BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
HOOVER, Ala. – As Arkansas limped into the later innings at the SEC Baseball Tournament Friday morning, my mind wandered to the classic movie National Lampoon’s Animal House.
Specifically the scene where blowhard ROTC cadet Chip Diller, played by Kevin Bacon, urged everyone to ‘remain calm, all is well’ even as chaos erupts around him.
Seems fitting for the current Diamond Hogs situation, which has rightfully frustrated player, coaches and fans.
A once promising season that seemed destined for a fourth straight Western Division title and plenty of baseball left at Baum-Walker Stadium is skidding to the finish line for the Razorbacks (38-18).
They have lost four games and six of eight.
Hosting a NCAA Regional is no longer an option and any more Razorback home games this season will involve winning in somebody else’s stadium first.
We’ll know Monday at 11 a.m. when the NCAA Tournament bracket is revealed where Arkansas will be headed and who the Razorbacks will need to outlast to resurrect the season.
Arkansas clearly needs a John “Bluto” Blutarsky, played brilliantly by the late John Belusi, whose inspiring speech to rally his Delta frat brothers took some historical liberties, but hit the mark.
“What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!…
“It ain’t over now, ’cause when the goin’ gets tough, the tough get goin’. Who’s with me? Let’s go! Come on!
“What the &$%! happened to the Delta I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh? This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you’re gonna let it be the worst.
“‘…Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you, Bluto, we might get in trouble’…Not me! I’m not gonna take this. Wormer, he’s a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer…”
Forty years after Belushi died, is there a Blutarsky on this Razorback baseball team that can rally the troops?
It sure hasn’t appeared so lately as the team fell into a funk when hosting Vanderbilt and then watched a share of the crown slip away in an embarrassing 18-5 loss to Alabama in the regular season finale.
The malaise continued in Hoover when the offense, defense and pitching were all found lacking in a pair of losses.
The body language of the players is telling. Losing is no fun, especially when you had high hopes. Slump is the accurate word.
A rightfully frustrated Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn seemingly summed it up after his team’s 7-5 loss to Florida.
“Yeah, one day it’s one thing, the next it’s another,” Van Horn said. One day we don’t score, one day we don’t pitch real good or maybe we don’t field. Sometimes it’s just
the way the game works. Other times you just have to give
the other team credit.
“,,,Today they just — we didn’t really do a whole lot wrong, we
just didn’t do a whole lot, and they got a couple of big hits.
“It’s not like we’ve fallen apart, it’s just that we haven’t done
enough to win. It’s like I always tell the players, winning is hard, losing is easy. You have to do something special sometimes to win, and we didn’t do anything special this
The Razorbacks seemingly slept through the early game until the ninth when a three-run rally, including a Braydon Webb two-run homer showed some spark.
I’m not going to be Chip Diller and paint a rosy picture in a sinking ship situation.
In fact, I really have only one real positive thought as I contemplate going to my 16th Jimmy Buffett concert on June 9th at the AMP in Rogers.
This team might be helped by adopting the mantra put forth in Buffett’s 1977 hit single Changes in Latitudes and a Changes in Attitudes, a philosophy us Parrotheads have all gotten behind at one time or the other.
It’s time to get out of Northwest Arkansas, play the villain, grab the us against the world mindset and put the last three weeks behind.
“Well, I think most of the coaches will tell you, a lot of times once you get done with league play
and even the tournament, it’s just kind of — it’s nice to play
teams from other leagues,” Van Horn said.
“Not saying you’re going to beat them, but it’s nice to get out of the league, play somebody else.
“The league will get you ready for anything that’s going to come at you. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be better than whoever you play, but you’ve played teams like
them, and you don’t get shocked by anything.”
Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan refused to pile dirt on top of Arkansas.
“It’s baseball,” O’Sullivan said. “I mean, quite honestly, I think
everybody goes through stretches, and they don’t play their best baseball.
“I’ve known Dave for an awfully long time, obviously, and I would expect them to play their best
baseball next weekend.
“I don’t think there’s any reason for concern. We all go through it. It’s not any different. You just go home and regroup.
“You go back and look at last year, Mississippi State did not play their best baseball here and they go on
to win the national championship.
You’ve just got to regroup and they’ve got a really good
team…Dave will have those guys ready to play next weekend.”