Stand Up and Cheer
I was a young, impressionable freshman at Ohio University in the fall of 1999, when my beloved Bobcats ventured north to Columbus and, against all conceivable odds, were tied with the Buckeyes at halftime of a game that was supposed to be a blowout. And a blowout it was, eventually, as OSU righted itself and won, 40-16.
Still, the 10-10 tie at the half would have been thrilling, if not for the general consensus of the students on Court Street that this was an annoyance. Sure, they were OU students, but they were OSU fans. And pride in OU athletics was something of a rare condition.
Now, this trend was not without its merits, of course. OU is not exactly known for its great football tradition. My junior year, the Bobcats were the consensus pick to win the MAC East. They proceeded to go 1-10.
My senior year, the season opener was against Division I-AA Northeastern, and the Bobcats were beaten, 28-0. That game will forever be etched in my memory as the night OU unveiled a cannon at Peden Stadium. They were so anxious to use this cannon for the first time that, following the game, it fired a ring of smoke into the sky. I can still see that circle hovering in the atmosphere, and I’m still not sure if it was an “O” for Ohio or a zero to represent the Bobcats’ final score.
Oh, that was also the year we lost 72-21 at Bowling Green. Good times.
Somewhere along the line, in the midst of covering all this nonsense for the Athens Messenger, I befriended a guy named Dan Lowe who convinced me that some students did, indeed, care about what was going on in OU sports. Dan was a gentle giant, a good Christian and the ultimate Bobcats fan. He wore face paint. He started chants in the student section at The Convo during basketball games and was the heart, soul and inspiration for the “O Zone” student section that started up my junior year and is still going strong today. No matter the sport, no matter the season, he recognized that while we weren’t vying for national championships, we did matter.
Today, the Bobcats went back into The Shoe and gave the Buckeyes a scare. A real scare. It was 7-6 OU at halftime, and it was 14-12 OU at the end of the third quarter. For 23 minutes and 24 seconds of game time, the Bobcats, outmanned but unbowed, held a lead.
Sometimes the end result — in this case, a 26-14 win for the bad guys — doesn’t really matter in sports. Sometimes the thrill of the chase is just as fun. This was one of those days — for me, at least (though I certainly wouldn’t have minded it much if Taylor Price had hauled in Boo Jackson’s perfect pass on 3rd-and-nine in the fourth quarter).
As is the case whenever OU rises to sporting prominence (the two or three times it’s actually happened), I received a number of texts from fellow alums today. I didn’t hear from Dan. He passed away in 2005, the victim of a heart condition no one knew he had. Those who knew him know his heart was probably just too big.
Still, I think about Dan every time the Bobcats give us OU alums a reason to stand up and cheer, and I know he was up there smiling today.
If you made it this far, thanks for allowing me the digression. We now return to your regularly scheduled baseball season…
INDIANS (68-71): CF Grady Sizemore, DH David Dellucci, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Zach Jackson (0-1, 6.17).
ROYALS (60-80): CF David DeJesus, SS Mike Aviles, RF Jose Guillen, DH Billy Butler, 1B Ryan Shealy, C Miguel Olivo, 3B Mark Teahen, 2B Alberto Callaspo, LF Esteban German. RHP Gil Meche (10-10, 4.07).
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Travis Hafner is expected to get another four at-bats at Double-A Akron tonight. The Indians will evaluate him afterward and determine where to go from here. His rehab assignment expires after today’s action, so they’ll either have to leave him on the DL and do work behind the scenes or activate him.
- How low has Josh Barfield fallen on the totem pole? When asked if Barfield will get a start this month, Wedge said, “I don’t know. Right now, we’re just kind of working through everything.” Translation: Barfield might get a token start, but Asdrubal Cabrera is the guy at second.
- Speaking of Cabrera, he’s batting .333 with a homer and 12 RBIs over his last 23 games.
- The Indians’ 10-game road winning streak is tied for the fourth-longest in club history. It is their longest streak since winning 11 straight road games April 17-May 16, 2001.
- According to Elias, the Indians are only the third-ever AL team to win 10 straight road games, with all the wins coming while the team was below .500. The Indians also did it in 1922, and hte Orioles did it in 1999.