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Missouri baseball team loses to rival Kansas

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | 9:57 p.m. CDT; updated 11:05 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Missouri freshman Dane Opel walks back to the dugout after popping out to end the game in a 1-0 loss to Kansas on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

COLUMBIA — Missouri men's basketball player Zaire Taylor makes the winning shot with 1.3 second left in the Tigers 62-60 victory against Kansas in February of 2009 at Mizzou Arena.

Tigers fans charge the court and celebrate the upset – slapping high fives with their favorite players and bragging to the Jayhawks fans.

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Missouri kicker Grant Ressel makes the winning field goal as time expires to give the Tigers a 41-39 victory over Kansas in November of 2009 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

Tigers fans again storm the field to celebrate – dropping their belongings and celebrating with the players, as Kansas’ players and fans stare in disbelief.

And no matter the result, the losing team’s fans will tell the other team's fans to wait until basketball season if it’s football, or wait until football season if it’s basketball.

College baseball is overlooked and rarely talked about.

Had the Missouri baseball team defeated Kansas on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, coach Tim Jamieson said there’s no way his team or its fans would have charged the field in celebration.

“No, because you’re supposed to beat these guys,” Jamieson said. “This isn’t a special win. It’s just another game. We won’t do that unless we win a championship.”

The Tigers couldn’t prevail, though, and lost 1-0 to their bitter rivals. But do the Tigers and their fans consider the Jayhawks a rival in baseball?

After the game, catcher Brett Nicholas stood at the top of the dugout stairs as the Kansas players celebrated in left field. Nicholas said the rivalry would always be there.

“For lack of a better term, you hate those guys,” Nicholas said. “Personally, I’m starting to learn there’s nothing good that comes from Kansas. Kansas the school, not the state … It could be checkers, it could be a game of rock-paper-scissors, you don’t want to lose to those guys.”

Because the game was in Kansas City, the crowd was much larger than the crowds at Taylor Stadium. One side was full of blue and one side was full of black and gold.

The game was already going to be a thrill for Nicholas because he was named after Royals’ great George Brett. The amount of fans certainly helped make it even more exciting.

There might not have been as many fans as at a basketball game or a football game, but Nicholas was impressed with how may came out. He also said it is not fair to compare attendances with college baseball to those of football and basketball.

“It’s a little bit harder for college baseball fans to really get into it game-in and game-out because you play so many games,” Nicholas said. “When you’re playing football and basketball, there’s far less games. When you see a crowd out like tonight, they’re into every single pitch and every single at-bat. It shows that fans do care about this sport. It’s just a little bit harder to show it because there are so many games.”

Kansas and Missouri fans also were seen doing something that is a bit of a rarity at basketball and football games: having good conversation.

Jayhawks fan and Johnson Community College freshman Austin Rodriguez was at the game with friends of his from MU. Rodriguez was not decked out in blue because of an earlier experience.

“I didn’t want to rub anyone the wrong way,” Rodriguez said. “I knew I was going to be sitting on the MU side. I went to the KU-MU football game and I wore KU stuff and I got it pretty hard.”

Even though his friends were all rooting for the Tigers, Rodriguez said the game was still enjoyable. The rivalry is still there, but it’s friendlier.

Rodriguez’s friend, MU freshman Taylor Schwab said she enjoys coming to the baseball games more than football or basketball games because the experience is more relaxing and she can just enjoy MU’s tradition.

“I think just the atmosphere is different,” Schwab said. “Of course there’s not as many people. It’s definitely a lot more friendlier. You’re not seeing all of the bad-mouthing.”

Nicholas said the rivalry isn’t as intense as basketball or football, but the teams will never be seen eating at a restaurant or going to the movies together.

“You could say it’s a little bit more friendly,” Nicholas said. “…I know those guys over there and these guys over here still have the same feelings towards each other.”

Missouri (19-17, 4-8 Big 12) plays Kansas State (27-8, 9-3 Big 12) at 6 p.m., Friday at Taylor Stadium.


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