Back in June, I watched the ASU baseball team play Fresno St. in the Super Regionals. The winner earned the honor to play in the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, and I was glued to my television set. After the game was over, I was dejected at the loss, but I was upbeat about the baseball team. Here is what happened at the end of the game, and what I thought about it.
The ASU baseball team has soul. Down 7 in the bottom of the 9th against Fresno State, the Sun Devils mounted an impressive rally, bringing the score to 12-8 and rousing the passions of the home crowd. Up came Brett Wallace with two on and one out, and Wallace popped out. Lastly was Ike Davis. Up to this point, the biggest hit Davis had was in his much-publicized fight with Wallace earlier in the evening. Davis drove in a run with a sharp drive to center, and Petey Paramore came up with the score 12-9 and runners on first and third, a huge moment for Sun Devil and Bulldog fans alike.
This game was supposed to be in the bag! Brandon Burke is supposedly the stud closer, according to the ESPN announcers; but he can’t even find the strike zone, and Paramore worked the count to 3-1, a great hitter’s count. Paramore took a borderline pitch for a walk, and the bases were loaded for Matt Newman, who had two home runs on the night. What a way to end the season for one of these teams, with both so deserving the opportunity to head to Omaha. Newman’s line drive to left was a valiant attempt, but the left fielder was able to make the catch and end the Sun Devil’s season.
But let us not focus on the loss. The Sun Devils have a lot of heart and truly were one of the best teams in the country this year. If it weren’t for some boneheaded decisions by Pat Murphy, this team would have been packing their bags for the cornfields of Nebraska.
Sure, we lost, but all I could see was the team playing as hard as they could, and never giving up. This attitude got them so far, and is why ASU baseball is respected across the country as one of the few elite programs.
Unfortunately, I did not see any heart from the ASU offense yesterday. Our wide receivers dropped passes, our play calling was vanilla and predictable, and our running game was passable at best.
I just didn't see any emotion out there! This in great contrast to the defense, who as a unit played USC tough and caused Mark Sanchez to try to make plays that he couldn't make. 4 consecutive drives with a turnover, and we still score ZERO points. Props to the defense, they look like they care.
As for Nate Kimbrough's explosion on the sidelines, I can relate to his frustrations. Here is a wideout who is lost on the depth chart, unlikely to ever get any kind of consistent footing in the rotation. From the sidelines, he sees poor play and general apathy from his teammates. How many dropped passes can the ASU coaching staff allow before they rotate in new blood?
Thus, Kimbrough felt helpless on the bench, watching his team disintegrate. The offense is stale and flaccid as a unit; our kicking game has disappeared, and Thomas Weber has lost his mojo; Rudy Carpenter is not truly the problem, but Danny Sullivan is not the answer.
I wish I could look into a crystal ball and tell you how this season is going to pan out, but by seeing the offense roll over by halftime, it is easy to imagine that tensions are running a little high, as the effort on the defensive side of the ball is far greater than that on the offensive end. As one poster said on Sparky's Pigskin forum, "the offense is offensive." Get someone out there that actually wants to win, Dennis.