baseball's regular season is filled with rivalry games, record setting
performances and plenty of tailgating in the jungle, but nothing beats
the atmosphere of the postseason.
Pirate fans making the trip down to Hattiesburg next week for the
Conference USA Tournament will be in for a treat. I was fortunate
enough to be behind the microphone for the ECU baseball team during the
2002 and 2003 conference tournaments and it was an experience I will
Ten teams and their rabid fans will make their presence felt throughout
the week. In 2003 every team involved stayed in the same
high-rise hotel in downtown New Orleans. Like an episode of
Survivor, we'd come back to the hotel after each game. One team
would return to their rooms while the other packed their bags and
headed to the airport.
As the tournament field is cut down you notice the few remaining teams
have developed a mutual respect for one another. Small talk
outside the park and in the hotel lobby amongst players from different
teams is the norm. But when it's time to play ball, it's back to
business as usual.
You can tell who the baseball schools are based on their fans.
I've said it once and I'll say it again, East Carolina sets the
standard in the conference. However at the league tournament, the
team that is favored to win usually has the cockiest crowd traveling
with them. The stands are packed more and more each day and the
intensity grows with the tournament.
On the media end of things, it's a chance to re-visit the voices from
the other schools. In 2003 the radio networks for opposing teams
were set up beside each other during the games. It was not only a
contest of who had the better team on the field but who had the
stronger pipes and called the best game in the press box.
The NCAA Tournament brings everything the conference tournament has
multiplied by 10. When you show up for a regional, you feel like
you're somewhere special. There's no comparison between the
atmosphere of the regular season and the NCAA Tournament. Fans
who've attended regionals know that the crowd hinges on every single
pitch. It's a true round robin event between the best of the best
and anybody can beat anybody.
With a few more wins the 2005 ECU squad will have overcome every injury
known to man and will likely make it to the postseason for a record
seventh consecutive year. Regardless of what happens, it will be
rewarding time for the coaches and players and a memorable experience
for everyone involved.