Thursday, June 26, 2008

Greatest Underdog Performance In North American History?

With the popularity of the college world series being far less than other sports, it’s hard for some to grasp the recent accomplishment of the Fresno State Bulldogs. The Dogs achieved the impossible, the unthinkable, and the improbable. They represent the lowest seeded team, defying the greatest odds, to win a championship.

To clarify their run, and enlighten those not understanding, Fresno State, now reigning as the 2008 baseball champion, is by far more shocking than the 42 ½ point underdog Stanford Cardinal and division I-AA Appalachian State upsetting perennial college football powers USC and Michigan in 2007. To even relate to this achievement, you would have to take those Stanford Cardinal and have them fight their way through USC, LSU, West Virginia, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma, eliminating each one. If you say to yourself that they survived mighty USC last year, and you actually like their chances, then consider how the Cardinal would fair in a double elimination tournament against those teams, that would eventually wind down to a 3 game series against one of the best in the land. Everyone can have a bad day, but what are the odds of any of the aforementioned losing to Stanford in a 3 game series? Would you put your money on it?

Fresno State entered the tournament with a season record of 33-27, barely making the field. They finish 47-31, and represent the worst record ever to win the world series, and the lowest seed in any sport to be crowned champion. With 18 games over 35 days, and surviving elimination 6 times, the Bulldogs stand atop the mountain. Is it the greatest underdog performance in North American history? Damn right it is. Will it be celebrated as such and remembered? No, not at all. It's mostly because many still don’t (and never will) understand what it means to make that kind of run in college baseball. The Giants victory over the New England Patriots pales in comparison to this feat, but will be viewed publicly as the greater accomplishment.

To put it another way, this isn’t the heavily favored Mike Tyson getting knocked out by the underdog Buster Douglas. This was Mike Tyson losing to my mom. They call them "Cinderellas", but even she was forced to leave the ball. The Fresno State Bulldogs stayed until the party was over, and were the last guests on the dance floor.

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