Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bleeding Carolina Blue

I'm the only person in the ESPN TV compound who wanted North Carolina to defeat Fresno State in Saturday night's game at the College World Series in Omaha.  If Carolina had lost, the team would've been eliminated from the tournament, and the crew would've had a well-deserved day off.  As much as I wanted a day off, I didn't want it to come at the expense of my alma mater.  

It's interesting how the members of a television crew decide where their loyalties lie.  Coming into Saturday's double header, the Georgia Bulldogs and the Fresno State Bulldogs were both 2-0 in their respective brackets, prompting my co-workers to root for a Bulldog/Bulldog matchup in the championship series.  It wasn't because anyone actually liked either of these teams; it was because that matchup would mean no work on Sunday.  "Sorry, guys, but I want at least one game on Sunday," was my typical response to my callous friends.  Some people understood; they admitted they would feel the same if their schools had been in that situation.  However, other people couldn't believe my loyalty.  "You'd rather work on Sunday than see Carolina lose?" someone asked.  My answer was a resounding YES!  

Georgia did its job in the first game of Saturday's double header, hanging on to beat Stanford 10-8 and advance to the finals.  Then it was up to the other Bulldogs, Fresno State, to put away North Carolina and secure a day for our crew to relax.  Much to the chagrin of my friends - but to my delight - North Carolina third baseman Chad Flack crushed a 2-run home run over the stands of Rosenblatt Stadium to give my Heels a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the 8th.  The Bulldogs couldn't do anything in the top of the 9th against pitcher Alex White, and Carolina notched the win.

The Heels have new life, but reaching the championship series didn't become any easier.  They have to beat the same Bulldogs team tonight in order to advance.  Adam Warren, the losing pitcher in Carolina's loss to Fresno State Tuesday night - which, by the way, seems as if it happened a month ago - will start again.  In his first game Warren allowed nine hits and four earned runs in only four innings.  This time I hope he has more success.  Ironically, so does the rest of the crew.  Mere hours after wanting a Carolina defeat, the majority of my co-workers are pulling for the Tar Heels tonight.  Why?  So that their having to work on what would've been their day off won't be in vain.  Such is the reasoning of a bunch of folks who work in television.

After last night's game, several co-workers playfully needled me.  "I hope you're happy we have to work tomorrow!" they jeered.  My answer was a resounding, unapologetic YES!  Go Heels!

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