This is one of those times that qualifies as a who-woulda-thunk moments: I am now a big Beaver baseball fan.
Growing up, the Pac 10 was far enough away that it often felt like it was closer to the Australian Collegiate League (if there is such a thing) - except that Pac 10 teams occasionally won national titles here in the U.S.
Now, my rear end is firmly planted on the bandwagon. The reason is an easy one: My wife's cousin, Rob Summers. Rob is a redshirt sophomore for Oregon State's baseball team, and actually leads the team in ERA. (OK, truth be told, he appeared in one game this year, pitching 1/3 of an inning, so that gives him an ERA of 0.00.) I did an interview with ex-OSU standout Jacoby Ellsbury in the spring - a former first-round pick, now a Boston farmhand - who assures me that Rob will get more PT next year.
(It's kind of hard trying to keep track of which schools I'm supposed to like. Depending on which family member I'm with, I must be knowledgeable about OSU, Oregon, Washington State or, primarily, Washington, since that's where the most of the most immediate in-laws went. So, sorry everyone else, but go Huskies. My brother-in-law went to Oregon, but I know he understands the necessity of a happy household. My family doesn't prevent that many problems, as it's Penn State or bust. Random people like Notre Dame or Alabama, but it's a clear-cut majority for the Lions. Anywho...)
At the moment, I'm listening to those Beavers pummel Stanford 12-0 in the Corvallis Super Regional. (Crap, I forgot about my cousin's husband, who went to Stanford. Sorry, Alan. Please see that line about happy households.) And I'm very happy for Rob and his teammates as they seem well on their way to making their second straight trip to the College World Series.
I'm proud of him for even getting as far as he has. To go play for Oregon State is nothing to sneeze at; while it doesn't have the tradition of a Texas or LSU or Miami, it's definitely a program on the rise. My job allows me to see how hard it is to even get to a major school like OSU; there are a lot of good high school baseball players and wrestlers that I come across that wind up at Division II or Division III schools.
(That's not to slam D-II or D-III schools. I played four years of D-III football, so I'd never slam those kids.)
So for him to then latch on to a team just at the beginning of its success is an even cooler deal. In my four years of football, we made the NCAA playoffs once, during my freshman year. We went out to western Pennsylvania and got beat by Washington & Jefferson, which was a superb team. Therefore I can't imagine the pride and joy he must feel at making two trips to Omaha.
There is something to be learned from that trip to W&J, however: Getting back is never a given. Ask Dan Marino or Roger Clemens or any of the other great athletes that made the championship game/series early in their career and waited years to get back (in Marino's case, he never made it back to the Super Bowl).
Enjoy it, Rob. You probably know it's one of the coolest things you'll ever do. Savor it and treasure it. But remember, there's no promise it'll be that way next year - all the more reason to savor it and treasure it.