Super Regional action is complete and now weíre off to the fun stuff, Omaha and the 2001 College World Series. And before I even get started, congrats to the University of Nebraska and their fans for finally advancing just up the road about 50 miles to friendly confines of Rosenblatt Stadium (well, friendly to just about everyone but the Cornhuskers themselves, until now). Tickets are in huge demand, and Husker victories are expected, since this is UNís first ever trip to the College World Series. Itís really amazing when you think about it. The school is less than an hours drive away from the CWS, and yet this team has never been. A large sea of UN red is expected to be found at Rosenblatt each and every time Nebraska takes the field.
Boy I really bummed out on those Super Regional predictions, huh? A whopping 3 for 8 this past weekend. One was perfect, though, with Miami winning both Friday and Saturday as I predicted. Stanford won over South Carolina 2-1 as I said, though I did get the Friday and Saturday games backwards, thinking last yearís Golden Spikes award winner Kip Bouknight of SC would get the job done Friday night. Oh well. And the final winner I got right was Southern Cal over Fla Intíl. It was over in two; I said three.
Now on to the bad news. I picked Miss. State to beat CS-Fullerton in three games. They lost in two! That about summed up the way more than half of the Super Regionals were to go for me. I also picked Rice to win over Nebraska in three; they also lost in only two games. As you know, Tulane knocked off in-state rival LSU and ended Skip Bertmanís legendary career as baseball coach for the Tigers. I thought the Tigers would pull out the final two games, but they were able to win neither after winning Friday night in thirteen innings. Tennessee went in to the only non-campus Super Regional site and promptly took care of business, winning two come-from-behind games over East Carolina. I thought the Pirates would be able to win on both Friday and Sunday. Finally, my last failure came in Athens, one of two regionals delayed a day by rain (the other was ECU). And this one had to be ended on Monday, actually with 11/3 games played. The first two were a split (as predicted, but once again, I had them backwards). I thought the experience of FSU in past yearís postseason play would give them the edge. But no so, my friend. The experience of UGA coach Ron Polk, former coach of Miss. State, was the winning edge, which I should have known. By the way, look for Polkís Dawgs to be a possible surprise team come this weekend and then the week that follows. Although he was never able to win the championship while at MSU, he has the ability to take a team a long way in postseason play. So to all out there: Beware of the Dawgs!
Well, here they go, ready or not, want Ďem or not:
Fridayís leadoff game is between Stanford and Tulane. I donít think even the wave of victory that the Green Wave rides into Omaha is enough to knock off the Cardinal, although itís strength against strength (Tulane offense vs. Stanford pitching). My pick: STANFORD.
The night-cap of the opening day in Omaha features red-hot CS-Fullerton, coming off two straight victories over MSU, against the virtually home team Nebraska Cornhuskers. With UNís top pitcher on the mound and the crowd behind them, I think UN has a chance. My pick: NEBRASKA.
Day two begins with Southern Cal and Georgia. Georgia coach Ron Polk will have to help his team find an answer for USC ace Prior. Even if the Dogs advance here, they may have trouble in second round. If USC wins here, look out for Trojans come next Saturday. My pick: SOUTHERN CAL.
The final first round game features surprise Tennessee and almost annual Miami. Tennessee has great speed, and pretty good defense and hitting. Chris Burke will have to be a big-time play maker for the Vols for UT to have a chance (which heís done in the past). Look for the veteran Miami team to hit the ball, and this may be one of the few possible high scoring games in this yearís CWS. My pick: MIAMI
These selections would set up these games in the next round (may it be in the loserís bracket or winnerís): Hereís how I think they go:
Stanford vs Nebraska.....My pick: STANFORD
Tulane vs CS-Fullerton.....My pick: CS-FULLERTON
Southern Cal vs Miami.....My pick: SOUTHERN CAL
Georgia vs Tennessee.....My pick: GEORGIA
These selections would set up these games in the next round:
CS-Fullerton vs Nebraska.....My pick: CS-FULLERTON
Georgia vs Miami.....My pick: MIAMI
These selections would set up these games in the next round (and losersí bracket teams would need to win twice to advance to Championship Game):
Stanford vs CS-Fullerton.....Game 1: My pick: CS-FULLERTON.....Game 2: My pick: CS-FULLERTON
Southern Cal vs Miami.....Game 1: My pick: SOUTHERN CAL.....Game 2 not nec.
This would set up this Championship Game: CS-Fullerton vs Southern Cal: Look for USC to still be the deepest on pitching and have the edge swinging the bats, also. The Trojans are able to knock off #1 CSF. My pick: SOUTHERN CAL 6-4
*Note: Along with picking the whole tourney preceding its beginning, we will also predict each dayís games on that day.
Omaha -- A great time of year
Omaha and the College World Series is probably one of my favorite times of the year. Itís summer time, and thereís no school. Kick back, turn on the air conditioner, and watch some of the best baseball you will ever see. The kind of respect college baseball gets this one week of the year is the amount it deserves all season, from March to May, and now to this time of year in June. This is just great baseball. You never know when there is going to be an upset. It reminds me so much of the NCAA Basketball Tourney each March, you never know whatís going to happen or whoís going to win until the last pitch is thrown or the last shot taken. Just look back to last yearís Championship game, where LSU won on a single to right field to win the national championship. Although the basketball tourney is my favorite, how could anyone not love this? These guys work all year Ďround to get to this point, this day, this city, this stadium. And it often comes down to who has the most energy left and who gives it all to determine who goes home with the crown. Will this be a tournament of upsets? Will this be a tournament of underdogs? Will this be a tournament of many one-run games? Will this be a tournament of 20-run games or will this be a tournament of pitching duels? These questions and so many more are what make me and so many sit down and tune into ESPN, or ESPN2, or ESPN34, or ESPN139 or whatever to see these great games, great teams, and great players. And although Iíve never been to Omaha to see the CWS, I hope to someday make it. But until then, Iíll sit back, relax, turn up the AC, and watch college baseball getting the respect just this one week that it deserves all year Ďround. I think you should, too.
Archive One: Jonathan's
Archive Two: Jonathan's Journal 2
Archive Three: Jonathan's Journal 3
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