It was supposed to be a day of both excitement over the start of the college football season, and a day of sadness and nostalgia with the last Eugene Emeralds game being played at Civic Stadium.
Civic Stadium, built in 1938, is one the oldest baseball stadiums in the country...it's been a landmark in my hometown for decades. A place that held soccer games, football games, baseball games, concerts, and other special events. But after decades of use, it has been decaying at a rapid rate.
When the University of Oregon built a new baseball stadium last year, it seemed inevitable that the Eugene Emeralds, the local single-A team that has called Eugene home since 1957, would move into the new park. But it comes with a lot of conflicted emotions, because there is not a kid who grows up in Eugene who hasn't spent a day/night at Civic Stadium experiencing minor league baseball. It was never really about the games, it was about a historic landmark that conjures images of all the history that surrounds the sport of baseball, as American as...well, baseball.
Will people still turn out to Eugene Emeralds baseball in the new stadium, with astroturf and replay screens and luxury suites. Frankly, I don't think so. Sure, some will. But Eugene Emeralds baseball wasn't about baseball, it was about the ambiance of a day at the ballpark with family.
I can claim that in the summers Civic Stadium was my second home. Only a few blocks away from our house, I spent just about every night going to baseball games at Civic. Over the years I got to see a lot of future major leaguers play...Kevin Appier, Tom Gordon, Joe Randa, Brian McRae, Mike Sweeney, Sal Fasano, Bob Hamelin, John Rocker (yes, he was an asshole back then too), etc.
But last night was the last time that a Eugene Emeralds game will be played at Civic. Goodbye Civic, your future is now very uncertain, but the memories of the thousands if not millions who have experienced an event in your dirty wooden bleachers won't forget you.
Here's a nice story, and a great video, from the Eugene Register Guard:
(please check out the video, it's fabulous...)
I sat at work listening to the online radio stream of the pregame of the last Eugene Emeralds game, as team owner Bob Beban and others waxed poetic about their fondest memories of the stadium and how sad it is to be leaving.
...Then after the Emeralds game, was the big moment of excitement that I had been anxiously awaiting for nine months. The University of Oregon Ducks football team, playing at Boise State, with a nationally televised broadcast in primetime as the first premier college football game of the season.
Then the game started.
It was a nightmarish game in just about all facets for the Ducks. BSU's big weakness in the game was depth on their defensive front, so if oregon could just control the clock and grind 'em down with the running game in the second half BSU's defense would collapse.
Instead Oregon started with a 3-and-out, then Boise State had a 17-play drive, ending in a missed FG. Then Oregon misfired again on another 3-and-out, and BSU had a 15-play drive, again with a missed FG. By halftime the score was close, but Oregon had only run 12 plays total. It was the absolute worst possible scenario for the game to progress.
2nd half wasn't much better, Ducks managed one score but Boise kept just holding the ball all game slowly and methodically driving up and down the field for a few scores.
Oregon didn't have a single first down until the 3rd quarter.
At halftime Oregon had a total of 1 yard passing.
It was the worst offensive performance I have ever seen from Oregon in my 30 years. And I've seen a lot of bad games, but this was atrocious.
I'm actually quite proud of Oregon's defense. Considering how long they were on the field, they actually played quite well. They got 3 turnovers, and held one of the highest scoring teams in the country to only 19 points. And despite how ridiculously long they were on the field, they didn't give up.
But it was marred by an injury to senior safety TJ Ward, who was clearly the best Oregon player on the field last night. We'll find out soon if he's done for the year, or just a couple of weeks. But once he went down, Boise State's gains became easier.
And then things went from bad to ugly...
After the clock expired, Oregon's fat and slow senior RB LeGarrette Blount decided to sucker-punch a Boise State player. It wasn't completely uncalled for, the media is failing to mention that the Boise player tapped Blount first and then used a very unfriendly racial descriptive, causing Blount to turn around and clock him. Boise head coach Chris Peterson was standing right there, and looked like if Blount didn't punch Hout first then Peterson was going to.
Then Blount went on a rampage...He punched a teammate, then while being escorted off the field while his right jab to Hout's chin was being replayed over and over on the big screen, BSU fans by the visitor team's tunnel decided to also yell out a few unfriendly racial descriptives Blount's way, sparking him into a further rage where he tried to punch the ignorant racist Boise fans. He had to be held back by police, teammates, and coaches.
I personally hope Blount is kicked off the team. I don't excuse the ignorant racist remarks by BSU players and fans, I pity them for their stupidity. But there was no excuse for the way Blount reacted. He didn't just embarrass himself, he embarrassed everyone associated with the University of Oregon past and present.
I've sat through a lot of Duck games, and there's been some sad days. But through the good and the bad I have never once been ashamed to be an Oregon Ducks fan, until last night.
You are a disgrace LeGarrette Blount. You don't deserve to be an Oregon Duck anymore.
Though I will give you credit for one thing, you've got a helluva right jab. I hope you enjoyed that $10 million dollar punch, because that's what it cost you. You were going to be a probable 1st round draft pick in April in the NFL, now you might have a future in the UFC or boxing, but say goodbye to your football career.
Mike Tyson would be proud. Go fight King Hippo or Soda Popinski, but stay the hell away from my Oregon Ducks from now on.