The College World Series has become one of the most fun events in NCAA sports, because of who has been winning it. The last six years, the champions have been Cal State-Fullerton, Rice, Texas, Oregon State twice in a row and Fresno State.
That’s three mid-major champs out of six years, plus a two-time winner from out of the Sun Belt.
Six years, only one upper-crust champion, the Longhorns.
You don’t get that kind of parity in football or basketball. In football, it’s a breakthrough if a mid-major wins a BCS bowl (like Boise State over Oklahoma or Utah over Alabama) or even gets an invitation. In basketball, it’s a huge accomplishment if a mid-major reaches the Final Four (George Mason).
But baseball habitually not only provides us a Cinderella story, but a couple. And they often come through.
This year, two mid-majors reached Omaha. Alas, their stays were short. Southern Mississippi and Cal State-Fullerton both were eliminated in two games, Fullerton on Monday and Southern on Tuesday.
But this Omaha era was a terrific ride by mid-majors. College baseball has periodically provided America with a little-guy champion. Fullerton in 1979, 1984 and 1995. Wichita State in 1989. Pepperdine in 1992. Then this run, punctuated by Fresno State, which last season was a No. 4 seed in its regional, which means the baseball committee did not consider the Bulldogs among the top 48 teams in America. That’s the equivalent of a 13 or 14 seed winning the NCAA basketball tournament.
Even in this disappointing season, mid-majors, we salute you.