Tomorrow at 1 PM Central, the Vanderbilt Commodores will open their first-ever College World Series against the red-hot North Carolina Tar Heels. As Vandy fans, this entitles us to several things that we're not used to:
- Meaningful Commodore sports in the middle of June.
- Wall-to-wall coverage on ESPN and the national media.
- A team stacked (STACKED) with future professional players.
- A guaranteed top-eight national showing in a men's sport.
- A good-to-great chance to bring a national title home to Nashville.
This isn't resigning ourselves to blandly tracking some Cape Cod league updates. It's not trying to decipher who'll be starting at quarterback as football practices approach. Hell, It's not even heading into the summer hoping to hear Jermaine Beal sneak into the second round of the NBA Draft. This is something completely unique to Vanderbilt University. A chance at national recognition in one of collegiate athletics' major events.
As such, we need to make this a national holiday for Commodore fans. There is no precedence for the importance of tomorrow's game - this is our Final Four appearance, our BCS bowl. And while each of those accomplishments may lie on the horizon, the College World Series is the first. It's here now, and it is our duty, as long-suffering fans, to soak up every minute of it.
Many of us, including some of your favorite bloggers from AoG, Vanderbilt Sports Line, and When [it] Strikes Me, are taking the drastic step of heading to Omaha to enjoy some baseball, steaks, and bourbon. Others, like myself, will watch from the comfort of our couches or whatever bar isn't depressing to be in at noon on a weekend. Whether your drink is a Dr. Pepper or a Moosehead, it's your duty to crack one and turn to ESPN to watch Sonny Gray try to hurl this team into a national championship.
Gray, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a special team led by veteran players who have taken the turf at Hawkins Field for the last time in their careers. Guys like Grayson Garvin, Aaron Westlake, Jason Esposito, Curt Casali, Will Clinard, Navery Moore, Taylor Hill, and Mark Lamm will all have one final opportunity to make their mark as Commodores. While there's no question that they've sealed their place in the record books as the first Vanderbilt team to reach Omaha, they can cement their status as legends by bringing a national title to a school that had been the SEC's shameful secret in athletics for several years.
This is a call to arms, Commodore fans. Rise up and cheer on your team. It's an opportunity that we are rarely afforded. At a school with few meaningful sports traditions, Coach Tim Corbin and his men have the chance to create an incredible one. As fans, we have the opportunity to witness it firsthand.
As the saying goes, it's good (as hell) to be gold in 2011.