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Talent vs. Magic

I live in Texas, so I am surrounded by Texas fans. To be honest, in the great UT-A&M debate, I tend to side with A&M because I am related to a few a Aggies and I sort of admire their completely unreasonable fanaticism.  But I don't dislike the Horns. 

I like Austin.  I like the Hook 'em Horns.  I like "Texas Fight".  I like their cheerleaders.  I like that they beat USC in the Rose Bowl, probably the best college football game I have ever seen.  I have plenty of friends who went to Texas, and I wish them all well.  But this is war, and I hope LSU makes every Texas fan wish they didn't have a baseball team.

There is one thing I do hate about Texas, and that is their arrogance.  Texas has a well-deserved reputation for being a whine-and-cheese crowd.  Their football games are the quietest 100,000 people not in the Big House.  Texas is sort of the Bama of the Big XII, always ready to tell you about some game they won in 1954.  Which is fine, you should be proud of your history, which is impressive, but before Texas gets on their haughty horse, I'd like to point to the All-Time Championship Scoreboard:

Baseball: Texas 6, LSU 5
All Sports: LSU 40, Texas 39 (football not included)

We're not some chump.  I'll put our athletic history up against anybody's and if some Texas fan starts going on about their illustrious history, which has happened to me several times already this week, the proper response is: "Scoreboard."

And I know not to read too much into the comment sections of any website, but this comment on Baseball America drove me mad because I don't think he's expressing a belief that far out of line with many Texas fans:

That’s right, Texas is shooting for national championship number 7 (1949, 1950, 1975, 1983, 2002, 2005, and 2009?). Hook ‘em Horns! Time to take out "new money" LSU. I know that the "experts" will generally pick LSU, but I wonder how LSU will respond to some real adversity. I mean, it’s been many weeks since they lost a single game. How will LSU respond if Coleman is pitching and they’re down to Texas by a score of 5-0? I have no doubt about LSU’s raw talent, and I also have no doubt about Texas’ mental toughness and their ability to win close games. I still think that LSU only has three good pitchers, and if they’re forced to use their bullpen, the advantage could swing to Texas. We’ll see what happens. Hook ‘em Horns!

Let's break that down...

First off, "new money"?  Are you kidding me?  In college baseball, just about everyone is new money.  USC used to pretty much win the title every year and from 1967-1981, a west coast team won the title every year except for 1975 (Texas).  In that 15 year span, USC won 7 titles, Arizona St. 4, and Arizona 2.  Look, they didn't even hand out a Golden Spikes Award until 1978.  It's hard to pin down when college baseball expanded to become a national sport, but I'd go with either 1982 when a non-west coast team won, on 1979, when Fullerton broke in for a title. 

LSU's first trip to Omaha was 1986.  That was over 20 years ago.  But whatever.  Really, Texas is about the only fanbase would even think of a "new money" putdown. 

But let's get to that game analysis...

Let's be clear, it's awesome that LSU has not played a close game in forever.  Great teams do NOT win close games.  Great teams win by blowout.  And it's not like we have not faced adversity.  The SEC tournament was an incredible backs-to-the-wall run.  But I'm not worried that LSU jumps on teams and early and then blows teams out before the seventh inning rolls around.  That's a good thing.

Texas' run this year reminds me of our last year.  I enjoyed the hell out of it.  LSU won so many straight games and had so many incredible rallies.  The UC Irvine series was one of the best sports weekends ever.  The rally against Rice was spectacular.  The whole season was magical.

Except that we lost. 

When magic runs into talent, talent usually wins.  Magic does occassionally win, which is why we still can see clips of Jimmy Valvano running around trying to hug someone.  Or why Fresno State has a national title.  But usually, the juggernaut stomps the upstart into dust. 

Then again, it's not like Texas is some lousy team.  They have terrific pitching, and some great hitters once Augie gets over the bunt.  They are the #1 seed.  Texas isn't some upstart, this is not the Fresno State story.  But let's look into this assumption that their pitching is so much better than LSU's and this is a matchup between offense versus defense.

Texas 227
LSU 299

Yes, they have allowed less runs.  But Texas plays in the more offensively-challenged Big XII and LSU plays in the big ball SEC.  I doubt it evens those numbers, but the gap is not as big as people think.  LSU's pitching matches up with Texas' fairly well (and it's now that I make the obligatory point that their three starters are all righties).

But let's get to the fun number:

Texas 386
LSU 542

LSU is 150 runs better on offense.  Texas has great pitching.  So did Rice.  Ask Wayne Graham how that went.  LSU has pitching that matches up, though it is a little worse than Texas'.  But LSU's offense is on a different planet.  The Tigers aren't quite the Gorilla Ball teams of Skip, but they are pretty damn good. 

I'm not even going to touch the comment about LSU lacking mental toughness.  This team is pretty damn mentally tough.  Especially that Louis Coleman guy.

Texas has magic.  LSU has two of the best pitchers in the nation, an All-American closer, great defense, and an offense that scored 150 runs more than the Longhorns.  And you never know, maybe we've got a little pixie dust of our own.