2019 College World Series art

Ordinarily, I wouldn't get involved in anything this sinister.

In the end you're probably going to follow your conscience and do what you please anyway.

I'm just throwing it out there as a suggestion. It's not like the fate of the free world is at stake or anything like that.

It's not even football.

But the College World Series will be cranking up in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday.

Eight teams will spend a week and half meandering along at a leisurely pace while sorting out the NCAA baseball championship.

In Omaha they call it "The Greatest Show on Dirt" — clever, huh? — and with all the perfect sights, sounds and smells, they'll get no argument from here.

It's the best championship the NCAA stages, from regionals through super regionals to the CWS.

But if you have no rooting interest — LSU ain't there — I'd like to offer up the Florida State Seminoles as a temporary adoption project.

Just a suggestion. Not trying to be pushy here.

And it's probably too good of a story to come true anyway.

I could care less about the Seminoles, although they seemed to be nice enough young men while sweeping LSU last week in the Baton Rouge super regional.

But it's the elderly gentleman you should be rooting for.

The coach, 75-year-old Mike Martin, is a genuine, straight-talking, lovable American jewel in a dadgum, golly-gee sort of corn pone, down-homey way.

Example: After winning Saturday's first game against LSU, Martin was doing his news conference, which had carried on for a bit, answering everything as question after question was fired at him.

Finally he turned to the moderator and asked, "How many more people are you going to call on? I haven't eaten dinner yet."

You probably know the particulars from his visit to Baton Rouge. He's college baseball's all-time winningest coach. This will be his 17th trip to Omaha.

The win in the first game against LSU kept alive his streak of winning at least 40 games in every one of his 40 seasons as head coach.

The catch?

He's never won the national championship. Played for it twice. Been close on several other occasions.

But never won the big prize.

Another catch?

This is his last chance he'll get as he's retiring whenever the season ends.

He deserves one. How can college's winningest coach in any sport make 17 trips to the CWS and never win it?

Baseball has done some strange, unexplainable things to him in Omaha, especially in old Rosenblatt Stadium.

Through it all he's kept his eternal good cheer, forever reminding everyone on the way out of Omaha that he still gets to do what he loves to do.

Maybe baseball can give him a make-up call in this final trip.

I know there are other options for your rooting pleasure.

Some in these parts will shout "SEC-SEC" and stick with their conference loyalties.

That's your right, of course.

Even in LSU's absence, there are four SEC schools to choose from, including Arkansas, which will be Florida State's opening opponent Saturday night.

The Razorbacks maybe ought to get a mulligan for the heartbreaking loss last year when a misplayed foul ball kept them from winning it all.

But it says here that the Martin factor tops that.

Never mind that Martin spent last weekend in Baton Rouge mostly singing the praises of the crowds and atmosphere at The Box.

They "get" it here, he said, adding that his first trip to LSU was unlike anything he'd seen in his 40 years of coaching.

Well, maybe.

But if you were still on the fence about this thing, consider this from the immediate aftermath of the Seminoles' 12-inning victory over LSU on Sunday night.

On his way to the postgame news conference at Alex Box Stadium, Martin stopped in the hallway outside the LSU dressing room.

He asked if he could speak to Devin Fontenot, the LSU pitcher who'd thrown so marvelously for over six innings before taking the hard-luck loss in the 12th inning.

Fontenot was summoned and Martin told him, "You pitched like a warrior," then went on to tell him how impressed he was with what he'd just done.

"He's got a great attitude," Martin said of Fontenot in his formal news conference. "I just wanted to pass that along to him. I'll take two Fontenot's ever year."

He certainly didn't have to do that.

But it seems like maybe Martin is the one who "gets" it.

And maybe Omaha will smile on him this time and let him get that elusive title before retiring.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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