• Longhorns And Yankees: A Bad October

    Being a fan of the burnt orange and pin stripes, and like most sports fans, I like to be right on the edge of boastful if not all the way in when the Yankees hand yet another American League rival a loss and the Horns take out the hated Oklahoma Sooners on another brisk mid-October afternoon and/or evening. But oh how it stings when the tables are turned. And yesterday was one of those dreadful Saturdays that everything good in my sports world turned to: (I had better not say how I really feel here)………………………..

    Let’s start with UT. The still fairly young and growing Longhorns had provided us die hards with some great promise for the 2012 season in the early going. After all they had gone into a tough Stillwater environment and snatched another win from Oklahoma State in a thrilling come from behind victory.

    It would be their seventh in seven tries since Mack Brown took the reins of the Texas program. And even though they lost a tough game to the seasoned West Virginia Mountaineers they had their chances before falling by only three points to a then bonafide top 10 team. So hope was running high that they could once again go into the Cotton Bowl and challenge the talent laden Oklahoma Sooners……………………

    Now as I mentioned, Texas had spent the last two weeks fighting for their Big XII lives against a legitimate contender and the pre-season conference favorite. So it is understandable that their tanks might be a little empty in the beginning. But surely they would fight back long enough to keep them in the game with a chance for victory somewhere along the way…………..

    It didn’t surprise me that the Sooners would be amped up after enduring an almost unheard of home loss to Kansas State three weeks earlier. They then had a week to recover, heal up, and fix the broken parts in their off week. They went into Lubbock and smoked the Raiders and made it look easy. That was scary because the Raiders had been playing pretty good football, even going into Ames and defeating a very pesky Iowa State team. So sure, the Sooners looked pretty good but they hadn’t played rival Texas yet…………………………

    It didn’t take long in this one to see that the game had a chance to be embarrassing for the lackadaisical Longhorns. As I said Oklahoma was juiced up and ready to prove that they belonged in the big picture not just the Big XII. So no matter what was happening in the game the Sooners dominated like a high school senior beating up on his junior high brother. On defense Texas couldn’t cover, they couldn’t tackle, they couldn’t read keys, and worst of all they didn’t get better as the game wore on. On offense they couldn’t block, catch, run with a purpose, and once again, didn’t get better even as they were being more and more embarrassed……………………………

    Sure there was a difference in preparation opportunities but that difference should have been overcome with a burning desire to win. And I will say this, that even had Texas been on their A-game I don’t think that they would have won. The experience and talent level of the Sooners was just too much, especially in the key positions.…………………..

    It has been three years since the last Longhorn victory and the Orangebloods will start to get anxious very soon. How they play the rear end of this 2012 season will be a determining factor as to how soon the Longhorn faithful will get over this loss and once again enter the 2013 season with great expectations. Anything but a Texas win in the Cotton Bowl next October will be very very disappointing. I’m sure the Texas staff and players understand this. The Longhorn Nation waits!…………………….

    One good thing about being a fan of both the Horns and the Yankees is that if one loses there is the never ending hope that the other can recover and restore hope and enjoyment in the heart of their fans. But Saturday night proved just as futile for the Yankee loyalists. After disposing of the relentless Orioles on Friday night, the Yankee lineup had an opportunity to recharge and forget a horrendous offensive effort. I for one believed that the big bats would once again awaken and bring back the roar of the crowd…………………..

    Things started off okay for the Bombers as they patiently loaded the bases against the Tigers Doug Fister. Surely they wouldn’t let another one of these opportunities get away. Even though the light hitting Alex Rodriquez didn’t get anyone in, he hit a screamer on the ground that Jhonny Peralta, in the six hole, made an outstanding play on to end the inning. I was hopeful once again because the Yankees were being the Yankees. They were patient and making the other team work to get them out. In the second inning they loaded them up once again and Robinson Cano hit a high hopper and difficult ball that he would beat out only to be called out by the man in blue at first base. It was disappointing once again but at least the Yanks were making them work…………

    So I settled in with my wife to watch a movie and hoping to pick up the game when it was over. I just knew that the Yankees would be in good shape upon my return………………………..

    After the movie I went back to the game. It was the bottom of the ninth and the Tigers holding a 4-0 lead and all the announcers could talk about was how great a game that Fister had pitched. That immediately told me that the talented Yankee bats had once again gone into hiding. I was not happy!

    I thought that I would watch the end just in case this team of many miracles through the last ten or so years had one more up their sleeves. Sure enough: Ichiro drove one into the left field bleachers with catcher Russell Martin on base to run the score to 4-2. Mark Teixeira coaxed a walk out of the reliever after having two strikes and looking very uncomfortable at the plate. Up to the plate walked the most unlikely of Yankee heroes of late, the unbelievable Raul Ibanez.

    He had delivered a ninth inning home run in the next to last game of the season against Boston to go into extra innings. He then delivered the game winning single to walk off a hero. In game three with the Yankees looking as if they would fall behind in the ALDS 2-1, he once again belted a solo shot into the right field stands to send the teams into extra innings. In the twelfth inning he delivered a walk off shot that put the Yanks up 2-1 and was a big reason that the Bombers prevailed in the series.

    With Teixeira on board he once again delivered a drive into the left field stands that barely cleared the wall. I was once again rejuvenated and couldn’t wait for the pin stripers to put the dagger in the Tiger hearts………………………….

    But as the Yankees would threaten time after time in the extra frames, the middle of the lineup made heroes out of mediocre pitchers by failing dismally time and again to deliver a key hit. Finally the Tigers put two more runs on the board and the anemic Yankees could no longer even muster a threat. And to make matters worse, the Captain and playoff hero since the mid-nineties, Derek Jeter broke his ankle. Detroit was up one game to none and smelling blood…………………………….

    My October Saturday had just gone from bad to worse. It was an October Saturday that I won’t soon forget and for all the wrong reasons……

    And then on Sunday evening while I was out the New Yorkers dropped game two at home. Their chances look bleak at best. Do they have any miracles left? Will the big bats minus Jeter finally come alive? Considering that they are facing maybe the best pitcher in the game today in Justin Verlander, the probability of all this happening would not bring very good odds in Vegas. But this fan will watch and hang on with hope until the October lights go out…………………..

    I’m sure Sooners, Aggies, and Red Sox fans everywhere are really feeling sorry for me right now! And who could blame them for getting a little chuckle out of the Saturday results. After all the Horns and Yanks barely put up a fight! But I am a believer and will continue to keep the faith that another one of those great October Saturdays will be in the not so dis

    About Ronnie Clifton

    Ronnie Clifton was a Texas Football Coach for 29 years. In addition to football, Clifton also served as the head coach in basketball and both girls and boys track. “I loved being involved in and playing sports as a kid, and I soaked up every ounce of available information about any sporting event; I also love to write. What better combo for me than becoming the writer of a sports blog?”
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