Dear Dave Van Horn,
I am writing to apologize. It seems I am the reason you don't have a national championship when you should have at least two by way of your superb managing and recruiting.
You see, there is a curse in my family in relation to baseball. It stems through my grandfather's line on my mother's side.
When I was a child ripping my way up through tee-ball, Little League and Babe Ruth, I not only had the fortune to be a solid baseball player, but I had the luxury of being on championship teams at every level. There were times when I got to be part of teams that felt so unstoppable that it occasionally felt unfair.
There was only one thing that could ever stop us – a trip by my grandfather from Gurdon to Warren to watch me play. He was an amazing, caring man who always made it a point to come see me pitch or work the infield at least once or twice a year.
I always loved getting to see him, so I became accepting of the curse that would befall my team with each visit. No matter how bad the team was we faced, if my grandfather was perched along the baseline in his signature lawn chair, we were about to absorb what might be our only loss of the season.
That curse apparently came my way via genetic inheritance, and, much like it applied to whatever team I was on, it appears to apply to your team Mr. Van Horn.
When I turn on the TV, your team falls apart. Remember the Oregon St. championship series? My bad.
I thought I could risk it. I couldn't imagine a world where you'd lose to the Beavers, but as soon as that pop-up hit the ground, I suspected it might be me.
Arkansas Razorbacks shortstop Jax Biggers (9) and left fielder Heston Kjerstad (18) and center fielder Dominic Fletcher (24) converge on a ball in the game against the Oregon State Beavers in game 3 of the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Arkansas dropped a similar pop-up in the previous game that would have clinched the championship.
I dared to watch the next game thinking it was all surely just in my head, but we know how that turned out.
I should have known ahead of time. When I covered the Texas Rangers, they were the most laughable team in baseball even though they signed Alex Rodriguez while I was there.
As soon as I stopped covering them, they put together a team that would eventually go to two World Series. I had avoided watching them all-together, but a friend of mine asked me to watch the final couple of innings of Game 6 for what was certain to be a World Series celebration over the St. Louis Cardinals.
When I got down to the hotel restaurant there were two outs with the Rangers leading by two. It even got down to the final strike, but the family curse sent it to extra innings after a misplayed fly ball.
Sound familiar coach?
I should have known not to be coaxed back a second time after Josh Hamilton's home run and a pair of St. Louis outs meant another chance at the impossible for Texas, but there I was to watch it all melt away. Much like the Arkansas-Oregon St. series, I convinced myself after a long day to settle down and watch the deciding game, which, and Razorback fans will relate to this, felt hopeless from the opening pitch.
I managed to stay away from last year's Razorback team. The few times I dared to watch were the few single losses given up in a series.
I thought it would be OK to watch the North Carolina St. series. My wife and I wanted to take in the team and the historical nature of what was happening.
NC State Wolfpack outfielder Jonny Butler (14) celebrates a home run with outfielder Terrell Tatum (1) in the first inning against the Stanford Cardinal at TD Ameritrade Park. The Wolfpack upset No. 1 Arkansas to reach the College World Series the week prior.
It's not like it was the College World Series, I thought, and the Wolfpack shouldn't be a threat to such an unstoppable force. Even if the curse came into play, you could just call "The Kopps" and everything would be just fine.
Again. My bad.
As for this year, every time I have tried to stick through a game, your men have lost.
I want to apologize for Auburn loss. I knew you were playing to try to lock up the SEC West crown and stay in contention for a Top 8 seed, but I was feeling horribly sick and needed something to watch.
There's no doubt you felt when I turned on the TV for the series finale. It's Mother's Day and my wife realized it was late in the game and wanted to see it.
She couldn't figure out how to fight through all the hoops it takes to get ESPN+ up and running on our TV, so I had to be in the room to get it turned on. You were up 7-3, and I immediately warned her that if we watched the game, Arkansas was going to lose.
By now, she is highly aware of the curse, but she just has a hard time believing in it. During the few minutes of the 9th inning that we watched, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Once Jalen Battles flubbed that grounder, she accepted reality and we not only turned the game off, we went completely out of the Firestick.
Less than a minute later, she got a notification that Arkansas had pulled out the series win.
So, Mr. Van Horn, if you ever wonder why Andy Hodges covers all of your games and it feels like I'm never around, it's nothing personal. I'm just trying to help you keep your job and make it possible for Arkansas fans to find some level of enjoyment in the dull days of late spring and early summer.
On a side note, my grandfather unexpectedly passed away when I was 13. I didn't get to play on the Babe Ruth All-Star team in the state tournament that year because I missed too many practices for his funeral and the week that followed while with my mother, her sisters, and her mother sorted through their grief.
I was devastated to find out I wouldn't be able to have baseball when I needed it most, but, much like when he attended those games, I would never exchange what he meant or the time needed to process what happened. I would have went on the field and taken a loss every day to have had him there.
Him being gone was the true curse.
Again, sorry about costing you those two CWS championships. I promise not to watch this year so you can have your best shot at what you deserve.
Best of luck!
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