Celebrating the Good
Publication Date: June 23, 2004
Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!
I started this last year, and I think I'm going to try to make it a
tradition -- this week to close out the season I want to talk about the
best stories of the year, the things that made me happy or interested.
In no particular order:
- East Carolina runs off the nation's second-longest winning streak at
19 games. Georgia Tech had a longer streak against tougher competition,
but the ECU streak pleases me because of their recent hardship with Keith
LeClair's illness; it's good to see Randy Mazey putting his stamp on the
- Cal State Fullerton revives. On April 3, this team was sitting
at 15-16 and facing the possibility of a sweep by Long Beach State. Since
that time, they're 30-6, and tomorrow night they play for the national
title. One of the things I'm working on for the offseason is a measure
called Season Similarity Scores, designed to show how similar two teams have
been over the first fifty games of their season in hopes of predicting how
they'll do the rest of the way out. One early result I can give you is that
no one's had a season at all like this one for Fullerton in the recent past.
- Jered Weaver puts up Prior-like numbers. OK, it's only been
three years since Mark Prior's historic 2001 season, but it seems reasonable
at this point to use it as a measuring stick. Weaver was very close to that
level over most of this season against much of the same competition; only
the one bad outing against Miami tainted an almost perfect year.
- Jacksonville reliever Ashley Roque pulls a woman from a burning
car. The full range of human behavior can be found in our little
community, and this was the best of us.
- Newcomers to Division I continue to enrich the game. UC Irvine,
in their third year back in D1, flirted with the top 10 all year. UC
Riverside had another solid year and should have been in the tournament.
Birmingham-Southern ran away with the Big South. Dallas Baptist, not even
really in D1 yet, managed wins over TCU, Texas-Arlington, Oklahoma State,
Fresno State, and Baylor.
- Arizona State schedules their way to a #3 RPI and a national #1
seed. This will probably end up being the story with the biggest
impact on the game in the long term. The team was slightly better than
recent models but not much; the difference in their RPI compared to past
seasons is almost all due to replacing series against Western powers with
series against Florida State, East Carolina, and Tulane. One would assume
that other Western schools will follow suit.
- Washington joins the ranks of the national elite. They still
have RPI problems, but Washington spent most of the year in the ISR top
10 and finished second in the Pac 10, joining the ranks of top schools
thriving under difficult circumstances.
- Perennial doormat Vanderbilt makes a run at the SEC title and wins a
regional. Powered by top prospect Jeremy Sowers and a stingy defense,
the Commodores may drop a bit next year but appear to be doing things the
right way to build a solid program.
- Texas Southern pulls off what could be the biggest upset in college
baseball history, beating Rice 4-3 in the opening game of their
regional. I always want to see the best teams in Omaha, but there's
something appealing about the thought of a school with the lack of
resources faced by Texas Southern knocking off their big-name crosstown
- The College World Series continues to break attendance records.
Increasingly, attendance at the CWS is independent of the teams playing, as
local support continues to grow. This is good in several ways, one of them
being that it reduces the temptation to try to give teams whose fans travel
well an easier path to Omaha.
For those of you who have joined me for the first time during this season,
first of all, welcome. I hope I've provided something of what you were
looking for or wanted but didn't realize it. Breadcrumbs is a year-round
endeavor, although I do take the occasional week off during the offseason
(usually one a month, generally around holidays), so stick around; the
offseason efforts tend to be a bit more theoretical or analytical than the
stuff I have time to do during the season. This year will be a bit unusual
in that I'll be taking a few weeks of paternity leave some time soon, but
overall I'll be here.
Tidbits from the News
My mother always told my father, "Cecil, I can read as well as you can,"
at times like this, so with that in mind, I'll just point out the following
stories from the news:
Pitch Count Watch
Rather than keep returning to the subject of pitch counts and pitcher
usage in general too often for my main theme, I'm just going to run a
standard feature down here where I point out potential problems; feel
free to stop reading above this if the subject doesn't interest you.
This will just be a quick listing of questionable starts that have
caught my eye -- the general threshold for listing is 120 actual pitches
or 130 estimated, although short rest will also get a pitcher listed if
I catch it. Don't blame me; I'm just the messenger.
||Cal State Fullerton||
||Cal State Fullerton||
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