Sometimes in the game of Blackjack, your two cards are a Queen and a King.
Of course, that gives you 20, which is a dominant hand in a game where it’s a chase to get to 21 without going over.
Having 20 means you win way more than you lose – something upwards of 80 percent, if not more, if I had to guess.
But also sometimes you get 20, but the dealer uses seven cards to luck into 21 to beat you.
Such was the story of LSU baseball in the Championship Series in Omaha.
The Tigers had college baseball’s equivalent of a 20 with Jared Poche’ and Alex Lange aligned for the final two games of a three-game series against a Florida team which, on paper, didn’t have the same quality of arms to throw against them.
But much like when the dealer gets that miraculous, seven-card 21, literally everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for the Tigers on Tuesday night in game two of the series.
LSU needed to be clean defensively. They weren’t. The Tigers made errors, which directly led to runs.
The Tigers needed to get men on base.
But what they didn’t do is drive them in.
In the seventh inning, a faulty slide (more on that in a minute) cost the Tigers a run.
An inning after that, LSU had men on the corners, but got gunned at home.
LSU needed to get the ball to Zack Hess late in the game so that he’d be able to preserve his arm enough to pitch both in game two and game three.
Hess had to come in during the sixth inning.
He was Hess-like at first, but then ran out of gas.
Florida pummeled him in the eighth inning to take over the game.
Literally every, single thing that could go wrong did go wrong for the Tigers in Omaha on Tuesday night.
The end result was a gut-wrenching, frustrating loss – one of the more frustrating LSU failures in recent years.
The Tigers may or may not be better than the Gators.
After losing four out of five games against them this season, it may be time to give Florida a little credit for the struggles.
But regardless, the defeats sting because of how they happened and because of how close the results were to going the opposite way.
For example – if LSU has Eric Walker healthy, the Tigers probably win Game 1.
He got hurt and that stinks. It changed the whole series.
If LSU starts Jake Slaughter over Nick Coomes at first base, those early errors probably don’t happen and LSU holds early momentum.
Mainieri rolled the dice and it didn’t work. That stinks.
If college baseball had rules which allowed for common sense, the Tigers would have plated the run and tied the game on that double play – a run Florida was conceding to LSU.
But the sport doesn’t. The runner had to go back to third and Florida got out of the inning. That stinks.
If LSU’s “senior leaders” had showed up in the College World Series and performed to the level they’d played at all season, the Tigers could have scored more than four runs in two games against the Gators.
They didn’t. The top of the order was train wreck the entire College World Series. That stinks.
Florida won the College World Series and kudos belong to the Gators on a job well done.
But LSU finished as the runners-up with a lot of what-ifs, maybes and could-of-beens.
To me, that’s awfully impressive.
Congrats to the Tigers on one hell of a ride.
With a lot of guys coming back, maybe next year when the team gets to the 20 in the game of Blackjack that is the College World Series, it will actually win the pot.
But now, it’s time to vent.
Before getting out of the World Series talk altogether, I want to talk about the umpiring we saw throughout the two weeks in Omaha.
Look, I admittedly don’t watch much college baseball.
I only watch LSU and no one else.
But if the umpires we saw in Omaha are TRULY the best that the sport has, then it’s time to fire whoever is in charge of umpiring in the sport and start over.
Umpiring at the CWS was a complete joke.
Literally every, single game, it felt like there was some kind of legitimate gripe.
Just in LSU’s games alone, there was a fair ball that was called foul – a game-changing play; an umpire who was giving literally a foot off the outside corner for a strike and also a batter getting hit by a pitch, but being called back to the plate because he “didn’t get out of the way” from a pitch which was breaking into his body.
And I’m not even mentioning that replay rules are too vague and allow too easily for wrong calls to go uncorrected.
The sport needs better.
What we saw this past weekend simply wasn’t good enough.