Let me start by stating the blatantly obvious: LSU is not Tennessee.
While the Volunteers have leaned into their heel turn as college baseball’s version of MJF, it’s not LSU’s place to do so.
I’m not saying this to cast upon great shame for not “playing the game the right way” or whatever kangaroo court fine you want to levy against them, I firmly believe sports need heels and Tennesse is playing the part perfectly. Upon their discovery that the sport of baseball is played at the college level two years ago, Tennessee fans have all but taken credit for the boom in exposure the tournament received. They’re not correct, but they’re also not wrong. Because to sell something you do in fact need something everybody can root for, and rooting for a single team’s demise is just as good as rooting for their success.
What I’m saying is that is preseason unanimous rankings don’t do anything for me and I see no reason why anybody should be any more hyped than usual about baseball season. If you’re selling a pat on the back before the month of May you might as well take that shit to Knoxville where they’ll buy wholesale, because you shouldn’t get a dime here.
I’m also not saying LSU should “act like they’ve been there before”, because that’s everything we dislike about Alabama fans so spoiled by their own success they may as well be allergic to happiness.
No, I just want this team to earn their praise. I’m thrilled that this team has all the pieces to be lauded by everyone and their mothers, but I’m simply not interested in preseason prognostications because ultimately, I don’t want to see this team sleepwalk their way to a title. For one, frankly, that’s just unreasonable. The current sport of college baseball is too good and deep for that to happen.
No, I want to see this team’s journey. I won’t pre-write an excuse for X number of midweek losses, but this team should be allowed to stumble, they should be allowed to fail. I’m as guilty as the rest of us about this, but I think LSU baseball fans have had a touch of that Bama poisoning I talked about earlier where we lose the forest for the trees. We’re keen to zero in on “bad losses” on a Saturday in April rather than accept it at face value and keep the scope of the season in sight. And the amount of expectations we heap on the players in February only makes this phenomenon worse.
Maybe Dylan Crews will go 1.1. Maybe we won’t lose a series all year. Maybe we win the SEC Tournament with a run differential of 10. Maybe we sweep our way through the postseason to a seventh title.
I’d love that, but I’m not beholden to that as an expectation. I’m ready to see them face challenges and rough patches head on, and come out of them a better team. I’m sort of ready to need a walk-off against Southeastern on Tuesday night and then sweep Auburn over the weekend.
If this team is really as good as we’re led to believe, I’d rather not hold them up to unobtainable standards and be pissed when a pretty damn good team isn’t revolutionary. I want to get to know this team and celebrate its strengths and root for the weaknesses to be ironed out. Because it’s more fun that way.
I hope you join me.