Pardon the non-baseball post, skip if you want. I'm feeling rather numb right now.
I've told lots of people that one of the best things about this job as opposed to my previous job is that I can care again. As a reporter, I was distant and objective. Had a job to do. A story to write. Win or lose.
You get to know coaches and players from a different angle on the communications side. You see exactly what they put into it, exactly what it means to them. When it works out, you feel their joy.
When it doesn't? As I wrote on my Facebook page, I didn't know it was possible to feel this bad for someone. My heart aches for a terrific group of players, coaches and support staff. Their pain last night after VCU almost beat UCLA was very real and I'm not ashamed to admit it's overwhelmed me.
Eric Maynor is as fine a player as I've ever been around. Forget that for a moment. He's also a terrific kid. Anything our office asked of him, he did. Last night, after that final shot, he had to talk to the media just as he did two years ago when his shot beat Duke. To no one's surprise, he handled it with aplomb. Every question. Wasn't fouled. UCLA did a great job. No excuses.
A champion acts like one, even when he or she doesn't win. Eric is a tremendous champion. I was as proud of the way he handled his postgame obligations as I was when he broke the scoring and assist records.
My former paper ran a tremendous picture that I appreciate as a former journalist. It's what a great picture should do, capture the emotion. Did it ever.
Yeah, I know. No one died. Sun came up today. Lots and lots and lots of people have real life situations that are much worse. I understand all that. I'll be home soon, getting my face licked by my happy dogs and life will go on. I still hurt for those guys something fierce.
I have to pack up and head to New Jersey, where the VCU women's team plays Rutgers tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2. Another great group of kids, coaches and staff. The women's team is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Here's hoping the Rams pull off a victory there.