Last week this time, Florida and Florida State were flying high; both hosting a Super Regional, facing supposedly ‘lesser’ competition and two wins from Omaha – while the Canes were sent packing in the opening round of post-season play.
Funny how much can change seven days later.
Miami’s bid for a fifth national championship ended prematurely, causing a ruckus amongst the message board know-it-alls. Head coach Jim Morris has been shredded and some are calling for change, discarding the overall body of work and recent success, basing their frustration on one down year. Obviously, I disagree.
Morris has earned himself time to right the ship after an expected rebuilding year and while he might want to think about mixing things up regarding his staff, there is no one more cut out to run Miami Baseball than #3. The Canes have arguably one of the better coaches in the history of the game.
Those quick to cast stones, get your facts in order and attempt to employ some logic. Miami rolled into Omaha 52-9 last June, behind the bats and leadership of Yonder Alonso, Jemile Weeks, Blake Tekotte, Adan Severino, Mark Sobolewski and Dennis Raben – none of which returned in 2009. On the mound, the Canes also lost Carlos Gutierrez and Enrique Garcia. The result? Eleven more losses this season and the inability to reach the Super Regionals for the first time since 2007.
Welcome to college baseball, critics. 37-24 in 2007 and a year later, the No. 1 seed at the College World Series. A year after that, gone after four games in the Gainesville regional. It happens.
Florida earns the No. 8 seed, brings a 42-20 record into the Super Regional and gets punked by No. 17 Southern Miss – at home as a favorite. The Golden Eagles are headed to their first College World Series and overcame a 6-1 deficit in the fourth inning, eventually taking the lead in the bottom of the eighth – down 6-4 to up 7-6 in the blink of an eye. The shell-shocked Gators went four up, three down and pissed away another shot at their first ring.
The day before, Florida State suffered a similar fate. No. 23 Arkansas had some come-from-behind magic of their own. Down 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth, a walk, single and double gave the Razorbacks a 9-8 win. A 45-16 pre-Super Regional record wasted and another 0-and-2 BBQ for Mike Martin, still title-less after all these years. The Gators and Noles didn’t just lose both were swept at home with a CWS berth on the line. Nice work, guys.
I won’t deny that Miami’s 2009 campaign was disappointing, but anyone who didn’t acknowledge this was a rebuilding year was lying to themselves. The Canes overachieved early in the season, against lesser competition. When the meat of the ACC schedule was upon them, a 12-12 record from mid-April through the conference tourney. Last year over the same span, a 20-5 run and a 4-0 record in the conference tourney, en route to ACC Champs and a ticket to Omaha.
Florida and Florida State were both primed to make a run this year. Neither was in rebuild mode, both hosted two rounds of regional action and faceplanted. Some Cane fans might not take solace in that, but I do. The second best thing to winning is seeing your rivals not only lose, but squander important moments on the big stage. Miami also went 3-2 against Florida this year and 2-2 against Florida State, earning a right to have an opinion over this weekend’s action.
Thanks Gators and Noles for failing just when Canes fans needed it… and for those keeping score, it’s stlll four titles to zero for our Gainesville and Tallahassee brethren.