What is past is prologue.
This isn’t the year LSU baseball was expecting. The Tigers came into the season with high hopes and a preseason #1 ranking. The regular season ended with LSU fighting for a regional host slot.
Let’s step back for a second and appreciate the fact that “on the bubble to host a regional” is what passes for a disappointing year around these parts. There are a lot worse fates, and you can usually tell how strong a program is by what they consider to be disappointments. You have to be one of the top programs in the country to even consider thinking that hosting a regional is a disappointing year.
But it was. The team never quite pieced together its lineup or its rotation. LSU got swept by Texas, a team that wouldn’t even make the Big 12 tournament (speaking of disappointments), lost multiple midweek games to instate foes, and never really competed with the top teams in the conference.
All of those things are true. LSU didn’t win nearly as many games as was expected, by both the fans of the program and the national media. The team did drop games to vastly inferior teams, making such a habit of shocking midweek losses that they ceased to be shocking.
Here’s the thing, at the end of June, no one will give a single damn about any of that. LSU teams are not judged by what they do in March and April. They are judged by what they do in June.
We measure teams by their postseason success around these parts and after a while, everything else about the team fades away. There’s no banner for the 1992 team, which won just as many regular season games as the 1991 and 1993 teams, yet failed to make it to Omaha. The 1997 team lost to Alabama 28-2 in the regular season, and now that’s just a cool part of the story of how they got revenge in the title game.
It’s not that the regular season is meaningless. Of course it matters. That’s how you get a favorable seed and earn the right to play at home on your way to Omaha. And this team only accomplished half of that goal, as they are seeded to go on the road to Athens if everything goes according to seed in regional play.
It’s just that the postseason matters a whole heck of a lot more. If this team can go on a run, then those midweek losses fold into the narrative, and it becomes part of the story about how the team learned how to focus and overcome. If this team loses, then those games mean the team wasn’t that good in the first place.
It’s not fair, but the postseason rewrites everything that came before it. It recontextualizes regular season struggles as either pieces that made the team stronger or, alternatively, harbingers of doom. We won’t know which is which until the weekend is over.
Everything that came before is just noise. It doesn’t matter anymore. All that matters is what lies before this team and what they can do now. And they still have that roster which caused so many people to believe that this team was a national title contender. It’s time to see if they can put that talent together at just the right time.
The season starts now.