Prior to this Cougar baseball season, I must admit my fan status would have been the most literal definition of "fairweather." This meaning when I was in school I would go to the Cougar baseball games when the sun was out and the temperature was warm. As far as following the team on a regular basis, that wasn't something I devoted much time and effort to. Thanks in large part to my writing duties on this blog, and in small part to the success of the 2009 Coug team, I am officially drawn in.
So what prize do I receive from reaching this new level of Wazzu fanaticism? More of that great nervous feeling that Coug fans live with during football and basketball seasons. This Cougar baseball team is on the cusp of achieving something that has not happened in 19 years. They have already done more than any of the teams before them since the Pac 10 became one league again in 1999. Even with all this, a trip to regionals does not appear to be "in the bag." The last leg of the regular season includes the University of Washington and a postseason-bound Gonzaga team, which doesn't exactly do much in the way of calming nerves.
What else must the Cougs do to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990? If you ask Howie Stalwick, who wrote this for Cougfan, WSU has already clinched a berth. That seems a bit optimistic. If the Cougs were to completely lay an egg this week, losing to Gonzaga and getting swept by Washington, it seems hard to believe they would make the field of 64 with an overall record of 28-26. If the Cougs were to win just one game, the best bet would be defeating Washington. That would secure a second place finish in the Pac 10 and would avoid that nasty label "sweep." Also, one would hope that the selection committee realizes the ridiculousness of these mid-week games for major conference teams against mid-major teams and would pardon the Cougs if they drop one in Spokane this evening. Winning two out of the last four would seem to be the clincher. In that scenario, taking two out of three from UW would be fantastic. Of course, sweeping the entire week so that the Cougs can declare themselves "Kings of Washington" would be the most ideal situation.
Jeremy Mills of ESPN has WSU as a three seed playing in Norman in his latest projection, which is the equivalent of about an 8-11 seed in the basketball tournament. So it is not time for the Cougars to rest on their laurels (I seriously doubt they will!), slipping up this week could throw away everything they have worked so hard for up to this point. Nervousness and pessimism aside, this is a very exciting time to be paying attention to Cougar baseball. If you are in Pullman this weekend, I would highly recommend getting out and enjoying the sun while cheering on the Cougs against our hated rivals. I promise I won't call you a "fairweather fan"
In the news filed under that category of "pretty cool," the Coug baseball team is now ranked #27 in the College Baseball Newspaper poll.