Today at 10:55 a.m., the last college sports event of the year is played in the great cornfields of Omaha, Nebraska.
It was supposed to be played last night, but Mother Nature got in the way, resulting in a phenomenon that is normally only seen in NASCAR races: the dubious weekday morning sporting event.
The deciding game of the College World Series between the Arizona Wildcats and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will be played this morning at 11:08 a.m. CST after a lightning delay went well into the nighttime.
Just the fact that the Chanticleers of the Big South Conference got to this point was amazing. The Chants, as they are popularly known, had to eliminate #1 Florida just to have a chance to advance. They did. They followed that up by eliminating #5 Texas Tech. Then, they dealt the Lone Star State another L when the Chants took out #4 TCU in order to advance to the final stage of the College World Series.
The cards have been stacked against them from the start, and they just keep winning somehow. Tomorrow, the Chants will officially be part of the Sun Belt Conference, joining in all sports, including football. They will be our Group of Five brethren. A win for them, really, is a win for all of us.
It's the classic David v. Goliath tale; the plucky underdog sizing up the big guy and squaring up in battle. It's yet to be seen if David wins this time, but this opportunity allows us a bit of pause.
Baseball has always been a part of the cultural lexicon. Pick up a stick and a ball, and suddenly you have yourself a batting practice. Get a glove and find a friend, you've got yourself catch. Bat and a ball? Now you're shagging fly balls. Find multiple friends with balls and bats? You've got yourself a ball game.
There's something so magical about baseball as a sport. The conjured images of Willie Mays and The Catch, Babe Ruth calling his home run, Kirk Gibson hobbling along the bases. Even minor league baseball is legendary in its own right. I went out and watched a Frontier League team come back from 10 runs down to win a game by 6 with no runs allowed after the 6th. AMAZING.
Hell, we even played Backyard Baseball as kids. Remember that computer game? Pete Wheeler stealing all the bases, Pablo Sanchez hitting dingers? Oh, and if you managed to unlock kid Pedro Martinez or kid Randy Johnson, forget it; you were winning the trophy.
There is a truly Americana appeal to baseball that we can't really put into words. It's ours, it's weird, and dangit, we love it. Which is why Coastal Carolina as a team appeals to us; they're the old sports movie trope made real and they're playing right in front of us.
Today, win or lose, we are all Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.
The game can be seen on ESPNU at 1:08 p.m., the WatchESPN app, or on ESPN3.com. According to the Tuscon Star, the starting pitchers are expected to be Arizona's Bobby Dalbec (11-5, 2.65 ERA) and Coastal's Alex Cunningham (10-4 3.64 ERA.)
Okay, I simply couldn't resist this opportunity. PUT ME IN COACH, I'M READY TO PLAAAAAAAAY TODAAAAAY.