The Role of the Underdog
Every sport aside FBS college football has a true champion crowned at the end of the season. Sometimes the champion crowned is exactly who everyone figures it will be. During the 1990’s the Chicago Bulls were as sure a bet as anyone could make during their six championship runs. On the other hand sometimes the favorite is upset in monumental fashion. During the 2007-2008 Super Bowl we as a nation were able to watch one of the bigger upsets in history as the New York Giants knocked off the undefeated New England Patriots. Sure there are fans out there that picked the Giants to win the Super Bowl, but the Patriots were overwhelming favorites prior to the start
of the game. I realize none of this directly has to do with the college world series unless you take a look deeper into what I am trying to say. This weekend Fresno State will compete in their first college world series in seventeen years as heavy underdogs. As an underdog Fresno State has done the job over the past two weekends with huge upsets in Long Beach and Tempe. Is it possible that they just may pull the biggest upset of them all?
In order to understand the role of an underdog in the college world series let’s take a look back at the past five years to see how the favorites have faired:
Winner – Oregon State (unranked)
Highest Ranked Participant – Rice (2 seed)
Winner – Oregon State (unranked)
Highest Ranked Participant – Clemson (1 seed)
Winner – Florida (7 seed)
Highest Ranked Participant – Tulane (1 seed)
Winner – Cal State Fullerton (7 seed)
Highest Ranked Participant – Texas (1 seed)
Winner – Rice (5 seed)
Highest Ranked Participant – LSU (2 seed)
If you look at the past five seasons you will notice that not one time has the favorite won the college world series. In fact since rankings have been given only Miami has won the College World Series as the one seed. In other words being unranked heading into the College World Series is not necessarily a terrible spot to be in. What most people do not realize about the World Series is that it rewards those teams who have caught the hot hand at the right time in the season. While it is true that teams such as Miami and North Carolina are ranked as the top two teams in the nation, it also remains true that they quite possibly could be knocked out of the tournament by a lower ranked team who has caught fire at the right time.
Many of you may be asking what exactly does this mean for Fresno State. It means that the Bulldogs will be decided underdogs in this tournament. But remember the Bulldogs were underdogs in their previous two regionals and found a way to come out on top in both of those. I am not saying the Bulldogs are going to win the college world series. I realize to come out on top in a tournament such as this you have to be clicking on all cylinders and the ball must bounce your way from time to time. The difference for Fresno State now is they have reached their ultimate goal and know they have the talent to win it all. The Dogs just upset the #3 team in the nation on a field where the Sun Devils had lost a total of three games the entire season. At the same time Fresno State is a team that is most comfortable playing the role of the underdog. They realize they are not supposed to win the college world series. But here they are as one of the remaining eight teams in the nation playing for the biggest prize that college baseball has to offer them. Their determination, effort, fight, and desire has put them into an eight team tournament to become the best team in all of college baseball. Sports are cyclical as some teams remain on top for long periods of time until another rises up to knock them off of the perch they sit upon. In the end I am left with one phrase that is exactly how I feel about the Bulldogs chances in the college world series:
“Why Not Us?”
It’s simple, to the point, and exactly how I feel about the Bulldogs chances in 2008. Why not us? Go Dogs and thank you for this amazing season you have given us as fans.