Commentary

Another 48 hours: Is '11 as bad as '95?

This Tuesday, Wednesday were bad, but May 6-7, 1995, may be NY's worst two days

Updated: April 22, 2011, 12:45 PM ET
By Mark Simon | ESPN Stats & Information

Reggie Miller, Joe Sakic, and Barry LarkinGetty ImagesReggie Miller, Joe Sakic and Barry Larkin made life hellish for New York sports fans in May 1995.

If you're a fan of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Yankees and New York Mets, this Tuesday and Wednesday were not particularly kind to you.

On Tuesday, the Boston Celtics beat the Knicks in devastating fashion for the second straight game. The invincible Mariano Rivera blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning of a Yankees loss. And the Mets were, well, the Mets, for lack of a better way of putting it.

On Wednesday night, the Yankees recovered and beat the Toronto Blue Jays, but there's a law of diminishing returns with Yankees victories. There have been so many that it's hard to get worked up over a garden-variety triumph, particularly when you can wallow in the misery of an epic Rangers collapse and another impersonation of the 1962 squad by the 2011 Mets.

Others have written how they can't imagine a worse stretch of games for hockey and basketball teams within this brief a time period.

I want to spin that another way and pose the question: Were April 19 and 20, 2011 the two worst days to be a New York sports fan?

In the department in which I work -- ESPN Stats & Information -- we refer to this as a "Got Us To Thinking" question. We'll put our collective brains together to try to come up with other examples that we can illustrate on television, radio or in print.

In this case, the question got me to thinking about May 6 and 7, 1995.

Those two days serve as the standard by which all others shall be judged. Let me walk you through it.

May 6 began with baseball games. The Yankees and Mets both played that afternoon, the Yankees at home against the Milwaukee Brewers and the Mets in Cincinnati against the Reds.

The debacle that was these two days started innocently enough, with the Yankees losing to the Brewers, 5-2. It was a relatively pain-free defeat, one in which a young lefty named Andy Pettitte was not too impressive in a brief relief appearance.

That ended at around 4:30 p.m. The real trouble began a little less than an hour later.

The first of three massive collapses within a 24-hour time period began with an 11-4 Mets lead in the eighth inning. Now, if you watched the Mets in the period from 1991 to 1996, you knew that no lead was safe. This was one of those games in which you'd have been better off averting your eyes.

The Reds rallied for six runs in the eighth inning and then scored three more in the bottom of the ninth against Jerry Dipoto, Eric Gunderson and Doug Henry (the 1995 version of Blaine Boyer, Tim Byrdak and Jason Isringhausen) to win, 13-11. The triumphant runs came on a two-run home run by not-so-noted power hitter Jerome Walton (who hit both of his walk-off home runs against the Mets).

The malaise that was this day carried north to the province of Quebec, where the Rangers, the defending Stanley Cup champs, were opening their first-round playoff series against a No. 1-seeded Nordiques team that would soon be relocating to Colorado.

The Rangers played a fantastic 40 minutes, sporting a two-goal lead in the third period, with a history of virtual perfection when leading after two (15-0-1 for this team ... sound familiar, 2011 fans?). But the good feeling was eliminated when the Nordiques scored three times in the final 20 minutes, winning 5-4 when Joe Sakic completed a hat trick with 38 seconds remaining.

Rough day to be a fan, right?

It got worse the next afternoon. The Reds beat the Mets, 8-4, and the Brewers pummeled the Yankees, 9-1. But in the grand scheme of what happened, that was irrelevant.

May 7, 1995 is best remembered by one name -- Reggie Miller.

That Sunday afternoon was the most epic of all epic collapses. It was Game 1 of the NBA's Eastern Conference semifinals between the Indiana Pacers and the Knicks. If you knew a Knicks fan, chances are you were calling afterward to make sure he or she was still breathing.

The Knicks led by six points with 18 seconds left. If you were going to calculate the win probability for that point in that game, you'd have given the Knicks a 99.9 percent chance.

Except the sports gods had declared that this was a weekend in which the New York sports fan was meant to suffer for all of their previous sins.

Miller scored eight points in nine seconds, John Starks missed two free throws and the Knicks turned a virtually certain victory into the most disgusting of defeats, 107-105 in Madison Square Garden. The seven-game series ended in similarly hideous fashion, with Patrick Ewing missing a game-tying finger roll at the Game 7 buzzer.

So just to recap, within those two days -- the Mets and Yankees went a combined 0-for-4. The Rangers gagged on an opportunity to beat the best team in the NHL. And the Knicks collapsed in a manner virtually unprecedented in the history of that sport.

Worse than the past 48 hours or so? You be the judge.

Mark Simon is the Baseball Research Specialist for ESPN Stats & Information, a co-host of the "Baseball Today" podcast, and a contributor to the Mets and Yankees blogs at ESPNNY.

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