Notice I how didn't use the word "expert" in the headline. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a college baseball expert, not until the players and coaches start writing articles in-season.
The truth is, nobody can predict how the College World Series will pan out. Nobody. You'll see writers at all the other major outlets offer up their take on who'll be the first to go home, who'll run the table to the final and who'll dog-pile at the end.
They don't know. You don't know. I don't know.
Despite this, nobody who writes about college baseball outside of Westwood, Cal. and Starkville, Miss. gave much thought to UCLA and Mississippi State being the last two teams in Omaha to lose games.
The most knowledgeable writers I've seen while covering college baseball are the guys who actually follow college baseball throughout the whole year. They are the beat writers in the hometowns of the teams.
Unfortunately, most people who pay attention to the College World Series every year get their information from the major outlets, not the small-town papers who have the real "skinny." The end result is a crowd of 25,000 who live and die off the information provided to them by "the mother ship" rather than digging to actually learn a thing or two about the dozens of teens and early-20-somethings on the field in front of them.
I'm no expert and never claimed to be, but I've learned more about college baseball by covering the College World Series over the past few days than I have from the 20 or so CWS games I've attended over the past few years.
Among the most notable things I've learned are that to win at TD Ameritrade, you have to be able to pitch and play defense at a high level. UCLA does that better than any of the eight teams who made the trip to Omaha. I've also learned that to win at the College World Series in general, you have to have character. Nobody has more character than the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
I know what you're thinking. It's easy to sit here and make these claims after the games have already been played. That's the whole point. In college baseball, that's all anyone can do with any sort of accuracy. We can make predictions until we are blue in the face, but all any of us really knows is the result of the games that are played. At that point, it's the job of every media member and fan with a vested interest to sit back and figure out how we got here.
I've done that. UCLA is here because their game is perfect for the venue. Mississippi State is here because they've flat-out wanted it more than everyone else.
Both teams are now one win from playing for a national title and nobody saw it coming. Would we really want it any other way?
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