It's hard to put this one into words. This is not the same program that won the title nine years ago, so this one means a little bit more. It's our first title post-Skip, and it demonstrates that LSU can win a title without the greatest college coach ever prowling the dugout.
LSU has gone from the top of the mountain, to missing the tournament entirely, to climbing back on top. Coaching at LSU might be the most difficult job in college baseball. Sure, you get great facilities and a rabid fanbase, but it comes with a cost. Every move is scrutinized and nothing short of a title is acceptable. Let's be honest, at most schools, there is not the same kind of pressure as there is at LSU. Hey, Paul... sorry about that.
But Mainieri has not just faced the pressure, he has embraced it. While Smoke seemed to resent the pressure and the all-powerful Eye that is Skip Bertman, Mainieri has thrived. His truly remarkable relationship with Les Miles and the football program is yet another way Mainieri has completely and totally bought into the bright lights of LSY baseball.
Which begs the question... is this the best LSU team ever? I need time to think about that, and I don't feel like doing much analysis in the wake of this celebration (dude, I'm still huingover), but this is the first LSU team since 1993 to win the SEC regular season title, the SEC tourney, and the national title. LSU was one Jungmann gem away from being the first team to ever go 10-0 in the postseason.
I mentioned this in the comments, but it bears repeating: the LSU bullpen was simply amazing in Omaha. Widely perceived as a team weakness, the LSU relief corps was by far the most effective bullpen in the CWS. Aside from Byrd's short yet rough outing in Game Two of the title series, the pen's three game line was 15.0 IP 6 H 0 R 6 BB 13 K. Even in Game Two, LSU's only defeat, Cain and Bradshaw combined for 6 innings of shutout ball. Our starters got lit up, but the bullpen saved our bacon.
I could be mean and talk about the lack of production in the back of the order, but let's instead focus on the defense. Once again, the pre-Series talk was Texas' defensive advantage, but it was LSU that played great defense and made the spectacular plays while Texas threw the ball all over the diamond. LSU's infield defense especially made all of the big plays.
Of course, the hitters came to play. The bats were tamed in Game Two, but they exploded in Game Three and scraped out 7 runs in Game One. Just about everyone got to be hero. Mitchell was named the MVP, but it could just have easily been LeMahieu or Schimpf. Hell, even Ochinko.
Pitching, defense, hitting. This team had it all. And now they have a trophy to go with it.