Missouri Shows Us Its...Sports
by Robert Ferringo - 10/30/2006
(This is an excerpt of an article that appears in the current addition of Every Edge Magazine)
What a week for the state of Missouri.
Lately it seems like our nation's 24th state has been in the spotlight 24/7. The land that once ran red with the blood of abolitionists and slave owners was once again transformed into a battleground in the War on Sanity and Human Decency. No quarter was asked for, and none given, as gamblers were sucked into the fray for a trio of significant sporting events.
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The Show-Me State certainly put on a grand extravaganza, and illustrated several interesting points along the way. Three in particular stood out: God hates Mets fans and Science, college football is fixed and someday I'll have a difficult time explaining to my grandkids that I used to spend time worrying about other men's groins.
Let's start at the beginning.
On Friday, that band of degenerates and cheaters known as the St. Louis Cardinals overwhelmed the boys from Detroit en route to the World Series championship. Notorious scumbags like Tony LaRussa and Albert Pujols led a previously underachieving group to the crown, earning a fat payout for those bold enough to back the biggest underdog in the playoffs and twisting the knife in the heart of every Met fan. The streets of St. Louis were flooded with Bud Light and a crazed Joe Buck danced triumphantly under The Arch. Celebratory bonfires burned into the sunrise, turning the entire city into a sea of fire and self-satisfaction.
(The Cardinals influence wasn't contained to the diamond. Jeff Suppan, the MVP of the NLCS, thrust himself into a bizarre and well-publicized political feud by joining forces with Rush Limbaugh and those looking to subdue the evil Michael J. Fox. In a commercial, Suppan claimed a proposed amendment to the state constitution in favor of embryonic stem-cell research that would make human cloning a "constitutional right". Besides his lack of medical or legal expertise, and the fact he takes the field beside mutants like Pujols and Curtis Duncan, Suppan's timing was curious.)
Saturday's hangover was piercing and painful. Unfortunately, it was innocent handicappers, like myself, and wise guys that suffered while the unsuspecting Missouri Tigers got caught in the undertow of a karmic current. The Tigers hosted Oklahoma in Columbia, primed to take their program to the Big Time with a marquee win. Four sloppy turnovers, two dropped touchdown passes, several crippling penalties and 60,000 stunned fans later the Tigers tucked their tails and embraced a humiliating 26-10 defeat. It was OU's fourth straight victory over Mizzou and the Sooners' 12th straight over a Big 12 North foe.
That left Sunday's game between Kansas City and Seattle to determine which side of the ledger the state would fall. This game, my National Football League Game of the Year, would be an epic test of nerves and faith from the Gambling Gods. I had taken the Chiefs (-6) before quarterback Damon Huard tweaked his groin. It was a cruel and shocking development that stood in the way of Kansas City maiming Seattle.
Well, Huard started. But the only maiming that took place involved my soul. Kansas City dominated Seattle, but after a few astounding calls, outrageous plays and incredible momentum shifts, the Chiefs trailed 28-27 late in the fourth quarter. Huard then deftly crafted a four-minute, eight-play touchdown drive before adding his sweetest pass of all - a two-point conversion to Tony Gonzalez that netted my clients and I a hefty score.
Now do you see why I was so concerned?
I've never been to Missouri and maybe I never will. And I may never fully comprehend the fantastic emotional extremes that last week's events entailed. But I feel like I've come to know and begin to understand the place and its people. It's a land whose calm façade belies an intense and hedonistic yearning. The winds change quickly on the plains, and locals know the value of a cool head when Fate is bearing down on them with a bloody axe and a test tube. That, and I hear it's nice in the Spring.
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