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May 19, 2009

(UW 7, at UA 4)
(at UA 10, UW 7)
(at UA 9, UW 5)


Sometimes a triple just isn’t good enough.

The UA baseball team took two of three from Washington to win its third straight Pac-10 series. The Cats haven’t lost a weekend series in a month and we’re on a good 11-5 run. The problem is, when you start the year really bad, good isn’t good enough when it comes to getting an invitation to play with the great.

You won’t find them on SportsCenter but there are college baseball bracketologists out there. Unfortunately none of them are talking about Arizona.

Would sweeping Oregon be enough? In a word: No. The Cats would have to win their four remaining games to have a chance at having a chance, and it starts with one last home game against ASU on Wednesday. Because we lost both games to Fullerton last week and we didn’t sweep Washington we have to treat the non-conference ASU contest like a playoff game. Every pitcher is available for as long as needed. Do-or-die time.

You have to think beating a top-5 team would help, especially one that has decimated you by the combined score of 43-10 the last two times you played. If the UA can win out we can point to 15 wins in our final 20 games and say, “See? We finally figured it out. What have we done for you lately, right?”

Our RPI going into the week was 64 which – just like basketball – isn’t good when you consider all the teams from small leagues that get automatic bids. Our current residence in 8th place in the Pac-10 standings isn’t helping either. But if we can get our Oregon sweep and Cal beats USC while OSU knocks off Stanford we can move from 8th to 6th and it becomes less impossible.

There is a precedent for ignoring the Pac-10 standings. Two years ago Oregon State finished with a 10-14 league mark, yet the 6th place Beavers were invited to the Diamond Dance ahead of the two teams above them in the standings. (We’ll ignore the part about OSU being the defending national champs.)

In 2006 Stanford’s 11-13 Pac-10 record was good enough to get them into the tournament, and the Cardinal did it again in 2005 when they got a bid as the 6th best team in the Pac-10 even though the 5th place teams got left out.

Confused yet? Let’s try something a little more straight-forward like batting averages. Since we last checked on Dillon Baird’s quest for the Pac-10 batting crown his .420 average has actually gone up to a dizzying .432. After Debo went 3-for-4 on Saturday I started to think, wait a second, forget the Pac-10, what are the top averages in the nation? Well, going into this week the top two guys were hitting .467 and .465 so Baird still has quite a bit of work to do. But if we’re going to steal a postseason berth maybe we can snag an extra dozen or so hits and get our guy to the top of the heap.

Doesn’t it always come down to beating Arizona State?

--

Taking a half-step away from UA-sports-related discussion it’s time for an official declaration. Let the record show: I am changing my pro sports loyalty.

My family moved around when I was a kid and my parents weren’t into sports so I wasn’t raised with since-birth ties to a particular city and its sports teams. Over time I’ve gravitated toward the Arizona teams with one exception: the Suns. My fandom belonged to another NBA team due to a long string of circumstantial events, but it’s time to consolidate rooting interests.

I am now a Suns fan.

This is good news for you "Planet Orange" people. My fan resume includes four pro championships and I just took the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl. Cardinals. Super Bowl. Me.

So get ready for a turnaround. When Phoenix wins the second pick in the lottery, bypasses "Little Game" James Harden for Jordan “The Mountain” Hill, shoots back up the standings and saves Steve Kerr's job…you can thank me.

Go Suns. Go The Mountain.



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