I’m not sure my sports curse still applies to the San Diego Chargers, (the Padres certainly managed to suck without me), but although I did just check in on tonight’s game in time to see San Diego fumble while deep in Raider’s territory, I’ll not be watching the rest of the game.
I decided to grab a green chile pizza for dinner last night and enjoy it next door at the Canyon Bar and Grill while catching the Monday Night Football game. (Pizza Hut uses surprisingly good green chile; unfortunately this time I didn’t try to call in the order until they were closed.) By the end of the first quarter I managed to care about the outcome of the game, at least a little bit, and I decided I wanted the Baltimore Ravens to bring low the undefeated New England Patriots.
Sorry about that, Baltimore. (Baltimore lost in the final seconds in a rather bizarre sequence of events.)
I hadn’t even explained my curse to anyone present when, near the end of the first half, Baltimore intercepted a pass. “Hooray!” the bar shouted. They, like me, mostly wanted New England to lose, but I was surprised at the sudden surge of emotion. The Baltimore player took the ball and began running back the other way. “Don’t fumble!” I shouted at the runner, loud enough for the whole bar to hear me.
Half a second later, the ball squirted loose, and New England recovered. I’m pretty sure the other people in the bar were just joking when they talked about taking me outside and beating me up.
At about 2:30 a.m., I thought to myself, “Wow! My San Diego Sports curse is over!” Sure, the good guys had blown one of the most routine scoring opportunities in sports, but it was only one point, and they were winning twenty-three to nothing.
By 4:00, I knew I was wrong. The Bad Guys had pulled to within two points, and were in range to take a one-point lead as time expired. Tired, disappointed, I saw the handwriting on the wall and turned off the TV at the 2-minute warning. The game was in the hands of two of the most reliable players in the league, and there was no way they were going to blow that chance. “I should go on the record right now, and post that I turned off the game,” I thought, but there really didn’t seem to be any reason to bother. My curse may have only been enough to swing the game by a single point, but it was going to be the difference.
[As a side note, if you watched the game, you probably saw ads for the movie No Country for Old Men, the Cohen Brothers’ latest. It was filmed in New Mexico with the able assistance of fuego:the brother, and the sharp-eyed will recognize his car in some of the shots. I’ve heard the film is excellent.]
This morning I slept in. When hunger finally drove me from the warm embrace of my bed, I showered and checked email. I almost didn’t bother to check the final outcome of the game. Just heading out for Café Fuzzy I decided to confirm the inevitable.
Well, it seems the Chargers won after all. Apparently I missed a couple of pretty crazy plays, and the Colts choked, letting San Diego escape with a win.
I take full credit.
The Bolts are playing as I write this, but I have intentionally avoided checking the score until after I get this out.
First, some history. The San Diego Chargers Professional Football Club has, for many years, sucked. There was one giddy year, when they jouked and jinked their way to the Super Bowl ™ to be completely humiliated by San Francisco. That complete ass-whuppin’ was the best the Chargers managed (which, to be fair, means at least they got to the dance) while I lived in America’s Finest City ™. Most years, we were happy for mediocre.
Then I left town. I went so far away I couldn’t even watch the games on TV. The Chargers have been contenders ever since. (Also note that the San Diego Padres Baseball Club has won their division ever since.) Two years ago I started issuing alerts when I was in town, or when I would be following the game. Let’s call them red alerts and yellow alerts.
My first red alert was a couple of years ago when San Diego was heavily favored to crush Miami. The point spread was ridiculous, but Miami was really horrible, and the Chargers were looking pretty good. The catch: I was in San Diego. Miami won, and the Chargers never recovered. Season over.
That is the power I seem to wield.
Of course, one game, even when you call it ahead of time, does not a curse make. No, for that you will have to review the other gambler’s alerts on these pages. All of those are before the fact and therefore unassailable, but there are also the after-the-fact lamentations, as when I followed the last five minutes of the Chargers-Ravens game last season. When I started watching, the Chargers had the game in hand. When, nauseous, I turned off the game minutes later, they had lost.
The Chargers lost three games last year. After the first two losses, I spent a great deal of time convincing myself that it was simply coincidence that they choked in games I watched. I was not a curse, despite my statements here. I was nine time zones away, and no rational person would believe that I had any effect on the outcome of the game.
I have not checked in with tonight’s game, but the message here is that I have discovered the world of Internet bootleg sports broadcasts. The barrier for me watching the Bolts is suddenly much lower.
It still might be OK. I’m not in San Diego. The delay in the bootleg broadcast might be enough. Still, I think it’s time to put a yellow alert on the entire season.
Gamblers, you have been warned.
I’m heading out in a few minutes to watch the Charger game. This week, I just feel like the curse will be broken. I’m not sure why after three years that this will be the week, but there you go.
Edited to add: Just for the record, I ended up not watching the game after all. I did listen to it, however.
For the record, I just stopped listening to the Charger game on Internet radio. I turned it off with about two minutes to go in the third quarter, right after the Raiders intercepted.
The Chargers only score happened during a server timeout.
Apparently it was at about one minute to go in the third quarter that the interception occurred, at which point the Raiders had the ball deep in San Diego territory. I turned off the game, deciding at that point that sleep would be more fun. I awoke the next morning to discover that soon after I turned off the game, San Diego had intercepted the ball right back. They went on to score two touchdowns (benefitting from a bizarre rules interpretation by the referees) and won the game.
I now attribute the server error that prevented me from hearing their first score to “curse interference” — it was such a slam dunk for them to score that the universe had to stop me from listening for a moment to allow it to happen without inviting untold destruction.
Tomorrow the San Diego Chargers play in what looks to be a good matchup, and it’s one of the few early games they play this season, which means it’s also on at a good time for me to watch. The oddsmakers are giving the Bolts the thinnest of margins as they travel to Cincinnati, but you may want to think twice about where to put your money this time around. If possible, I will try to alert you ahead of time whether I’m watching the game, the better to document my curse.
I was in the Little Café Near Home when I got the call. “Come on! Let’s go watch some football!” I would have said no, but I realized I did not have my AC adapter with me. My time there was limited anyway.
I went to the bar. When I got there, San Diego and Kansas City were knotted at zeroes. We worked our way into one end of a table, and I talked to the guy next to me, then I looked up to see Kansas City score their second touchdown. I hadn’t been there very long at all. I laughed and rocked back in my seat, and reminded myself that this is just statistics. It’s got to happen to someone. Which just proves that I am someone.
Right now the Charger-Baltimore game is at the 2 minute warning. I popped over to an Internet sports site to follow the game. When I remembered to look, there was about seven minutes left, the Chargers were up by six, and had the ball within field goal range. A quick glance at the stats showed that they were playing a good game. The first play that came over the ticker: 15-yard penalty. Now, four or five penalties and what appears to be two botched punts later (info is sketchy on these web update things), baltimore is within four and just completed a long pass. I have turned off the game tracker now.
I used to think that my San Diego Team curse was a joke, until last year when I issued this alert. The Chargers were expected to completely crush Miami. Note that the Padres have gone to the playoffs two years in a row for the first time in franchise history — the two years I’ve lived nine time zones away. The Chargers went to the playoffs last year, and are contenders again this year. They may have just played the lousiest five (game clock) minutes of football this season, and it was the five minutes I was paying attention to the game.
I’ll let you know ahead of time if I try that again, or (God forbid) go to one of the bars in town that shows American Football.
Meanwhile my eyes are clenched tightly shut until the game is over. I hope that’s enough.
Sure they’ve won a bunch of games, and they’re playing at home and they’re big favorites — but don’t bet on the San Diego Chargers today. Why? Because I’m in North America, that’s why. It’s possible that I’m still far enough away that they will win the game, but by two touchdowns? I think not.
I’m not that big of a sports fan, really. I enjoy watching sports but following teams and reading about sports doesn’t do much for me. Football was created to give people a reason to go to bars on Sunday and hang out with their buddies. Over the course of my time in San Diego I did gradually become a Chargers fan, though. Here in Prague, I haven’t given much thought to American Football, but this morning I decided to pop over to espn.com and see how badly the home team was sucking this year. That they would be sucking was not a question.
Hold on there, Sparky! Since I left the country, the Chargers have won every game! There they are, sitting atop their division. Playoff contenders. Respected by the league. It’s a topsy-turvy world, all right.
Just for giggles, I matched my travel as I wandered around the country with the team’s record. With only one exception, the team lost when I was in San Diego and won when I was elsewhere. So take up a collection, Chargers fans! Operators are standing by, ready to take your donations to the Keep Jerry in Prague Fund. (Please note that past performance is no guarantee of future results—but compared to the Charger’s usual record, don’t you think it’s worth taking a chance?)
In the meantime, čau!