It's a big week, Arkansas sports fans. Two (maybe three if you hail from up North) much-beloved state teams, on opposite trajectories, meet in the middle this weekend. The Travs close out their home schedule with a series against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Friday night, and the Hogs open their much-anticipated season against Missouri State Saturday night.
Some university official — partly emboldened, no doubt, by the hope surrounding the Hogs the season — recognized the confluence and teamed with local officials to create RazorRock Week. The festivities don't amount to much beyond an extended pep rally. Coach Petrino was in town on Monday, preaching to the hordes. There are several alumni gatherings throughout the week, and there's a special RazorRock dinner cruise on Thursday on the Arkansas Queen. Maybe they'll serve little Razorback-shaped pork cutlets. Local businesses have been encouraged to “paint the town Razorback red” by decorating. You'll notice the Metropolitan Bank Building and the Big Dam Bridge have changed their lighting schemes to match school colors.
Friday, at 6 p.m., the party gets real. The Junction Bridge serves as the sight of the official RazorRock Pep Rally, where the entire 350-member UA marching band and more than 60 cheerleaders and pom squad-ers will gather. UA Athletic Director Jeff Long will speak. You'll have to watch from the banks or from a slow-moving trolley going over the river (but, please, not while you're driving across the I-30 bridge). Following the rally, the band will parade to Dickey-Stephens, where it'll perform the national anthem. Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn is throwing out the first pitch. Bet he doesn't bounce it.
This has not been a banner year for the Travs. With only five games left in the season, they're guaranteed to finish below .500. But, really, who cares? It's minor league baseball. Personnel changes all the time. That doesn't stop us from rooting hard for the home team. Give us nice weather and cold beer and everything else is gravy.
Pay special attention, on Thursday and Friday, to catcher Hank Conger. He and pitcher Trevor Reckling, who's already had his last start, were voted to the Texas League All-Star Team.
If going to a Travs game is a late summer idyll, seeing the Hogs open its season at War Memorial is a debauched monument to a life-altering obsession. With Missouri State as an opponent everything should be boozy good times for Hog fans (for how long we'll sustain those good times, see the return of A Boy Named Sooie). The defense will tackle, the special teams will look special and Arkansas's greatest quarterback ever on paper will come alive and through for 500 yards. Or we'll call in talk radio and bitch till the wee hours.
So, woo-pig, don the Hog hat and let's go.