Only the most dedicated fans did not throw in the towel during the Canucks-Stars 4-OT playoff game on April 11.
By John Rolfe, SI.com
The NHL prides itself on conducting the most grueling tournament in sports each spring, and it's safe to say that hardcore hockey fans embrace endurance contests like the four-overtime marathon between Vancouver and Dallas on April 11 until the final buzzer, the Samsonites under their bleary peepers a badge of honor to be proudly worn the following morning.
With networks and prime time ad revenue wagging the sports mutt, even regulation games routinely run over the other side of midnight on work and school nights, so you have to be hardy –- and cuddle an urn of black coffee or a nice tub of crystal meth –- to stay focused on the action through crossed-eyes. Even day games that go on forever present challenges in terms of family strife, gastric distress, dwindling fundage (if you're in the stands) and flirting with phlebitis, a stiff back and a numb caboose from sitting so long.
Perhaps my proudest -- or daffiest –- such moment was the four-OT playoff extravaganza between the Islanders and Capitals on Saturday night, April 18, 1987. I had just moved into a new house and cable had yet to be installed, so I listened to the game on radio. All of it. Had to. It was Game 7 of the Patrick Division semifinals and I couldn't bear to go to bed with the fate of my beloved Isles hanging in the balance.
The game lasted almost seven hours. While the players were, in some cases, losing up to 15 pounds, I was gaining them from compulsively munching on chips, cold cuts, cookies, leftover stuffed cabbage, pickles, wheat crackers, an ancient chicken leg unearthed from deep in the fridge, an entire pound cake and, quite likely, a dish towel or two. Not being able to see what was happening made for sheer torture, especially after the OTs set in. My nerves were continually victimized by the rising volume of the announcers -- I seem to recall TV voices Jiggs McDonald and Ed Westfall were also doing radio -- particularly when the Caps came close to scoring.
I sat. I stood. I paced in shifts that were somewhat longer than the 20-second outings the hobbling Isles and Caps began enjoying on the ice as the night dragged on. Ultimately, my cat and sleeping wife paid the price, too. When Pat LaFontaine finally potted the game-winner at 8:47 of the fourth OT, I let out a loud scream, jumped up and down in a frantic war dance and went leaping down the hall, my unbridled joy scaring the holy hell out of Wubbins and my betrothed. It was 2 a.m., but I was too stoked to sleep for at least another hour.
Now, it's one thing to hang on a seven-hour game when there is something at stake, but it takes a fan of the highest caliber of dedication and derangement to stick with all 25 innings of a relatively meaningless early-season contest like the one between the White Sox and Brewers on May 8, 1984. Or all 3 OTs of the Suns showdown with 7-21 Knicks on Jan. 2, 2006. (Any old-timers out there veterans of the 6-OT NBA classic between Indianapolis and Rochester on Jan. 6, 1951?).
So just how crazy are you? Calculate your degree of partisan madness by awarding yourself points if you've ever:
* Followed every minute of a game that lasted five hours or more (rain delays included): 10 points (deduct 5 if you fell asleep at any point).
* Followed it on a weeknight when you had to be at work or class early the next morning: 15 points (bonus of 20 for regular-season game)
* Attended the game: 20 points (bonus of 20 for regular-season weeknight)
* Watched it at home: 10 points (bonus of 40 for regular-season weeknight)
* Listened all of it on radio: 30 points (bonus of 25 for regular-season weeknight).
* Followed all of it on the internet (on perpetually-updated box score only): 40 points (bonus of 100 for regular-season game)
* Kept score for most of it. 50 points (bonus of 500 for regular-season game)
* Kept score for all of it: 100 points (bonus of 1,000 for regular-season game)
* Bonus of 5,000 if you do any of this on a regular basis
Madness scale: 0-100: Don’t make us laugh 100-495: A momentary lapse of reason 500-750: Genuine cause for concern 755 -995: Hearing voices (Bob Uecker, Mike Lange, etc.) 1,000-1,335: Gates of Delirium
Over 1,335: Book yourself Le Rubber Room at the asylum
When you're done calculating your grade, tell us about your most memorable marathon experience.
I think massive points points should be offered when the team you're following is in the crapper and you still exhibit the behavior. My worst case, an Atlanta Braves game - before their amazing run. Got there for batting practice, sat through a rain delay, got in a few innings, another delay, some more innings and another delay. At this point my date was done. We went to the Varsity to eat. Of course the game resumed and we, okay I, watched it on one of the televisions there. To prevent a crime, I took her home but listened to it on the radio. The Braves lost and the score was never close.
I stayed up for the entire 19 inning Boston Red Sox-Seattle Mar(athon)iners game a few years back... I was screaming when Kaz Sasaki walked the bases loaded in the top half, and when Mike Cameron hit the home run in the bottom half... yeah... well, I woke up my parents, and got grounded for two days... it was worth it though
My family had season tickets to the Texas Rangers when I was living in the area and very young. Sometime in the late 80's (I don't really remember the date, if someone wants to look it up, be my guest) the Rangers played the Angels in an 18+ inning game in Arlington. The game started at 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday and we stayed until 2:30 a.m. when my dad took us home because we had to be back for the Sunday afternoon game at noon. It ended on the way home. During the Sunday game, the radio announcer said that the Angels reliever (Vince Lovelace if I remember right) set a record for least time between appearances that didn't start on the same day. He came in during the 15th Saturday/Sunday and the 6th the next day I think. We also attended the Stars hockey game in the Stanley cup finals that ended with the "dubious" Brett Hull goal and went through 4 OT's.
Wow, I score 1,150 for one game alone - a Rockies-Diamondbacks regular season game last year at Coors Field that went 18 innings. I even bought an extra scorecard. It would have been far more worth it if my Rox had won, of course.
Well, I am definitely in the "book the rubber room" catagory for both baseball and hockey. My best (or worst) moment was while listening to my beloved Atlanta Braves, back when they weren't so hot. I seem to remember a certain July 4 game that had several hours of rain delay and they still managed to finish the game and have the celebratory fireworks, at around 4am the next morning. I didn't have cable TV back then, so I had to listen to the whole thing on the radio; and I did!
June 8, 2000: Stanely Cup Finals Dallas 1, New Jersey 0 3 OT
Lucky enough to be sitting near the ice, next to the penalty box, for what could be the Stanley Cup winning Game for the Devils. 7/7:30 start time I expected to get home not too late but late enough where I'll be tired the next day. Senior year of highschool, the next morning was my last final of the year in English. Entering the third OT we refused to leave, and the time was getting into the am hours. Falling alseep at the beginning of the 3rd overtime a puck came over the glass right by my face hitting a small child 2 seats over in the face. With the puck imprinted on his cheek I releaized I should probably start paying attention again. Moments later Dallas scored and I never got to see that Cup be awarded to the Devils. Needless to say the next morning I was half asleep for my final and on the way out the door broke my toe on a pile of fence segments in my driveway. Took an 89 on the English final with a painful broken toe throbbing the whole time.
I also watched the Isles-Caps marathon, and I'm not even a fan of either team - I'm a Pittsburgh fan. So, Of course, I watched all of the 5OT game that they lost to the Flyers a few years ago. I have also sat through a Pirates-Phillies double-header stopped a couple times for rain delays, on a weeknight. Couldn't have been 500 people left at the end. (Tough enough to sit through a regular 9 inning Pirate game the past several years.)
September of 1996, Orioles vs Tigers in Baltimore. There was somewhere between 2-2 1/2 hours of rain delays (damn tropical storms!), and the game went well into extra innings (Start time was around 7pm, the game ended shortly after either 1-2am, can't remember exactly). But the highlight was getting to see Eddie Murray's 500th home run in person. Unfortunately, the Tigers ended up winning the game just as we were about to concede for the night and return to our hotel.
I was "lucky" enough to get to see a Cubs-Cards game a few years back in St. Louis that lasted 18 innings. Me being a Cubs fan I wish the Cubs would have won, but after like 5 hours I really didn't care.
I've done all of that stuff, with the extra points execpt the internet - since I live in the broadcast area and becuase I got to like 40 baseball games (A's, Giants, minor leagues, etc.) a year, 3 raiders (regular season) games, and like 20 warrior games.
I'm going to the A's game today, the giants game at night, and I'm heading to Oracle Arena at 5am on saturday for playoff tix.
I was at that Easter Epic between my Islanders and the Caps. Good times although I fell asleep at Easter dinner the next day after the overnight drive back to Long Island from Landover.
I also sat through a Yankees-Twins game in 2001. It rained all game--although never quite hard enough to stop the game, although we all got drenched. The final score was Yanks 14, Twins 13, in 13 innings, which explained why the game ended at close to 1 AM.
Interesting note about that game, the score was tied 10-10 at the end of the 12th (if my memory is correct). Sterling Hitchcock gave up 3 runs to the Twins in the top of the inning, causing most of those who stayed for the free baseball to leave. There were about 800 of us left in the Bronx to see Jason Giambi end the game with a walkoff grand slam as the rain poured down.
Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Sabres and the Devils. 10th longest game in NHL history... The Sabres winning goal by Dave Hannan was 20 feet in front of me. I'll never forget it - it was well worth the wait. Brodeur was nothing short of brilliant. But, Hasek proved better that night, posting the shutout with 70 saves.
All the responses i've read have been major league games. How about a Myrtle Beach Pelicans game, AKA the Braves low-A team. Me and 3 friends sat through about 6 pitches before the wrath of god came down for an hour and a half. Then watched the whole game, which lasted 13 innings. at the end i think there were 15 people in the stands.
Since the late 60's I have been a die hard Chi Cubby (3rd generation), Minnesota Vikings and Iowa State Cyclone fan. Almost every game I watch, regulation or OT seems to take forever. A seven hour game does not phase me, I always wait patiently till the buzzer. My worry is I may have to live past 100 years in order to hobble along with the mob through the streets when one of my teams finally brings home the trophy.
I have been a Cowboy fan for 20+ years. I haven't missed a Sunday of football in 20 years. Whether it be deaths,births ect...My wife had a C section on a Saturday and I went home Sunday to watch the Cowboy-Seahawk game back in 2001. Also, I haven't missed a Cowboy game since 1992. I have a bar in my garage with a satellite dish and a 8 way splitter. I have 9 TV's in which I get 7 out of area NFL games and the 2 local teams (Eagles and Giants) I watch all of the NFL games each and every Suncay from 1-7 and then the Sunday night game not to mention the full slate of college games I watch from 12 to 10 PM every Saturday.
As an avid red sox fan, needless to say I'm in the 5-7,000 point range. Anyway, I know its the playoffs and all, but on their '04 run to the series, and even the year before, a number of games were played on the west coast, and delayed for a 8pm start (ahem, thats 11 on the east coast for all of you who are keeping score) as well as some extra innings games against the yanks, and even 9 inning games that took over 4 hours. needless to say those weren't the most productive weeks in the office. I propose negative points to those west coasters who never have the pleasure of watching a 9 inning baseball game that ends at 2AM. I'd also like to propose BONUS points to anyone who has watched any baseball playoff game in its entirety aired on fox with the announcing team of joe buck and tim mccarver since, well, lets face it, they're unbearable.
I had the opportunity to do the unthinkable. During a Phillies/Padres doubleheader back during the 93 season, I happened to watch game one of the twin bill from a bar which included a bunch of rain delays and 14 innings and didn't miss a pitch. The game was so wild, Mitch Williams had the game winning hit in the 14th. After game one ended at 1 am, my friends and I drove down to the Vet to catch game 2 live. I think that brings a new level of grading for your survey. Game 2 also ran a bit long to the point that the replay of game 1 was showing on local cable a half hour after the game.
My dream is to be keeping score at a baseball game where a perfect game is thrown. As far as extra points go, I think anyone watching the entire first round of the NFL Draft should be declared champion.
I am not sure how you gauge the sport fan rating system because of all the different perimeters i.e. watching a whole season of baseball and I mean every game as a fan? I am not a crazy fan. I love the O's and the Nat's but not watching EVERY game. But on the other hand, I do considered myself a crazy fan because I too watched every second of that Capitals/Isles playoff game. I went back to my college dorm room total upset. 7 hours of the Love and Hell and that happens. SHT! You gained ten pounds. I gained an ulcer. So in the end, I am between 500-750: Genuine cause for concern 755 -995: Hearing voices. I didn’t add it up but I probably do need professional help like most good and true fans. Hell! I survived the 1990’s as a LA/St. Louis Rams fan. I am prepared for anything.
Drove 60 miles (one way) in a snowstorm after the Governor shut down all the roads in a state to attend a UCONN women's basketball game vs. Tennessee in Hartford. So did 13,000 other people, including the Govenor. I hope it's a big rubber room.
A few years back there was Yankees/Tigers doubleheader scheduled in the middle of the week. The first game dragged and dragged going something like 14 innings, highlight included Brian Hunter going something like 0 for 9 and Matt Anderson hitting 101mph on the gun at exactly 1:01am. Eventually they started playing the second game...I had to be at work at 5am but I kept watching.
great story, great games...but another great one, albeit a matchup of lesser knowns, is the marshall/ecu gmac bowl game in december 01. it looked to be a blowout by halftime, with maybe one of the best come back stories in college football history by games end. it may not qualify as a marathon but it's dang close to a half-marathon
marshall/ecu was a marathon meshed with a rocky movie. only fitting that it when it was over, it was one the longest and highest scoring games with a 30+ point comeback (plus some rain, cold, and dedicated spectators)
Yeah, I also watched the entire Isles-Caps marathon. My cousin and I, all of 14 years old at the time, went nuts when it ended - not really fans of either team, just excited that we'd watched the whole thing. So we ran out on the front lawn and started mooning cars... well, OK, there were no cars (it's 3 am, folks!), but we would have :-D Plus, I think I should get bonus points for doing a lot of those things in New Brunswick - we're ahead of the US East coast by an hour... games start REALLY late here.
Astros and braves in Minute Maid. Longest post season game in history at over 6 hours. And it was to send my beloved Astros to the NLCS.
Clemens pinch hitting and throwing relief. He started the game at home, decided to get dressed and come in when it went to extra innings.
Only two Astros were not used, Roy O, who pitched game 3 and Andy Pettite who was to pitch game 5 if needed. And Roy had his cleats on incase they needed him as a fielder.
Walk off HR by Chris Burke to win it. But the real rally was in the 8th. The Astros were down 6-1 when Lance Berkman hit a grand slam to bring it with in one. Then the most unlikely batter, Brad Ausmus had a solo jack in the bottom of the ninth to send it to extra innings.
Not sure if this counts as "Marathon Madness" but I live in San Diego yet grew up a total Michigan Fan. Actually I follow all Michigan teams. Pistons, Tigers, Red Wings, Wolverines and yes, the Lions. Anyways, I am season ticket holder for the Wolverines and fly back for every home game. I take the United Airlines Red Eye from San Diego every Friday night at 10:55. I get into Chicago O'Hare at 4:41 and endure a 3 hour layover. From there I take the 7:43 flight to Detroit where my brother-in-law picks me up at 9:54 Saturday morning. We then head to the tail-gate spot to enjoy a few cold tasties. At game time, we pile into the Big House along with 110,000+ of our closest friends and watch the game. I fly back on Sunday and am back to work on Monday. For the last four years this has been my season long Marathon. When my wife lets me, I sometimes sneak in a few away games as well.
Reserve me a rubber room. Not only did I listen to every second of the Pistons-Knicks 3OT game at work (listened right through my lunch and break) I went home and watched the replay!! You should give bonus points for watching the replay after going to the game listening to it on radio. I am sure there are lots of fans other than me that do it.
I to remember the Islanders Vs Washington game. I also watched the Philadelphia Vs Pittsburgh classic. But my most memorable game was a Amateur Canadian senior baseball championship round robin game that went 23 innings between Marysville NB and Windsor Ont. Played at Kentville NS and we stayed for the whole game and it started to snow and we still never left. Most enjoyable game I have ever spent with my Dad also. - Mitch Wile Halifax, NS
Went to a Sox Game August 16th 2005. Showed up at park opening, watched 1:30 of batting practice, then watched as the Whitesox were crushed by the twins 9-5 in 16 innings. Game time of around 5 hours. Regular seasion game, kept score.