Dealing with High Expectations

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It isn’t often that Mississippi State fans get to deal with high expectations for our teams. There have been plenty of times when we thought our team might be better than what most people around the country thought, but it is rare that we get to see people picking us to be in the national title mix. The baseball team has been the lone exception to that trend, and entering this year, the expectations might have been as high as they have ever been coming off of our first trip to the Championship Series in Omaha in 2013.

So losing the games we have lost so far is concerning. While it is great to read and write about what great things your team can accomplish leading up to a season, it is hard to handle when things don’t pan out the way you thought they would. The one bright spot in being the fan of a team that seems to be perpetually an underdog is that you don’t get too upset when they lose. If they win, it makes you that much happier. The good thing about being a fan of team that is always good is you don’t ever worry about having what most people consider bad year. You have seasons that might be considered bad for a program, but in the grand scheme of things, they weren’t bad seasons by most people’s standards. The flip side is that it is far more disheartening when things go poorly.

Yes, there is still plenty of time to right the ship on our baseball season, but there is also a lot to be concerned about. Before the Championship series last year, the baseball team lost only three games all year outside of conference play. We eclipsed that mark this season in game 8. The frustration is starting to set in, and now winning just isn’t important, it is going to be how we win. I wrote earlier in the year that getting a national seed would be a big goal for this team because it would cement the perception that we were a national contender. I thought then, as I do now, that under performing in a year with high expectations would allow doubt to creep in to the fan base. That’s exactly where we are right now.

So how do we fix it? Well there are a number of baseball related things we can do, but the most important thing we need to do is start winning. It would be nice if we started dominating some of these non conference opponents, but it is more important that we start accumulating wins. We did that last night. There wasn’t any reason to believe that Mt. St. Mary’s should have been able to compete with our team on any level. The team went out and thoroughly dominated in every aspect. It’s not the kind of win that will propel the team to a great season, but it was the type of performance many of us expected given the opponent. The beautiful thing about baseball is that you can take a few disappointing losses and it not hurt the overall trajectory of your season. Part of the nature of baseball is that it is possible that an inferior team can lose to a team that is far superior team. A really great pitcher can make up for a ton of deficiencies by the rest of the team. We experienced that against Western Carolina in the season opener. The more concerning part is when you start to rack up losses to teams that you shouldn’t be losing to. We have done that very early this year, which means that we are going to have to be at our best every single game during the conference schedule to have much of a chance at getting back to Omaha. There were only three national seeds that made it to Omaha last year, but every team that made it last year was the host of a regional. It’s hard to make much noise having to play on the road in every phase of the tournament. If we can’t at least get ourselves back in a position to at least host a regional, then we might have really difficult time enjoying this baseball season. That’s what makes huge expectations tough sometimes.