Monday, May 30, 2005


Champions. What a nice word, a destination, a destiny, nine letters that can last a lifetime. College baseball and basketball have a pretty uncomplicated system to disperse that honor; in fact every collegiate sport except D-1 football does it the same way.

Pick your best, let them play, and when the games are over the champion is crowned. We’ll get back to football in a minute but after weeks of cyber heat on the various internet web sites college baseball leaves the spin doctors for the scoreboards. Long Beach State as you know by now begins on Friday at 7 p.m. against Atlantic 10 Champion Rhode Island (34-19) following what should be a heck of a 3 p.m. game between USC (37-19) and red hot Pepperdine (38-21). The RI Rams, 15-9 on the road and a .318 batting average, will barely be recovered from the jet lag when they get a glance at the wide open spaces of Blair.

After the announcement was made all the host coaches said about the same thing. The NCAA issue these quotes earlier in the season so the guys on the hot spot can just fill in the blanks. "The biggest advantages in getting to host is our familiarity with the field and our great (fill in the blank) baseball fans," says proud but nervous home town head coach. ''It's definitely an advantage for anyone to be able to host,'' every coach would say; now we have to win.''

So what does the Niner skipper Mike Weathers have in mind for the first big step on that road to Omaha? “We want to win the weekend not just the first game,” suggesting that the normal rotation may be shaken and stirred. “We have rolled the dice before and we might just do it again.”

The shine on the Niner resume came largely through the great pitching, finishing as the best in the USA at 2.44 a notch better than Nebraska (2.51) who has the shortest road to Omaha (just a tornado touchdown away from Lincoln.

Looking over the LB regional field the big visiting dog is of course USC who swept the Beach, but those three games were decided by a mere four runs while the Niners traded 4-3 outcomes with Pepperdine.

First however is Rhode Island (34-19) who earned the Atlantic 10's automatic berth by sweeping through all three games of their conference tournament. The defending A-10 champs defeated Dayton 7-4 in the opener, then took down Richmond 8-3 and held off No. 2 seed George Washington 9-7 in the finals. It is their first NCAA Tournament and they come in ranked 23rd in the nation in team batting average at .318 and 25th in the country in team ERA at 3.69. But now is now.

POST-SEASON DUST--Six Dirtbags walked last week in campus graduation ceremonies and now that the NCAA is tracking that stuff degree completion is real important. Not such a nice walk for the underclassmen was out of the dorms to who knows where because housing closed last week and lots of out of town guys were scrambling to find three hots and a cot.

Joining the Beach as one of the anointed party hosts are (with the exception of newcomer Oregon State) all household-host names, Florida State; Florida; Miami; Georgia Tech; Clemson; Texas; Baylor; Fullerton; LSU; Ole Miss; Nebraska; Tennessee; Tulane; and Arizona State.

Our closing quote is from retiring but not shy President Bob Maxson who was offered a seat next to Mike and Charlotte Weathers at the selection show breakfast party. “I turned Mike down to sit next to Troy Tulowitzki because he’s going to make a lot more money than Mike next year.” –DR. DAN


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