Every now and then, usually when I’m looking for something else I can’t find, I’ll stumble across the Atlanta Braves 1991 highlight tape I have stashed away for safekeeping.
When I do, I’ll usually pop it into my old antiquated VCR (yes I still have one, so get off my lawn) and relive one of the most satisfying seasons ever enjoyed by my favorite Major League Baseball team.
There’s just one thing. I never, ever watch it all the way to the end.
As soon as the Braves finish up their 14-5 rout of the Minnesota Twins in Game 5, I instinctively hit the stop button and rewind the tape back to the beginning. That way I don’t see Kirby Puckett rounding the bases to win Game 6 or the Twins celebrating their series-clinching victory the following night.
It’s as if those two events never happened, leaving only the good memories to be savored forever.
I bring this up only to serve as advice for East Carolina fans still feeling the disappointment and hurt of their team’s forgettable Super Regional sweep at the hands of Louisville.
The results were ugly, the ending was anticlimactic and the circumstances that helped bring them about were infuriating because of the lack of respect shown to the Pirates by the NCAA.
So why waste time and emotion reliving it or agonizing how different things might have been had ECU been seeded where it deserved or if coach Cliff Godwin and his players had been given a little more time to recover from their grueling weather-delayed regional?
Or more importantly, why let it tarnish a season that was by anyone’s standards, one of the best in school history?
One in which the Pirates showed the grit and determination of a champion by bouncing back from a slow start to win the American Athletic Conference’s regular season title in record fashion, winning 20 games and becoming the first team in league history to go through a season without losing a series.
One in which Jake Agnos set a single-season AAC and ECU record by striking out 295 opposing hitters.
One in which, for one magical Sunday afternoon at Maryland, Jake Kuchmaner was perfect — as in the first perfect game ever by a Pirates pitcher.
One in which Alec Burleson became the best two-way player in the country by hitting .370 with nine homers and 61 RBI at the plate while going 6-2 with five saves on the mound.
One in which Spencer Brickhouse came into his own as one of the premier power hitters in college baseball.
One in which ECU claimed victories against in-state ACC rivals North Carolina and Duke during the regular season, then got some payback on N.C. State for last year’s rainless rainout by eliminating the Wolfpack from the NCAA tournament.
One in which the Pirates won 47 games and attained a national RPI ranking as high as No. 3 while playing an entertaining brand of baseball with a group of players that represented their school with class.
And finally, one in which seven players were selected in the Major League draft, including three in the top seven rounds.
Instead of being angry about two bad games at the worst possible, it’s better to just hit the stop button, erase those final two games from mind and let the lasting memory of 2019 be that joyous dogpile on the infield at Clark-LeClair Stadium after the regional clincher against Campbell.
This might not have been the best season ever at ECU — that honor still goes to the 2004 team that won 51 games before suffering two close Super Regional defeats at South Carolina — but it comes close.
It was a magical ride that should be relived with fondness forever.
Just as long as you remember not to stay on it all the way to the end.
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