I’VE WRITTEN ABOUT THIS TOPIC BEFORE, SO LONG AGO THAT THE SALEM RED SOX WERE STILL THE SALEM AVALANCHE. It was 2006. The Salem Avalanche had won 13 games in a row — the longest winning streak in the Carolina League since 1958. The 13th win gave the team a division title.
Here’s part of the column I wrote then:
When it comes to lasting sporting thrills, the hierarchy goes like this:
1. Inspiring upset victories.
2. League championships.
3. Really long winning streaks.
You could make an argument for perfect games and record-breaking scoring nights and a host of other individual accomplishments, but these can’t be widely shared. Winning streaks serve the triple purpose of boosting team morale, galvanizing fans and jetting a team toward its overall goal of a title.
I STILL FEEL THIS WAY. Winning streaks are hard to beat. And we have a couple of great ones going in sports right now.
Did you know the labor dispute-shortened NHL season is now halfway over? And Chicago still hasn’t lost a game in regulation. Last night, the Blackhawks scored with 49.3 seconds left to beat Colorado 3-2, improving their record to 21-0-3.
This is pretty amazing on paper. But if you click on that link I provided and watch the highlights, you’ll see why long winning streaks are so great. Check out the frustration in the Avalanche players when Chicago ties it up early in the third period. They were going to be the ones, right? The guys that ended the streak. And then they weren’t.
Listen to the crowd when the Blackhawks take the lead and run off the final seconds. It’s hard to get that kind of excitement in the regular season.
MEANWHILE, THE MIAMI HEAT HAS WON 16 IN A ROW AFTER EDGING ORLANDO LAST NIGHT. Longtime members of the blog crowd know my opinion on huge overdogs — I don’t understand the appeal of rooting for them — and Miami is about as big an overdog as we currently have in sports.
Yet the winning streak changes things. Watch the video of LeBron James’ shot in the closing seconds. Look at the normally placid Miami crowd go crazy.
And that’s the difference: The Heat were competing not against the lowly Magic, but against history. Against the improbability of winning 16 in a row.
Thanks, winning streak.
STREAK-RELATED LOCAL LINKS
-UVa will try to snap a skid of nine straight losses in Tallahassee tonight (7 p.m., ESPN2).
-Here’s my column on the Parry McCluer boys basketball team, which broke the school record with a 16-game winning streak. The Fighting Blues play West Point in the state semis today.
OTHER LOCAL HEADLINES
-Andy checks in with Tech cornerback Antone Exum, who talked some trash with Dr. James Andrews about Alabama when coming in and out of anesthesia for his knee surgery.
-The Salem girls join their male counterparts in the state finals with a 51-38 victory over Loudon County. Both title games will be Saturday in Richmond.
-VMI faces Longwood in the Big South quarterfinals at 2:30 p.m.
-Ray has a feature on Radford High’s Josh Little, who’s been a longtime leader of the Bobcats.
-Circumstance! Oh, you’d better believe that word’s in the paper today. Doughty talked to Al Groh about his son Mike joining the Bears.
NAME THAT TUNE
Mama, mama, mama
Why am I so alone?
I can’t go outside
I’m scared I might not make it home
I’m alive, I’m alive
But I’m sinking in
If there’s anyone at home at your place
Why don’t you invite me in
Don’t try to bleed me
I’ve been there before
And I deserve a little more…