Welp...kind of a downer ending of baseball season you might say. So how will you remember this team?
I'll remember this team for a lot of things. Seeing great seniors like Mason Katz, Raph Rhymes and Chris Cotton finally get the opportunity to go to Omaha. The amazing regular season with 23 conference wins and 57 overall. Winning the SEC Tournament. The amazing game in Game 1 of the Super Regionals. But unfortunately, this is LSU and those things, while great and noteworthy, are considered secondary. Right or wrong, this group will probably be remembered as one of the best LSU teams that did not win a National Title. The fact that they went 0-2 in Omaha will punctuate that point in people's minds.
I'll remember this team mainly for the fantastic regular season, and then the bizarre run through the regional and super regional. The team played fantastic baseball through the regular season, won the SEC tournament, had a completely bizarre/uncharacteristic regional, a fantastic super regional series, and then couldn't get over that last hill in Omaha. This team set records for conference and regular season wins that I won't soon forget. I'll also remember the fantastic SEC tournament and how they came from the losers bracket to win that tournament in dramatic fashion against Vandy.
I'll also remember Alex Bregman's phenomenal freshman year. It has been a while since I have been this excited about one player, one that LSU can easily rely on for two more seasons. He is a leader on and off the field, and will continue to grow in that area as he matures at LSU. Having him for two more years is going to be fantastic.
Does the word "choke" enter your mind?
It doesn't for me. Omaha was a disappointment, certainly...but not a choke. That's just not the word I would associate with the way things played out. It was a really incredible season which raised the bar really high for this team by the time they got to Omaha. Then they lost two close games and had to go home earlier than most thought. Not a choke.
I wouldn't call it a choke. That would imply that they blew a game or something, which they didn't. The things that they did this year just didn't translate to Omaha, and it resulted in a disappointing ending. The team didn't play terribly, but they didn't seem to have the emotion and will power that carried them through the season. If they carry that same emotion into the CWS, then we might be having a different conversation right now.
This is not a choke, and it's a shame that's a word on anyone's lips. Let's look at this objectively. LSU lost to a team that is one win away from winning the national title and the #1 overall seed in the tournament. They weren't blown out in either game, and had a chance to beat UCLa in their final at bat. LSU lost to two equally excellent teams. It happens. It sucks, but it happens.
This is just how narratives play out in today's sports. If a team doesn't win, they are automatically a "choker". Like a team can't play another excellent team and lose. Baseball, like most team sports, is a zero sum game. Someone was winning, and someone was losing, and unfortunately, that was LSU. Now, it is a shame that Alex Bregman chose a very bad time to turn back into a pumpkin, but he's a freshman and he still has a few years to build his legacy. He's not the first or the last freshman to show up to Omaha and be over-awed by the experience.
This team was a blast to follow, and maybe the best team we've had since the '90s. But sometimes the best team doesn't win. Ask Texas A&M in 1989 or Stanford in 2001. LSU's been on the other side of these kind of games, and over a long enough timeline, it all balances out. It infuriates me that Mississippi State is playing for the title and we're not, but that's the way baseball goes. Life is unfair.