If the College World Series were a band, LSU would be the saxophone.
Nobody eats more, parties longer or cheers harder. Nobody brings the same style, the same — what’s the word? — verve. Yes, I root for the Tigers to qualify for Omaha every year.
At some point Sunday night, I changed my mind. Stony Brook was inching closer to TD Ameritrade Park — eight outs away, seven, six… — and I couldn’t resist them anymore.
Omaha is no stranger to underdogs. Every June, somebody comes to town with a heckuva story. California, Fresno State, Oregon State, Louisiana Lafayette, Nebraska, Creighton.
You name it, we’ve seen it. But there’s never been a qualifier like this. Never been a team that entered super regionals facing such long odds.
Stony Brook went into the most intimidating atmosphere in college baseball and beat LSU in a best-of-three — after losing a heartbreaker in the opener. It defies logic, especially for a team from the America East Conference.
Yet calling Stony Brook a Cinderella is like calling a tarantula “cute.” They outhit LSU 50-15 in three games.
“It is hard for me to find weaknesses in their team,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri told reporters Sunday. “Offensively, one through nine, that was the toughest lineup that we have faced all year. I will put them in the category with Florida, maybe even better…
“I would not be one bit surprised if Stony Brook goes on to win the national championship,” Mainieri said. “I cannot imagine anyone in the country being better than that team.”
We’ll find out. The Omaha Chamber of Commerce would be happier with LSU in town. But on the field, the Seawolves are as good as it gets.
>> This NBA Finals is the best thing to happen to professional basketball since Michael Jordan’s championship runs. Overstatement? Nope. Give me an NBA Finals showcasing this level of talent with storylines this intoxicating.
Miami-OKC features the two best players in the NBA, one who represents (perhaps unfairly) ego against one who represents humility.
It’s big market v. small market, a team built through free agency to win immediately versus a team built through the draft that — just four years ago — started 3-29. It’s a veteran team trying to redeem its sins versus a young team on the verge of a dynasty. It is, in the eyes of many basketball fans, evil versus good. Corrupt versus pure.
I’ve developed an affection for the Thunder the past few years. My heart will be rooting for them. But my head tells me the Heat (the more physical team) will win in six games.
>> In January, Rafa Nadal a five-set, six-hour marathon to Djokovic in the Australian Open final, his third straight Grand Slam final loss to the world’s No. 1 player. Was he ever going to beat Djokovic? It was a valid question. But Nadal proved Sunday — and this morning — that he’s still untouchable on clay. It wasn’t the most exciting match between Nadal and Djokovic. But it was critically important in sustaining the rivalry’s momentum. I expect to see the same matchup in the Wimbledon final next month.
>> Blair Kerkhoff writes a heckuva column in the Kansas City Star about the imbalance of regular-season schedules in college football — and the impact it may have on future playoff fields.
>> An entertaining interview with Barry Switzer.
>> Congrats to Omahan Scott Gutschewski, who finished third at the Nationwide Tour’s Mexico Open, his best finish of the season. Gutschewski started Sunday tied for 14th. Then he birdied eight of the first 10 holes. He slumped a bit on the back nine, finishing two back, but moved from 131st to 41st on the money list.
>> This is outstanding: an oral history of the 1992 Dream Team.
>> Greg Couch says the French Open made a big mistake playing the final Sunday in the rain.
>> This is the only reason to root against OKC — their owner abandoned Seattle.
>> LeBron James enters the Finals playing the best basketball of his life.
>> The battle between the SEC and Big Ten extends to TV ratings. Why is the Big Ten winning?
>> The New York Times profiles Ryan Lochte, who’s trying to unseat Michael Phelps as the face of swimming.
>> The USGA went all-in with its Thursday/Friday pairings for the US Open. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson is the most appealing threesome I can ever remember. Here’s a profile on how is Bubba adapting to fame.
>> Finally, I’m working on a little Husker football project that required research of the 1950s and 60s. It got me thinking: What is your earliest memory of watching Nebraska football? Drop me a note. I’d love to hear about it.