Jeff - "I woke up this morning wondering when the 'Mack isn't gonna turn things around' moment would be"
Abram - "Yeah I am wondering that too. I think we'll convince ourselves it hasn't happened until we lose 2 of 3 against Texas Tech, but it really will have happened after we came out of Cal, A&MCC and Stanford at 2-6. Or perhaps when we drop a pair at home to the mighty Columbia Lions."
Abram and I exchanged the above text messages on February 15th, 2014. The Longhorns had dropped their opener against Cal 7-0 and were in the process of dropping their second game 2-1. The Horns couldn't hit, the defense was like Swiss cheese, and it seemed that Augie Garrido's eventual firing was a fait accompli.
Then Texas showed what type of team they would be and did a season-saving 180 degree turn.
In April it started to look like the Texas Longhorns baseball team was headed for a national seed and could run away with the Big 12. I started a post around that time with a series of text messages -- including the ones above -- showing we two fans/bloggers going from despondent to thrilled with their embattled coach's success.
I started to collect our less than optimistic texts. One from the blowout loss to Stanford, another from the Saturday loss to Hawaii, a few from the series loss to Kansas, and a bunch of depressed ones from the Sunday game against Texas Tech where Texas blew a 2-0 9th inning lead.
I never finished this optimistic post because shortly thereafter the season went to hell.
Texas got beat by Okie State, swept by TCU and lost a miserable series without Dillon Peters against West Virginia. Texas went from a potential #1 seed to barely ranked in the span of three weeks. That was followed by an ugly series win over Kansas State and an up and down performance in the Big 12 tournament that gave the impression that things had stabilized but just barely.
As you know, Texas got a two seed and a postseason route that seemed to ensure a season-ending loss at the hands of any number of in-state or regional rivals. Their fate seemed even further cemented by the injury to Dillon Peters, giving Texas two known quantities at starting pitcher and a bunch of question marks. If anything went wrong in the postseason, we argued, the Horns were unlikely to be able to overcome it.
Boy were we wrong.
Everything changed on the eighth pitch of Brooks Marlow's at bat to begin the bottom of the 1st against Texas A&M. Marlow took a strike to begin the at bat, fouled off the second pitch, took three balls, fouled off two more pitches, and then this.
The 8-1 win over the Aggies in the first game of the Rice Regional was about as cathartic a win as I can remember. The Horns had gone two long years without even making the postseason and were playing the Aggies for the first time since the divorce. The blowout highlighted what could happen when a team that had displayed resiliency all season long starts to play good baseball.
An extra inning win over Rice, a close loss to the Aggies and a decisive final win over the Ags followed the initial blowout. Then there was the decisive sweep of Houston in the Super Regional which sealed the Longhorns' first trip to Omaha since 2011.
Looking back, the Horns were quite fortunate this postseason. Texas was placed with a regional host they'd beaten twice before in addition to playing one of the last teams into the tournament twice in Houston. Texas also won the regional in such a way as to reveal Chad Hollingsworth's postseason brilliance.
The Horns got to host a super against a team they'd beaten before rather than having to travel to Baton Rouge. Texas was then placed in an Omaha bracket with only one national seed.
Texas returned to prominence in 2014 and was just a few breaks away from playing for a national title, albeit against a fully rested Virginia squad that may have steamrolled the Horns (as they seem poised to do against the Commodores).
The Horns won three games in Omaha for the first time since 2009 and showed their resiliency time and again when it mattered most. Even in the loss to Vanderbilt the Horns were able to overcome a rough start from Parker French on short rest and deficits of 2-0 and 3-2. In the end, Texas could not overcome its inability to win four straight games, falling at the hands of a really good Vanderbilt squad. Unlike the last time the Longhorns were in Omaha, this time Texas looks to get stronger for the 2015 season.
This is not the 2014 Texas baseball postmortem, that'll come once we've had a few days to digest the last three weeks. Instead, this is an appreciation thread for Augie Garrido and the 2014 Texas baseball team. 2014 was supposed to be a building block season which suddenly turned into a run at a national championship.
If all Texas had accomplished this year was giving fans hope for the 2015 season, dayenu. But they did so much more. Texas gave us all three weeks of baseball that can only be described as magical.
The postseason also ensured that the Mack Can't Do It moment is never coming for Augie.
Nobody knows how Augie Garrido's story in Austin will end. What is undeniable and inarguable is that the man is capable of returning Texas baseball to prominence in a way Mack Brown couldn't with Texas football. We know this because over the last three weeks he did it.
Fans can (and will) complain a lot about Garrido and his method of coaching. What fans cannot say, no matter how bad things get in the future for Texas baseball, is that Garrido is incapable of turning things around.
We know he can because we have seen it with our own two eyes.
The season may not have ended the way we dreamed earlier this week, but the year ended a helluva lot better than even the most optimistic projections back in February. For that I am grateful.
Abram and I will be back later with a big picture review of the 2014 Horns and a look ahead to how things might look for 2015 (spoiler alert - might be good!).
For now, this is your Augie Garrido and the 2014 Texas baseball squad appreciation thread.