There’s never really anything better than watching that one play that turns a game around, turns the momentum, and is absolutely epic in the moment.
College athletics has a different feel to it. I admit, watching the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians was what we all wanted. They turned in a Game 7 for the ages, but something gets lost in all the excitement. When all is said and done, the end of the playoffs means contract negotiating and labour strife. The players saying that it’s all about the game and hometown discounts are making decisions based purely on the dollar bill.
Look at the Michigan/Ohio State game last Saturday. Playoff hopes were on the line, bragging rights were at stake, and amateurs were making countless blunders on the biggest stage in the world and it couldn’t have been any better. There’s an innocence behind the machine that is collegiate sports. Watching Tom Brady flawlessly pick apart defences is a thing of beauty, but watching college players make multiple mistakes and get back back up after feeling the wrath of their peers is somehow more important.
Most of us never get that shining moment but we all have that dream of being the champ even if it’s for a short time. I always go back to my college days and remember just how much that had an impact on my life. Of course I wanted to play pro, but the thought of money or stardom was never the motivating factor when I was on the field. I wanted to compete against my peers. I wanted to win. I wanted to be the best person to step on that mound at that exact time. We all love our sports, and there’s so many flashes of brilliance that it’s almost impossible to choose the greatest, but i’m gonna pick my favourite, the one I believe epitomises everything about what makes those days so appealing.
In the summer 1996 I was entering my last year of high school and beginning the process of applying to US schools and trying to land a scholarship. I was sitting on my parents living room floor watching the Miami Hurricanes battle the LSU Tigers in the College World Series. Obviously it was a great game, but little did I know I’d be witnessing history.
Robbie Morrison, probably the greatest closer in Hurricane history, picked the wrong time for his first blown save of the year. Warren Morris, the number nine hitter who missed 39 games due to a wrist injury, hits a game winning two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the Tigers their 3rd championship of the 90’s. It was also his first home run of the year. I challenge you not to get goosebumps when you watch it…it’s impossible. The home run is so epic, it’s immortalized outside of TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Morris’ blast was also featured in ESPN’s SEC Storied series affectionately known as The Walk Off.
When you sit back and think about it, something as simple as a long fly ball can change your life. In a split second, the player least likely to pull a rabbit out of his hat, delivers one of the most magical home runs in the history of college baseball. Automatically you visualize Bill Mazeroski’s 1960 walk off, Kirk Gibson’s Game 1 blast of Dennis Eckersley, and Joe Carter’s World Series winner.
There’s these flashes of brilliance that we only see so often but when we do they are ingrained in us for a lifetime. I can still see it to this day, sitting there thinking Morrison had this in the bag. With no ill will toward the Hurricanes closer, I’m glad I was wrong.