For as long as I can remember, every year for my birthday the NCAA has given me the first weekend of the men’s basketball tournament. It’s a pretty nice gift, as far as gifts from strangers who are also huge faceless entities go; it’s just that this year, obviously, no offense to your season, Roy, I don’t really care about the tournament. I threw a few brackets in a few pools but I’ve been fully engaged in college baseball mode for a month now, which doesn’t usually happen until after UNC is eliminated from the basketball tournament. This year, it’s a moot point. College baseball can have March to make my heart ache, instead.
The other thing I’ve gotten, for the last three years, is a two-game UNC/Princeton series in baseball. Princeton is one of my father’s alma maters as UNC is one of mine, and two years ago, he came down and we drove out to Cary and watched six innings of Carolina decimating the Tigers in the freezing cold. It was the first of many, many, many trips to the USA Baseball training complex in Cary in 2008.
I like that Mike Fox has this series with Princeton going on; the head and associate head coaches at Princeton were, I suspect, teammates of Fox’s at Carolina in the late ’70s (they’re ’82 and ’80, respectively). I like Princeton’s style of play (tonight: error prone) and the gorgeous typeface on their uniforms. I like the bright orange and black against our blue and white and the green of the grass. The Princeton series means that spring is here; it means that I’m another year older. It makes me happy, full stop, and that’s all I ask from Carolina baseball. Sunshine, green grass, gorgeous home whites, and a home run every once in a while.
Even for old friends, though, I’m not sure why Princeton keeps coming down here: in six games over three years, they’re 0-6 and have been outscored 75-9. Although their offensive output tonight — five whole runs! — exceeded their offensive output in the five previous games put together.