Part A: 2007 & 2003
I realized last night what it was that made me identify with the Red Sox. In case you were unaware, since even students here were unaware, that my MSU Bulldogs were playing in the NIT Final Four game in NYC. We had so far played brilliantly, to the point that I think we could have easily been in the Elite Eight of the NCAA depending on our matchups. West Virginia is nothing to scoff at to be certain but we could win this game, we could win any game. The start was a bit unnerving but in true dawg fashion by the end of the first half we were 14 points up and on a run. We usually come out after halftime and give up a 6 or 8 point run but not today. We were still on our run, they couldn't touch us. J-Go was on fire with his assists, the colossus of Rhodes was standing brilliantly, Hans was everywhere, Slater was weaving his magic; it was beautiful. Then something happened. Our shots didn't stop falling, and we didn't stop playing our aggressive D, but something happened. With a little less than 3 minutes left our lead was down to six, which isn't too shabby and that's when it happened.
Miss Rookie (my girlfriend) says "if we blow this game..." I stop her right there. When you are winning you simply don't say that. Hell, you don't talk about losing if when you are losing until the game is OVER. But that wasn't the only reason I stopped her. I felt it too. Impending defeat and for no good reason other than we are the Bulldogs of MSU and that's how the pieces fall every time. The whole game Horne and I were talking about how MSU doesn't get any love from announcers even when we are playing great, on a five game win streak, and 72 points ahead. Now I know why. Dogs up two with 2.1 seconds on the clock and WVU inbounds the ball, puts up a three over Gordon's head that nearly reaches orbit and falls through the hoop barely even hitting the net. We lose, WVU goes to the championship game.
Later last night it hits me. I understand now. I know why I became a Boston fan, and it is not a pretty story. It's because of this feeling that I connected with Red Sox nation. At the time the Sox hadn't won the World Series in 85 years. They had an arch rival that was perpetually better than them (hey, I hate the Bombers as much as anyone but let's face it, the Yanks had been to half of the big shows in the last decade usually downing the Sox in the ALCS). Boston fans were always the same, thinking this year was going to be different, this year was special, this year we have the team. And like clockwork, things broke apart, bad calls, horrible plays, and just damn bad luck always happened. And that's how a young high school grad from Mississippi could feel so right with a baseball team so far away.
Part B: 2004
Down three games to none, down going into ninth inning, down for the season... AGAIN. And then Roberts stole. See my previous article. He stole second and the world changed for thousands of people across the country. The world changed for Pesky. 85 years did not matter, only one year did. That's what it took and now there is never that nagging feeling that the gods of baseball are going to screw us over anymore. If ever we lose a game it was our fault and it's okay because we'll be back tomorrow night. This year, just like 2006 and 2005, looks more promising than the last even though we didn't win the WS in the last two years.
So how is last night's loss in the Final Four of the NIT like the 2004 ALCS? It's not. It's like the 2003 ALCS. We lost a game we should have won. We lost despite playing exceptionally well. We lost on a freakin' buzzer beater (okay that didn't happen in 2003). Next year is what I'm talking about. We are losing only two seniors, only one of which really plays. We have 11 freshman and sophomores, most of which are already starters and amazing. We lost in the SEC tourny to a traitor's team (Ervin on Arkansas). We tied for the division title with our rivals (UM). We got shafted out of the big show (NCAA). Any of this sound familiar. Maybe they don't all line up with 2003 and that one series, but they definitely all line up with the Sox. Cultivating young talent, a player we loved going to another team, having to share the spotlight with our bitter enemies, not making it again to the dance. The Bulldogs are my local Red Sox and I'm calling it now, watch us next year. Watch our recruitment. Watch us win the West and maybe even the SEC outright. Watch us dominant the SEC Tourny. Watch us go to the NCAA and go round for round with the best. We are the local Sox, we are Rocky Balboa, we are perpetual underdogs. We are the BULLDOGS.
Are you looking for sports? Or maybe just the Red Sox? That team that is in the American League East? That same team that is the rival of the New York Yankees? Maybe you are looking for sports on the rox? Or is it Sports on the Rocks? You may be looking for Sports Drinks. Henry and Trevor read the Boston GlobeBoston Globe. They also read ESPN. If you are also looking for Mississippi State University sports, then you are in the right place too. Dirt Dawgs? Diamond Dawgs? Dawgs in general? You can Google the hell out of this site if you want.