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Simmons Says - Giving up on going to games

It’s officially time to retire from attending sporting events – at least as a fan. Nothing seems to work out when I leave my comfy couch to try to see a game live, something I remembered Wednesday when I made the trip down to Atlanta.

Proving that my last column about caring about baseball wasn’t just lip service, I purchased tickets to go see the Braves play a win-or-go-home Game 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals. They went home, and so did I after the fourth inning.

Usually it’s really fun to tell people you went to a sporting event and witnessed history, but not this time. The Cardinals tied a postseason record with 10 runs in the first inning, ending the game not too long after I had settled into my seat in left field. 

Sure, one day I can tell my grandkids how baseball has been around 200 years and I saw something that has only happened twice, but that really didn’t make me feel any better Wednesday. Instead, I sat and watched as I pondered what I could have bought with the money I spent to go to Atlanta.

By the time the Cardinals went up 13-0, I was ready for two things: A Chick-fil-A sandwich and a quiet trip back to McMinnville. 

This has been all-too-common occurrence for me. No, not eating Chick-fil-A (well, maybe), but the disappointment of watching a team I wanted to see win fall right on its face.

Before Atlanta’s implosion, I believe the last sporting event I had attended as a fan was the SEC basketball championship game in March. I went to Nashville with the hope I would see the Vols claim their first tournament title since 1979.

Auburn erased any chance of that happening, routing the Vols 84-64. Other than getting to see Bruce Pearl party with his team after the game, it was a completely miserable experience. The only silver lining was the drive home was much shorter than Atlanta.

The last UT football game I attended was last season’s opener in Charlotte against West Virginia. The Mountaineers won 40-14. I’ve stayed away since, including dodging a bullet when I declined tickets to go to this year’s opener against Georgia State. That loss may have truly broken me.

The losing even extends to my beloved Spurs. I haven’t seen the team live in a couple of years, but when I did in 2017, it didn’t go well.

I watched from the baseline on New Year’s Day of 2017 when Kawhi Leonard’s potential game winner in Atlanta swirled around the rim twice, only to fall out. The Hawks ended up winning the game in overtime.

Two months later, I sat at midcourt in Memphis and watched the Grizzlies hand the Spurs a 104-96 loss. That season, the Spurs finished 61-19 when I wasn’t in attendance and 0-2 when I was. 

Thinking back, the last time I left a game truly happy was in 2016 when Tennessee snapped an 11-game losing streak to Florida, winning 38-28 after trailing 21-0 in the first half.

I don’t know when I’ll have that feeling again, but it’s likely even if I do, I’ll be sitting on my couch smiling.