The marvelous tale of Utropolis

Posted by art@cushingcitizen.com art@cushingcitizen.com
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6/25/16


People will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.
“They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past.
“They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes.
“And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.
“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.”

The above has practically nothing to do with this week’s missive. But close your eyes. Hear the voice of James Earl Jones portraying Terrance Mann.
And indulge.
People will come.
The Perry famdamnily is on vacay. Gulf Shores, Alabama.
The sand. The sun. The golf courses.
And last night, the Pokes on TV.
June 24. And the Oklahoma State University baseball team is still playing.
And winning.

The Pokes have been stunning during the NCAA tournament. As of this writing, they were 7-0 despite having scored only 37 runs, fewer than 5.3 per game.
In college baseball, where the horsehide flies, that sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Then again: Good pitching beats good hitting.
In a major way.
The Pokes, led by Thomas Hatch and Tyler Buffett, have stolen breaths during post-season play.
In three games, Hatch has gone 23 innings without allowing a run.
The team earned run average is a ridiculous 0.71.

The seven-game winning streak is the longest all season for OSU.
The best part for me? I know most of these guys.
I remember chatting up OSU head coach Josh Holliday in a Stillwater eatery a couple of years ago. We relished the moment when he was catching for the Stillwater American Legion team that was playing one night in Claremore.
A new pitcher took the mound for the Legionnaires. Josh turned to me and said, “This kid has a great arm but he’s an idiot.”
I asked the young man’s name.
“Holliday. Matt Holliday.
“He’s my brother.”
And now a seven-time major league all-star.

The Holliday name is engrained in OSU baseball history. But, after the 2016 season, so will be others from Oklahoma.
Donnie Walton. Jon Littell. Conor Costello. Cory Hassel. Garrett Benge. Hatch. Trey Cobb.
All play key roles on the Cowboy team. Five everyday starters. The ace. The closer.
What more does anybody need?

More players hail from Oklahoma.
Jacob Chappell, Guthrie; Colin Simpson, Edmond; Carson Teel, Stillwater; Mason O’Brien, Owasso; Max Simpson, Tulsa BK; Alex Hackerott, Sand Springs; Blake Battenfield, Verdigris; and Andrew Rosa, Owasso.
My boy Jacob Chappell plays a key role in the OSU success. It was he who found and made prominent Utropolis.
If you’ve watched any OSU game during the playoffs, you’ve no doubt seen him. A plastic toy Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Chappell and his roomate, David Petrino, found “Utrop” during the Big 12 Tournament. He had issues in Tulsa but has been the key since then.
High-fives. Naps. Cold tub. Well hydrated.

Utrop. Chappell. Hatch. Hassel. Littell. Donnie Baseball.
I was parked in front of the television in a condo in Alabama on Friday night.
Watching and cheering like crazy for the pokes.
The authors of back-to-back 1-0 victories — College World Series history made — during the past weekend.
So long Cal Santa Barbara. Arizona? See ya!
This is Poke magic at its finest.
Go Pokes!