consecutive season.


Bob of Arabia (it's a long story. Actually, it isn't, but don't worry about that right now) is usually the most cynical person around. There are a lot of cynical people around, but I'll match up BOA against anyone you can pick. So something must have been wrong with him when he responded to my email (I'd say he was drunk, but that usually just makes him more cynical. Maybe the kids finally moved out and he was feeling generous). His line of optimism surrounding the Giants/Padres matchup?


What is weird about it though is they will both be battling for 3rd place with only 1 game between them, so it will likely be a good series.”


Clearly, BOA misses hockey. Unlike the NHL, where they play 82 games to figure out which six teams don't make the playoffs, third place in the NL West means diddly-squat. This is clearly the worst season-ending MLB series, and that's lousy.


But we've got a new contender for “best worst” game to go to. It may even usurp last year's Astros/Cubs matchup:


On December 1st, the Cleveland Browns host the Jacksonville Jaguars.


Who's with me? Let's do this!

photo courtesy:  bigstory.ap.org