Fans that paid to see the 1A game one Friday and returned on Saturday ended up paying an extra $4 due to the schedule change and the series ending in two games. If you only attended Saturday, you saved at least $4.
Murphy did not win the championship because it “wanted it more.” That is one of the less informed comments I hear spectators make. “You got to want it” and yelling at the pitcher to “Throw strikes” are actually my two least favorites. Just once, I wish a player would yell back, “Just not feeling it today” or something more creative. Murphy won because they are the best 1A baseball team in North Carolina in 2018. The Bulldogs started this title run immediately after losing in 2017.
West Columbus coaches and players can look at Murphy’s 2018 run and easily say that can be us next season. I’ll ask the pertinent question, will you put in the work? Just because the Vikings made it to the finals this season does not guarantee the same success in 2019. On the other hand, it does show what can be accomplished.
Despite Murphy winning two games to none the series was not a run away. West Columbus was either tied or ahead at the end of eight of the 14 innings played. The Vikings led with three outs to go in game two. That makes losing even more frustrating.
Mark Twain gave credit to 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli for the quote,”There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Looking at Murphy’s season stats, one had to wonder how the team hit .417 and reached base safely over 50 percent of the time against any type of legitimate competition. The Bulldogs showed great patience at the plate and collected 20 hits in two games. In this case, statistics painted an accurate picture of the team.
Fly balls, especially to the right side, were problematic for both teams. Right field is the “sun field” in Burlington. Yes, occasionally the sun was seen. The larger issue was a strong breeze blowing out to right field that gave the baseball an additional 20-30 feet of carry. Add that to more room to cover on the larger outfield of the minor league park and unfamiliar surroundings. Every ball hit in the air to the right side of the field had you holding your breath.
The final baseball game of the year and the first one I can recall that DID NOT have a hit batsman. You can’t make this stuff up folks! Although I have been known to on occasion.
This isn’t a criticism of the job the umpires did, but West Columbus did not benefit from the majority of the “close” calls. A half dozen plays would have resulted in the crowd on the “wrong” side of the decision asking for administration of an eye chart test to the official making the call.
You can not control the outcome of a baseball game. You can control how your team conducts itself. Viewing from the stands, the West Columbus team exhibited good composure and sportsmanship throughout its stay in Burlington. That goes for the Vikings’ fans as well. In sports, a certain amount of yelling at the officials is the norm. West Columbus fans, to my ear, stayed well within the acceptable range and spent most of their time encouraging their team.
The playing surface at Burlington looks good and neither New Hanover nor Crest had any issues. 405′ to center field probably kept at least three balls in the park that would have been homers on many high school fields. Outfield play is so much more of a factor in these larger minor league parks.
The number of seats under cover satisfied the number of people attending Friday. It is unfortunate that media has to sit in grandstands with no light available once the sun goes down. The rain is a problem for electronics and with wind it does blow under the grandstand cover. I’ll be nice and stop with that observation.
I’m certain there were Murphy and West Columbus fans that left the stadium disgruntled after Friday night. Other than announcements to leave the stadium due to weather no information was given to the crowd. The word the game had been postponed was spread by word of mouth. When fans travel the distances to these venues they deserve to be better informed. Guess $8 doesn’t buy what it use to.
On the other hand the NCHSAA nor the Burlington Royals personnel made it lightning and rain. Fan and player safety must be the first consideration. NCHSAA tournament director Brad Alford said, “I’ve talked to a lot of people and none of them are able to do anything about the weather.” Hats off to the Burlington Royals staff for a tremendous amount of hard work in keeping the field in playing shape. Their efforts were probably unappreciated since the fans and teams were not in the stadium while the majority of the work was taking place.