It’s been a long while since I wrote you a letter. I seem to recall that my last correspondence involved a fulfilled wish for a Barbie condominium (with working elevator!) Life is a bit more complicated now, but the Christmas holidays still bring that magical opportunity to ask for the things you want the most and to hope, one magical morning, to discover them under a glowing tree.
I recognize your extreme workload this time of year, with untold millions of children trying to bend your ear for PlayStations and Frozen 2 dolls, so we let’s make a deal: Get through the Christmas rush, take a little breather and then pull this letter out a few weeks into the new year. The Pirate Nation is nothing if not patient.
So, with that promised vacation in mind, (but a request to please remember us after you’ve recharged,) here is my Christmas list on behalf of ECU fans everywhere:
- A conference championship by June 1. This is Kringle’s choice; so many teams are worthy, so in your eminent North Pole wisdom you can decide which squad gets to hold that trophy high. Men’s swimming and baseball have done it before multiple times, so how about a title for softball, or track and field, or one of the golf or tennis teams? Don’t think we’re too greedy, Santa, but the truth is we would accept two championships this spring, if you have an extra one lying around.
- A stepladder up in a couple of men’s basketball statistical categories. The Pirates are in the cellar in two key categories: three-point shots and scoring defense. Buoyed by two straight victories and recent power surges from Brandon Suggs and Bitumba Baruti, the Pirates just need to hit one more trey and allow five fewer points per outing to start the climb up from that ignoble position. Tenacious defense and effectiveness from the perimeter aren’t the only weak spots, of course, but addressing those two areas will set the Pirates up for more success in conference play.
- Another NCAA baseball regional in June. When the Pirates qualify for the postseason and the diamond bracket decision makers confer host designation on Clark-LeClair Stadium as summer dawns, Greenville and ECU are at their very best. It’s the most electric atmosphere in sports that I’ve been able to experience firsthand — in the Jungle throng against the fence, celebrating a championship as the players run by for raucous high fives. It needs to happen again in 2020 dear Santa, but this time can we follow that magical weekend triumph with one at the Super Regional? Every kid has a dream gift at Christmas, and the thing we dream of the most fervently is this: A trip to Omaha.
- A baseball regional-like opportunity in other sports. Spurred on by Terry Holland in his years as athletic director, ECU has upgraded nearly all of its sports facilities in recent years, and this Pirate Nation fan base stands ready to rally the troops if ECU is called on to host another postseason event. Some of those tournaments are scheduled well into the future, but a softball regional would fit the bill, as would a late regular-season game or tournament with postseason ramifications. The Pirate Nation, Baseball Edition, is its own kind of legendary. Here’s hoping that 2020 brings opportunities for a fan foothold to develop in another sport or two.
- I can’t thank you enough for your consideration of these requests on behalf of Pirate fans everywhere, Big Guy. Our facilities don’t have chimneys, but the high-powered stadium lights and the proliferation of purple car flags should make us easy enough to find when the reindeer are ready to head out again. And if all of this is too hard to work out compared to your normal fare of Legos and Baby Alive dolls, we’ll all settle for a simple gift, requiring just a bit of simple math: Fifty percent more wins for everyone.