‘We’re Goin’ To F-ing Omaha!’

Last night LSU lit up Oklahoma, particularly late, and finished off a sweep of the Super Regional that had far and away the most interest in it.

Alex Bregman was pretty cool with that.

He’s a kid. He’s gonna be a little enthusiastic.

Speakin’ of enthusiasm, wanna know who had the most goin’ yesterday? Here’s the attendance from the eight super-regional games goin’ on…

  • LSU had 12,144
  • Virginia had 4,956
  • North Carolina had 4,355
  • Florida State had 4,325
  • Oregon State had 3,574
  • Vanderbilt had 3,451
  • Cal State Fullerton had 3,244
  • NC State had 3,051

When you get 2 1/2 times the fans the next-best team has, it’s a pretty good indication of where you stand. LSU might have been away from Omaha for a while – too long, actually, and those Yankee interlopers from Stony Brook got in the way of what shoulda been an Omaha trip last year – but they haven’t lost any of that magic.

12,000 people for college baseball. Woooooo!

If y’all have been watchin’ the other games on TV, you’ll notice somethin’. When they do an LSU game, you get to see lots of panoramic shots of the stadium, and crowd shots and so on. Compare that with the UCLA-Fullerton game last night, for example, and you MAYBE got to see the first row. Or a tight shot of some kid munchin’ on cotton candy. ESPN isn’t gonna make a big thing about how tiny the crowds are at all these other places; they just don’t talk about it. They sure do talk about it when they do an LSU game, though.

My uncle T-Claude, who knows all about baseball on account of he raids trash cans at Zephyr Field, was tellin’ me somethin’ pretty interestin’. He said that ever since LSU built that new Alex Box and ESPN started televisin’ college games a lot more you can see a big difference in the way things work – and to LSU’s big-time benefit. See, for the longest time and really until very recently LSU would go take this huge recruiting class every year and then brace themselves for all of ’em to get drafted and sign with the pros.

But starting last year with Alex Bregman, who hurt a finger and missed almost all of his senior year in high school and because of that wasn’t a first-round pick like he prolly woulda been, something else is happenin’. See, Bregman woulda fallen to the third round and still got a lot of coin outta the pro teams. But he told ’em “forget it, I’m goin’ to F-in’ Omaha,” and so nobody drafted him. He slid all the way to the bottom of the draft until somebody just threw his name out there for the hell of it.

The word is that Will Lamarche, who was a pretty highly rated draft prospect, slid a good bit in the draft after he signed with LSU as well. The idea was that Lamarche prolly woulda been a 10th or 12th round pick but the money you get for that just doesn’t make it a better offer than gettin’ to play at Alex Box and bein’ on ESPN in a Super Regional. So Lamarche ended up goin’ in the 18th round, by which time it was a long shot to sign him. Other guys last year who were pretty good draft prospects, like Mitch Sewald and Chris Chinea, didn’t even get drafted – because what was the point?

Consider that you can come to LSU and Kyle Peterson’ll talk about you five or six times on TV from Alex Box, and you get to be a big man on a campus loaded up with hot wimmin for three years and play Super Regionals in front of 12,000 people. Sign with the pros, and you’re gonna be ridin’ around on a bus from rookie-league town to rookie-league town, playin’ in front of a few hundred folks, and you get a big check exactly one time before you sign a second contract – if you manage to make it to a second contract, that is. You don’t get to The Show in four or five years, you can pretty much forget ever playing in front of the kinda crowd LSU had last night.

And what that means is that if LSU’s signees fall out of the top 5-6 rounds, which is the point where the bonus offers fall below about a half-million dollars, they’re barely gonna get drafted at all.

So not only did Paul Mainieri and the gang have a good weekend with whippin’ Oklahoma, they also had a great weekend with the draft. LSU had five or six position players they signed – Nick Longhi, Jarrett DeHart, Jake Fraley, Danny Zardon, Kramer Robertson and Connor Hale – who were all rated as guy who’d get drafted, and most of those were rated as going in or near the first 10 rounds. They had some pitchers, specifically Jared Poche, Parker Bugg, Dylan Williams and Troy Whitty, who were supposed to get drafted as well, and Poche was supposed to be a top-10 round pick.

But Longhi went in the 30th round and Bugg went in the 34th. Nobody else even got drafted. The major league teams ain’t gonna waste a draft pick on a kid they can’t sign, and now that there are rules which make it really expensive to try to sign a 30th round pick with 3rd round money it’s startin’ to make a whole lotta difference what school a kid signs with.

Namely, the pros are startin’ to be scared off of LSU guys.

And what that means is that other than the occasional flyer Mainieri might take on a Justin Williams or David Palladino, who were the two kids he signed this year who he wasn’t all that likely to get to campus, he’s going to be in a position to take more or less whoever he wants and be a whole lot less worried about losin’ ’em all.

More Bregmans. More Aaron Nolas.

More Super Regionals with 12,000 people at the Box.

And more trips to F-ing Omaha, too.

College baseball’s a kick-ass thing, y’all. Specially if you’re one of the purple and gold people.

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