Have you ever met someone who lives vicariously through professional sports? This is a very cliché concept, but I assure you, there are those of us out there who would shun work, class, anything – even interaction with the opposite sex – if our team has a crucial game.

Please allow me to introduce myself: I’m Justin, and I’m addicted to the Oakland A’s. Those of you who follow baseball at all should know where this column is going, because the Cinderella Minnesota Twins trounced my beloved A’s out of the playoffs on Sunday.

I hate fairy tales. Oakland’s 5-4 defeat marked the third straight year the A’s lost an elimination game in the first round of the playoffs. Last year I was so upset I wouldn’t talk to anyone for three days. This year, however, something was different.

A buddy of mine sent me a mock news article about an “unidentified 21-year-old” attired in A’s paraphernalia going on a spree of violent crimes. It was funny, but it did not truly express my feelings. You see, I have moved past anger and into denial. The only way I can cope with this disappointment is to convince myself that baseball season is over, the A’s have won the World Series on a dramatic Miguel Tejada home run, and immediately afterward the champs ink the hero to a long-term contract.

I have created my own alternate sports universe, a magical place where the wrongs of the sports world are righted. What else happens in my alternate dimension? Allow me to sink into a paranoid schizophrenic reverie, and your questions will be answered…

1) Shaq trips over his swollen, gimp toe and falls into the Grand Canyon, with two positive effects, namely: A) The Kings win the NBA title after an exciting, up-and-down series against Dallas and New Jersey; and B) We all get to see how good Kobe really is.

2) Barry Sanders comes out of retirement, starts racking up 200-yard games and eclipses Walter Payton’s career rushing record before Emmitt Smith can (nobody on the Dallas Cowboys or in those damn 1-800-COLLECT commercials should hold a record that important).

3) The voodoo Dick Vermeil inflicted on the St. Louis Rams stays just as strong.

4) George Jung is hired to manage the New York Mets, effective immediately.

That’s all I have for now. See you all at the victory parade for the A’s.