Saturday night was the end.
Saturday night was the end of one of the greatest seasons in Mississippi State baseball history. Saturday night was the end of the road for one of the most talented teams to ever step foot on Dudy Noble Field.
There is a sour taste in the mouths of all State fans. The team that featured eleven MLB Draft picks and won the SEC Championship for the first time in a generation finished their run short of the destination all collegiate baseball teams set before the season begins — Omaha, Nebraska.
It's a team that had the talent, had the success, seemed to have everything, except they didn't end their road in Omaha.
The 2016 Mississippi State Bulldogs can be compared to teams in the past. The 1983 and 1984 teams had twelve future MLB draftees and never went to Omaha. Both had similar records to the 2016 club, 42-15 in 1983 and 45-16 in 1984.
But, the team to which you can compare 2016 the best is 1989.
1989 is arguably the most talented team in Mississippi State history. Sure, there was the 1985 team of Clark, Palmeiro, Brantley, and Thigpen. There was 2013 with Renfroe, Frazier, Graveman, and Girodo. But, neither of those teams accomplished some of the things 1989 was able to.
The 1989 club set, and still holds, the single season wins record in Mississippi State history. That club reeled off a 54-14 record. 1989 had seven players drafted in that year's MLB Draft. And, they won the SEC Championship with a 20-5 conference record.
Entering the NCAA Tournament, fans everywhere knew that team was special. It was almost a guarantee that they would be the fifth group of Bulldogs to head to Omaha. But, that wasn't the case. The red hot North Carolina Tar Heels stole the show in Starkville, taking two games from State in the regional final to punch their ticket to the College World Series.
Today, we reflect on the accomplishments of the 2016 Mississippi State team. They won 44 games, which is tied for 7th in MSU history. They had eleven players drafted, which is the most in MSU history. They won the SEC Championship for the first time since 1989.
They didn't go to Omaha.
When fans look back on this team, obviously the first thing that will spring in the minds of most is "what could have been?"
What if UL Lafayette beat Arizona in their regional? What if State got a clutch hit or two in game one of the super? What if Ryan Aguilar hadn't hit the three run shot in the 8th inning of game two?
What could have been?
This is arguably the most talented team in the history of Mississippi State baseball. If things fell into place, this team could've made some significant noise in Omaha. It was a national championship caliber team. But, things didn't fall into place, and to steal Ron Polk's famous phrase, "that's baseball."
What should this team's legacy be?
This season isn't a failure because it didn't get to Omaha. This season isn't a failure because it didn't accomplish every goal we wanted. This season was a colossal success. They're SEC Champions. They earned a national seed. They achieved many accomplishments of which past teams weren't able.
Remember this team for its successes, not its faults. It's the end of the road for one of the greatest teams in Bulldog history.
Remember it as that, and not anything else.