VMI baseball and UVA hoops in Chicago: Can’t be two places at once

chris graham uvaUVA basketball is in Chicago. I had two media credentials sitting there waiting for me. It’s killing me that I’m not going.

Alas, timing and location are everything. My fate was sealed when the Cavs got the #1 seed in the Midwest Region, not the South Region as a lot of us had thought made sense.

The South Regionals are Thursday/Saturday. The Midwest Regionals are Friday/Sunday.

The dilemma there for me: timing and location.

My ESPN3 broadcasting career begins Sunday when I join Wade Branner calling the VMI-Citadel baseball game in Lexington, Va.

I’ve been working toward the goal of TV sports broadcasting for several years, doing summer-league ball on Internet radio, filling in here and there on VMI baseball and football radio broadcasts, and then this opportunity finally came knocking a few weeks ago.

I’ve signed on to do a series of spring baseball games for ESPN3 at VMI. The schedule, when it was presented to me, offered a potential conflict with one of my day jobs, covering UVA basketball, but I had to do it and hope for the best.

The best being that the Cavs went as far as Houston and the Final Four, and that the games would be played such that they wouldn’t conflict with my ESPN3 schedule.

Selection Sunday was cruel to me in that respect.

Virginia has held up its end of the bargain, advancing to Chicago with two wins in Raleigh last weekend. I was there, courtside, center court, row two, seated directly behind legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson, calling the game for CBS Radio, a couple of seats over from the CBS Sports broadcast crew of Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner.

Just being at an NCAA Tournament game is a different-level experience. The pressure that is in the arena is beyond intense.

Lose, and you go home, season done, no matter your pedigree, your seeding.

I covered the Cavs through their Sweet 16 run in 2014, and had hoped to see them all the way through this spring.

An ESPN3 debut is a heckuva consolation prize. I’ve been watching spring-training baseball with the volume turned down this week, doing play-by-play on the couch for the puppy dogs, who are not exactly the harshest critics.

I’m also immersing myself into VMI and Citadel baseball. My goal is to blow you away with my game prep and instant analysis on the action on the field.

First pitch is at 1 p.m. A Virginia win Friday night in Chicago has the ‘Hoos playing Sunday night.

It will be a relatively quick turnaround with the baseball game likely wrapping around 4:30, then the 45-minute drive back to the home office to get ready for hoops.

When I hit the big time, I’ll just hop on my private jet and motorcade to the arena after the baseball so I can do both, right?

Column by Chris Graham

 


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