College World Series: Wonderdogs Creeping Unnoticed to Title Series
I'm tired of hearing about how everyone loves an underdog. In the past week, we've seen the nation go absolutely bonkers over Rocco Mediate, a 45-year-old golfer with a bad back, who was ranked "three millionth" in the world by his own estimate.
Mediate went toe-to-toe with Tiger Woods, the best golfer to ever see this earth, for 91 holes, only to fall one putt short of winning the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Well, while the media went crazy over the Rocc Star, they seemingly ignored another underdog—the 2008 WAC champion Fresno State Bulldog baseball team.
Now, I know that college baseball is not exactly the most watched sport in America, but come on. There's plenty of coverage of the major national programs in the tournament—Rice, LSU, North Carolina, Georgia, Miami, Stanford, and Florida State—but almost none of the ultimate underdogs, nay, the Wonderdogs, known as Fresno State.
The beginning of the season for the Bulldogs was abysmal. They lost 12 of their first 20 games, and finished fourth out of five teams in their home tournament—the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic.
After being shut out on consecutive days in Honolulu by the Rainbow Warriors back in March, Fresno State kicked it up a notch, managing to salvage their season by winning 25 of their last 40. They finished a respectable 33-27 and won the WAC title.
But something happened along the way...somewhere between being 8-12 and being 33-27, the Bulldogs became the underdogs. They slid into the Long Beach Regional as a four-seed. Someone forgot to tell the 'Dogs that they weren't supposed to go anywhere, and the first game out, they hit regional host Long Beach State right in the mouth.
They then beat San Diego two-out-of-three, sending the Torreros packing and earning these underdogs a spot in the Tempe Super Regional. After beating the Sun Devils twice on their home field, the underdog Bulldogs had punched their ticket to Omaha. Cinderella lived to dance another day.
Now, after beating Rice, ranked sixth in the nation, and North Carolina, ranked second in the nation, the underdogs have become the Wonderdogs. They've scored more runs in the first two games of the College World Series than any other team, all of whom were ranked nationally in the top-10, save Stanford (can you say East Coast Bias? Geez...).
They've lost two games the entire postseason, and skipper Mike Batesole was named National Coach of the Year. Still, one win away from the championship series, the Wonderdogs get no love from the media.
All of the coverage on Sportscenter Tuesday was on how LSU eliminated Rice again, and on how far the 2-0 Bulldogs have come over the course of the year—the 2-0 Georgia Bulldogs. No mention of the team that handed Rice its first loss, sending them to an elimination game. No mention of the 2-0 Bulldogs from Podunk, California.
I can't tell you why the nation hasn't gravitated to Fresno State. Perhaps it's because the Bulldogs don't come from a power conference, although I doubt this is the case, because plenty has been made of the Rice Owls out of C-USA.
Perhaps it's because Fresno is not a glamorous city, though the same could easily be said of Athens or Chapel Hill. I can't tell you why the Bulldogs get no props, but I can tell you that I'm pretty sick of it.
I'll say this here and now for my father, Fresno State track and field athlete, class of 1984—
HOW 'BOUT THEM 'DOGS!
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