The Curse (A Long Apology to Joe Mantiply)

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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.

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36 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Let me do you a favor and disavow you of this notion. As a Red Sox fan, I thought for sure that their comically epic failures were my fault. I learned after Grady Little decided to leave Pedro in the game that it, in fact, was NOT my fault and vowed to never think that way again. The rest is history.

    You should be more ashamed of yourself for leaving the Nebraska game early. Mrs. CPRV would be appalled by that move, as she takes early leavers as an affront to Hokiedom. Besides, you missed the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen at Lane Stadium.

  2. AS YOU SEE…….you are not alone……I’ve realized I was the curse long ago as a young boy..

    At the corner of West Campus drive and prices fork road (corner of the New ALumni Center
    hotel/convention complex & golf course)——–there is a small thick forested area (beside the former sheraton hotel. In early 60’s (when VT all corp), the pastor of our church lived in a house (which is still there) hidden in that wooded area. My folks were at a church committee meeting on a saturday. I and my siblings were playing outside during the meeting when all of a sudden we heard this loud crowd roar. We asked the pastor what it was…..He said VT was
    playing a football game at Miles stadium (located across from the tennis courts beside new BBall facility (now dorm area), That was my introduction …
    . . Then my sister dated a great VT running back legend from NRV area (whose son also played rb at vt many years later)…so my love story with VT began….I believe he played with CFB… I was fascinated… my family started going once Lane built..(.Family still has season tickets.).. At that time VT began admitting civilian students.
    VT was viewed as VMI contemporary rival. …..and has had to work & fight hard to work its way up in the major college sports world via Claiborne, CoffeySharpe Dooley,etc to Beamer. While I think VT final break thru the years –the Big EASt & then the ACC finally has helped reach that status…..but I think that many of us experienced too many upsets & heartbreaks to get us out of the mode of where ALL OF US LONGTIME FANS have been silently & secretly thinking we were the jinx…….. I sometimes think our teams still feel they need to prove themselves — still thinking some program or school in our conference has an advantage on us. Beamer has helped make a major dent in that…..but sometimes I still think fans & student athletes doubt themselves ( or some who were too young or aren’t aware of the struggles of the past )have gotten a little cocky….leading to upsets.

    I think the baseball team has been just outside the limelight. for so long.. and pretty much were not on anyones serious national radar until the end of the season….then came acc
    tourney success…..and the fan mania……..almost overnight…..with that COMES THE PRESSURE……. the stadium overflowing along with pressure of fellows thinking they were finally witnessing attention, notoriety, & acknowledgment of the fans & the national stage (that they may have longed for.)…….THE BIG CHANCE THEY’VE LONGED FOR CAME WITHIN A WEEK…….A #1 SEED AS REGIONAL HOST…….press coming out their ears….distractions……AND EVER BUILDING PRESSURE THAT THEY HAD TO DELIVER….RIGHT NOW……….. …..a MOUNTAIN OF EXPECTATIONS & PRESSURE……from what I understand ( the were hitting the same balls towards fences that normally that yielded homeruns…..but I was told there was a heavy blowing wind that held those balls
    inside the fence. THUS (in terms of crowd turnout & support) they were back to the world of fan indifference and having to start over to prove themselves. Unfortunately , VT will have to combat a determined OU team that has vowed to return to a tornado battered state with the regional BBurg regional trophy while VT attempts to restore its goal to proving themselves not only as a winner & national player in the world of college baseball —-but also to the college & town it calls home.. They deserve more than than they have gotten thus far. So does the citizens of Oklahoma. I hope the powers that be and the Gods of many faiths figure out a way to make all feel they came out as the winners that they are.

    1. I’ve been to well over 100 games and the only ones I can remember leaving early were the 2007 Matt Ryan BC game (a sure win inside 2 minutes) and the 2009 Danny Coale OK game (a sure loss inside 2 minutes). Go figure!!!

  3. I owe the mother of a friend of mine (who is a subscriber here on TSL, by the way) an apology. Mrs. Land, I’m sorry for blaming you all these years. It was really this guy. Glad that’s off my chest. Thanks, Chris!

  4. Does this mean you will be watching all future VT football games from your couch ? This must personally really ….; however, sometimes you just have to take one for the team.

    :–)

  5. Hey, but that’s what makes being a Tech fan so great. You don’t know the sweet until you’ve tasted the sour.

  6. I was at many of those events at well. What is it about sports that brings out the superstitious in all of us? I like to think that I am a very rational person about the world around me. There is a logical reason for the events that happen in the world. We don’t always know what that reason is, but I guarantee you it’s there. But for some reason when I’m watching a Tech game and something goes wrong, I look for personal reasons. Did I change where or how I was seated (or standing). Did I eat or drink something before the event? Did someone else do something innocuous that I can attach blame to? Should I change what I’m wearing? We all do it. And I think it’s because we have so much invested in our sports team that we want to find a way in which we are more than just observers (beyond yelling our lungs out).

    I recognize a certain amount of tongue-in-cheekiness to your story, but only some. For those people who thrive on sports, we have that ability to believe in curses because it lets our favorite players or coaches off the hook. It’s not their fault. They never had a chance. It wasn’t Bud Foster prevent defense that lost the final 4 minutes to Matt Ryan. It’s because I told myself I would not remove my hat until the game was over but with 5 minutes left to go I had to take it off because it was soaked and the water was dripping down my back. It wasn’t you, Chris. Of course, it could have been our inept offense that didn’t score enough points in the previous 56 minutes, but what fun is that?

  7. Chris,

    You’re doing it backwards, What you have to do is go to the important coastal and other ACC games of our top competitors. Wear their team colors, cheer for them, even bet a few bucks on them. This way they are guaranteed to lose!

    You then become a blessing for the Hokies, and break the curse!

  8. We’re you in Lane for Matt Ryan’s big comeback win? Did you attend the Stanford game? What about Boise State?

    Regardless though, this season, stay at home the whole time. At the very least you’ll get a chance to prove the curse and still watch VT sports.

  9. Me too Chris. All bowl games and big neutral site contests that I went to over the last 13 years,,,,,, a big “0” fer ! Fortunately that streak hasn’t included Lane contests though.

  10. Look at it this way: if all of us that left the Nebraska game after Roberts dropped that pass hadn’t done so, we probably wouldn’t have made that comeback. We’re heroes. 🙂

  11. Chris, I am Oh-for in bowl games too. Kansas, Georgia, I can’t go on. But, as least I was there when we beat Miami in 2011 and Lane shook so hard it moved the Richter Scale to seven point something.

    Look at it this way, statistically the odds are in your favor for along winning streak.

    Go for it! 🙂

    1. Unfortunately the logic of that last statement is faulty. Each game is an independent event. Previous results have no bearing on future outcomes.

      1. Your logic has some fault, as well. Our result against Boise had no bearing on the letdown against JMU? How about the high from beating Miami in ’03 leading into the disaster in Pitt? No bearing at all?..

  12. Hey Chris, I am three and nine at neutral sites and bowl games, was at the JMU game but did stay around for the end of the Nebraska game.

  13. Its the curse of “the big stage” and it spans across all major sports at VT unfortunately.

  14. Chris, if it makes you feel any better I have a rational explanation for you. It seems like you (and everyone else) are more likely to go to big games against tough opponents, which we are more likely to lose. Since we only play a few really big games a year, I’m sure plenty of people feel a little bit cursed. Don’t beat yourself up too hard. That said, stay away from the Bama game!

  15. Sometimes, I think it’s just a curse to be a VT fan. They get your hopes up only to cruelly crush them.

  16. Clearly, Chris Horne needs to go on vacation more often, and you need to stay home more often. If we could get that to happen, it would herald a new Golden Age of Virginia Tech athletics.

    1. And add in the dude in Nova that goes to press conferences for verbals (can’t remember if he needs to attend or stay away).

  17. haha – I thought I was the only one who left Lane in 2009 against Nebraska. I was just outside the gate behind the SEZ when Danny caught the ball. Had to watch on those little TVs near the consession areas from outside the gate.

  18. I’ve felt the same way Chris…but I have just come to the conclusion that the school I love so much just can’t win the big ones regardless of sport. If it is a big game, I never expect VT to win…history proves me right 🙁

  19. Hey wait, you cant be the curse my old roomate was “the curse”. But maybe your relative “cursiness” combined for some of the big blowout losses. Seriouly though, all those opposing teams are going to be bummed that their skills and the plays they made had nothing to do with them winning, it was just waves pf curse emmanating from you. On the other hand we should let CFB know so he doesnt feel so bad about losing all those big games! Lol

  20. So Chris, do you have a ticket for the 1:00 game today? I’d already bought my ticket for the 5:30 game.

    I could write your column for you also 🙂

    But wait, I believe in the curse too…I just didn’t know that it had a name…Chris Coleman.

    J/k

    We’re all disappointed…as a big baseball fan I’ve been waiting for this (hosting a regional); I just hope we don’t bow out after two games and watch 3 other teams fight it out Sunday/Monday on our field.

    Thanks for the work you do…just DO IT FROM HOME 🙂

  21. It’s easier to think you’re a curse when we loses as many big games as we do. Were you at the JMU game? If you were maybe you are a curse : )

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