Seems like I'd been avoiding Freddie Jordan for months. Not because I don't like him, but because I do like him.
But I worked hard at not talking to him because I didn't want to ask The Citadel baseball coach what was wrong with his team.
It always seemed like I'd be kicking a dog when he's down. Nobody likes doing that. Maybe next week things would be better.
But those weeks turned into months and the losses kept mounting.
To be honest, this was not a good baseball team in February, March or April. The losses came in bunches. Wins were few and far between.
So I dodged Jordan. I stayed away from his games. I really didn't want to write negative stuff about him. That's about as nice as we get in my business.
Finally, a glimmer of hope as the season was coming to a close. In danger of being shut out of the Southern Conference Tournament, which they host, the Bulldogs came alive and had a slim chance of slipping in under the gate.
COLD DAY IN MAY
Somebody said it would be a cold day in May before The Citadel sat out a postseason in baseball. Unfortunately, that day arrived Saturday, with chilly temperatures and a sense of drama in the air.
"Twenty-six years of baseball, first time I've been a part of this situation," Jordan said when I finally showed up. "I've gained valuable experience, learned a great deal. And if in the future we experience it, we'll do a better job of fixing it.
"The biggest thing is our ball club pressed from the third weekend on. Playing this game too hard is probably the worst thing you can do. We've had a hard time getting them to relax and we put ourselves in a very, very difficult position.
"We've had no issues. I cannot ask for any more work than this ball club given us. Basically, it's just been a very tough year from a pitching standpoint and a timely hitting standpoint and from a defensive standpoint. Not from a lack of effort, it's just baseball."
But baseballs can take funny bounces.
And they did just that on Saturday.
NEW SEASON STARTS
With a magic number of two to reach tournament play, The Citadel had two last chances against Georgia Southern.
Against long odds, the Bulldogs did it. They won the late-season doubleheader, 9-4, 4-2, and celebrated the fact that they were still alive.
"There was a point in the season when we were like ninth or tenth in the league," said Chris Ard, Citadel's senior third baseman. "There is a lot of tradition in this program. We always make the tournament and it was not looking good.
"We knew that we weren't doing it. We talked about it among ourselves and started getting it done. Now a new season starts with the tournament and we have a lot of momentum and we look forward to it."
So do a lot of Citadel baseball fans who stuck with this team through thin and thin. And at long last, I don't have to avoid Freddie Jordan anymore.
A new season starts Wednesday.
Ken Burger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5598.