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Great Expectations – From the Bird’s Nest

Brad Kemp/RaginCajuns.com
Brad Kemp/RaginCajuns.com

A friend of mine told me recently there are different types of fans when it comes to expectations:

For some, hope springs eternal.  It’s the fan who always believes the Cajuns will win, even if logic says they won’t.  It’s the fan who believes in over achievement to the point where he expects it just about every year.  He agonizes over every loss.  Each loss is the end of the world.  This is the fan who usually is at least a little disappointed when the season ends.

There is the fan who is analytical and probably a little more reasonable.  He looks to those returning to a team.  He understands there’s a learning curve for most newcomers.  He figures his team will get better as the season progresses.  At the end of the year, he usually gets what he expects.

Then there is the fan who keeps expectations low.  He figures if he shoots low, he won’t be disappointed.  Every time the team wins, it’s a celebration because he wasn’t necessarily expecting it.

And, my friend is right.  You can pretty much put fans in one of these three categories.

I usually am in the middle, because in my job, I have to try to stay away from being too much of a fan.  My expectations were very high in 2014 because of all the returning pieces from a solid 2013 team.  The expectations were met by a team that won 58 games.  I, like many, felt real disappointment when the season came to an end.

In 2015 most of those players were gone.  The Cajuns were relying on freshman pitchers.  And, because I didn’t know what to expect, I had no expectations.  It would have been wrong, looking at the team on paper, to expect another regional trip.  And, during the season it was more of watching players grow up than it was performance.  Even at the end of the season, I wasn’t expecting things to last past the conference tournament.

Then Stefan Trosclair hit a grand slam home run.

Oh, my word, Jay.

And, three wins later, it was a super regional.  2015 totally exceeded anything I dreamed of for that year.

Last season so many fans saw the bulk of the pitching staff returning as sophomores and there was plenty of preseason excitement.  But there were also a lot of new faces on offense, Blake Trahan was gone and I had plenty of questions about the team.  I knew they’d be good.  But I also kept saying to anyone who would listen, I felt 2017 was going to be even better.

And, here we are.

The Cajuns have arguably their deepest and most talented pitching staff ever.  They have veterans who can play.  They have newcomers the Major League baseball draft have noticed.  They have leaders.  They have a great coaching staff.

So many pieces have to fall into place at just the right time in order for a lower budget school to make it deep in the postseason, and talent is just the beginning.  And, therefore, to project a team like the Cajuns to a host regional site, a national seed, a super regional, a College World Series team or even a national title contender is pretty much a crapshoot.

There are so many intangibles, that kind of expectation might not be fair.  All it takes is one bad inning, as the Cajuns discovered in 2014.

But I’ll stand by what I said a year ago.  This team has a chance to surpass what the 2016 team accomplished.

My expectation?  This team will be good.

In fact, I expect they’ll be very good.

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