Arizona Wildcat fans, the 2013 NCAA baseball tournament starts today.
Why should you care? Because they’re awarding a trophy. And if you think just because the Cats aren’t in it you don’t have a rooting interest in June Looniness, you are mistaken.
This is the beauty of cheering for one of the top programs in the history of college baseball. Your school has been a big part of the sport’s past and you can be confident it will play a significant role in the game’s future, maybe as soon as a couple years from now.
One of the many benefits of last year’s title was it moved the UA up on this list:
Most NCAA Baseball National Championships
|Cal St. Fullerton||4|
Only four schools on the list are in the tournament this year. Root against Fullerton and Miami so Arizona stays in fifth place all time, and root against ASU and LSU so they don’t get further ahead of the Wildcats. The good news is Fullerton and ASU are in the same regional so one of them will be wiped out by the end of the weekend.
National championships are like airline miles. If you earn a new one the old ones don’t expire. Arizona wasn’t just the 2012 champs; they were the Four Time Champions.
You saw it physically at Hi Corbett Field. At the start of last season the championship logos were small and hardly noticeable on the lower outfield wall. This year they didn’t just add a new one they replaced the previous three and made them all more prominent. The program’s entire history was renewed because it matched the present again.
(If you take the airline miles analogy to 32,000 feet, ASU couldn’t get a flight to Flagstaff with its decades-old titles.)
Most College World Series Appearances
|Cal St. Fullerton||16|
Sun Devils aside, it’s important for the other three Pac-12 teams in the tournament to do well. The conference is certainly suffering from a respect deficit, and the best way to rectify it is to repeat what Arizona did last year and send a lot of those SEC and ACC teams home.
Another storyline that affects Arizona is the significance of both Oregon State and Oregon securing national seeds. Not only is it two Pac-12 teams slotted in the top eight but it’s two schools in an out-of-the-way area just 40 miles apart. It means the baseball tournament is starting to be seeded based more on merit as opposed to geographical convenience and that’s big for the UA.
Arizona State was long considered a roadblock to the Wildcats’ hosting chances because the NCAA couldn’t justify the travel costs associated with two regionals that close together (outside the southeast, of course). The Beavers and Ducks have shown there is no longer any excuse for not placing a regional in both Tucson and Tempe in a given year if both schools deserve it. Root for both OSU and Oregon to do well over the next month and hammer that point home.
No, it’s not as much fun to watch if your team isn’t playing but there are still plenty of good reasons to follow the baseball tournament. Root against the giants of the sport so they don’t gain on your giant of the sport. Root for your conference to beat up on those other conferences. And remember, as always, root against your rival.
Then start dreaming of trophy number five.
– – – – –