BP #39: Mizzou Baseball. For #Everything
At the beginning of the year, before all the success (and the recent shortcomings), I was tasked with coming up with a word, a phrase to describe what our season would be about. For Days, I thought about it, but after having a few conversations, I came back to the first word that popped into my head.
There were a number of reasons this word felt so right for our team. Most simply, we were fighting for it all this season. For draft stock, for our futures, for our dignity...for our respect. So while the world was focused on writing us off, and who would be taking the reigns from us after another disappointing year, we were focused on our comeback. We were focused on our grand return to the stage. We worked harder, practiced longer, and gave it more, because we felt it. We felt that weight on our shoulders, that chip, every time we walked into Taylor Stadium. I remember the first time the team went on the road. It was a cold day, the snow had stopped falling for a few hours, and the players slowly gathered onto the bus. And I walked behind a group of them, I couldn’t help but notice something.
The swagger flashed off of them. They knew they had a reputation and they couldn’t wait to shock the world. They knew what the reports said, and they wanted to shock the world. And they knew what their fellow Tigers thought of them...and they couldn't wait to Shock. The. World. But as the season progressed, as the wins accumulated, the comparisons were drawn, and the projections were made, that chip on their shoulders faded. The swagger was still there but...this time...it was because we had proved something. At that point, we were no longer the underdogs. The ranking were starting to pour in, a regional host seemed in our future, and our school, they started to show up to watch us win, not just watch us play.
But then...the fall. We went from regional host shoe-in, to being on the bubble. In a matter of four weeks, most of our rankings were gone, and again we were back to being the underdog.
And that, is the best thing to happen to us all year.
We’ve made mistakes throughout this 13-week run, some have cost us more than others. But none of them have costed us more than losing our underdog type swagger. It was with that, that we swept Georgia, and walked off against South Carolina, and put up 10 runs against Florida, and won a series against Tennessee, and turned Triple Plays. Sometimes its hard to remember the amazing things we did when we were the underdogs.
So now we are right back where we were in February. The snow might be gone, and the heat might be coming, but besides that..nothing has changed. We are still doubted. We are still fighting for our lives in the grand stage of SEC Baseball. And we still have that swagger. That untamable, unrelenting, unwavering fire inside of us to prove Everyone wrong.
(...) I had to pause for a moment, because thinking of this ending, makes my heart ache.
So it comes down to this. A little weekend at Taylor Stadium and a few days in Hoover. As we’ve said all season, it's time to shock the world once more. It's time to fight for all our goals, for all our dreams...For#Everything.