Sometimes, all that is left is hope, and sometimes that hope is not built upon tangible evidence, but upon wishful thinking, or gut feelings. Sometimes it is built upon ancient history, which is of course not a good barometer, especially when it involves other sports. Sometimes it is built upon recent history.
Yesterday, I responded to a post someone had made wherein they asked if a team had ever been blown out three times and won a series, and although the sports are different, I thought of one example off the top of my head. Of course, baseball is the only sport where the defense always has control of the ball, and the offense reacts to it, and of course in baseball, the starting pitcher is different in every game for two or three games, in the post-season. But we are grasping at straws here.
In 1960 the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series over the New York Yankees on a seventh game walk-off home run from Bill Mazeroski. So you think to yourself, 'Ah, seven pulse-pounding games to take down the dynasty'.
Well...not quite. Pittsburgh won four games that were very close. They lost three games. By these scores: 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0. In baseball, blow-outs don't get much worse than that. And although, as I have mentioned, the starting pitchers change game-by-game during a series, the position players, generally, are the same.
Why does what happened on a baseball diamond in 1960 matter before a game on hardwood in 2010? It probably doesn't, I am probably driving here without a steering wheel. Or maybe I am just grasping at straws.
Moving to hockey, is it possible for a city's angst to be projected across team lines to other sports? If so, the Cavaliers have a friend in the Philadelphia Flyers, because they have come all the way back from a 3 to nothing series deficit and have forced a Game Seven in Boston tomorrow against the Bruins. Do the Celtics have any pressure tonight to send the Cavs out of our series in order to take the pressure off of the Bruins tomorrow night? Probably not, I suppose there isn't a player in the Celtics' locker room who would even allow such a thought to cross their mind.
Maybe I am just grasping at straws.
How about the memory of Game Three in the very building and against the very team that the Celtics are playing tonight, how about the worst home loss in the playoff history of their franchise. Does that add pressure tonight for Boston? Because let's face it folks, the pressure is on Boston. They have wrestled away the mantle of favorites in this series now from Cleveland. In fact, from the tone of some posts I have read since Tuesday, it almost sounds as if the series is over.
Well...it isn't over. And now sits Boston, ready to play their final home game of this series, and suddenly, they are the favorites and will be expected to win tonight, and it will be the Cavaliers who can play loose and free, since even many of their fans have already given up on them. Does the pressure get to this veteran team, this team that won a championship two seasons ago? Does the thought of having to make a return trip to Cleveland tighten up the wrists on the jump shots or make the rim seem twenty feet away on free throws instead of fifteen?
Sometimes, all that is left is hope...and sometimes all that is left is grasping at straws.
The Cavaliers will win tonight. Because they are no longer expected to.