Thursday, May 8, 2008

Poseur: End of the Omaha Era

Alex Box Stadium will host its last weekend series this weekend. LSU’s doing everything right, throwing a big party, naming the All-Alex Box team (broken up into eras like the Omaha Era… nice touch). The baseball team has even gotten into the act by winning some games and making this final series somewhat meaningful.

There’s been some idle speculation that LSU could host a regional. I like that such talk even exists, and that its not wholly delusional, but it’s still not likely. Sure, LSU has won 9 games in a row and now sits #29 in the RPI, but unless the regionals are handed out based on sentiment, it’s at best a longshot. So let’s consider this the last games in the Box.

Alex Box doesn’t pack in the crowds like she used to. Fan support has been good these last three years, but not great. Some blame it on the losing, but except for last year, the team was never that bad. I know it seems like an eternity, but LSU has only been absent from the postseason for two seasons. And we were last in Omaha back in 2004. Not that long ago, really. So it’s not Smoke that drove off the crowds. It’s not the drudgery of losing.

It’s football.

Nothing has hurt LSU baseball more than the rise of LSU football. Let’s step into the Wayback Machine a mere 13 years ago to the springof 1993. LSU football was mired in the depths of the Curly Hallman era. Four losing seasons were behind us, two more lay ahead. The team was coming off of a 2-9 year highlighted by a loss to Colorado St. The basketball team had been to its 15th straight tourney, but little did we know, it was the last one for almost a decade. In 1993, baseball was the only game in town. And they were awesome.

In 1993, the baseball team was in the midst its fifth straight 50 win season. The team would win its second national title, a convincing 8-0 annihilation of Wichita State. Three more were to come. And going to games was a blast. Not just because the team was a true dynasty. Not just because Alex Box was a pretty intimate setting and a fun place to watch a team.

It was because for about five or ten years, baseball was the only winning game in town. While football will always come first in the hearts and minds of the LSU faithful, baseball holds a special place in my heart. During the time I was in school, baseball was about my only taste of winning. And win they did. Now, winning is de rigeur for almost every program. It wasn’t always that way.

The baseball team got us through the darkest days of the LSU athletics program. If nothing else, that’s worth a fireworks show. Thanks, Skip.

No comments: