During the one year we lived in Marble Falls, the Texas Longhorns won the National Championship in football. It was an upset win over favored USC, but that Texas team was immensely talented, led by Vince Young. Though the Horns were universally regarded as the underdog, they still finished 13-0 on the season.
Last night, the Fresno State Bulldogs finished off the most improbable of runs by winning the College Baseball National Championship. What makes the Bulldogs championship immensely more thrilling than the first two championships I referenced was where the Bulldogs came from. They are the lowest seeded team to ever win a National Championship as a #4 regional seed, equivalent to a 13 through 16 seed in the NCAA tournament. Their RPI going into the postseason was 89. They were within one out of not winning the WAC tournament which would have eliminated any hope at the postseason.
And now, from one out away from not qualifying to the National Championship.
I love sports because of the galvanizing effect sports can have on a community, a region, a state. Certainly within the scheme of California, Fresno State doesn't compare to the Pac-10 schools. But the way the Bulldogs amazing run has unfolded has made every Fresnan proud. For a city that gets it fair (or unfair) share of knocks, for one shining moment, the spotlight of the entire college sports world shines brightly on Fresno, California.
As one poster on an Arkansas Razorback sports message board noted late Wednesday night: "That was a great College World Series. I was rooting for Georgia, but kudos to the Fresno State pitcher tonight. 8 innings - 139 pitches - 1 run. On 2 days rest after throwing 90 pitches. It doesn't get any better than that in college baseball."
Given where they came from, I think a strong case can be made that this is the greatest upset in the history of college sports. To play on the road for 42 straight days, to win 6 elimination games and to do it all without the #1 starter, Tanner Scheppers, a 2nd round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is beyond improbable.
It's the stuff of legend.
And now tonight, at Beiden Field, a celebration is planned to welcome home the champs following a parade down Barstow Avenue.
I have a hunch that the celebration is going to have to be moved to Bulldog Stadium to accommodate the crowd.
I know one mom and dad who plan to be there in red with their two girls.