This past Monday night, I settled into the recliner, laptop at the ready, to watch the two Monday Night Football games (the Giants-Vikings game got moved to Monday night, and to Ford Field in Detroit, due to the collapse of the Metrodome roof in Minneapolis) and monitor my two fantasy-football playoff match-ups.
I had pretty much given up on one, as I went into the night five points down with only Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin remaining, while my opponent had two stellar running backs: Ray Rice of the Ravens and Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants. My suspicions were correct: I got smoked.
But in my other league, I had a lead of around 13 points (stupid Yahoo! leagues and their fractions of points) and the better Ravens WR, Derrick Mason, while my opponent had Matt Schaub, the quarterback for the Texans.
Things started going my way, as Mason caught a touchdown pass, while the Ravens’ defense absolutely smothered the Texans. Mason caught his second touchdown pass early in the second half, and I had a lead of more than 20 points, so I felt pretty safe and confident.
And then, suddenly, the big, bad Baltimore Ravens defense absolutely forgot how to play football. Schaub started completing pass after pass, including two for touchdowns. I still had a lead, and the Ravens had the ball with just over two minutes to go, facing a third-and-two. The Texans had no time-outs remaining, and the Ravens had been running the ball down their throats, so I figured they’d dial up one more running play, pick up the first down, and kill the clock, both on the Texans and my fantasy opponent.
I figured wrong. They attempted a pass on third-and-two that was nowhere near complete, stopping the clock and putting the ball back in the hands of the red-hot Schaub, who then proceeded to march the Texans down the field, cutting into my lead in the process. I quickly calculated that as long as he didn’t throw another touchdown pass, I’d barely hold on, but the Baltimore defense was completely gassed, and he found a wide-open receiver in the end zone, making the score Ravens 28, Texans 26, and giving my fantasy opponent the lead.
Now I had to switch gears and root for the Texans to make the two-point conversion, even if Schaub was involved, because if they didn’t convert, the Ravens would just run out the clock and, while they would win, I would lose. The Texans converted, and the Ravens just killed the clock, setting up overtime.
While all of this was going on, I had Seesmic, the Twitter client I use, up and running, and noticed a trickle of Tweets about Cliff Lee, that quickly became a steady stream, and then a downpour. And I’m talking about Tweets from legitimate sportswriters, not dumb-assed fans.
First, news broke that a third team was in the running, joining the Yankees and Rangers. Then came word that the Yankees were out. It was revealed that the Phillies were the third team and, moments later, winners of the Cliff Lee bidding, and Tweets galore spelled out contract terms, his reasons for picking Philadelphia, and what-not.
So, while dying a slow fantasy-football death, I was also following the Cliff Lee saga, and I was very disappointed, although not the least bit angry, that he didn’t sign with the Yankees. Meanwhile, in the football game, the Ravens got the ball first in overtime and did nothing with it, punting and pinning the Texans deep in their own territory. I was still down about two points, and it wasn’t looking good at all.
Suddenly, lightning struck and, for once, it was in my favor. Schaub dropped back to pass out of his own end zone and threw a perfect bullet, right into the hands of Ravens defensive back Josh Wilson, who returned it for a game-ending touchdown. The final score was Ravens 34, Texans 28, but, much more important for yours truly, I consulted our league rules and discovered that interceptions mean a loss of three points for quarterbacks, meaning that my fantasy squad had just clutched victory from the jaws of defeat. The final score that really mattered was 124.54-123.22. And yes, Yahoo! really needs to lose the fractions.
Everything I just wrote about took place in roughly one hour, and nights like this are why I will always be a rabid sports fan. The emotional roller-coaster ride was fantastic, and I was both burned out and refreshed when the final whistle blew on my evening, despite the split decision (winning my fantasy-football playoff game, but the Yankees losing out on Cliff Lee). To the sports haters: Can opera do that? I don’t think so.