At least it’s almost over.
It’s been hard to watch most of the year. I came into this season ready for another playoff berth after the Dirtbags made an appearance in the NCAA Super Regional. The season quickly became an uphill battle just to get to an even record, and while the team is as close as it has ever been to .500, the excitement has fallen off the face of the earth.
An easy and unsettling way for me to describe this season is by examining the Los Angeles Dodgers’ very own. It has become an eerily close comparison for both teams. They went through a promising playoff run in the prior season but would face a plethora of injuries to start the 2018 season. My high hopes for another great season diminished for both teams and every game has become a chore to watch.
All year the Dirtbags denied this season being a rebuild, but the harsh reality was the team did not have enough talent compete.
The first of the bad omens began when senior starting pitcher, John Sheaks, suffered a complete tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow just one week before opening night. The Friday pitcher was a huge part of the team’s success, and the frustrations began to settle in.
Losses began to pile up, and each game was different in its own disappointing way. One game would see the bats go quiet, another would see the Dirtbags lose off easily avoidable errors. The fluctuations the team has gone through have be plain disheartening. The Dirtbags fell to Arizona 1-0 February 27, yet somehow found a way to score a historic 16 runs against the very same team the next day. Moments like this boggle my mind, and make it even harder to sit down and enjoy some gritty Dirtbags baseball.
The Dirtbags (24-27, 9-9 Big West) have won their last six of seven games, facing some easier opponents such as UC Riverside, but also taking down a notable Pac-12 team in UCLA. The team is two games shy of reaching the .500 mark with six games left in the season.
I commend head coach Troy Buckley and his staff for making a nice turn around down the stretch of the season, but it’s hard to look past the team’s major inconsistencies.
For the most part, the damage has been done and it is unlikely the Dirtbags will be able to create the same postseason magic that it has had in the last few seasons.
Even with a disappointing season clouding the team’s recent success, fans have stayed loyal to an exciting squad they once knew.
“The community support is awesome, it means everything,” Buckley said. “The product isn’t great this year, but we’re still getting 2000 [fans] every game. It’s a lot easier to play in front of people than it is to when nobody is around.”
The Dirtbags will be back to their glory in no time, but for now it will be easier to watch the team with no expectations of winning.