Without a doubt, watching the 2015 Mississippi State baseball season has been an exercise in frustration for Bulldog fans. The frustration does not merely stem from the losing; fans could watch basketball and not be this frustrated because everyone expected the losses. The frustration stems from the fact that as the losses mount, Bulldog fans can only wonder what might have been for this Mississippi State baseball team this season.
While watching series loss after series loss, it has been hard not to wonder why the frustration and disappointment had a familiar feel to it. For long time Bulldog fans, this season should have a familiar feel to it. Fans just need to look at a different sport.
Remember back to the 2001 football season with me if you will. The Bulldogs entered the season amid all types of hype, some of which even said that "cowbells could be ringing in Pasadena," a reference to the national championship game slated for the Rose Bowl that season. Why would the Bulldogs not receive such hype? Wayne Madkin was back under center for the Bulldogs, and the team had the best record in the SEC West over the three previous seasons.
However, after the first game of the season, fans had reason to wonder how things would shake out that season. For those who may not remember, the Mississippi State opened the season at home against Memphis, and the Bulldogs found themselves down 3-0 at halftime. Mississippi State figured it out in the second half on their way to a 30-10 victory, but anyone at the game had some concerns.
Mississippi State then lost its next five contests before picking up a victory over Kentucky. The Bulldogs remained in striking distance in three of the losses, but they were taken to the woodshed in the other two losses. Mississippi State then went 1-3 over their final four games, losing by a total of 13 points and by no more than seven in any of the contests.
If Mississippi State had just been crushed in each of the losses, the season may not have been too bad. Fans would not have had reason to hope. If the Bulldogs had not been so good during the three previous seasons, fans would have not done much more than bat an eye at the losses.
Instead, high expectations causes fans to have a higher level of disappointment during miserable seasons. The comparisons are strikingly similar. In 2012, the Bulldogs won the SEC tournament, but suffered a let down in the Tallahassee regional, losing twice to Samford at Dick Howser Stadium. In 2013, Mississippi State made a run to the National Championship Series in Omaha, coming within two wins of the National Championship. In 2014, the Bulldogs made it to NCAA play, losing back-to-back games to Louisiana, the No. 6 national seed. Looking back at that three year run, it may have been the best run by Mississippi State since the 1980s on the diamond.
Once the 2015 season started, Mississippi State picked up several wins, but fans paying attention to those wins had a right to have a knot in their stomachs about the wins. Far too many of those victories featured come from behind victories, and while it s great to know that a team has the ability for late game comebacks, playing several of those games makes one wonder just how strong a team is. Both the 2001 football season and the 2015 baseball season featured losses to surprising teams, the 21-9 homecoming loss to Troy and the 3-2 loss (no, not that game) on the diamond to Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Let's just hope the similarities stop at the end of the season. As Bulldog fans know all too well, Mississippi State could not figure it out on the gridiron for much of the rest of the decade. Instead, the Bulldogs, who looked as if they were about to turn the corner, only had one winning season in the next eight seasons. Mississippi State baseball looked to be on the verge of returning to the glory days of the 1980s. Let's hope the rest of the decade is not spent wondering in the wilderness.