It doesn't seem like all that long ago we were watching the Fresno State Bulldogs shock their way to the College World Series Championship. There was an abundance of excitement every time the Bulldogs pulled off another improbable victory. We just kept waiting for them to lose knowing that this sort of thing, the ultimate Cinderella story simply doesn't happen—especially not to Fresno State.
This year has been a different story. Once again the Bulldogs started off slow. Nothing new for the Diamond Dogs, after all they started off terribly in '08, so there seemed to be no sense of worry. It wasn't until WAC play started and they were swept by LaTech in Ruston. This seemed to be the rude wake up call that frankly nobody was expecting.
Most fans around Fresno seemed to be a little stunned, and there was definitely some denial. Understandably people didn't want to panic after only four games, but many were shrugging this start off as no big deal. It seemed like some strange opposite episode of last year. Last year we were waiting for them to lose, waiting for them to blow it, but they never did.
This year we just waited for them to start winning. We just knew that this team would start to win, it happened last year so it would happen again this year. As if we had forgotten just how miraculous the 2008 season was. Yet it never materialized this year. With two more losses to Hawaii this weekend, Fresno State has moved back into last place in the WAC.
There is slight hope they will still make the conference tournament. If they take three of four from Sacramento State they are assured one of the six spots. And who knows? Maybe they can run the table and start another crazy run. But they probably won't. And that might not be such a bad thing.
Not that I would be sad if Fresno State won another National Title (Two in the history of the school isn't exactly a huge recruiting pitch), but this year just puts into perspective how special '08 was for the "WunderDogs" They really were one the best Cinderella stories in College sports history, and that the next year they could miss the entire postseason just cements the fact.
Fresno fans truly appreciated last years team, and were caught up whirlwind of a great College World Series. I'll always remember that O.A.R song playing throughout ESPN's coverage and thinking that it was just right for the Bulldogs. It was this team of '08 that were the WunderDogs. Not this team of '09 or any team from Fresno State's history. And now we can look back and give that team it's due as the most special team of any Fresno State sport, thanks in part to this year's team taking us back to reality.
Wunderdog Players Departing
Three Bulldogs from that championship team are graduating. Seniors Gavin Hedstrom, Danny Grubb, and Holden Sprague are all moving on. Last years CWS MVP junior Tommy Mendonca will undoubtedly receive plenty of attention when the MLB draft comes around as will others, so it's hard to say what next year's team will look like.
Pitching was the downfall this year, as Sprague was the only major contributor who returned so next should be better. However, if Mendonca's 22 and counting home runs leave that will be a lot of production to make up. Still, the Bulldogs had the 10th best recruiting class last year, so we will just have to wait and see.