Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Letter To the Bandwagon

Dear Richard,

First off, welcome to the bandwagon. You’re not REALLY a bandwagon fan since you are, first and foremost, an LSU fan. It’s not like you’ve spent the last few years rooting for Rice’s baseball team and are suddenly switching loyalties. You’re not switching teams, you’re just reacquainting yourself with a team you are already inclined to root for.

That said, I’m here to help you get up to speed with the team. I’m always willing to help. Who’s the star? A good question, actually. According to the SEC, no one. Not a single LSU player was named either first or second team All-SEC. Not one. And only Micah Gibbs was named to the All-Freshman team. I’m not asking for the world here. But you would think at least one player from the West Division champions, owners of the 2nd best record, and possible national seed would at least made 2nd team. And you’d think a successful, freshman dominated team like LSU would have someone other than Gibbs make the All-Freshman team.

OK, we’ll get into that. Let’s start with the basics: why is LSU winning? Well, a cynic would point out the winning streak has not exactly come against the powers of the SEC. South Carolina and Kentucky were both ranked when they played LSU, but they finished the season a combined two games above .500 in conference play. USC will be the seventh seed in the SEC tournament. Auburn and Mississippi State battled for the cellar, a combined 20 games below .500 in conference play. But 16 wins in a row is 16 wins in a row (and Tulane and UNO are both hovering around the rankings, so its not all chumps). Winning 12 straight games in a conference schedule that is only 30 games goes beyond a mere streak. That’s almost half a season without a loss.

LSU has the best offense in the SEC. Remember last year when I called the offense historically pitiful? Well, things have turned around. LSU has scored 220 runs, tops in the SEC. And scoring runs is what offenses should be judged on. LSU gets a lot of hits (tied for 1st with Alabama) and hits for a lot of power (tied for 1st in total bases, 2nd in slugging). Bama’s component stats are a little better, but LSU wins the bottom line: they score runs.

LSU’s got good pitching, too. They rank third overall in conference ERA. So they prevent runs. Pittman, you were right. Like any good team, they score runs and don’t let up very many. It’s more the offense than the defense, but the defense is pretty darn good. Relief pitching? How did you know? Bradford’s become sort of a swingman uber-reliever, pitching in relief so he can get in more games. Mainieri’s been comfortable getting saves from Coleman, Bertuccini, Ross, or the nominal closer Bradshaw. Why not? All of them have ERA’s 3.50 or lower.

This is running a bit long, so I’ll try to help you identify the best player tomorrow, which is a tougher task than you might think. Besides, it’ll give you a chance to meet most of the team. Right now, just enjoy the bandwagon.



Richard Pittman said...

Thanks. Yeah, it's not like I'm suddenly pretending to be an LSU fan, but would you lose respect for me if I tell you that I'm thinking of becoming a Tampa Bay Devil Rays fan? Up until now, I've felt forced to root for the Red Sox because they were the best challengers to the hated Yankees. But now, with the Rays coming on strong, I have a non-Red Sox alternative to the Yankees.

You see, I can't stand frontrunner fans, which I think are the subset of bandwagoneers we can all agree to find distasteful. I think when we criticize bandwagoneers, we're really criticizing frontrunners.

I see what you're saying about the winning streak not coming against the best, but in baseball these sorts of things just don't happen to bad teams. It may take a little luck to win 16 in a row, but it also takes a lot of skill. I am glad to see this team finally having success.

Anonymous said...

I think the term you're looking for is "fair-weather fan" rather than "bandwagon". I would consider myself to be an LSU baseball fair-weather fan. I went to my first game this year on Friday of the last home series. And I started to watch them on TV during the winning streak.

LSU baseball "fan" is the worst. Have you ever heard "Donnie" on local call-in radio shows? Sometimes he alone has kept me away from Alex Box. Then I sat near him for one game and he was SO annoying. And he left early.

With LSU football and basketball I am a fan for the duration.


uberschuck said...

As Poseur once charicatured me as "baseball hater" on a blog, I wonder if there is a term for the antithesis of bandwagon fan. Considering that baseball is a phony excuse for a sport whose main features are crotch adjustments, spitting, chewing gum or tobacco, standing in place for most of the game, and that the only reason the players work up a sweat is because they wear long pants in summer, I could certainly love a world without baseball. Yet I pay attention to LSU baseball simply because it is LSU. I even went to two games as a student just so no one would ever question my LSU fanhood. I don't watch a game unless a championship in in play, but I check the standings routinely, good year or bad, to monitor the glory of LSU-ness.

I don't think "die hard fan" is accurate, in as much as losing at baseball affects me for all of thirty nanoseconds, and I'd just assume shorten the season to 2 weeks anyway. Can Poseur conjure up some name for fans like me, who want the baseball team to win for the sake of LSU, yet think baseball is something fit for the 4th or 5th circle of Hell?

Poseur said...

Well, uberschuck already has a name to describe him: Asshole.

Actually, you're an LSU partisan. I'd watch tiddlywinks if they wore LSU jerseys while doing it. So I know how you feel. The softball team lost last weekend in the tourney, and I felt bad about it for all of ten seconds.

As for the Rays, go right ahead. Rooting against the Yankees is always permissable in all of its many forms. Hell, i adopted the Diamondbacks last year as my Emergency NL Backup Team given the O's 10th straight losing season. I'm not a diehard, but it gives me a reason to watch the NL.