SPORTS: And that’s why the games are played

by Editors

And that’s why the games are played
by Frank Colagiovanni

When you look at the teams on paper, the conclusion is nearly certain. There’s no way that a Division 1-AA football team could knock off a perennial powerhouse. The powerhouse is too big, too strong, too talented. There is no way they could lose. But they don’t play the games on paper.

Appalachian State of the Southern football conference took everything Michigan could throw at them and, powered by a 21 point second quarter, bested the Wolverines 32-34-at home and in front of 107,501 die hard fans in stunned silence.

They never even should have been “in” the game.

That was almost the case this past weekend when my team, the Eagles of Boston College lined up opposite the University of Massachusetts Minutemen. The problem for BC was that when they lined up, they did so with an illegal formation–less than seven on the line-resulting in loss of yards, three times is the first quarter alone. UMass played like they had nothing to loose.

UMass never even should have been “in” the game. But they were, pulling within one score, a field goal during the first half, much to the delight of the visiting fans voicing their approval and quieting the homers.

BC pulled it out, but it easily could have gone the other way. On paper, it was a mismatch, just like Michigan/Appalachian State. But between the lines, between the whistles and between the tackles, none of that mattered.

They don’t play the games on paper.

And that’s the part of being a sports fan that I love the most, those moments when the impossible happens. The comeback, the no-hitter, the overtime goal — all those moments that are, in their essence, perfect. Those are the moments I hope for every time I file through the turnstile and take my seat.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes your team loses. And then sometimes everything falls together for a perfect moment.

I’ve had the opportunity to witness a few of them, to feel the current shift. The collective elation and relief when Dave Roberts slid into second ahead of Jeter’s tag in the 2004 ALCS. The seconds counted by everyone at Fenway after the ball left the bat of David Ortiz before it landed in the Red Sox bullpen.

As I tap this out, I’m four hours away from passing thought the Fenway turnstile for Game 1 of the American League Divisional Series, and I’ll be back at there again on Friday night for Game 2. In an hour or so I’ll start to get the nervous feeling. And at noon on Saturday I’ll be taking my seat on the goal line at Alumni Stadium for the Boston College-Bowling Green game. It’s a busy week, and I know the outcomes I’m hoping for — and if my lifetime as a Red Sox fan has taught me, will be praying for — but you just never know. That’s why I have to be there.

As of 2004, no team in the history of baseball had ever come back from a three game series deficit. And as of last week, there was no way that a Division 1-AA team was going to take down mighty Michigan.

And that’s why the games are played.

And that’s why I watch them.