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Dan Shaughnessy

XLII doesn't supersede Sox collapses

Email|Print| Text size + By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / February 10, 2008

It's been a week since the Super Bowl. Have you recovered yet? Was this the worst loss ever? Was it the top of the bottom?

Last Sunday morning, New England was still full of itself, supremely confident that the Patriots were going to wipe out the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. The game was going to be a coronation of Bill Belichick's History Boys and would make a case for those who believed the 19-0 Patriots to be the best football team of all time.

Now we wonder where the upset fits in the pantheon of local sports worsts. Will the Patriots' loss in Glendale go down as the most disappointing day in the history of our teams?

The Red Sox have dominated this discussion through the years. The Bruins have no moment (not even too many men on the ice) that can compete with the Sox calamities. There's no Celtic loss to the Sixers, Lakers, or Pistons that triggered profound heartache through the region. No. When it comes to fatal flops, the Red Sox literally own the franchise in our town.

The most recent wound tends to hurt most, which is probably why the Patriots debacle is even worthy of inclusion in our contrived discussion. This would account for a quickie Boston Herald poll of more than 12,000 readers that concluded that the Super Bowl loss was worse than any Red Sox disappointment. Among that sampling, the Super Bowl garnered 48 percent of the votes, followed by Red Sox Game 6 in 1986 with 35 percent, and the Aaron Boone Game (2003 ALCS Game 7) with 10 percent. Only 7 percent of the people picked the Bucky Dent 1978 playoff game as the worst defeat ever.

Veteran sportscaster Bob Lobel agrees.

"This Super Bowl was the worst loss you could ever have," said the TV man who has seen 'em all. "This tops everything."

A boston .com weeklong poll lumped the Sox collapses together and asked fans to compare. In our survey, more than half of the 47,000 responders (as of yesterday) said the Sox folds were more disappointing. The count is running about 56-44 percent.

I agree. The Patriots have won three Super Bowl rings in this century and Sunday's loss, though stunning, simply can't compete with the pain caused by the Red Sox disappointments.

In my book, the Patriots don't even make it to the medal platform. Gold, silver, and bronze all belong to the Olde Towne Team. And all the bad ones came at the hands of New York teams. Funny thing about that.

The worst ever still has to be the Buckner Game. The Red Sox were working on 68 years of frustration when they took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the 10th inning in Game 6 of the World Series at Shea Stadium. Calvin Schiraldi retired the first two Mets. According to one mathematician, a team with a two-run lead in a two-out, nobody-on situation in the bottom of the ninth (or 10th) will win the game 278 out of 279 times. Not this time. It was a cataclysmic, apocalyptic moment that simply cannot be duplicated by an 18-0 three-time champion losing a Super Bowl.

The Dent game takes the silver. This was the year in which the Sox held a 14-game lead over the Yankees. Dent was a guy who hit five homers in 1978, and his pop fly would have been caught in any ballpark other than Fenway. A sun-blinded Lou Piniella made a ridiculous stab of Jerry Remy's line single in the ninth. Hall of Famer Rich Gossage popped up Hall of Famer Yaz for the final out with two runners aboard.

The Boone game was bad because the Sox were going to win the American League pennant on Yankee soil before Grady Little went too long with Pedro Martínez and things unraveled in the midnight hour. It was 86 years and counting.

Now this. Patriot fans have been inconsolable since Sunday night's traumatic events. Many of them won't read about the loss or watch replays. Folks are walking around like zombies. Some of our younger fans never have experienced the feeling. Our poll asked readers to describe their emotions in a single word and (in descending order) they voted for "sad," "numb," "philosophical," "drained," "ashamed," and "angry." Sort of like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of grief.

There's nothing to be ashamed of. No need to be angry. No need for therapy. It happened. The Patriots lost.

Time for acceptance.

Time to watch Roger Clemens pitch in Washington, D.C.

Time to sit back and see how ugly things get between the Red Sox and Curt Schilling.

Time to see if Jacoby Ellsbury can unseat Coco Crisp in center.

Time to go back to baseball.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist; he can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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