Flash the Eagle doesn't take too kindly to mascot mistakes. (photo via Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE)
As a fellow writer, we know that it can be embarrassing when a mistake is made. We want to be right all the time. We'd also like people to know exactly how hard we try but mistakes keep getting made, and oftentimes we're our own copy editors.
But what got Kent State fans a little agitated, once their baseball team advanced to the Super Regionals to play Oregon, was a headline on OregonLive by Ducks writer Aaron Fentress:
Oregon Ducks rundown: First look at the Kent State Golden Eagles
[record stops abruptly]
We all know it's the Golden Flashes. We may not know what a Flash is, possibly some type of eagle-like bird, but we know their team nickname is indeed the Flashes. (The headline has since been corrected, but it's been memorialized in Fentress's early-on tweet, and the "Golden Eagles" was used consistently throughout the story.
Deservedly so he got some flack from the Flashes fans on the Internet, chalking it up as another case of a big school beat writer using little effort on covering a smaller school. It is an ego thing; our conference doesn't have nearly the baseball pedigree that the Pac-12 boasts and it's been a while since a MAC team even advanced out of the first round. But Fentress went on to say that Kent State was the first MAC team "to make it this far." (correction: this is not a direct quote, but he used similar language that insinuated this. The actual original line was "to advance this far.") This isn't true; a few MAC teams have reached the World Series, simply never to the Super Regional round since it was implemented.
His ensuing Twitter responses that day:
Kent State fans need to get over it, already. I thought you were the Eagles. My bad. Most teams have mascots that match their team's name.— Aaron J. Fentress (@AaronJFentress) June 4, 2012
@sodors The only joke are you clowns freaking out over the silliest of things and acting like small-time fans who can't handle success.— Aaron J. Fentress (@AaronJFentress) June 4, 2012
He then tweeted out some links to other places that called them the Kent State Golden Eagles, trying to make it look like a common mistake.
Google search of "Kent State Golden Flashes" produces 611,000 hits. Google "Kent State Golden Eagles" produces 25.7 million.— Aaron J. Fentress (@AaronJFentress) June 5, 2012
All of this was a roundabout way of trying to soften the mistake by saying, look, everybody else makes this mistake. Which they don't; they're the Golden Flashes and people verify this by looking up their mascot. I get that it's an honest mistake; yes, the genus and species of their mascot is 'eagle,' but its name is Flash. And the bull about most school nicknames matching their mascots falls apart doesn't make sense when one realizes Alabama isn't the Elephants and Stanford isn't the Trees. I'm not sure if anyone's ever reasonably made these mistakes.
This probably isn't a story if Fentress just goes "oops" and changes the story without all this justification. Especially not when a subsequent story by him includes this gem of a line (and still does):
What they'll find is a team on a 20-game hitting streak thanks to a powerful lineup
Well that's just going to add fuel to the fire. Again, we know what he meant: a 20-game winning streak. A team hitting streak probably goes much further back to whenever they were no-hit. In fairness he does laud what Kent State has done throughout the year, and he's right; they're a legitimate team who cracked the Collegiate Baseball Top 25 heading into the tournament. They're now 13th in the country according to the latest poll, and they do have a sleek combination of hitting and offense that will contend with the Ducks.
Add it all up and the implication is that Oregon, the superior school with the better connections and resources, is better than this scrappy little school from the Midwest, and you should just get over the little mistakes, such as what your team name is actually called, okay, you goofballs?
But it's nothing new to MAC fans, and it's part of the mentality of rooting for these teams when it's time for national tournaments. Take the smack talk in stride, hope the team proves everybody wrong, and most of the time end the game disappointed.