The School: The Mississippi State University for Agriculture and Applied Science. You may know it better as Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College. Clanga is a public, flagship, land-grant university... but did you know it’s also a sea-grant and space-grant university? Did you know there were “space-grant universities,” and/or that such a designation would be given to a cow college? Do they send the cows to space? So many questions.
*Quick note: After a very small amount of research, I learned this about space-grant programs, and wanted to share:
Unlike in the land-grant program, no economic rights to outer space have been granted in the space-grant program, only money.
Location: Starkville, MS. Known as the one place no SEC fanbase wants to travel to, as there is literally nothing to do in the ironically dubbed Starkvegas but get drunk and tip cows. Starkville is the county seat of Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, which sounds so much like a fictional creation of William Faulkner’s that I refuse to believe it exists outside the mind of Benjy, the Faulknerian idiot man-child of The Sound and the Fury. If my hunch is correct, all of this would be fitting, as games against Clanga are filled with the sound of cowbells and the fury of cowbell swingers in the stands arguing balls and strikes. Seriously, Clanga fans argue balls and strikes with the frequency and aggrieved tone of Skeeter in a bar in South Park yelling, “Hey Panda Bear, we don’t take kindly to your type ‘round here!” They do this far more than any other baseball fanbase—pro, collegiate, high school, or even that one Little League team from that town without bleachers in which all the fathers sit on their beer coolers and are shit-faced before 10am.
*Fun Fact: Clanga is located partially in Starkville and partially in an adjacent unincorporated area.
**Less Fun Fact: That unincorporated area is still in Mississippi.
The Mascot: Bully, an English Bulldog registered with the American Kennel Club. They have both a live bulldog and a person in a bulldog costume.
*Note: Clanga has had different nicknames/mascots throughout the years. Originally, they were called “The Aggies” for their love of going aTm. In 1932, they went by “The Maroons,” to better indicate the IQ range of 51-70 which served as the lone barrier to admission (besides race) at the time. Then, in 1935, head football coach Major Ralph “Sassy” Sasse bought a bulldog named “Ptolemy” to inspire his football team. Mostly, it inspired confusion, as no one in Mississippi other than Coach Sass-Pants had heard of the Ancient Greek Mathematician and Astronomer, nor of the fields of Mathematics nor Astronomy. As such, they bought a littermate of that dog’s and named it “Bully.”
Record: 51-13, 20-10 in the SEC.
How’d they get here? As a National Seed, they made quick work of their opponents. Clanga swept through the Starkville Regional (beating Southern, Central Michigan, and Miami) and laying waste to those west coast science bitches of Stanford in 2 games in the Supers.
Best win: Beating Vanderbilt in the Super Regionals in an epic game three of an epic series last year. Let’s just be honest. This year? Probably a 3 game sweep against the impressive arms of Georgia.
Most embarrassing loss: Getting swept by Arky in April as both were competing for the SEC West title. That or losing 12-2 to LSU in Hoover when the Boudin Bengals were down to using their live tiger mascot on the mound. They’re a solid team. They don’t have a bunch of embarrassing losses.
Most terrifying batter: Sr. CF Jake “P.I.” Mangum. While he’s not a threat to go yard, you have to respect the man who holds the all-time record for most hits in the SEC. Mangum P.I. slashed .355/.411/.462 with 22 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 72 Runs scored, and swiped 22 of 28.
Best pitcher: RS Jr. LHP Ethan “You’re Killing Me” Small(s). Here’s the best part. Small is starting Sunday against Auburn, so I don’t have to write one more damned word about him. I’m freaking giddy about this.
Best name: This is literally the toughest category to answer, as Mississippi State’s baseball roster is predictably filled with stereotypical Mississippi State baseball names. Names like Rowdey “Roddy” Jordan, Dustin “Helter” Skelton, and Gunner “The Top” Halter would all run away with this on a normal team. Clanga is not a normal team. No, on this team, the honor has to go to Fr. OF Brad Cumbest.
You know, that... but with cum.
Best NCAA Tournament result: Counting this year, they have made it to Omaha 11 times since 1971. They came in 2nd place in 2013.
When would we have to face them? The most likely answer to this is game two in Omaha (if they beat Auburn and we beat Louisville, or if we both lose our first game, which is much less likely).
Should Vanderbilt Be Scared? Clanga and Arky are the two toughest teams left in the field (other than us, but we will not have to play ourselves of course). This was true at the beginning of the tournament and it’s even more true now (lol at UCLA as the #1 overall seed). Not scared, but aware. We will have to bring our best effort against Clanga. I trust we will.