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Bo's Baseball Bites 04/21/23



'The Year After' : What's Going On Here?

Championship Curse? Rosenblatt Jinx?


DALLAS – Remember the famous Curse of the Bambino, when the Boston Red Sox did not win a World Series from 1918-2004?

Or, how about the Curse of the Billy Goat for the Chicago Cubs from 1945-2016 (and even before that from 1908-2016 between World Series victories for the lowly Chicagoans)?


And maybe now, the Curse of Rosenblatt Stadium, which was reduced to a parking lot for the Henry Doorly Zoo, and a children’s park with miniature basepaths, after hosting the NCAA World Series from 1950-2010?

Long stories short, Boston fans felt cursed by the trade of superstar Babe (the Bambino) Ruth to the hated Yankees after the 1918 season. The hex finally ended in 2004, when the BoSox downed the NL St. Louis Cardinals (in St. Louis, by the way), and the ghost of the Bambino appeared satisfied.

Actually, the Curse of the Billy Goat began during the Cubs appearance in the 1945 World Series, against the Detroit Tigers. The two owners of the Billy Goat Tavern were asked to leave Wrigley Field after Game 4, because a goat they brought to the ballpark (a possible predecessor of the Dog Days and Bark In The Park in recent years, when fans can bring their pets to baseball games) was bothering nearby patrons. On their way out, the owners pronounced a curse on the Cubs and Wrigley Field for the next 71 years.

And now evidently, Rosenblatt Stadium – that venerable palace of college baseball, until several Omaha politicians ran on a ticket to build a new stadium for the CWS downtown…what gives?

Well, since the opening of Charles Schwab (previously TD Ameritrade) Field in 2011 in Omaha, no team has repeated as NCAA Men's World Series champs – of course, this doesn’t count South Carolina winning the final MCWS game at Rosenblatt Stadium and crown in 2010, then capturing the first World Series at then-TD Ameritrade Field during the inaugural downtown year of 2011.

And, the last two defending champions fell on immediate hard times the very next season after winning their first NCAA baseball championships: Mississippi State in 2021 and Ole Miss in 2022.

Was it the curse of Rosenblatt? Hmmmm…

For example, MSU closed the ’21 campaign with a 50-18 mark and NCAA title and then floundered (after losing several key hitting and pitching leaders) to a 26-30 overall record (9-21 in the Southeastern Conference) in 2022 – too much celebration? Probably not…

Then, rival Ole Miss broke its diamond drought with the 2022 NCAA baseball title and 42-23 record, even after falling in a play-in contest for the SEC tourney, sizzling down the stretch with 10 wins in its final 11 contests, that after being the reported 64th team chosen by the ’22 NCAA Selection Committee. To begin the ’23 season, the Rebels got off to a 0-6 start in SEC activity and were 3-12 at the halfway conference mark on April 16.

To make the curse seem even more formidable, the Bulldogs and Rebels started 2023 SEC activity with a composite 0-12 league mark through two series. State had to break a school-record, 18-game losing streak against SEC foes from April 2022-March 2023 before rebounding to capture five of its next nine SEC tussles.

Going back a few more seasons, 2012 NCAA winner Arizona (ending runner-up South Carolina’s streak at two trophies) went from a 48-17 mark to slumping to 34-21 in 2013. In 2016 upset winner Coastal Carolina nudged past – you guessed it, Arizona – in the best-of-three championship round and closed at 55-18 overall before falling to 37-19 overall after joining the more difficult Sun Belt Conference in ’17.


And, there is some good news surrounding the possible Rosenblatt Curse: Coastal Carolina became the first school (and still the only) in the 40-year history of the Big South Conference to win an NCAA team championship in any sport. But two days later, CCU officially joined the Sun Belt instead, so perhaps it was the Big South who suffered the curse instead.

And yet another instance (with two years in between) of the Rosenblatt Curse was Vanderbilt’s victory in the 2019 CWS over Michigan, a cancelled 2020 World Series due to COVID-19 conditions, and then Vandy taking a 1-0 championship series lead over Mississippi State in the ’21 series, only to be outscored 22-2 (and nearly no-hit) in the final two Bulldog victories to clinch the all-SEC championship finale.

Curse, bad luck, losing multitudes of seniors and draft choices, too many rubber chicken banquets in the offseason, extra-long schedules – these may be some palpable reasons while MCWS champs not only miss the chance to repeat over the last 12 years but also lapse into semi-oblivion after the dogpile celebrations end each June.

Can the Ole Miss Rebels somehow back into the SEC tourney field after that 0-6 and 3-12 conference start in ’23? Have the Mississippi State Bulldogs finally vanquished the voodoo and turned their postseason hopes from impossible to merely improbable? Time and maybe a little bit of luck will tell. Baseball is a game of superstitions, and this seems to have become yet another one in a long and endless stretch of them.

At any rate, it should be an interesting leadup to Selection Monday, May 29 – curse or no curses.

*****

Trivia Questions taken from the COLLEGE BASEBALL CENTRAL LIBRARY (answers below):

  1. Today’s Bo’s Baseball Bites notes that Coastal Carolina won the first national championship ever for the Big South Conference, with its 2016 MCWS crown, but left to join the Sun Belt Conference two days later. Which team succeeded Coastal as the Big South baseball champ in 2017?

  2. This team holds the MCWS Championship Series record for most home runs in a game (5) and in the series (8) but didn’t win the championship. Who are they and what year was it?

  3. In a similar manner, this team didn’t allow an earned run in two games of a Championship Series but amazingly didn’t win that best two-of-three for the title. Who are they and what year was it?

Bo Carter is the Executive Director of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and is a long time professional in sports media and information. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and has plied his trade in the Southeastern Conference, the Southwest Conference, and the Big 12 Conference. In addition to his NCBWA duties, he also serves as a consultant and columnist for the National Football Foundation. Follow the NCBWA, which produces ranking polls for D1, D2, and D3, as well as naming All America teams at both the D1 and D2 levels and the Dick Howser Trophy (presented each year in Omaha at the Men’s College World Series) at @NCBWA. And, if you’re a college baseball fan, you don’t have to be media to be a member, check them out at ncbwa.com and join today!

Trivia Answers

1. Winthrop, with a 17-7 conference mark and 34-24 overall record

2. Texas, lost to LSU, 2009

3. Arizona, lost to Coastal Carolina, 2016

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