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6/23/2006 11:54:00 AM

Why You Should Watch the College World Series

Oakland Arena
Oregon State pitcher Jonah Nickerson is one reason to get excited about the College World Series.
Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Last week, we asked why college baseball hasn't matched the popularity of college football and basketball. The consensus was that the lack of media coverage (except SI on Campus, of course) and quality teams in the Northeast, plus the timing of the CWS (which takes place after students have left their campuses for summer break) are to blame. For those who haven't been paying attention this season, this weekend's College World Series Finals presents the last chance for the casual fan to tune and check it out.

There are multiple reasons to watch, but here are our top three:

1) North Carolina pitchers Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard, both of whom will be coming to a major league ballpark near you. They were selected No. 6 (by the Tigers) and No. 28 (Red Sox) respectively in MLB's First-Year Player Draft earlier this month.

2) Oregon State pitcher Jonah Nickerson, who is 12-2 in his last 16 starts, including a two-hit masterpiece against Rice on two days rest to advance the Beavers to the Finals. The hard-throwing right-hander was drafted by the Tigers in the seventh round. His baseball hero: David Wells.

3) Tradition. The CWS has been held at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium since 1950. Part celebration of baseball, part carnival, the Series attracts over 200,000 fans and turns Omaha, Nebraska into one of the unlikeliest sports hotbeds in the nation. If you don't believe us, check out this story.

Those are just three reasons. Do you have any more?
6/21/2006 10:34:00 AM

Risky Business

Oakland Arena
Len Bias had a bright future in the NBA, but died on draft night of a cocaine-induced heart attack.
Photo by SI
Monday marked the 20th anniversary of former Maryland star and Boston Celtics draftee Len Bias' death. If you recall, Bias was taken second overall by the Celtics in the 1986 draft (Brad Daugherty was No. 1), and died of a cocaine-induced heart attack that night while celebrating. The incident is often cited as the prime example of an athlete destroying a promising future. Other recent examples include Jay Williams and Kellen Winslow Jr., both of whom suffered serious injuries while riding motorcycles. Both are now ready to return and try and restore their reputations.

Why would a player foolishly risk millions of dollars and a life most people covet? Do elite athletes think they're invincible in their prime and why do they take such risks? What other examples can you think of and what can be done to prevent people from destroying their careers?

6/19/2006 11:19:00 AM

Choke like Phil

It will forever be known as The Massacre at Winged Foot. Up two strokes with three holes to play in the final round of the U.S. Open on Sunday, Phil Mickelson crumbled double-bogeying the 18th -- his only double of the entire tournament – to lose the Open by one stroke.

Phil's epic collapse got us thinking: What memorable Michelsonian collapses from the college sports hemisphere stand out most in your mind? FSU kickers seem to have a foothold on the category, but the parallel analogy in our minds is Maryland's two choke jobs against Duke in 2001. In their first meeting, Duke erased a 10-point deficit with a minute to play as Jason Williams scored eight points in 13-seconds and later that year in the NCAA tournament, Duke methodically erased a 22-point deficit eventually stomping the Terps 95-84 to advance to the championship game.

What other college sports choke jobs had the Michelson, rather than the Midas, touch?

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