Everyone Has A Story

I wanted to write something about MSU’s run to the Finals of the 2013 College World Series. It was improbable. It was emotional.  It was wonderful.  

I spent a lot of time thinking about my Dad.  How he loved these Bulldogs!  And how, towards the end of his life, he would have to turn off Jim Ellis’ radio broadcast because it was just too hard for him to listen as State would either grind out another victory, or suffer a tough loss. 

In the end, this was something that made me very proud to be an alumnus of the People’s University.  Words, however,  fail me at the moment.  Fortunately for the Bulldog Nation, Bob Carskadon at #HailState Beat (The official blog of MSU Athletics) tells this story the way it should be told:

The best season in MSU history comes to an end

As we grow older, the more people we meet and with each new person we talk to, we learn that everyone has a story.

Children and adults, astronauts and teachers, white, black, tall or short, individuals lead their own lives, however little of it we see. Each has a past with a corresponding present and future.  Among all the masses, inside of every building and any place we turn, there are people.

renfroe frazier fansAt Mississippi State, affectionately called the People’s University, they know it as well as any.  John Cohen, head coach of MSU’s baseball team, said as much less than one month ago.  Moments after winning the Starkville Regional – the first one on MSU’s campus in 10 years – and advancing to a Super Regional, Cohen didn’t talk about his team or hitting or pitching.  “It’s the people who make Mississippi State special,” he said.  He praised the fans, the members of the athletic department and the citizens of Starkville over his team’s successes.  A couple weeks later, his Bulldogs arrived in Omaha, and again, it was the people who made Mississippi State special.  This time, it was the people on his team.

Sure, State was playing great baseball. They were hitting better than they had all year and the pitching staff had found a groove.  But the people of Omaha, the media covering the College World Series, baseball fans across the country and MSU faithful everywhere fell in love with people, not players.  ‘The Bench Mobb’ (second B is silent), made up of goofballs from the pitching staff, dancing, clapping, encouraging and even rapping in the dugout, were the stars of the two-week event.

SGCJBAYSVZEKLKB.20130615233817Wes Rea became television’s favorite first baseman, the SEC football prospect who turned down the gridiron because he wanted to go to Omaha and play in the World Series.  Trevor Fitts singlehandedly saved Power Point with the presentation he gave Cohen asking his permission for the team to have facial hair, while also leading the charge for Team No Undershirt.

Not a soul has come in contact with Luis Pollorena and not been touched by his story of childhood leukemia and his dedication to giving back now with the life wasn’t expected to have.  Sledgehammers, mullets, rally dances, vine videos and Johnny Cash.

Not to mention the unheralded stories.  Mitch Slauter, who was baptized in front of his teammates on the morning before his Senior Day at Dudy Noble Field.  Sam Frost, the SEC’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year, perhaps a more impressive honor than any.  This team showed us that everyone has a story, with countless more left untold.

And that’s what made this team special. You couldn’t help liking them and rooting for them, MSU fan or not.  The biggest crowd in the history of TD Ameritrade Park showed up not just because it was MSU’s first appearance in a National Championship, but because it was a team so easy to cheer for.

In a lucky twist, one of the most likeable teams turned out to be one of the best teams in MSU history.  photo (3)From a matter of talent, others may take the top spot, but these Diamond Dawgs have just completed the best season in the history of Mississippi State sports.  In 120-plus years, they were the first to make it this far.  But through their success, they may not be the last.

After hosting a Regional for the first time in a decade, sweeping a Super Regional and starting 3-0 in Omaha, losing in the National Championship was a terrible, terrible feeling for these Bulldogs.

Standing in the dugout, faces stained with tears and sweat, embraces between players, coaches and the like, the first feeling is defeat.  Watching another team dogpile on the mound, gloves and hats thrown in the air while fireworks explode overhead and confetti falls across the stadium is, in that moment, the lowest of low.  But, while a victory celebration took place on the field, cheers rose up in the stands.

“Maroooooon!”

“Whiiiiiite!”

Even late in the game, with the Bulldogs down more than a handful of runs and the outcome all but certain, MSU fans were louder than they had been all night.

They were cheers of support, not of victory.  The unspoken words behind the noise said, “Thank you. We’re proud of you.”  Reaching the College World Series and playing for a National Championship meant an incredible amount to Cohen’s baseball program. It would take more money than MSU has to buy that kind of exposure, and nothing can replace the experience.

But this run, this experience, is far bigger than baseball. In doing something no one in Maroon and White had done before, it became a Mississippi State benchmark.  Academics and athletics, football and softball, men’s and women’s.

These Bulldogs proved it can be done.  No one had to tell themselves they believed. They did believe.

Just as the state of Mississippi can claim generosity, hospitality and countless professional successes over any other shortcomings, so can Mississippi State now claim time at the top in spite of any days at the bottom.

When you’re a kid, you always believe your team is the best in the country, that they can win it all.

With age, realism and awareness set in. You know what limitations your team has.  But now, for the first time, Bulldog fans have made it within reach of doing what they imagined as children.  The baseball team knows it can win it all, and now everyone else has seen.

Quarterbacks and defensive linemen watched their diamond counterparts and said, “Mississippi State really can win a National Championship.”  Tennis players, basketball coaches and those from every sport saw the realization of dreams.  Now they don’t just have to say, they know, “It can be done.”

Following a season-ending loss, and career-ending for some, the sting of defeat bit hard in MSU’s dugout.  Red-eyed Hunter Renfroe embraced Trey Porter, faces buried in each other’s shoulders, knowing they had played their last time together. Their careers in Maroon and White jerseys had come to an end.

The last person back to the dugout, Jonathan Holder found his pitching coach Butch Thompson.  No words were said. They didn’t need to be, and neither would’ve been able to take them in, anyway. A steady hug said everything they wanted to share.  The athletic director, the president of the university, half of MSU’s entire department staff and a horde of media watched from the far side of the dugout as tears flowed.

The end had come, so quick and so hard.  It was goodbye for many, and the start of a long offseason for others.  But just as it signified the end of a season, it symbolized the beginning of something else.

In a short moment between the final explosion of fireworks and the beginning of celebratory music, the smallest of Mississippi State fans stood next to his dad, looking over the dugout at the team he had always believed in his young heart could win it all, and with the optimism borne through youth, offered the best encouragement he could.

“We’ll get ‘em next year, guys.”

Thanks, Bob.  Well done, sir.

88 days

How bout dem dawgs!

ms-state-v-osu

College football season will be here before you know it.

(thank goodness)

The Friday before the State – A&M Game and other good stuff

Johnny Football and the Texas A&M Aggies travel to Stark Vegas this weekend for a Top-2o Showdown with the Bulldogs of Mississippi State.

This is the first Top-2o matchup played at Davis Wade Stadium since September 2001, when the Bullies entertained South Carolina in the first game played after the 9/11/01 hiatus. I’m looking for a high-scoring affair, with the Dogs containing the prolific Aggie offense.  State 45 – aTm 38.

Other Picks:  Oklahoma 56- ISU 28; Iowa 17- Indiana 14; Alabama 28-LSU 10; Georgia 38-Ole Miss 17; Kansas State 32-Oky State 33;

What are your picks?

Friday before the State-Alabama game, OU-ND, and other tidbits

Top-ranked and undefeated Alabama has opened as a 20+ point favorite over the Miss State Bulldogs for their game this weekend. The New York Yankees were swept in the ACLS. A one-time popular Democrat president is poised to lose his re-election bid. The MSU quarterback, starting only his eighth game, was heavily recruited by Alabama. This will be the biggest game of his career. The Alabama coach has multiple national championships under his belt. A statue of him resides outside the stadium in Tuscalousa, Alabama. Sound familiar? Well, it should. It describes tomorrow’s showdown between State and Alabama. It also describes another game between the same two teams, in 1980, when Emory Bellard‘s Bullies defeated the Bear Bryant-coached Alabama squad 6 – 3.  I think the similarities are more than just a coincidence.  The stars are aligned.

We Believe!  State 28, Alabama 26.     UPSET ALERT!!!

Notre Dame rolls into Norman with their best team in a long time, and the pollsters have taken notice.  The 5th ranked Irish boast defensive stoppers, and will be tested by a Sooner team that is hitting their stride at just the right time.  The 8th ranked Oklahoma team is a 9 point favorite, and I don’t think it will be anywhere near this close.  I’m looking for a good old-fashioned butt-stomping.  Oklahoma 44, Notre Dame 17.

Iowa travels to Northwestern in a critical B1G game for the Hawkeyes.  In a season filled with close games, last week’s blowout loss to the fighting Sanduskys was unexpected.  Look for Kirk’s squad to show up in Evanston, and play some cold-weather defense against Northwestern.   Iowa 18, Northwestern 14.

Other picks and scores:

Florida 38  Georgia 36,  Texas Tech 28 Kansas State 27 (UPSET ALERT #2),

Oregon 44  Colorado 14,  Oregon State 31 Washington 28,  Southern Cal 28, Arizona 21.

Yankees Swept

from Sixpack Speak …

 

Before tonight, the last time the Yankees were swept in the ALCS was on October 10th 1980.

Three weeks later Mississippi State beat then # 1 Alabama 6-3.

Sounds like a good omen to me, if you believe in things like that.  Or even if you don’t, It’s ok to think it’s possible.

Three months to live

Writing a blog post generally begins with an idea, followed by a quick run-through, getting as much down as I can without losing the original inspiration.  After that, a quick edit or three, and finishing touches of a photo, then a title.

Today, I began with the title first.  Now I’m trying to backfill with a post.

Today is Friday, September 21, 2012.

Today, there are 46 days till Election Day.

Today, according to the Mayan calendar, we’ve got three months to live.

Today, Mississippi State is making final preparations to raise their record to 4-0 against another Sunbelt Conference opponent.

Today, if the Mayans are correct, the December 20, 2012 football polls will have Mississippi State ranked #1, and scheduled to face a Big-12 opponent, probably Oklahoma, in the BCS National Championship Game.


This is the World Famous Friday Open Thread, End of the World edition.

WFFOT:  And I feel fine.

 

 

update:  this is too good not to post

 

Yazoo Gator Hunt

This is a great story from Brian Bloom at the Jackson, MS, Clarion Ledger

When Jason Waddell of Learned and his crew of fellow first-time alligator hunters set out for the evening, expectations were not terribly high.

“We thought we’d see some, but we didn’t know if we’d catch one,” said Waddell.

As beginner’s luck would have it, the team soon hooked up on what they thought was a big one …

Yeah, it was a big one, all right. Nearly thirteen feet long! As they say  READ IT ALL .

 

.

Casey Anthony to Enroll at Auburn.

Heard you could get away with murder there.

.

Pac 10 Big 12 Buzz

Latest rumors swirling around the world of college athletics has some interesting implications for two of the nation’s premiere conferences, the Pac-10, and the Big-12.

…the Pac-10 is prepared to offer membership to six Big 12 schools to form a mega 16-team conference that would cover the western half of the country and break into seven of the nation’s top 20 television markets. LINK

Whoa!

Mike Slive and the SEC have been sitting back and weighing offers to UT and A&M for the Western division, and FSU and Clemson for the Eastern Division (that is, if you believe any of the stuff you read on the innernut message boards). Still, for any of the major conferences, the big prize is the Texas television market.

Whether or not any of these rumors are true is anybody’s guess. I surmise that if I hear the phrase, “it’s about academics and competition, and not about the money,” I’ll know the rumors are true. And, if it’s true, then watch the rest of the conferences make a mad dash to make sure they’re not left out in the cold.

Scheduling for major football schools is completed years in advance, so any realignment would necessarily take place over several years, with many traditional rivalries being discarded in favor of more TV moolah.

Stay tuned, sports fans!

Related: Big 12 abruptly cancels news conference

King of Swat



“STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP)—
Jarvis Varnado broke the NCAA’s career record for blocks and had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Mississippi State to a 20-win season with a 74-66 victory over Alabama on Wednesday night.

Varnado was two shy of his third triple-double with eight blocks for the Bulldogs (20-8, 8-5), who took a one-game lead in the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division with three games left. They also sent the Crimson Tide (14-13, 4-9) to its sixth straight road loss.

Dee Bost had 22 points, including consecutive 3-pointers late, to help Mississippi State win its fourth game in five contests.

Varnado broke Wojciech Mydra’s record of 535 career blocks, which the Louisiana-Monroe center set from 1998-2002. He now has 142 this season and 536 in his career.

With the crowd on its feet chanting Varnado’s nickname, “Swat,” much of the way, he had six second-half blocks and used his intimidating presence to help the Bulldogs pull away.

The 6-foot-9 center from Brownsville, Tenn., had blocks on consecutive Alabama possessions midway through the second half to turn the momentum. The second, on JaMychal Green, was pulled in by Ravern Johnson, who drove the length of the court and dunked to push the lead to 47-39 with 12:18 left.”

more at VZville

About that last Favre interception

Update for State fans:
State falls to vandy, Jarvis just 27 blocks away from the record, and the NCAA still sucks. Full story at VZille …

A possible explanation for Brett Favre’s inexplicable, 4th quarter interception in the NFC Championship Game, which aborted a game winning Vikings drive … from Rick Cleveland’s blog

For all those who have criticized Favre for throwing instead of running on that last play against the Saints, check out Brett’s left ankle and his right hamstring.


Dang, son. That’s UGLY.

Obama gives Kentucky Wildcats the K.O.D.

President Obama’s 0-fer streak continues.

What began as a thank-you call for Haitian relief efforts to the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats became the latest example of the Obama Kiss of Death.

Obama and the Wildcats participated on the phone call Tuesday afternoon in Columbia, S.C., where Kentucky was to play South Carolina on Tuesday night. link

Final Score, South Carolina 68 Kentucky 62.

BCS Open Thread

Colt McCoy is injured in the 1st quarter. Two early Texas field goals then 24 unanswered from the Tide.

Halftime score Alabama 24 Texas 6

Funniest thing so far, Lee “Not so fast” Corso, drunk off his azz at the ABC desk …. just doin’ his Max Baucus impression, I suppose.

Update: It’s final, Bama 37-21.

2nd funniest thing so far, Nick “Show Me The Money” Saban getting a gatorade shower. He was the only person in the entire audience that didn’t see it coming. Solid!

More facts about Jarvis Varnado, VZville, and other interesting MSU stuff

Taking a brief break from the news of the day …..

There is no news yet on today’s Montgomery, AL eligibility meeting between Renardo Sidney’s family and NCAA. You may recall that Fox’s Jeff Goodman,   reported last week that the probability of Renardo taking the court for the Dogs is getting slimmer and slimmer.  I think Goodman is right.  I just can’t imagine  State allowing Sidney to play without being granted clearance from the PTB.

My favorite sports blog is now on WordPress. Welcome to WP, VZ.

Also, I’m still wondering what kind of voodoo is used to calculate RPI. I just checked over at Nolan’s. Last night’s neutral court blowout victory was worth a 2 point drop in RPI. Go figure.

And, finally, a follow up to last season’s favorite, “Top Twenty Jarvis Varnado Facts” …

Even More Facts About Jarvis Varnado

(that you probably didn’t know).

  1. In honor of Jarvis Varnado, all McDonald’s in Starkville have an even larger size than the super-size.  When ordering, just ask to be Jarvis-sized.
  2. Latest News Report from NASA … Last week NASA discovered a giant asteroid headed directly for earth.  Jarvis Varnado swatted it and saved the planet.  Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
  3. Outer space exists because it’s afraid to be on the same planet with Jarvis Varnado.
  4. Jarvis Varnado does not sleep.  He waits.
  5. Jarvis Varnado is the reason why Waldo is hiding.
  6. Jarvis Varnado counted to infinity – twice.
  7. Jarvis Varnado can lead a horse to water AND make it drink.
  8. Jarvis Varnado doesn’t wear a watch, HE decides what time it is.
  9. To be or not to be? That is the question. The answer?  Jarvis Varnado
  10. When Jarvis Varnado says “More cowbell”, he MEANS it.

Plus — feature article in Jackson Sun

CWS National Championship

lsuA five run 6th broke open the championship game of the 2009 College World Series in Omaha, as the LSU Tigers claimed their 6th CWS championship with a 11 – 4 victory over the Texas Longhorns at historic Rosenblatt Stadium.

The Tigers ended the third game of the series as they began the first game, with Mississippian Louis Coleman on the mound, but the game was never in doubt after the 6th.  In an inning which featured several Texas miscues, LSU sent 10 batters to the plate.

Two of the night’s stars were also members of the LSU football team, Jared Mitchell and Chad Jones.  Mitchell hit a line drive 3-run homer in the first, and scored the go-ahead run in the 6th inning.  Jones relieved starter Ranaudo with one out in the sixth and pitched to two batters, striking out both, along with a scoreless 7th  to keep the Longhorns at bay.

Boxscore

GEAUX TIGERS

CWS Game 1

rosenblatt_stadium_statueLSU has defeated Texas 7 – 6 in an exciting 11-inning shootout in Game 1 of the 2009 College World Series at historic Rosenblatt Stadium.

Texas took a 6-4 lead into the 9th inning, but was unable to close the game as LSU rallied for 2 runs to tie it up.

Texas managed five home-runs against Tiger starter Louis Coleman, but they were all solo blasts, allowing LSU to remain within striking distance.

LSU closer Matty Ott pitched three scoreless innings to get the victory.

Before tonight’s game, Texas had been 39 – 0 when leading after 8 innings.

Make that 39 – 1.

GEAUX TIGERS!

Top 20 Jarvis Varnado Facts

SEC Mississippi St Tennessee BasketballAll-SEC Center Jarvis Varnado has set a new standard for defensive prowess, breaking Shaquille O’neal’s single season record for blocked shots. His accomplishments have not gone unnoticed by UW Husky Nation. Here are some other facts they uncovered in their pre-game research …

1) When the boogeyman goes to sleep at night, he checks his closet for Jarvis Varnado.

2) Jarvis Varnado once roundhouse kicked someone so hard that his foot broke the speed of light, went back in time, and killed Amelia Earhart while she was flying over the Pacific Ocean.

3) Jarvis Varnado is the reason that Waldo is hiding.

4) Outer space exists because it is afraid to be on the same planet as Jarvis Varnado.

5) There are no disabled people. Only people who have met Jarvis Varnado.

6) Jarvis Varnado does not hunt because the word hunting implies the possibility of failure. Jarvis Varnado goes killing.

7) Chuck Norris wears Jarvis Varnado pajamas.

8 ) When Jarvis Varnado falls in water, Jarvis Varnado doesn’t get wet. Water gets Jarvis Varnado.

9) Jarvis Varnado can kill 2 stones with 1 bird.

10) “Varnado is a cross between a volcano and a tornado.. we are so screwed”.

11) Jarvis Varnado’s calendar goes from March 31st to April 2nd, no one fools Jarvis Varnado.

12) Superman’s only weakness is Kryptonite. Jarvis Varnado laughs at Superman for having a weakness.

13) There’s Jarvis Varnado, then there’s 64 other teams he lets into his tournament

14) Jarvis Varnado’s tears can cure cancer. But Jarvis Varnado has never cried.

15) If you have five dollars and Jarvis Varnado has five dollars, Varnado has more money than you do.

16) Jarvis Varnado is suing MySpace for taking the name of what he calls the area around the basket.

17) 2/3 of the earth is covered by water. The other 1/3 is covered by Jarvis Varnado.

18) Latest News Report from NASA … Last week NASA discovered a giant asteroid headed directly for earth. Jarvis Varnado swatted it and saved the planet. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

19) Jarvis Varnado could strangle you with a cordless phone.

20) President Obama has decided to rescind his stimulus plan b/c he knows Jarvis’s SWAT’s will be so powerful the ripple effects will jumpstart the economy.

Good stuff from the oppo: If I wan’t a Husky fan, I’d pick MSU

More: State’s “home-court” advantage
O/T but interesting: Rumors of a bama implosion

—–

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