Normally, I'd use the storylines of the week to illustrate how Boston College fared over the course of their prior week. I'd use statistics to evaluate their performance over the course of the greater body of work, and I'd illustrate the positives and negatives. I'd follow one major axiom - "You're never as bad as when you're bad, and you're never as good as when you're good."
I won't do that this week. I'm not going to regale you with tales of how Boston College baseball is taking positives from a negative outcome, and I'm not going to humor you with stories about how this team is heading in the right direction. The last two weeks test even the most ardent BC supporter's nerves, and it's very hard, at this stage of the game, to focus on what this team is doing well.
I've said before that wins and losses matter when it's against specific opponents. But after winning the first game of the three game series against Wake Forest, the Birdballers collapsed and were blown out in the second and third games. Then came Northeastern.
For the fifth consecutive game, BC couldn't play at Shea Field. The game moved to Parsons Field, became a road game against the Huskies, and, for the third consecutive time, the Eagles found themselves blown out. Losing 7-0 to Northeastern, we're right back to square one with this team in asking if they're a team that can compete at a very high level or a team mired in mediocrity or worse. And for that, I'm throwing numbers out the window and issuing the call to action.
I don't doubt the effort of the guys in uniform. I don't doubt their efforts are trying, so hard, to win ballgames. But at some point, it becomes a matter of willing a team to victory. This team is pressing, as Mike Gambino indicates in his postgame remarks. This team is trying too hard to do too much, and that's a problem. I think, mentally, this team is trying way too hard to win games, and I guess that's not necessarily a bad thing because at least they want to win.
I do think at some point, there needs to be the Jon Taffer theory: "I don't embrace excuses. I embrace solutions." I'm almost positive I've used this at least once this week.
Let's get back to the point, though. This team is "pressing." Well instead of talking about how they're pressing, how do they fix it? How does this team fix the issues at hand? How can BC manufacture more runs, hit better with men on base, get themselves into situations where they're attacking instead of defending? How can they get men on, grow more patient, apply lessons learned from prior games that can prevent those situations from happening again?
These are the questions they should be answering, and we'll see if they're answering them in the coming weeks against their opponents. If the play on the field improves, then we'll know BC answered the bell. If they continue to get blown out, though, then we'll have to ask why they're not improving and look at little bit deeper. That is not a microscope I know I want to take. I'd rather keep talk of the team's play tempered to solely what's happening on the field. However, if the team fails to compete at a high level, we have to ask why, we have to ask what happened, and we have to look further. This is strictly an x's and o's thing, not related to the stadium or Shea Field debate, which is one for another day.
With top-ranked Florida State on the horizon, a BC team now sitting at 7-15 needs to determine which team they're going to be. They're a team capable of taking Virginia to two one-run ballgames. They should've beaten Miami, should've beaten Florida Atlantic. To see performances in those games only to turn around and get blown out by Northeastern is alarming. Whatever the reasons for their "pressing" performance, it's now on them to work through it.
I distinctly remember during hockey season working a loss by Bentley (yeah yeah, I know) to Harvard. At the time, Bentley threw 40-plus shots at the Harvard goal, but goalie Raphael Girard stood on his head and shut out the Falcons. Regardless of outcome, I remember saying on air the following line:
"At some point, if you're a team that expects to compete with teams of a higher caliber, you have to be able to compete strongly against them, then turn around and handle the games you're 'supposed to win.' It's no longer good enough to have a couple of competitive outcomes. But that's on us to analyze and wonder what they have to do. Ultimately, it's up to the players to sit back and say, 'I'm done with losing. It's us against the world. We're not losing anymore.'"
My old baseball coach told my high school team that exact same thing 11 years ago before the Massachusetts state tournament. He told us that, despite being a 12-8 team that snuck into a very poor seed, we could still be state champions if we believed in what we were doing and went out there and did it. He told us that, in baseball as in other sports, you can absolutely will yourself to victory on the basis that you're just not going to let it happen anymore. We won the state title that year, going through a Major League Baseball first round draft pick in the process.
Regardless of the sport, I wholly believe in that axiom. And if the Boston College Eagles want to quell the discussion about dropping the sport or why they fail, then they have to go out and earn it. If they don't want to hear about the talk about firing the coach or hear about the talk about not having a stadium, then they need to force the attention the other direction. And, at some point, after three years, they have to determine what kind of team they're going to be.
If this comes across crass or politically incorrect, then I apologize. I apologize for wanting so badly to see this team succeed because I think there's some good talent there, and I believe, with all my heart and soul, in New England collegiate baseball. I apologize for putting it out there in an aggressive manner. But I don't apologize for thumping my chest out there and putting it forward to tell the players and coaches in uniform the following - I believe in you. I believe in your talent. I believe in your untapped potential. I think this team is more likely going to be the team that nearly won a pitcher's duel with the arguably the best staff in the ACC than it is the team that got blown out by a lower-tier CAA club. But it's up to you to make it happen. And if you can't make it happen, then we have to figure out what is going wrong, try to point it out, and challenge you to be better.
It can be your time. Florida State is coming to town this weekend, and right now, nobody believes you can beat the #1-ranked Seminoles. And if you lose, then you lose. But show us something like when you competed with the better ACC teams. And start the process of turning this season around before, like years past, it's simply too late.