Note: today’s post is about college baseball, but also partially about history. If you have an interest in either of those things, stick around. Otherwise, this might be a little boring today. Just fair warning.
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week, the finals of the College World Series were scheduled to take place in Omaha, Nebraska. Here’s how we got there.
The NCAA baseball tournament starts with 64 teams playing in 16 four-team regional brackets. These brackets are played as a double elimination tournament, with the winners of each of the 16 regional brackets moving on to the super regionals round. This round consists of eight best-of-three series between two of the 16 regional winners. The eight winners of the super regionals then move on to the College World Series. The CWS repeats the process of the earlier rounds, with two four-team double elimination brackets and the winners playing one another in a best-of-three series to determine the national champion. This year’s finals series had the Arizona Wildcats, the 2012 national champion, facing off against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in their first College World Series appearance.
Now, earlier, I said that the finals were scheduled to take place on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The Wednesday game was necessary, since Arizona won 3-0 on Monday night and Coastal won 5-4 on Tuesday night, forcing a deciding game three. However, the weather in Omaha wasn’t cooperative on Wednesday night and after a lengthy rain delay, it was decided that game three would be postponed until Thursday, time to be determined.
Before we head into game three, let’s look back a little bit, to my own personal history.
I am a North Carolina native, and while Coastal Carolina University is located in Conway, South Carolina, just outside Myrtle Beach, the fact that it was a Carolinas-based team versus Arizona in the finals made my decision of who to root for an easy one. Never mind this being the Chanticleers’ first College World Series appearance – this was as close to a hometown team as I was going to get in the series, so my allegiance was to Coastal.
Having said that, I was eager to follow the game through online updates while I was doing my radio show. It would give me some added emotion that I could bring to the airwaves while I was spinning the tunes and I was looking forward to it.
After I got my show all prepped and was setting things up for me to track the scoreboard, I noticed something in my sports website’s sidebar. I noticed a photo of a suspiciously large looking trophy being lifted by a bunch of guys wearing teal and black.
Remember that part earlier where I said that game three was moved to Thursday, time to be determined? Well, I never got the memo that the game time had been moved up to an afternoon start, and not an evening one, so by the time I got around to tracking the score, it was already all over.
Game three’s final score was 5-4. And just like that, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers are the 2016 NCAA baseball national champions. It’s their first national championship in any sport. A win for the under–
What’s that, you say? “What’s a Chanticleer? How is it even pronounced?” Well, glad you asked, because this is where the history part of things come in. Before we get to that, though, let’s answer the second question first – the word is correctly pronounced SHON-ti-clear. It’s often shortened to Shonts. Now for the first question.
Before Coastal Carolina became a full-fledged university, it was known as the University of South Carolina-Coastal Carolina College, and was part of the University of South Carolina system of universities and colleges. USC’s athletic mascot is the Gamecocks (yes, it’s a rooster, and yes, they chant “GO COCKS” at games) and so Coastal Carolina thought a mascot change of their own was in order, to play alongside the theme of the flagship university in the system. And so they arrived at the Chanticleers.
At this point, it’s probably best to let Coastal’s athletics website take over the narrative.
Chanticleer comes from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. More specifically, he comes from the Nun’s Priest Tale, a story within Canterbury Tales. The Chanticleer is a proud and fierce rooster who dominates the barnyard. For the best description of Chanticleer, we turn to Chaucer’s words. “For crowing there was not his equal in all the land. His voice was merrier than the merry organ that plays in church, and his crowing from his resting place was more trustworthy than a clock. His comb was redder than fine coral and turreted like a castle wall, his bill was black and shone like a jet, and his legs and toes were like azure. His nails were whiter than the lily and his feathers were like burnished gold.” With all of his splendor and great looks, Chanticleer is also greatly feared and mightily respected by all.
And there you go. They dove into history to come up with a unique name that fit their rooster criteria. Straight out of the Canterbury Tales. Coastal Carolina became independent of the University of South Carolina system when they became a full-fledged university in their own right, but after some discussion about changing the mascot again, i was decided to let it ride, and so Coastal’s athletic programs are known as the Chanticleers to this day.
Now, back to my “win for the underdog” comment. True, this is the first time in 60 years that a team in their first College World Series appearance has won it. And true, it would stand to reason that the budget for Arizona’s baseball team is larger than Coastal’s, because Arizona’s a much larger school in a Power Five conference. (The Chanticleers represent the Big South Conference for the last time this year before moving to the Sun Belt Conference for 2016-2017.) But Coastal’s 55 wins this season led all teams nationwide, and Arizona’s coach said in a post-game interview that Coastal was the best team they’d faced all year. Not sure how “underdog” they really were in the finals.
So there you have it, my post about general sports geekiness. I’ll sum it up with the fact that I love sports, although I rarely feel an urge to watch. It’s fine enough for me to track the progress and outcomes on the Internet. I’m a stats junkie, after all. I once had the results of the NCAA Division III rowing championships texted to me, and my wife will never let me live down that I’m that much of a stats junkie.
We’ll be back to the usual mental health struggles tomorrow, most likely. But for now, I just wanted to, um … crow about the Chanticleers and their well-earned national championship.