Warning: Fannish ramblings ahead. If you don’t care for the baseball posts, now’s your last chance to bail out.
First, a moment of sympathetic silence for Vanderbilt, who failed in their attempt to win the College World Series two years in a row. Had they pulled it off, it would have been the first such feat in living memory–if one defines living memory according to the apparent knowledge of ESPN’s commentators*. Sorry, Commodores, but remember: if you can win it all in alternate years, you’re still allowed to call it a dynasty.
* I hope they’re actually aware that South Carolina did it in 2010/2011 and Oregon State did it in 2006/2007. You sure couldn’t tell from their comments during the broadcast.
More seriously, my congratulations to Virginia, who overcame a major mid-season slump, gloried in their underdog status, and now have their first-ever national baseball championship.
I watched most* of last night’s deciding game, and believe me, it was a hell of a lot more entertaining than the show the Mariners put on.
* I missed the top half of the first inning. Shameful neglect on my part, I realize.
The Mariners once again fell victim to “One Inning Syndrome”. That’s a frustrating condition in which a largely competent performance is undone by one bad inning. In this case, had the Mariners not given up seven runs in the fourth, they would have won 2-1.
It’s not that simple, of course. This is the Mariners, after all. If they had gotten through the fourth unscathed, they would undoubtedly have found another way to lose. This year’s team isn’t quite as good at losing as, say, 2010’s 101-loss team (they’d need to go 28-61 the rest of the way–possible, but improbable).
The 2015 team specializes in showing a sign of life and then going unresponsive again. Case in point: before last night’s stinker, they scored seven runs Tuesday while rookie Mike Montgomery pitched a four-hit complete game shutout.
The Ms can’t lose today–they have the day off–but if Oakland beats Texas, the Mariners will be in last place in the division. Not so great for a team that was widely chosen to cruise into the playoffs.
But that’s why the championship isn’t determined by statistics, projections, or simulations.
They could still turn it around. Even now, they’re only 8 1/2 games behind the (I can’t believe I’m writing this) division-leading Astros. Even if they can’t pull it together long enough to make the playoffs, a couple of short winning streaks could get them back over .500.
After more than a decade of disappointment, Mariners fans keep coming back. Heck, after more than half a century of disappointment, Cubs fans keep coming back. For one reason.
It could happen. And wouldn’t you feel stupid if it happened and you weren’t there?