Last Saturday's near-upset against OSU made me realize how much of a "We were THIS close..." year this has been for my sports fandom. Besides my Cardinals losing the World Series against the Red Sox (substitute Detroit in the ALCS if you're a Tigers fan), our hoops team fell to Louisville in the NCAA championship game after a brilliant season and run to the Final Four (and an 11-point first half lead -- argh), and then Team 134 came three yards shy of shocking OSU -- and all of us.
This got me to thinking...
Last night, you turn in after watching the hoops team endure the usual punishment of playing at Cameron Indoor, and after sleeping for a bit, you are awakened by the Magic Genie Spirit of Michigan Athletics.
"Humble Wolverine fan," he says in a booming voice, "You have endured much trial and suffering because of your love for the Maize and Blue. I have come from the Great Spirit Realm of Yost, Crisler, and Schembechler to grant you one great favor."
"Yeah?" you reply, half-awake.
"As this year of 2013 nears its end, I will allow you to go back in time and change the outcome of one -- and only one -- Michigan Wolverine sporting event from this past year. Your choices are:
Number 1: The football team succeeds in the two-point conversion at the end of The Game and beats the hated Buckeyes, 43-42. Seeing Drew Dileo covered, Devin Gardner pump fakes, then tucks the ball and burrows through a crease in the line, gimpy ankle and all, and just manages to thrust the ball over the goal-line plane before being walloped by a Buckeye defender. The road to Columbus is sown with the bitter tears of Bucknut fans returning home after seeing their undefeated season and BCS title hopes crushed in the Big House. The Aura of the Invincible OSU Version of Urban Meyer is deflated; Coach Hoke is 2-1 against our most bitter rival; Lewan and Gallon cap their Michigan careers with a glorious victory; and the painful mediocrity of 2013 Michigan football, which was basically all downhill after the Notre Dame game, is partially redeemed."
"Wow, that would be fantastic!" you say. "What's the other choice?"
"Number 2: The men's basketball team defeats Louisville in the NCAA championship game. Trey Burke's block (no longer a foul!) against Peyton Siva turns the momentum; our boys re-take the lead down the stretch and put away the game. Coach Beilein cuts down the nets while Pretty Boy Pitino sobs, Spike Albrecht makes out with Kate Upton in the Georgia Dome parking lot while 'One Shining Moment' plays in the distance, and the entire Ann Arbor campus eats at Subway and goes crazy."
"WOW! That would be awesome," you reply. "But ... if we win, do McGary and GRIII go pro?"
"Who cares, you greedy fool!" the Genie bellows. "You've just won the NCAA tourney!"
"OK, OK... so, those are the only choices?"
"What?!?" says the Genie, in shock. "Well, I suppose you could have Jordan Morgan's put-back against Indiana fall in, so the Wolverines win a share of another Big Ten title. Or the hockey team could beat ND in the CCHA championship game to keep the NCAA tourney streak alive. Or Al Borges could find the Magic Key to Unlock Narduzzi, and the football team finally beats MSU in East Lansing. Hey, I'm just as sick as you are of getting whipped by Sparty... But come on, man, be serious! OSU or Louisville. Choose one!"
So, which would you choose? Would love to hear everyone's choice, and their reasons.
Mine? This is tough, but as much as I hate losing to OSU and wanted to win that game, I'd take winning the tourney in March over Louisville. As we're seeing so far this basketball season, even for an elite program with a very talented team, it usually takes a rare combination of luck (e.g., the Kansas game) and a transcendent talent/leader (Trey Burke) to survive and win March Madness -- and titles are forever. It would have been a fitting end to a sublime season. But that's just me.