By Cameron Blair
Dear Eastern sports fans,Please allow me to apologize in advance for this letter of disappointment to the Colonel fan base.
Eastern sports fans have generally impressed me over the course of my collegiate career.
Football games are often a haze of tailgating (this haze may or may not be caused by certain mind-altering liquids) and thousands of Colonel fans screaming in the stands at Roy Kidd Stadium on any given Saturday in the fall.
One of my favorite sports moments ever was the 2006 Eastern-Western football game. I rushed the field like everyone else in the stadium and watched with excitement as the goalpost came down. I know the goalpost fell on a guy, but I’m sure (being a rabid Colonel fan) he would do it over again if given the choice.
Basketball games are a fan’s paradise as well. We have that one guy that dresses up like a scarecrow (I think that’s what he’s supposed to be) and heckles the referees mercilessly throughout the games. Although the effectiveness of this tactic can be debated, it’s still tough to beat seeing a fellow student dressed as a scarecrow.
There is also a professor who comes to all of the games and gives it to the refs when they blow a call.
I remember one point during a game against Southeast Missouri when said professor ran down from the upper deck to lean on the railing above the court and shout profanities at the referee after a dubious call. This is why I love live sporting events.
However, I do have one issue with Eastern fans: The lack of attendance at Colonel baseball games.
I have never understood. It’s baseball for heaven’s sake. I can not think of anything better than sitting in the stands on a warm spring afternoon, buying a couple artery-clogging hot dogs and taking in some good ol’ fashioned baseball.
I went to opening day last Saturday at the Early Bird Tournament held at our own Turkey Hughes Field and was very disappointed by what I witnessed. There were very few students in the stands and our Colonels seemed to have little or no home-field advantage against Bucknell.
Yeah, yeah. I know it was cold and there were some snow flakes, but come on. It’s not too hard to bundle up in layers, pack a blanket and bring some hot coffee to the game. The baseball gods punished those who did not show up.
You missed a great game between two talented teams. The contest went into extra innings and the Colonels rallied to tie the score not once, but twice, in the extra frames on their way to a 14-inning, 7-7 tie.
Besides, this season Colonel fans have an opportunity to watch something that has never happened at Eastern. Left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich happens to be one of the best college pitchers in the nation and is projected to be a top-10 pick in the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft.
In two or three years, Friedrich will likely be in the major leagues making batters look foolish with his knee-buckling curveball.
If you fail to make the short walk across campus to Turkey Hughes Field to watch a future major-leaguer pitch, then I’m afraid I will have to hunt you down and revoke your sports fan license.
There are several other pro prospects on the Colonels’ roster. Chris Grider was a freshman All-American in 2004 and will be back at full strength this year after battling injuries the past couple seasons.
The combination of Matt Davis and Tyler Barnett at second base and shortstop give the Colonels one of the best double play tandems in the region. Davis and Barnett combined for 74 runs and 79 RBIs last season.
Friedrich and the other prospects are not a fluke for Eastern’s baseball program. Head Coach Elvis Dominguez’s program has produced six or seven Major League draft picks and a slew of All-Americans and All-OVC players since he took over in 2002.
One of these All-Americans will be starting for the Atlanta Braves this season.
Josh Anderson will likely come out of spring training as the starting center fielder for one of baseball’s most storied organizations.
Let me leave you with this, Eastern sports fans.
If our beloved Colonels had multiple All-Americans on a team in other sports, such as football or basketball, would you be coming out to the games?
That’s what I thought.
Now, to avoid any further wrath from the baseball gods, get yourselves out to Turkey Hughes Field this spring and watch Colonel history in the making.
A saddened sports fan.