|Missing out on a 'Miracle'|
By Jeff Merron
Special to Page 2
I didn't watch the Eagles play the Giants last night, for two reasons: (1) As the dad of a toddler who seems to enjoy waking up in the middle of the night, I try to catch a few good hours of Zs when I can; and (2) whenever the Giants and Eagles do battle, I am reminded of the one that got away.
You might remember it, too. The Miracle in the Meadowlands.
I first heard about the astounding combination of stupidity and inept play on the radio.
Clutching the ticket stub and program for the first NFL game I ever attended in person.
The Giants will never forget it. The Eagles will never forget it. I will never forget it, for The Fates conspired to, first of all, give my dad and me some of the toughest tickets in town, and second of all, miss a Great NFL Moment.
It's still an event that confounds me. We stuck it out, in frigid weather, in terrible end zone seats, until almost the end. We left with just a minute or two remaining. We just wanted to get warm, really. The Giants had the game in hand. We'd been in the stadium for hours. The Meadowlands parking lot would be a nightmare. Etc.
I've seen some good games and some masterful sports performances in person. But that was my big chance to see A Great Moment, live and at the stadium.
And I missed it. Blew it. Got burned.
As Woody Allen says, "90 percent of life is just showing up." The other 10 percent, I guess, is staying until the end. Or maybe the other 10 percent is just Fate.
It's happened to me plenty of times while watching on the tube, and maybe to you, too. So many times I have switched off the TV because the game was simply dull, or out of reach, or, on rare occasions, I had something better to do. Then, later the news would come: "great comeback" or "double overtime" or "incredible last-minute heroics" and you realize they're talking about the game you had deserted.
There are times The Fates have rewarded me. Despite having to get up at 3:30 a.m. for work the next morning, I stuck through all 16 innings of the Mets-Astros 1986 NLCS epic. As a Mets fan, the final score was plenty of reward. As a fan-braggart, I did some chest thumping too. That game took stamina just to watch.
I've stuck out plenty of complete games, in all sports, at all levels, on TV and in person, until what turned out to be predictable endings. I've stuck out heartbreaking blowouts when all hope was gone. When I was a kid, I'd even keep on keeping on when the Mets didn't have a chance, just to see if my personal cult favorite, George "The Stork" Theodore, might get another at-bat. Rarely have I abandoned my teams, and since my teams are New York ones (not the Giants, though -- I didn't abandon them on that cold day in 1978 -- I was a Jets fan), I've seen some Truly Great Sports Moments.
But more often than not, especially when my teams weren't involved, I missed the great ones, the ones with nicknames, the ones that are played over in super-slo-mo so many times on ESPN Classic:
The Music City Miracle
The Holy Roller
The Phantom Spike
And ... The Miracle in the Meadowlands.
Over the years, I've given this a lot of thought. You see, the college I attended was famous for its great, weekly, all-campus blowouts (with 600 students, these parties did not pose big logistical problems). As an easy drunk and a natural early bird, I usually attended but usually ended up leaving, at 11, or midnight, or sometimes even a little later.
No matter how long I stayed, though, the next day I'd hear about it: The party started to get really good after I left. That was the general theme. The specifics were usually more lurid, involving, for example, bizarre acts of late-arriving drunken professors, or naked girls, or flaming mattresses, or the kinds of party games that you'd dismiss as fiction if they showed up in the pages of Penthouse magazine.
I almost started to believe that, you know, the parties got good after I left because I left. There's a possibility that's true. But The Miracle in the Meadowlands? I couldn't have had anything to do with that. The Giants didn't see my dad and me leaving and decide to do something so dramatically dumb that it'd be forever carved into our sports annals. I was, simply, Burned By Fate.
My hunch is that even the most devoted of sports fans have been scorched, too. This means you! Send us your story of the one that got away. We'll publish the best ones next week.