I was going to spend late Friday night giving you a breakdown of whatever team the Hokies were going to face on Saturday in NCAA Regionals. Instead, I’m going to come at you with something personal: I’m a curse to Virginia Tech athletics.
The Red Sox had the Curse of the Bambino for years. For decades. Now, I’m starting to get a feeling that the Hokies are cursed by me. My mere presence at a big Virginia Tech athletic event typically ensures a loss, whereas sitting on my couch, or in my local watering hole in Blacksburg, means Tech has a much greater chance of winning.
This started with football, and I know many of you are in the same boat when it comes to that sport, but bear with me. Every time I go to a big Virginia Tech road game, bowl game, or neutral site game, we lose. Plain and simple.
USC 2004? I was at midfield, and it was like I reached out and knocked that ball out of Chris Clifton’s hands. The Sugar Bowl against Auburn? I was in the second row, and I’m pretty sure I personally moved those goalposts to the side, allowing Brandon Pace’s field goal to go just wide. The Orange Bowl against Kansas? I was there, and I threw the pick six to Aqib Talib, and I made numerous special teams errors.
I can keep going. I’ve attended two ACC Championship Games…Florida State in 2005, and Clemson in 2011. It was me who whiffed on all those blocks against Brodrick Bunkley, and I’m pretty sure I told the Clemson defense every play the Hokies were going to run a couple of years back in Charlotte.
The ACC Championship Games the Hokies did win? I watched them from Blacksburg. The two yawners against BC, the whipping of Florida State, and the default title game against Miami in 2004, I watched from the comforts of the 540.
The big comeback against Georgia Tech in 2004? I was in Blacksburg. Same for the comeback from the 17-0 deficit against NC State in 2010. Hell, take it all the way back to 1995 against Texas, Miami and UVA. I watched those program changing wins on TV. Yet I was in Lane for the 16-0 loss to Cincinnati, which was the last time Virginia Tech has been shut out in a football game. (I was 12…I didn’t have control over whether I went or not, which was probably good for the Hokes.)
Even in 2009, in the amazing comeback against Nebraska, I let my emotions get the best of me and I left the stadium after Dyrell Roberts dropped that pass on what I was sure was Tech’s last possession. I was sad and depressed after he dropped that ball. I didn’t think they’d get the ball back, but as soon as I left, Nebraska had a brain fart and elected to run it outside with their quarterback rather than give it to Roy Helu on third and short. As soon as I left, the football gods started smiling on the Hokies, and I heard a roar from the Lane Stadium crowd – from the parking lot, mind you – when Danny Coale caught that deep ball. Somebody fess up…I know somebody out there did the same thing that game.
In 2003, I was actually present for the big win against Miami that got everyone so excited. Then I stupidly decided it would be a good idea to drive to Pittsburgh the next week. You remember that one? The one where the Hokies fumbled twice in the redzone, and the ref decided to keep his flag in his pocket when Justin Hamilton was obviously interfered with? My bad. That one was probably my fault, too.
I can even take it to the Chick-fil-A Bowls. I was in the Georgia Dome for the second half meltdown against Georgia. I was in Blacksburg when the Hokies flattened Lane Kiffin and Tennessee. Fortunately I stayed home for that latter one, otherwise we would have had to undergo the embarrassment of losing to that guy who we all wonder why is still employed by anyone.
After all those experiences, as a fan I decided I wasn’t going to believe in the hype anymore, and that I’d be doing the Hokies a big favor if I just kept myself at home. The next big sporting event was Hokie basketball against Duke in Cassell Coliseum, with Gameday in town. I decided that I had had enough emotionally, and that instead of suffering through another tragic letdown that would wreck havoc on my Virginia Tech sports psyche, I gave away my bought and paid for tickets to a couple of Tech fans so they could enjoy the game. For free. The result? A come-from-behind Virginia Tech win. Then I sat in the second row at midcourt for the next game, a mere two days later, and watched the Hokies get crushed by BC in a loss that knocked them off the bubble.
You’d think I’d learn, right? Nope. I didn’t go to many baseball games this year, because the pollen before the month of May puts me one foot into the grave. But, I’m guessing you can guess what Virginia Tech’s winning percentage was when I did attend. Yep…zero point zero. A big, fat Bluto Blutarsky.
So naturally, in the most hyped baseball weekend in Virginia Tech history, I decided it would be a good idea to exercise my press pass and attend Friday night’s game. I decided it would be a good idea to write a column on Joe Mantiply on Thursday, who entered tonight’s game with a perfect 6-0 record. And we see how that turned out.
I’d like to take this opportunity to personally apologize to my fellow Dan-Villian, Joe Mantiply. He hadn’t lost a game since May 18, 2012, until Virginia Tech’s personal curse wrote a column about him and showed up at English Field for the NCAA Regional matchup with UConn. Now he’s 6-1, and the Hammerin’ Hokies have their backs against the proverbial wall.
I knew it was all me in the fifth inning when catcher Chad Morgan shorthopped a throw from the plate back to Mantiply after a pitch. The ball bounced off the English Field turf, down the back of the pitcher’s mound, and it allowed yet another unearned run to score from third. I don’t think I’ve seen that play happen outside of Little League Baseball, and I’m pretty sure I telepathically moved that ball in mid-air. I’m like the opposite of Christopher Lloyd in “Angles in the Outfield”.
Ah, the life of a Virginia Tech fan. Maybe I’ll give my press pass to Will Stewart for tomorrow’s elimination game. He’s got to be better luck than me.