If you look up the word "resiliency" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture...what's that? it's been used before? All right, try this one on for size. The slipper still fits as Cindere...you're shitting me...screw it then.
The Louisville Cardinals won a game in the College World Series. A sentence so unfathomable 20 years, 10 years, one month ago that it could justifiably stand alone as a lede.
After seeing how the Cards responded to adversity exactly one week ago, I'm not sure why I was surprised by what I saw on Father's Day. Still, this wasn't a home game, and it wasn't being played two days after a loss to a fellow Regional #3 seed. This was a College World Series elimination game being played in Omaha just two days after a meltdown against the number one team in the country.
Apparently it just doesn't matter.
This truly is the loosest team I've ever followed in any sport. The lasting image I'm taking from Sunday's game is Dan McDonnell going out to the mound to visit a struggling freshman pitcher and his infield, and saying something so hilarious that he instantly had everyone in the huddle cracking up. Of course after Pitts responded with three consecutive strikes, the announcing duo of Gary Thorne and Robin Ventura (whose ass I'm about to go Nolan Ryan on) noted how often a pitcher will produce after his coach "gets on him" a little bit.
Anyone who was paying the least bit of attention could tell you that's not McDonnell's style.
This isn't baseball the profession, this is baseball the game. This is fun. This is the same no pressure, free-swinging game we played in our friend's front yard summer after summer.
Three innings after belting his third homer in two games, Louisville's best all-around hitter Logan Johnson laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to advance a pair of runners to second and third. The product of an old-school coach who knows precisely when to take the bat out of the hands of a great hitter?
"I didn't give him the bunt sign," said McDonnell. "I don't think I've given him the bunt sign all year."
If you are a non-partial college baseball fan watching these games, I'm not sure how you couldn't be on the Cardinal bandwagon. If it's a strike, these guys are swinging. If it's a ball they think they can hit, these guys are swinging. If you throw a hot dog wrapper on the field near a Card with a bat, these guys are swinging.
Mississippi State starter Chad Crosswhite was chased in the third inning after facing four Louisville batters. He had thrown four pitches.
Maybe it's the mindset, maybe it's luck, maybe it's that the players in Florida are finally playing in the weather they're used to. Whatever it is, it's been a blast to watch for the last month.
Now that the Cards have won a College World Series game (and eliminated the last SEC team standing), the question becomes do they have anything else left. My answer - and I'm sure many of you feel the same way - is that it doesn't matter, but still I can't keep myself from thinking that these guys have a real shot to play for a little while longer.
The next obstacle is a Carolina team that was blasted by the Rice squad U of L had dead to rights on Friday. In two games, neither one of the Heels' pitchers have made it out of the second inning, and with Luke Putkonen (7-1, 4.74 ERA) on the hill Tuesday, I wouldn't be surprised if the trend continued.
The odds are still stacked considerably high against the Cards, but Sunday's performance showed that the jitters are gone. Whenever (or if) U of L loses, it won't be because they weren't relaxed and playing baseball the way we all played it when we were nine.