The Florida Gators, the South Carolina Gamecocks, and the Vanderbilt Commodores all posted 22-8 regular-season conference records to finish in a three-way snarl atop the SEC baseball standings, and that trio of diamond titans made up three of the first four teams to advance to the College World Series.
The Diamond Dogs, on the other hand, posted a mediocre record---33-32 overall and 19-16 in conference play, counting the Georgia Bulldogs’ appearance in Hoover---against a brutal schedule. The Classic City Canines managed a 5-8 ledger against the three Omaha-bound SEC squads, with three of their eight losses to those teams coming by one-run margins. The Red and Black were 14-8 against the rest of the league.
I’m not sure what to make of that. On the one hand, it means the Diamond Dogs did a decent job while facing a tough slate, but simply had the misfortune of sharing a division with three of the top eight teams in the country. The Athenians would have been contenders in virtually any other division or conference in the nation.
On the other hand, baseball is Georgia’s oldest varsity sport, and, prior to last year, the Bulldogs were one of only two SEC teams to have won a national championship in the sport. The Red and Black were in the College World Series finals just three years ago, yet the Diamond Dogs have been lapped. Georgia is a year removed from the worst baseball season in school history, while Vanderbilt is having the best season in school history and South Carolina has built a perennial powerhouse in the sport. The onetime lead dog now lags behind the rest of the pack in the Eastern Division.
Which is it? Should we be glad that the Classic City Canines achieved much amid adversity and proved themselves a worthy foil for all but the best teams in the land, or should we feel bad that the Bulldogs have slipped to second-tier status so soon after coming within one win of another NCAA crown? I, of course, am torn.