Admit it. Today after you saw Peyton bring the Colts back in the fourth quarter you almost forgot about last season. You almost forgot about the fourteen wins, about the thoughts that Peyton finally was going to get that monkey off his back about never winning the big one, and about the utter disappointment you felt when the Steelers came to town in the post season and ruined it all.
I did for a brief second. You see I took last season’s ending really hard. You couple that with being a life long Pacer fan and I finally find myself in a very Zen like manner repressing that feeling that comes creeping back every time the Colts look sharp or if and when, during the NBA season, the Pacers look like a team of destiny. That feeling is simply hope. After the Steelers came to town and crushed any hope I had of finally celebrating a championship I began to think long and hard about whether or not there was a greater power out there dictating why there will never be a championship parade down Meridian Street.
Think about it. Indianapolis has enjoyed major professional sports in its town for forty years. For over twenty years Indianapolis has had the privilege of having two professional sports teams. And during that twenty years when we have had two professional sports teams, how many championships have we enjoyed? Zero, zilch, nada.
It isn’t like Indianapolis hasn’t had good teams. We came within a touchdown of going to the Super Bowl in 1995. The Pacers teams throughout the nineties were one of the best in the Eastern Conference but had the poor timing of playing during the reign of the greatest player to ever put on sneakers. The Pacers won 61 games during the regular season in 2004, which was best in the league, and the Pistons beat us in the playoffs. The Pacers came back the next year with an even better team, smoked the Pistons in Detroit and then what happens: a damn riot at the end of the game with the blame all on the small market Pacers. I can never forgive Ron Artest for ruining the final season of the greatest Pacer of them all-- Reggie Miller. And of course I have already mentioned the Colts falling apart last year when it most mattered.
In the last thirty years our fellow Midwestern cities have enjoyed championship after championship. Chicagoans got to watch Michael Jordan win six championships during the nineties with the Bulls. The Bears won the Super Bowl in the eighties and the White Sox finally won it all last year. The sting of watching the Cubs stink it up year after year certainly has to be curbed by the elation of watching other Chicago teams win their respective championships.
Cincinnati has celebrated two Reds’ World Series victories: 1976 and 1990. St. Louis saw the Cards win it all in 1982 and the Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV. Minnesota watched the Twins pull it off in 1987 and 1991. Detroit saw the Tigers to victory in 1984 and both the Pistons and the Red Wings put together three championship teams respectively in the last few years.
Throughout the country, this same trend continues. Of course New York has watched its teams win it time and time again. In the nineties Houston watched the Rockets take a cue from Jordan in pulling off two NBA championships in a row. As much as Philadelphia fans like to complain about their luck, this city would love to be so unlucky considering the Phillies won it in 1980, the 76ers in the ’82-83 season and the Flyers won it twice in the 70’s. Even the city from where the Colts moved, Baltimore, saw the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV.
The city of Miami has watched two of its teams, the Marlins and the Heat, each win a championship in just the last five years and they don’t even give a damn about their teams.
So I have to take a cue from a city that used to claim that it had the most suffering fans. They claimed to have suffered so much that it went beyond the normal course of events on the field. Oh no. It was greater than that. So sorry Boston if my heart didn’t bleed for you when two years ago the Red Sox finally won it again. During that time of your so called suffering you had our Larry Legend winning championships for you and the Patriots dominating the NFL in the 2000's. So now because Boston can’t claim it anymore I am going to take a page from their book and although it goes against my Mid-Western sensibilities proclaim what we all already know.
Indianapolis’ teams are simply cursed.
The only city that can even give us a run for the money when it comes to being as cursed is Cleveland. God love them for it.
It could be much worse considering our teams could blow during the regular season. But they are always just good enough that year and year out you have to think we have a chance. That is why it always hurts so much. So fellow sports fans enjoy Peyton destroying team after team every week. Enjoy the Pacers being consistently one of the most competitive teams in the NBA. But don’t get too excited. That will make the pain much more manageable at the end of each season.
May the great curse of Indianapolis end finally in Miami on February 4, 2007.