I'm not going to lie, the fact that 54-12 isn't good enough hurts. This team has run the damn table all year and hit their weakest point when it mattered the most, and were eliminated because of it.
A long time ago a baseball coach once told me that "baseball is a cruel mistress", which is cliche as hell but still rings true. I was thinking about that quote for the entire last inning.
And then while everybody else was tweeting about their heartbreak, noted smartass and one of the best Twitter follows possible Anthony Flora (@arflora) dropped an even bigger cliche on me.
~ don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened ~ ily bregman— arflora (@arflora) June 19, 2015
Sarcasm aside, this is another one I can't help but feel is true. There are a lot of LSU fans, fortunately tucked away in a corner of the internet where they can wallow in their own filth, who will look back at Alex Bregman and remember him for going 1-4 in Omaha. I wanted Bregman to go out with a trophy as much as anybody, as a reward for the countless grounders he's taken under the lights when there was nobody else around and for the times I've personally seen him be the last Tiger off the field because he was signing autographs and taking pictures. But baseball doesn't work like that. Baseball didn't decide to reward this:
Defensive wizardry... compliments of Alex Bregman!! #CWS #SCTop10 http://t.co/Mo4Pd1VDzl— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 19, 2015
At LSU, the standard is a berth in Omaha and the expectation is a national championship. There is just no other way to slice it. In that sense, LSU failed to reach the expectation that the fans had set for them. That obviously leads to disappointment, which is inevitable for anybody in this situation.
But last night I realized it is completely ok to remember this team fondly even if the season ended badly. I mean, Chris Sciambra literally broke his neck playing for us. If you can't appreciate that then I suspect you aren't really an LSU fan. Hopefully he will win the Golden Spikes to show for it, but I can think of only a few players who had as big an impact over a three year period as Bregman had. Mark Laird (who I really, really, really, really wish would stay) ended up being one of my favorite Tigers ever, regardless of sport. I don't know if we will ever see a guy who was such a vacuum as Andrew Stevenson was in center. Chinea's hot streak was as impressive as they come and Connor "Rich Homie" Hale always laced doubles and triples when we seemed to need them the most. Zac Person best defined what it meant to play the game with passion and what it means to be an LSU fan in addition to being Mr. Personality. Not only did Jared Foster have the best #SYMMETRY on the team, he played wherever Paul thought he was the best contribution to the team.
In the summer of 2011, I worked for the Baton Rouge White Sox, a summer league baseball team for juniors and seniors coming out of high school. Kade Scivicque was on that team, bound for Southwest Mississippi Community College. Kade was a solid player for the White Sox in his own right, probably the best on the team, but in the time between the last game in the summer of 2011 and his first game behind the plate he absolutely doubled his playing ability. There were times when I would sit in section 101 and watch him murder balls and fail to understand how that was the same player I kept score of in 2011.
It's easy to say "this team with Latz would have been unstoppable" because that's true, completely and totally true. But LSU didn't have Latz and had to build around the deficiency, and they did a damn fine job at it too. LSU was able more or less ride the offense for most of the way, but in the end just could not keep the game 3 support up. That's baseball and that's life for you.
There's plenty reason to be excited for next year. The Lange-Latz-Poche Death Star will be fully operational. Fraley will be back and wearing #8, and hopefully will pick up right where he left off in this postseason. Hopefully, if there is a benevolent god, Chinea and Laird will be back and not playing for deplorable organizations. That #1 recruiting class featuring the Jordan twins and Papierski can come into their own light.
It's the end of the season, but we don't have to be sad about it. We will be back.