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The Excitement of a Fast Start

by Hunter Abbey

The year was 2006. We had just lost our best player in recent history, maybe our best player of all time. However, we had faith in a young gunslinger who was replacing him.

You see, growing up a Mizzou Tiger fan and attending school there was a real labor of love. For most of my childhood, the football team was HORRIBLE. I don’t mean like, “we weren’t very good,” we were flat out horrendous. We were maybe one of the worst BCS programs in the nation. My freshman year, we had more of that. However, I still loved gamedays. Not because I wanted to see us lose 55-0, or watch our inept offense. I just enjoyed waking up at 9, cracking open a beer, being hammered by kickoff, watching half of the game, and drinking all night.

Once Brad Smith came, we had a little reason to watch, but frankly, we still weren’t very good. Then, he left, but you got the feeling that there was help on the way.

The Tigers started that year 6-0. They had a young group of very talented players like Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman, and William Moore, coupled with a group of slightly less talented but hard working upperclassmen like Brian Smith, David Overstreet, and Martin Rucker. For the first time in my life, things were different.

I always looked forward to gamedays. In 2006, I looked forward to gamedays too, but I wanted to see what this young team could do. I actually tried to remain somewhat sober for kickoff, and came back in after leaving for a halftime beer. Perhaps most notably, Sunday through Friday were horrible. All I could think about was the next game. How did we match up? How did next year’s commits do? Could we stay undefeated?

The 2006 season ended a little sour, with the Tigers losing 5 of their last 7. For the Tigers at that time, 8-5 was still a damn good season. It was that season that energized the fanbase, made them believe that success was possible, made us look forward to the future, and made us hold our heads a little higher.

The 2007 season was the best one since the 60’s. You could look back and say that it was somewhat soured by an Orange Bowl snub, but the fact is, we were ranked #1 in the country late in the year, and finished in the top 5. Because of that season, going to a bowl is no longer a big deal. Expectations are raised. The entire fanbase looks forward to the game, for the sake of the game, not just as an excuse to go to Harpo’s. However, it was the 2006 season that was the catalyst.

———————–

I know it is easy to get a little too excited after 4 last inning victories. I don’t know where this team will finish, but I doubt it is above .500. College football and pro baseball are very different sports, but the passion can be the same. Just as Tiger fans who had put their stripes on the shelf after years of disappointment rallied behind a young group in 2006, Royals fans who have been protecting themselves for 20 years will start to tune in.

I have always been a baseball fan first. I have always watched every game that I could. This year is different. I get excited to see what this team can do. We have the young, exciting players mixed with the likeable (other than Kendall) veterans. You can see the talent coming. Just like Sunday through Friday night was tough in 2006, the off day on Monday was excruciating. I am already dreading tomorrow’s off day.

I don’t know what 2011 has in store for us. Maybe it takes a little longer in baseball than College Football. I do know this: people are starting to notice. People are starting to care. When that happens, the only question left is: When do us Royals fans get our 2007 dream season?

 

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