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It was during a moment at Yankee Stadium earlier this summer that a notable New York baseball writer, whose ilk does self-importance better than Iverson did the crossover, entered my airspace. Normally, a peon such as I might as well be Claude Rains.
"What's in the water where you live?" he asked, noting that our corner of the world has produced a startling number of major leaguers, given our size, or lack thereof.
It was a proud moment.
It also invited deeper thought. Here we are, barely an eyelash on a gnat, and we have John McDonald, Matt Harvey, Rajai Davis, Eric Campbell, Jesse Hahn and Dom Leone. And Andrew Carignan on his way back. We also have a women's professional basketball team, which we support well given the market size (Uncasville actually competes favorably here with Los Angeles, Chicago and New York).
Can any other itty bitty part of the world compare to us?
And now another one of our own joins the sporting fraternity.
Casey Cochran, son of Shannon and Jack, is the starting quarterback at UConn. Bob Diaco named Cochran the starter earlier this week. It was hardly a layup, considering Cochran's apprenticeship late last season didn't seem to impress UConn's new coach, at least not as much as Cochran's solid work since the new sheriff's arrival.
Know what this means?
We need to start imposing our will on UConn football.
Because the most noteworthy player on the team is one of our kids.
So start going.
Now, I learned a long time ago that lecturing people on how to spend their discretionary income is a great way to alienate. So as always: free country. But …
Tickets begin at $40. Mini plans and season tickets are reasonable. The schedule has home games against Brigham Young and Boise State, among others. There is a game against Army at Yankee Stadium. Rentschler Field is an easy drive. Tailgating, if you choose to partake, is fun.
Then there's this: Cochran is a personable, colorful kid who deserves the support.
And you'd be doing your part to help UConn's crusade to find a spot in a more relevant conference. You've heard in an election how every vote counts? Every butt in the seat at a UConn football game counts, too.
I know. It's counterintuitive to think how unmatched basketball success doesn't move the needle as much as getting to a bowl game. Ours is not to reason why.
Football must succeed on and off the field. And the regular old Walts and Marges out there hold the hammer. This is not about diehards. This is about the casual fan. They are the difference between a crowd of 32,000 with empty seats looking bad on television and 40,000 that connote some buzz.
A successful team will fill the building. It has before. But can it reach our hearts? I say let us lead the way. Our guy is the quarterback.
I'd also suggest this: If you aren't doing your part to support UConn football, you forfeit your right to whine about the unfairness of UConn's perch here in Elba.
Besides, college football has something basketball doesn't. It remains one of the final family friendly sporting endeavors. I know there are more night games now than we'd all like. But most games are Saturdays during the day, a good fit into most calendars.
I have no idea whether Diaco will succeed here. Neither does anyone else until the games start. But part of his success is almost out of his hands. He can win, sure. But can he get people to care? Is football going to be a popular conversation topic in barbershops, coffee shops and gin mills? If Internet hits on stories are used as evidence, football still sits at the bottom of Everest.
Alas, we are only responsible for us. We've proven to be a passionate region for sports. We've got our guy up there with a new coach and a new atmosphere. It's time.
This is the opinion for Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.