NEW YORK (CAP) - The New York Mets held a 7-game lead in their division as late as September 12. The San Diego Padres held a two run lead in the 13th inning of the game to decide the NL wildcard, with baseball's all-time saves leader on the mound. Both teams suffered monumental collapses and will miss the post-season. Times seem bleak for both organizations, but all hope is not lost.
While they won't be hoisting any trophies or blinding friends and family with World Series bling, the Mets and the Padres have secured something that may be even more valuable - slots at George Steinbrenner's annual conference, "Losing Big, Feeling Shame, And Coming Back: In Sports And In Life", to be held next month in New York City.
Known in sports circles as Choke Camp, the conference has become the premier gathering for losers looking to pick up the pieces after devastating, embarrassing losses.
"We look forward to having the Mets and the Padres attend this year's event," said conference organizer Dillon Erickson. "Both teams choked in a big, big way, and both will have lots of sharing to do with regard to their feelings of shame, guilt, remorse, and embarrassment.
"Only after the sharing can come the healing, and only after the healing can come the willingness to go out in public without a paper bag over one's head," Erickson noted.
Steinbrenner founded Choke Camp in 2004, following the New York Yankees' historic, unimaginable, and downright humiliating loss to the Boston Red Sox in the American League playoffs. Undoubtedly professional sports' biggest flop, the Yankees were left stunned and looking for answers. That's when Big George stepped in and started the conference, as a way for his team to gather with other losers in an attempt to find the answer to the ever-elusive question: why?
"Mr. Steinbrenner cares greatly for the Yankees," said a Yankee intern who identified himself only as 'Jason' during a phone interview with CAP News. "He loves the team, and he loves the players, and he loves the staff. He couldn't bear to see all the pain that filled Yankee Stadium in 2004. The conference was his way to fill the holes in our hearts with faith and love. Each year, we have so many more needy people who want to attend than slots available, but we're happy to hold places for both the Padres and the Mets for this year's event.
"Oops, I've got to run, that's Michigan's football coach on the other line," said 'Jason'.
Others such as noted clinical psychologist Tania Manis are not sold on Steinbrenner's efforts, calling the gathering "a farce, a carnival side show."
"Basically, you've just got a bunch of losers gathered together for a week to talk about how much they suck, and who sucks worse," said Manis. "What they really need to do is get back on the practice field, get back in the gym, stop whining, work harder, and they'll be back on track for success.
"I mean, for real - the key note speaker at this thing is Doctor Phil. Doctor Phil? Are you kidding me?" said an exasperated Manis. "The only sport that guy is qualified to speak on is the Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest, and that's only because he's a lard-ass."
Choke Camp 2007 will be filmed for a documentary tentatively titled, I'm A Loser Baby, So Why Don't You Kill Me?, to be released in the summer of 2008. Chris Webber is slated to host the film.
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