Saturday, May 06, 2006

Playoff Disappointments

Last night I went to see the Washington Wizards play the Cleveland Cavaliers in game 6 of their first round NBA Playoff match up at Verizon Center. By now everyone probably knows the Wizards lost the game 114-113 in OT and they lost the series as well, 4 games to 2. A recap is here.

It was one of the more entertaining, yet disappointing losses ending a season I've witnessed as a DC area sports fan. Driving home I decided to list the most disappointing playoff losses I’ve witnessed. Four of them were season enders, like the Wizards loss was. Chronological order as I really can't rank these.

October 11, 1979: World Series, Game 2. Memorial Stadium, Baltimore MD.

Pittsburgh Pirates 3
Baltimore Orioles 2

My first World Series game. Manny Sanguillen’s ninth-inning single broke a 2-2 tie and enabled Pittsburgh to beat ace reliever Don Stanhouse. Good pitchers duel between Jim Palmer and Bert Blyleven. Eddie Murray hit a homer for the O’s, who trailed 2-1 until the 6th inning when Ken Singleton singled to left, Murray doubled home Singleton, tying the game. In the top of the 9th, Bill Robinson singled to left field. Don Stanhouse was brought in replacing Tippy Martinez. Matt Alexander ran for Robinson and was caught stealing second. Bill Madlock flied to center. With two outs, Ed Ott singled, Phil Garner walked. Sanguillen pinch hit for Don Robinson and singled to right scoring Ott. Kent Tekulve struck out Rick Dempsey and Kiko Garcia and Al Bumbry grounded out to end the game. The O's would win the next two and take a 3 games to 1 series lead but they would drop the next three to lose the World Series 4 games to 3.

December 30, 1984: NFC playoffs. RFK Stadium, Washington DC.

Chicago Bears 23
Washington Redskins 19

The Redskins coming off back to back Super Bowl appearances (won one, lost one) and they won the tough NFC East and were favorites at home. The Bears thought otherwise and upset the Redskins by forcing 3 turnovers and 7 sacks in what was Coach Joe Gibbs first home playoff loss. With the scored tied 3-3 in the second quarter, Chicago running back Walter Payton threw a 19-yard touchdown off of a halfback option play. In the third period, Bears running back Willie Gault caught a short pass and raced for a 75-yard touchdown. Redskins running back John Riggins scored on a 1-yard touchdown run then cut the lead, 16-13. A roughing the passer penalty set up Dennis McKinnon's 16-yard reception for Chicago's game clinching touchdown.

April 16, 1985: Patrick Division Semifinals, Game 5. Capital Centre, Landover MD.

New York Islanders 2
Washington Capitals 1

The Capitals had a solid record of 46-25-9 heading into this first round series, which was a best of five then. The Caps had a 2 games to 0 lead and blew it. Billy Smith was on fire in goal for the Islanders in this game. Brent Sutter and Anders Kallur scored for the Islanders. I believe Mike Gartner scored the only goal for the Caps.

April 30, 1988: Patrick Division Finals, Game 7. Capital Centre, Landover MD.

New Jersey Devils 3
Washington Capitals 2

John MacLean scores the game winning goal in the Devils' 3-2 victory over the Caps. The Devils, who barely made the playoffs, were playing in their second playoff series ever. With this win, they captured the Patrick Division Playoff Championship while favored Caps were left to ponder another playoff failure.

May 1, 1992: Patrick Division Semifinals, Game 7. Capital Centre, Landover MD.

Pittsburgh Penguins 3
Washington Capitals 1

The Penguins Mario Lemieux had 1 goal and 1 assist in game seven. The Caps blew a 3 games to 1 series lead and fail to defeat the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Penguins became just the 11th team (at the time) since 1939 to overcome a 3-1 deficit and win a seven-game series.

I saw three Bullets playoff games, all victories at the Capital Centre and the last one was 1979. There hasn't been a lot to cheer from them as they have made the playoffs just three times in the last 18 years. In the '80's and mid '90's, the Caps would consistently make the playoffs and were always labeled Stanley Cup contenders during the regular season. They could never quite put it together and make a serious run in the playoffs until 1998 when they went to the Stanley Cup Finals and were swept 4 games to 0 against Detroit.

I have never seen D.C. United lose a playoff game in person. Thankfully I missed last season’s 4-0 home playoff (and series) loss to the Chicago Fire as my newborn son Benjamin came home from the hospital that day.

I will put my top five playoff victories I've seen in person later in the week.


UnknownColumn said...

If it makes you feel any better, after the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985 and had arguably the best team again in 86 and 87, the Redskins beat them in the playoffs both years, including Walter Payton's last-ever game. That sucked.

Bill-DC said...

I remember those, Darrell Green tore a muscle running back a kick. I think Doug Flutie was the starting QB in one of those games.