Why the College World Series Matters

We went into tonight's game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Oregon State Beavers knowing it could be the final baseball game of the 2007 campaign and Corn Nation, your college baseball hub here at SportsBlogs Nation, was praying for a dramatic finish.

I took a somewhat different approach. I don't find errors at key junctures any less thrilling than walk-off home runs; Bill Buckner's gaffe provided every bit as stunning a finish as Kirk Gibson's dinger. It's all a part of the majesty and the grandeur that is baseball.

I'm two paragraphs into a posting about college baseball, so tradition dictates that I must post a good-luck picture of Kristin Davis. To whom did I intend to bring favorable fortunes? Stay tuned. . . .

I didn't just want a good game; in fact, I didn't particularly want a good game at all, because I had a preference as to the outcome. I wanted Oregon State to win, for the following reasons:

  • I don't care for the idea of ending a double-elimination tournament with a best-of-three series. If one team comes through the winners bracket and the other team comes through the losers bracket, the team that was one loss away from being sent home isn't entitled to a clean slate and a level playing field. The fact that the Beavers, who had not lost since their arrival in Omaha, had to defeat the once-beaten Tar Heels twice to repeat as national champions simply wasn't right, so I was rooting for O.S.U. to correct that injustice.
  • As a University of Georgia graduate, I have a natural disdain for the University of North Carolina, which falsely claims to be the oldest state-chartered university in the country. This is simple math, people: the Georgia General Assembly chartered the University of Georgia in 1785; the North Carolina General Assembly chartered the University of North Carolina in 1789; we win; they lose; end of argument. Until U.N.C. owns up to its Johnny-come-lately status, I will root against the Tar Heels in the absence of a compelling reason to do otherwise.
  • I hate orange on general principle and Oregon State's color scheme is disturbingly Halloweenesque, but my Y chromosome simply will not allow me to hope that a team clad in sky-blue uniforms will win any sort of championship. The Tar Heels wear intercollegiate athletics' girliest color, so it offends me as a member of the male gender to have them finish first in any manly sport.
  • Finally, and most importantly, Oregon State opened the season with three straight wins over the Diamond Dogs. Perhaps this early sweep started the Classic City Canines on their epic downward spiral, but I tend to root for Georgia's non-rival out-of-conference opponents. If the Beavers won the national championship, then, hey, that means three of Georgia's 33 losses were to the eventual national champion, right?
Temporary loyalties aside, though, two recurring thoughts have run repeatedly through my mind while watching the College World Series finals: Erin Andrews is something else and college baseball is a great game. If I'm too tough on David Perno, it's because the Red and Black ought to be perennial postseason fixtures on the diamond, just as they are on the gridiron, the parallel bars, the tennis court, and the links.

I want to see the Bulldogs playing here every season . . . and not just so I can make fun of the name "Rosenblatt," either.

Baseball is a beautiful game, a game that is worth having your heart broken by it and forgiving it and renewing your affections for it. Unlike such transient and gaudy sports-like spectacles as the Super Bowl, some athletic exhibitions are so sublime that they may be spoken of respectfully by location alone, without the need to call them by name. No S.E.C. football fan has to ask what is meant by a reference to "New Orleans"; no golf aficionado has any doubt what is described by the term "Augusta"; no one who appreciates baseball wonders about the significance of the name "Omaha."

Contrary to what some so-called experts would tell you, this is as it should be. My congratulations go out (again) to the Oregon State Beavers on winning the College World Series. We'll see y'all in Omaha next year.

Go 'Dawgs!

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