Kiss our ‘bee-hinds’ goodbye
Austin Meek: Despite loss in finale, Aggies look strong as season closes
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07
"It felt good to have confidence in my team and go on out there and shove it up their behinds,” Texas pitcher Corey Knebel said after Sunday’s ninth-inning victory over the Aggies at Disch-Falk Field in Austin.
I’d ordinarily make the (almost) obligatory dirty joke after a quote like that, but Knebel provided the comedy himself. The ever-excellent Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News tweeted, “FWIW [for what it’s worth], Corey Knebel pronounced it ‘bee-hinds’ when talking about beating the Aggies,” making the Longhorn hurler sound a lot more like Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies than a juiced up 19-year-old after brushing back the Aggies’ brooms and saving his team from the sweep.
Silly as Knebel’s comments were, they highlight one understated facet of this crumbling A&M-Texas relationship: feelings. That is, the feelings of the players on the fields — not those of a stodgy athletic director or school president sitting glumly in an office, a decade removed from the last baseball game he saw.
UT figureheads such as DeLoss Dodds and Mack Brown can continue to deny the impact of a 118-year rivalry dumped down the drain because of bruised egos, but the players from both schools clearly feel otherwise. Kicking the “behinds” of another team is the goal of any competitive athlete, but accomplishing the feat at the expense of a bitter rival is what spurs an athlete to voice those feelings so publicly and vehemently.
A colleague of mine made a good point after the 2-1 defeat: If A&M had lost Saturday’s game instead of Sunday’s and had won the finale, the conversation would be about how “the resilient Aggies stormed back on the road and won the series” rather than “the Aggies fumbled a golden opportunity for a sweep with a loss on Sunday.” The record books look the same, but the tone of the outcomes swings the storyline widely.
Even though it was unable to clean sweep the Longhorns, the narrative of this baseball team has mutated. A series win over a top-20 conference opponent boosts the Aggies’ RPI. The fact that the victories came against our longest-standing foes — one of which in their house, for that matter — adds a heavy dose of sugar.
It’s easy for A&M fans to get their feathers ruffled whenever anyone speaks badly about their school, but let’s take a look at the facts for a moment. A&M won a baseball series over Texas for the first time since 2003. Mikey Reynolds told me last Thursday that he knew the Aggie bats would come out big, and he delivered on his promise, helping the Aggies piece together 19 runs over the weekend. And with a triumvirate of Wacha, Stripling and Piñeda dealing as usual, the offense won’t need to generate more than three or four runs per outing, an easy task for a squad that has plated an average of 6.18 runs per game this season.
Provided they can win two of their last three series, the Aggies are a virtual lock to host a regional round of the NCAA tournament. They’ll have the record to back it up, and Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park has turned into a legitimate attraction, one that the collegiate governing body would love to showcase. With only 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Aggies are in prime position to build steam before heading into post-season play.
And starting June 15, we could see the Aggies “shoving it” in the College World Series while the Longhorns stay home in Austin, sitting on their “behinds” and wondering how their little brother got asked to the dance in Omaha instead of them.
Austin Meek is a senior creative writing major and sports columnist for The Battalion.