“I don’t believe what I’ve just seen.” – Jack Buck, calling Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series
“…The impossible has happened…” – Vin Scully, making the same call.
One of the things we love about sports is that it gives us a chance to witness the improbable, the seemingly impossible. The underdog overcoming all odds to take down the giant. The comeback from a seeming insurmountable deficit to win. The seemingly defeated opponent getting up one more time to fight back. The competitor wrought wtih exhaustion, finding the strength to cross the finish line. It’s why we watch.
The College World Series begins today. Along with traditional powers like Miami, Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma State, the 8 team field includes UC Santa Barbara, making their first ever appearance in the series. But, it’s how the Gauchos got to Omaha that makes sports great.
Last Sunday, UCSB trailed the nation’s #2 ranked Louisville Cardinals, 3-0 in the bottom of the 9th inning. On the mound to close it out for Louisville was their star closer, Zack Burdi, who earlier in the week had been the 1st round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox. Not great odds, right? Right. In fact, Louisville was 47-0 during the season when leading after 8 innings.
Burdi struggled with his control, and UCSB loaded the bases with one out. Up to the plate stepped freshman catcher, Sam Cohen. Yeah, that Sam Cohen. The guy with all of 26 at bats during the entire season. So, what happens? The freshman blasts a two-strike, walk-off grand slam. Just like that, UCSB is making travel plans for Omaha.
David and Goliath stuff at it’s best.
Only in sports. And the reason we watch.