The 10 Most Heartbreaking Playoff Losses in Sports History

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings are squaring off in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final for the chance to hoist the legendary trophy as the best hockey team in the land. The Kings last won the Cup just two years ago, while the Rangers have not been crowned champion since 1994, the last time the Blueshirts appeared in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs are engaged in a rematch of the 2013 NBA Finals in which the Heat defeated the Spurs in seven games. San Antonio is out for revenge and a fifth ring for Tim Duncan after Miami snatched victory from the jaws of defeat last season. LeBron James is trying to cement his legacy as one of the greatest players of all time.

All of this amounts to one thing: two of these teams/cities/fan bases will experience tremendous joys and celebrations, while the other two will suffer crushing defeat, heartbreak and agony.

So let's dive into that second category and revisit some of the most heartbreaking playoff losses in sports history. These are the games that made fans curse the heavens, question their sanity and call out from work the next day because they just couldn't handle it.

Up first...

New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox, 2004 ALCS Game 7

Truthfully, you could pick any of the final four games in this series, but Game 7 was the official, final nail in the Yankees' coffin. These two blood rivals had been in numerous postseason encounters up to this point, but the Yankees more often than not had the upper hand. New York had the 26 World Series Championships, while Boston had not won a title in 86 years thanks to the "Curse of the Bambino."

The Yankees took a 3-0 lead in the series after a 19-8 drubbing of the Sox in Game 3 and seemed poised to make the World Series for the seventh time in nine years. But the legendarily reliable Mariano Rivera blew the two-inning save in Game 4 and Boston had life. The Sox edged a 5-4 win in Game 5 and then survived a hostile Game 6 (police in riot gear stood on the field at one point) to force a decisive Game 7.

And it wasn't even close. The Red Sox raced out to an 8-1 lead after four innings at Yankee Stadium and Boston, the first team out of 26 to force a Game 7 after falling down 3-0, crushed the Yankees and their fans, 10-3, in the Bronx to reach the World Series. They would sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series to complete their historic run.

Boston is, to this day, the only team in MLB history to come back from a 3-0 deficit.

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