The Gold Rush: The Peaks and Valleys of Sports Fandom

Updated: June 16, 2015

By BLS Columnist, Justin Goldman

A buddy of mine once sent me a pie chart titled “What It’s Like to be a Sports Fan.” About 95 percent of the chart represented “Getting kicked in the nuts,” and a tiny sliver represented something like “WOOHOO!!!” (I looked for the chart, but Google failed me.) I’ve always remembered that chart, because I felt that it was, while simplified, basically true.

In any given year, basic odds dictate that your favorite team will have something like a 1 in 30 shot to win the title. Those odds may be a little higher if you root for the Patriots or Barcelona or, ahem, the Giants, but generally speaking, you’re a lot more likely to get kicked in the nuts than you are to get to say “Woohoo!” And that’s okay, because all those times you get kicked in the nuts make the times you get to say “woohoo” that much sweeter. I have partied my ass off each of the last three even-year Octobers, but nothing will ever top 2010, the first time I got to see my team win the World Series. Jumping around Finnerty’s—New York City’s resident expat Bay Area sports bar—and screaming my head off with hundreds of fellow fans as we celebrated that title was the most delirious moment of my life. I didn’t take any video that night, but someone else in the bar did:

It happens that last week I had an interesting night, in which I experienced an extreme high and then an extreme low of sports fandom—within an hour of each other.

The high came first. When the Giants come to town, the aforementioned Finnerty’s puts together a bunch of buses to shepherd its clientele to the games. I hadn’t planned on doing a game bus this year (they’re a bit pricey, and I am, as always, a bit broke), but at the last-minute a friend—with the help of a bunch of liquor—talked me into buying a ticket. So I went on Tuesday night. In case you didn’t hear what happened at Citi-Field on Tuesday:

What’s funny is I didn’t realize the no-hitter was happening at the time. I was screwing around with my friends, going back and forth to the bar, and generally not paying that much attention to the game, especially after the Giants got out to an early lead. I didn’t become aware of what Chris Heston was doing until I went to the bathroom at the end of the seventh inning and heard the Mets radio broadcaster say it.

After that, I was locked in. I went back to my seats in left field, where I was surrounded by more than a hundred Giants fans. We yelled and chanted and we jumped up and down, delirious once more, when Heston finished the job. It didn’t compare to seeing one of my teams win a championship, but being in the house for a no-hitter is still one of the coolest things that’s happened to me as a sports fan.

Of course, Tuesday night also happened to be Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Our buses got back to the bar at the start of the 4th quarter, at which point the Dubs were down by 20 to the Cavs. I watched on TV at the bar as Steph Curry and David Lee led a crazy comeback, but bad turnovers and poor decision-making and LeBron James all combined to deal the Dubs a loss that dropped them to a 2-1 series deficit. We were all so bummed. The no-hitter had been ruined.

Except it hadn’t. Because a few minutes later, as I walked back to the train, a stranger on the street saw me in my Giants jersey and walked up to me and hugged me. “I hope you kept your ticket,” he said, smiling. Of course I did.

So yeah, that Dubs loss was a particularly painful shot to the groin. But it was the “Woohoo” moment, as always, that kept me going, that made it worth it. Thanks, Chris Heston.

And oh yeah, It sure would be great if the Dubs gave us another one of those tonight.