By Connor Buestad
If you are reading this article, there is a good chance you are a die-hard Bay Area baseball fan. As has been the case in recent years, this has not always been easy. Sure, following your beloved Giants or A’s when they are ten games over .500 and on their way to the playoffs is one thing, but standing by your team as they fade into mediocrity is a totally different story.
For A’s fans especially, 2009 has been a struggle. With the offensive firepower Billy Beane brought in this year, nobody could have predicted that 50 games into the season, the Athletics would only have 20 wins. Across the Bay, the Giants are sitting on a 25 and 25 mark. Decent, but nothing to write home about, especially when one considers Randy Winn is still our 3 hitter.
By no means am I expecting any of you fans out there to call off the dogs and pack it in for ’09. However, I did want to provide you with a positive baseball diversion that has the potential to lift your viewing spirits. What do I speak of, you ask? College Baseball on ESPN.
Baseball’s version of NCAA March Madness got underway last weekend and will continue into late June. This Friday marks the beginning of the round of 16. Eight different regional sites will hold best-of-three game series that will decide who gets the right to battle for the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska starting June 13th.
If you are looking for a Bay Area team to root for, you aren’t going to find any. Both Cal and Stanford failed to qualify for the field of 64 this year. Regardless, if you tune in you’ll find no shortage of hustle, passion, grit, excitement, and dogpiles. (Not exactly the words used to describe most MLB games in June).
The Fresno State Underdogs shocked the college baseball community when it won the title last year. They were a lock to not get out of the first round, but somehow managed to win it all. If Dick Vitale was a College Baseball announcer, he may have suffered a heart attack after witnessing Fresno’s improbable run through the tourney.
I leave you with a brief preview of all eight series going on this weekend…get excited to hear the “PING.”
TCU at Texas
Texas is the favorite to win the whole shebang, TCU will counter with a strong pitching staff.
Rice at LSU
Both programs have a long history of baseball success, should be a real showdown.
East Carolina at North Carolina
I predict lots of tobacco will be chewed during this series.
Louisville at Cal State Fullerton
Mark Kotsay was Fullerton’s best hitter and best pitcher when they won the title in ‘95.
Southern Miss at Florida
If you are looking for an underdog to pull for, Southern Miss might be your best option.
Virginia at Mississippi
Ole Miss features some of the most rowdy fans in the game.
Arkansas at Florida State
FSU erupted for 37 runs last weekend. In one game.
Clemson at Arizona State
ASU is the Pac-10’s lone representative. I foresee the Sun Devils winning it all.