Column by Chris Graham
After the 9/11 terror attacks, it became the custom around big-league baseball, once it got back up and running, to add a rendition of “New York, New York” to the traditional seventh-inning stretch.
A sign that the nation was beginning to get over the shock and horror associated with the terror attacks came at Fenway Park in Boston not long after baseball’s attention turned back to its September pennant races.
After the final notes of “New York, New York” came across the loudspeaker, a voice broke the quiet that followed, exclaiming, “But the Yankees still suck!”
That’s how the story goes, anyway.
I haven’t had my “Yankees still suck!” moment in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy from a couple of weeks ago now – and can’t imagine that I will for some time.
I’m a 1994 graduate of Virginia Tech’s supposed in-state rival, the University of Virginia – and have rooted for UVa. teams dating back as far back as I can remember. And as such, I’ve known basically since birth that I have to hate the Hokies.
And I have been very good at that – for several years, my wife, Crystal, a Virginia Tech alumna, and I wrote columns for a local newspaper that we worked for at the time poking fun at the other’s alma mater, and I always did what I could to get the best of her in that respect.
And to be honest, my dislike for Hokie football and basketball, in particular, only intensified in recent years – as Tech made its way, with UVa.’s aid, I might hasten to point out, into the Atlantic Coast Conference.
It wasn’t a good Saturday in the fall unless both Virginia won and Virginia Tech lost – and the loss by the Hokies had to be galling, too, like back when they lost to Temple in 1998.
It had to hurt Hokie Nation – I would settle for nothing less.
But now … well, that all seems a tad silly now, doesn’t it?
I actually find myself having thoughts about how I hope Virginia Tech teams will do well on the athletics fields – if only to provide a modicum of comfort to a Hokie Nation that has had its heart ripped out.
It makes me want to tear up when I see the response at Penn State – where fans held up placards spelling out VT at their spring game this month. Or seeing Ohio State players wearing VT-logo helmets at their spring game.
Or seeing Allen Iverson sporting a VT logo on his signature arm sleeve.
I’m going to be in the stands for the Commonwealth Challenge football game this fall – the series returns to Charlottesville in November, alternating as it does from year to year from campus to campus.
I already know that I’m going to have a hard time rooting all that hard against Beamer’s Boys – and if I had to make one bet on what will happen that day, it would be that I will shed a few tears during the moment of silence for the victims that I assume will be a part of the pregame ceremonies that day.
Now, when the whistle blows, and the game gets under way, I know that I will be rooting for my ‘Hoos to put an end to the long winning streak that the Hokies have in the rivalry matchups.
But if they don’t – eh, at least there’s some consolation in the knowledge that the Hokie Family will have something else to feel good about in this most difficult of years.