A Diatribe for the Mid Major
I do a piece like this about once a year and at about this time. It's all emotion so don't confuse me with facts. I can't handle the truth! Here goes. College baseball is the one and only stronghold for the mid major. You'd think basketball would be and football has little chance. In basketball if you have one or more dominant players, you win. The biggies have the corner on that market. See Kentucky. Football? Well, they get the best linemen and that adds up fast. Baseball, all you need is one or two good to great pitchers and you can beat anyone. The batters must face this ace and have no chance nor choice.
A few years ago I did an article comparing South Carolina's top ranked recruiting class with San Jose State's. Yes, it is to laugh. The Gamecocks' list was littered with all-americans and nationally top ranked players at their respective positions. San Jose State, IIRC, had a few all-state kids and a low round draft pick. I was ecstatic. I don't know what happened that year but I think Carolina was in the midst of winning the national championship a few years in a row. So, that panned out.
So what possessed me to write this? Florida State. They were rated number five in the nation and were a host to a regional. In that regional Kennesaw State (who?) beat Alabama. Georgia Southern (a good team) clobbered the Seminoles 7-0. Alabama ousts Florida State 6-5. Georgia State is leading Kennesaw State 5-3 as I write this while Alabama waits for the loser. There's a big smile on my face folks. Florida State gets to host a regional and then loses both games one to a mid major while the other mid major takes care of Alabama, albeit barely.
Wait there's more. Sacramento State (in the San Luis Obispo Regional) just ousted Arizona State. That leaves a field of three mid majors in that one. The blood will flow as mid major is guaranteed to move on to a super regional. That would be Cal Poly, Pepperdine, or Sacramento State. My heart is with the Hornets as I've talked at length with Coach Christiansen and he's building a very strong program in Sacramento and they they should be even stronger next year. Frightening.
In the Lafayette Regional Louisiana is the host and should be in the final game but that is not guaranteed as they are playing a pretty tough Jackson State club. The winner will take on Mississippi State and that will be tough.
In the Gainesville Regional Florida has been eliminated by losses to College of Charleston and North Carolina. That leaves Long Beach State (go Dirt Bags!) and College of Charleston to take on North Carolina. Charleston is pretty good and gets my vote.
In the Fort Worth Regional Siena remains along with Sam Houston State (trailing as I write this) and TCU. Siena? I don't even know what the mascot is. This is a pretty even group with no overly hyped team playing.
Corvallis boasts the #1 national seed in Oregon State and they have that pitching to carry them through. They could win it all. Remaining teams are UC Irvine (playing OSU tonight) and UNLV. The Rebels are in up to their noses as they have no Erick Fedde to come and shut down a team. Anyway, two mid majors remain in what I think are dire straits dressed in orange and black. BY THE WAY, the epitome of the mid major has to be North Dakota State. A snow belt team that doesn't get home games (let alone practice) until July or thereabouts. I'm sure they get the top notch recruit. Can you see a 9 star recruit telling his dad, "It was down to Florida, Fullerton State, and North Dakota State and I chose the Bison". Yeah, right. They get some good ones but few if any all americans. My hat is definitely off to those guys. They lost two one run games to two conference champs and they were an also-ran in the Summit. Yeah, that close even though Andrew Moore of OSU was simply dominant against NDSU. They showed up and comported themselves well. Come on back next year, Bison, except win your conference the "real" way.
Those are the regionals where the mid major teams are making some noise. That's quite a few, doncha think? This tells me a lot. In baseball especially, the all american lists and others of that ilk are nice to pour over but sometimes an ace is undiscovered and picked up by a mid major. Fullerton State has a #1 draft pick that decided to go to school and that kid (a pitcher) has done well. If he doesn't get hurt he'll probably make even more money after his junior year. A first round draft pick; wow! Sometimes a kid is overwhelmed by the fact that everyone else on the team is just as good as he is. Sometimes school is too much to handle. Sometimes being away from home. OK, what I'm getting at is that all those 4 and 5 star gets by a program don't add up to a national championship. Thank God for that. If the mid major had no shot, I wouldn't follow college baseball, would you?