Uncredentialed Barking Carnival correspondent Fake Ken Tremendous returns and marks the occasion by getting in his dreamwagon and doing donuts on Bill Little's lawn. - S.R.
Just when I think I'm going to get a break from my mean-spirited criticism of Bill Little's cornpone musings, the Longhorns go and lose in heartbreaking fashion in the College World Series. And, of course, Bill pumps out this piece full of strained metaphors, ambiguous pronouns and a healthy dose of Bellmont-flavored sunshine. What choice do I have but to respond?
Bill Little commentary: The final chapter
Little concludes his 'NCAA Chronicles' with another look at the Longhorns' magical ride...
"Magical ride?" Aw yeah... Bill's prepping us for a "dreamwagon" reference. I can't wait!
...in the NCAA Men's College World Series.
June 26, 2009
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
OMAHA, Neb. -- We loved the movie, "The Bad News Bears," not because in the end they won their championship game (they did not), but rather because of who they became, and the fact that they took us all along for the ride. They were totally human, and absolutely fun.
Wait a minute. The Bad News Bears were human? I always thought that movie was about actual bears. You learn something new every day!
And so it was with the 2009 Texas Longhorn baseball team.
Here's a fun drinking game: print out a bunch of Bill Little articles. Get your friends together and read them. Every time Bill uses the phrase "And so it was with...," drink a vial full of cyanide.
As the Ameristar chartered 737 headed south from Omaha's Eppley Airfield on Thursday morning, the bright sun forecast another hot day as summer had come to Nebraska.
Now this is refreshing sports journalism! Screw all that crap about the score. Fuck statistics. Don't waste my time with fluff about key plays and critical coaching decisions. What I want to know is which charter airline the baseball team uses, on what type of airplane they flew, and the full name of the local airport.
In the distance out the right side of the plane, was Rosenblatt Stadium. It was quiet now,
It's amazing how quiet things on the ground seem when you're sitting in an airplane cabin several thousand feet above sea level.
with only the grounds crew and the clean-up folks stirring where the night before Texas and LSU had played for the National Championship of all of college baseball.
Wait - Texas and LSU played for the National Championship of all of college baseball on Wednesday? So Texas didn't win the National Championship of 33% of college baseball on Tuesday??? The NCAA's new "winner takes all of the championship" playoff format is a complete ripoff!
The blue, red and yellow seats are beginning to fade, in anticipation of next year's final season at the stadium on the hill, just beyond the Missouri River and the zoo and the roar of the big jet engines.
...and a comb, and a brush, and a bowl full of mush. And a quiet old lady who was wispering "hush."
For 15 days, they had lived a dream in the nation's Midlands. Whatever the obstacle, however high the hill and regardless of the size of the challenge,
Are those really three separate ideas?
they had reached in their magic bag of miracles and pulled out one after another.
Could it be any more clear that Bill is plagiarizing material from a Harry Potter fan fiction site?
When Texas had come to Omaha, despite earning the NCAA Baseball Committee's No. 1 seed because of its record and its RPI index, the Longhorns were considered in the middle of the eight-team field by the pundits who cover the sport of college baseball.
Yeah. Fuck you, Huckleberry!
In its own bracket, both North Carolina and Arizona State were given a better chance to still be standing when the Championship Series began.
But when Monday night came, there was Texas, playing and leading odds-on favorite and top-ranked LSU, with two outs and two strikes on the batter in the ninth inning.
I have told many times of the conversation I once had on a radio broadcast with former Longhorn football coach John Mackovic after Jody Conradt's very special 1997 team had been eliminated in the NCAA Women's Basketball playoffs as a shot that would have tied the game bounced away at the buzzer.
You'd think that, after telling that story many times, Bill could decribe it concisely.
"What do you say to your team as a coach," I asked him.
"There is really nothing you can say," he said. "You tell your team that if they work hard and prepare to the best of their ability, good things will happen for them. And then, that is not enough. You realize that the other team also was up at 6:30 workouts, and had put in every bit as much work and effort. It is, after all, the nature of sport."
I have to give Bill credit here. One hallmark of excellent investigative journalism is identifying an appropriate expert on the subject of your piece. And when it comes to underperforming in sports, there is no more qualified expert than John Mackovic.
Augie Garrido has always said that baseball is cruel, and that is why there was so much pain when Monday night LSU got that base hit, tied the game, and won in the end. The next night, these battlers of the bases dressed in orange did what they did best
By "what they did best," do you mean they dressed in orange and then battled on the bases? Because if there's anything that battlers of the bases dressed in orange do well, it's that!
-- they got off the mat and came fighting back to win and tie the series.
It had happened again on Wednesday, when LSU got a two-out base runner when a Cole Green curveball snapped in the dirt at home plate and examination of the ball showed the umpires that the pitch had hit the Tiger batter's shoe. What is the old poem about "For Want of A Nail..." -- Wednesday night's drama began with a discussion about shoe polish.
Wow - what just happened there? Bill finally started discussing the game and then - CRASH! - his whole train of thought was completely derailed by the word "shoe." Note to self: if ever Bill Little points a gun at you at Lion's Muny, yell "shoe!" and run like hell.
A three-run homer later, and Texas was back in its familiar role of having to come from behind -- and it did. They had been down by six runs to Arizona State, but soon they trailed the nation's No. 1 ranked team, 4-0. And here they came again.
Holy shit. Bill's doing real-time play-by-play, but several days after the fact, in writing and with the chronology completely fucked up.
When Kevin Keyes rocketed a pitch out of Rosenblatt for a two-run homer, the game was tied as the bottom of the fifth inning ended.
Two long-time observers in the press box looked at each other. They thought of the two weeks in Omaha, of the months of preparation, of the more than 200 teams which had begun playing Division I college baseball in the spring of 2009.
How can Bill possibly know all the details of these "long-time observers'" thoughts? Oh my God. Is he a mindreader??? Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts, dammit! Riding the dreamwagon. Um, pulling stuff out of a magic bag of miracles. Happy thoughts! Surviving the... uh, surviving the, uh... the surge. Think happy thoughts!
"It is down," one said, "to a four-inning game for the National Championship."
Whether history will remember that Texas made mistakes or that LSU supplied the necessary heroics will likely depend on whether you speak Texan or Cajun, but whatever the case, five Tiger runs in the top of the sixth inning built a final mountain that proved just too high to climb.
Too high to climb even for a team that has a magic bag of miracles?
The energy that it had taken to mount the four-run rally had drained the batteries, and there simply wasn't enough time to recharge against such a quality opponent.
All of that would be part of the memories that flooded the young men of Texas as their plane majestically flew over Iowa, down the big river toward Texas.
The team flew down a river? Seriously, is English Bill's second language?
There was disappointment because they didn't get what they came for. The beautiful silver trophy, given to the CWS runner-up, was in a box and put away, rather than riding in a place of honor in the front seat of the plane. There had been no "dog pile" at the end, and the Tower wouldn't be orange with a big No. 1 on it.
Augie had said it best in his post game when he talked about living in America,
Coach Augie Garrido addresses the media after Texas' 11-4 loss to LSU on Wednesday night.
a country where in the world of sports the only place you can finish and be happy is first. But in Austin, the crowd and the city which had adopted this team wasn't about to let it go. The fire department at Bergstrom International Airport offered its "water cannon" salute bath as the plane landed and headed toward the buses parked at Atlantic Aviation, and in the 100-degree heat, a crowd gathered at UFCU Disch-Falk Field to welcome them home.
A crowd gathered at Disch-Falk to welcome the airport fire department home?
Again, this is why they honored them: We didn't love the little baseball team called the Bears because of a game they won, we loved them because of who they became.
Let me see if I can summarize Bill's point: a crowd honored the Texas baseball team because we love the Bad News Bears, whom we love because they are totally human and absolutely fun, but not because they won the championship game, which they did not actually win.
Whew. I feel dizzy.
There are probably no two humans on the face of the earth who hate losing more than Mack Brown...
Superfluous Mack Brown shout-out alert!
...and Augie Garrido, and yet both -- removed from the immediate moment -- will tell you that games in college are about far more than victories.
"Everything isn't about winning," Augie said as he spoke through his anger and frustration at the press conference after the game. "It's about learning life skills so you can go out and live life. And you don't win every time in life."
And then he repeated a story of his talented 1992 Cal Fullerton team, which finished second in the CWS to Pepperdine. In eight trips now to the Championship game at the CWS, Garrido's teams have won five times and lost three. The Fullerton team, with stars such as Phil Nevin, came to learn that life lessons included a burning desire to succeed that often would be flamed by that second place finish in Omaha. It was never about defeat; it was about how you handled defeat.
In the days and years that will follow, the pain of the outcome of the final days in Omaha will diminish. I'd like to tell you it will go away, but it won't. Ask any member of any Longhorn team which has been to that place, and somewhere deep inside the sadness will still be there.
That, however, is fleeting.
No matter how long ago it was, the pain will stay with you always. It will never, ever, ever go away. But at least this everlasting pain will be fleeting, whatever the hell that word means!
As the lights went out at Rosenblatt, the 2008-2009 year of Longhorn athletics came to a close. What had begun with a storybook ride in football
A storybook ride in what kind of vehicle, Bill? Come on, say it. We know you want to. And, you know we want it. Give us the dreamwagon, Bill. Give it to us.
had ended in the final game of the year in all of college baseball.
Throughout, we were blessed with a common bond -- this year, more than others, created a union between the teams and the fans. We loved their resiliency, admired their tenacity.
...and respected that they were totally human, just like the Bad News Bears.
Those who watched were no longer just observers, they became a part.
A part of what?
However rare it might have been, together we rode the Longhorn express through the valleys and to the mountain tops.
"Rode the Longhorn express?" Stop it. Just say it, Bill. You know what we want to hear. Please say it. We're begging you. God dammit, Bill! Enough is enough. Just say it! Say "dreamwagon." Stop teasing us and say "ride the dream wagon!"
Preston Clark, a fifth year season who was the only member of the last Longhorn team which had been to Omaha (and he didn't get to make that trip), and fellow senior Travis Tucker sat side by side in the final press conference. Asked to describe that magical ride
Yes! Say it! Say what they're taking that magic ride on, Bill. Tell us about the dreamwagon. Please. We need it soooo bad.
that brought championships that included the Big 12 title, the Big 12 Tournament title, the NCAA Regional, Super Regional and CWS Bracket championships, the word "I" never came up.
Somewhere between the end of the season in the regional at Rice a year ago and the moments in Omaha, this team had been driven by a dream
Oh my God, you're killing us! Just say "ride the dreamwagon," you goddammed tease!
and a purpose: To get back to Omaha and restore the order which the Longhorns had seen slip as one of the dominant teams in college baseball.
"We started out playing like the `Bad News Bears,' Augie had said as Texas dropped behind Arizona State, 6-0. "But all of a sudden, the Longhorns showed up."
One more time: Not because of a game, but because of who they became.
Ouch! What the hell was that??? Bill just hit us with a meaningless theme suckerpunch! I mean, one minute he's quoting Augie Garrido about the Longhorns' sloppy defense and eventual comeback in the semifinals and then WHAM! from out of fucking nowhere he just blindsides us with this whole "you like the Bad News Bears, but not because they won the championship" nonsense. What the hell was that all about?
"These are our brothers," Tucker and Clark said. "We have formed life-long friendships. We picked each other up, and we believed in one another."
Then they said one final thing: "We love each other."
Bill was secretly hoping for a kiss.
In a world that seems in turmoil, with wars and rumors of wars
OMG - Kim Jong Il is such a gossip, y'all!
and scandals and financial worries, they gave us something to cheer about and smile about,
Who gave us something to cheer about and smile about?
and finally, they
left us with that.
One last memory of something that was fun, right and pure on their Field of Dreams, a stadium high on a hill overlooking the Missouri River, right there in the heart of America.
I am struggling to come up with a description of the heart-breaking, error-filled Game 3 loss that would be more inaccurate and pollyannaish than "something that was fun, right and pure on [the Longhorns'] Field of Dreams."
Note to Science: if you eggheads ever discover a magical unicorn who eats raw Tijuana sewage only to poop out a radiant stream of puppies, rainbows, and Christmas cheer, I suggest the following name for this new species: Equus billus littlus.