But Patrick didn’t quite go far enough when he said that Miami is on its way to becoming America’s Most Miserable Sports City. How short your memory must be. They’re already there, brother.
Perhaps a refresher course is in order to remind everyone how being a sports fan in South FLA is far worse than anywhere else in America. It’s been going on for years now.
Who could forget the early ’90s when Dan Marino and the Dolphins went to four straight Super Bowls and lost? Miami fans came close to joy in the first of those games, Super Bowl XXV, but Pete Stoyanovich’s attempt at a game-winning field goal notoriously sailed wide right. The three losses in the Super Bowls that followed were just icing on the awful cake.
The pain didn’t stop with football.
After arriving in South Florida to much fanfare in 1993, the Marlins broke the expansion team land-speed record for reaching the World Series in 1997. And victory was right there in their grasp until Jose Mesa struck out Edgar Renteria in Game 7 for a heartbreaking loss. That damn Cleveland, always getting the better of Miami.
Six years later, the Marlins were back on the precipice of greatness.
Holding a 3-1 series lead over the Cubs in the NLCS, the Fish were on cruise control in the eighth inning of Game 5 when fate intervened on a lazy fly ball headed into foul territory. As Jeff Conine drifted towards the wall for a sure out, he was interfered with by the lone fan sitting in the entire section, Bart Stevenson.
Conine lost his cool, Alex Gonzalez muffed a sure-fire double play, and the Cubs rallied to win the game and the series, starting a mini-dynasty that brought joy to their many fans, who were once described as “long suffering” but are now known for being annoyingly chipper.
It was back in the ’90s that the Panthers were last relevant, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals a couple times. Most hardcore Panther fans will never forget the controversial game against the Stars in the ’99 Finals when Brett Hull scored the series-winning goal on John Vanbiesbrouck despite clearly being in the crease.
At least there’s the Heat. Or, should I say, there was the Heat — the greatest tragedy of them all.
In another case of Miami coming so close yet so far, the Heat reached the Finals in 2006 against Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. With the Heat in complete control of the series, a number of questionable officiating calls started benefiting Dallas — no coincidence given the team’s ownership by longtime David Stern ally Mark Cuban.
Just a couple years later, the Heat were among the worst teams in the league, barely drawing anyone at American Airlines Arena. Fortunately no one was in the arena on the morning that the roof collapsed due to one of Miami’s regular heavy snowfalls, forcing the team to play the rest of its schedule on the road. Seeing how well the Heat drew in Oklahoma City compared to Miami, team owner Clay Bennett decided to move them there permanently.
When LeBron James announced, “I’m taking my talents to OKC,” last summer, it left most Heat fans wondering the same thing:
“Damn. What could have been.”