THE OTHER DAY, my editor told me to write a column about the state baseball tournament and pick the winners.
Talk about a lot of pressure. The first two things that come to mind are that: 1) I could tick somebody off; and 2) I could end up looking foolish. Neither sounds all that appealing.
But in the interest of perhaps stirring up interest for the tournament (and keeping my job), here goes with the Appalachian Power Park prognosticating:
Something in the pit of my stomach — and I hope it isn't the jalapeno cheddar Cheetos talking back — suggests that I side with those luckless programs that make it here just about every year, and slink back home with little or nothing to show for it.
You know, the bridesmaids, the second-place teams. The Susan Luccis and Buffalo Bills all wrapped up in one. They say you always find everything in the last place you look, so here's a vote of confidence for those teams still seeking big dreams, and showing perseverance, stick-to-it-iveness and a whole lot of other large words.
Let's crown three new champions — teams that have combined for 10 state runner-up trophies, but never a title. It's their turn. It's their time.
Fairmont Senior is at the head of the class when it comes to "close.'' The Polar Bears have finished second at the state tournament seven times without a championship.
Even worse for the lads from the Friendly City, they've been too friendly when it comes to
stepping aside and letting someone else win. This is their ninth trip to the state tournament in the last 10 years, and they've wound up as state runner-up five times in those previous nine seasons.
The Polar Bears (28-7) again seem to have a decent shot. They've got four pitchers with excellent records, and a hot pitcher to boot in junior Matt Robbins (5-1, 0.41 ERA), who has won their last four postseason games.
In their five most recent games, they've outscored opponents 45-5. Doesn't sound like a second-rate or second-place team to me.
Of course, Nitro's Korey Dunbar (4-2, 0.53), Bridgeport's Brady Weaver (10-2) and Princeton's Corey Quick (.630, 51 RBIs) could have something to say about that.