Sadly, this is my last column for C-VILLE. (I will pause here, as some will need time to break down crying, some to pop the champagne and some to figure out what they are going to line their cat’s litter box with next week).
Face the fact: Whether it be infuriating Virginia fans as I rip them for sitting down during football games or leaving during the third quarter, or being called a "small minded" fool because of my belief that no one cares about the Tour de France anymore, you people will miss me.
Marques Hagan’s big-time performance two seasons ago against Florida State had a certain sports reporter simply loving his job—and that’s just one example.
What I will miss besides the people, is the mystery.
Note to all you kids: The greatest part about being in this business isn’t the byline (fancy newspaper word for your name) or the press box food (trust me, it ain’t that good). The perq to this job is going to work with a blank slate and watching the story unfold right in front of your eyes.
The beauty of being a sports writer is that every day seems like you’re playing with a Jack ‘n’ the Box. Keep watching and one random day, you’ll get an eye-popping surprise, like the performance of UVA football’s Marques Hagans two years ago on a crisp October night against Florida State.
Hagans personified the phrase "leaving it all out on the field." Hagans bounced up after every bruising hit as he threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns, leading Virginia to a 26-21 upset win.
Sometimes you sit down on press row and you just know what you are going to get and are still left surprised. Take for example, when you knew Sean Singletary would somehow find a way to lift Virginia over Duke last February with an "Oh my God, what is he doing, I can’t bear to watch, holy hell he made the shot" shot, or the Friday night in May 2005, when Virginia pitcher Sean Doolittle, on his way to ACC Player of the Year honors, went toe to toe with North Carolina and now Detroit Tigers pitcher Andrew Miller. Davenport Field had the electricity of a hockey arena in playoff time rather than of a college stadium for a regular season baseball game.
That night left me wanting more.
And I got more:
One of the greatest baseball games I ever attended didn’t happen in Baltimore or Philadelphia but rather on a late spring night in Charlottesville.
Were you there when Virginia’s baseball team took defending National Champion Oregon State to 13 innings this past June? The Cavaliers had lost their left fielder Brandon Guyer earlier in the game on a play at the plate and their right fielder Brandon Marsh fractured his wrist when he was hit by a pitch. Utility man Tim Henry at one point struggled to come home on a base hit because of the cramping that overtook his body. Casey Lambert came on in relief in the seventh, going the long haul, allowing one run on five hits while striking out eight as a Davenport-record crowd of 3,212 cheered him on.
Over the past two years, people have asked me what my favorite part of my job is: Talking on the radio? Writing for this fine newspaper? No, doing something else. Sitting quietly, keeping my mouth shut, closing the laptop, and just watching the story tell itself.
Thanks for taking the time to read—Charlottesville, I’ll miss ya.
Wes McElroy has moved to Richmond to take over the 3pm-7pm afternoon show at its Fox Sports affiliate: Sports Radio 910.