Monday, May 29, 2006

Tigers Live Another Day

By Tiger Fan

Well, there's never a dull moment with Mizzou baseball. After beating up on Oklahoma State and Oklahoma (both of whom have earned No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament), Tiger fans were thinking a Big XII title might make up for a mediocre season and the Tigers would sneak into the tournament. Afterall, Mizzou just had to beat kansas, right? But then Brock Bond got ejected, Zane Taylor couldn't fill his shoes at third and Gary Arndt tripped, leading to a 4-3 win for the beakers (who then went on to win the title... ouch). It looked like a terrible end to the season: the winning run was given up in the eighth without the ball ever leaving the infield. A tough ending for a tough season... or so we thought.

I tuned in to Monday's selection show, just to make sure nothing crazy happened. But low and behold, something crazy did happen. I was eating lunch with my family in Cincinnati (not exactly a college baseball hotbead) and I had convinced the rather confused manager of the restaurant to change one of the TVs to ESPN so I could watch. Then, when Mizzou was revealed as a No. 4 seed in the Pepperdine regional, I jumped up and cheered right there in the restaurant. Needless to say, no one knew what was going on and kind of looked at me strangely... and Fannette and the 'rents pretended not to know me... but who cares? We're in!

The crazy thing is, now that they're in, the Tigers have a shot to make a run. Pepperdine was not one of the teams seeded in the committee's top eight and now that Scherzer is healthy, a 1-2 punch of Scherzer and Culp with a little Zagone mixed in has to be one of the best rotations in the tournament. If the Tigers can keep hitting like they did in the tournament (okay, okay, I know we can't really count on five RBI from J.C. Field every night, but you get my point...), they've got a chance to be something special. After all, isn't that what we thought when the season started?

Everybody is 0-0 now, so the records don't matter. Throw all the bad losses out the window. I'm not sure how the Tigers got in (I can only assume that the committee focuses more on the last seven games of the season than all the games before that), but it doesn't matter now. Mizzou's perseverance shall be rewarded with a early June trip to Malibu. Tough gig fellas. But there are no gimmes from here. They want to be back in the Midwest in a couple weeks, playing Omaha. It's a longshot, yes. But with the way this season has gone, you can't rule anything out. We'll see which team shows up for the postseason starting Friday at 5:00 p.m. CDT. It's not over yet folks... it's not over yet.

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