This isn’t usually the type of column that ties in a lot of pop-culture references with the sports happening around the community, but as I watched the series finale of “Lost” Sunday night — yeah, all two-and-a-half unfortunate hours of it (couldn’t they have aired it at, like, seven o’clock instead of nine?) — it got me thinking about life, story telling, character development, narrative and, inevitably, Georgia Southern’s baseball season.
Yeah, I know it’s a stretch, but what can I say? That’s how my mind works.
Just so you know, there won’t be any “Lost” spoilers here for anyone who hasn’t seen the finale, has it on their DVR and still actually wants to watch it. I won’t give anything away and I’m not even sure I could if I wanted to. I’m still aggressively scratching my head and wondering why I didn’t just watch the end of “Celebrity Apprentice” instead and then just go to bed.
All I’ll say is that the final episode of “Lost” effectively explained to us that everything going on in the first five seasons was completely irrelevant to the point the show was trying to make, that the writers were good at asking a lot of questions but not clever enough to answer them, and that in the end, they just answered a whole new set of questions that nobody asked in the first place.
And the life of that show is a lot like the season of a mid-major baseball program.
The Georgia Southern Eagles had some ups and downs this year. There were story lines and turning points throughout the regular season and the culmination of their efforts will unfold this week at a Southern Conference tournament that basically makes everything that happened up to this point irrelevant.
Sure, there were some big wins, some tough losses and a whole lot of growth, but in the end, when you’re a Division I mid-major baseball program, unless you reach the 40-win plateau in your regular-season journey, you’ve only got one option at the tournament if you want to extend your season — win it.
Looking back at the season, there were plenty of exciting moments. The series win at Elon which included the Sunday shutout by Andy Moye, the 12-game winning streak, the various player- and pitcher-of-the-week (and month) awards, the ridiculous amount of stolen bases by Shawn Payne and the emergence of freshmen Arthur Owens, Victor Roache, Michael Burruss, Justin Hess and Chris Myers were all great, and they’re also all big contributors to GSU’s No. 3 seed in the tournament.
But unfortunately, like the first five seasons of “Lost,” it’s all just a bunch of stuff that happened. It has no bearing whatsoever on a spot in the NCAA regionals.
In other words, the body of work has been great, but it won’t be a factor on how the 2010 season will be viewed when it’s all said and done.
Still, it’s a darn good thing the Eagles went through what they went through this season. They have an advantage over TV soap operas. On a TV show, the script is written before the actors hit the set. They know their lines and they know exactly what they’re about to say and do before it’s caught on camera and presented to the fans.
In the sports world, the script isn’t written until the final out is made, or the clock runs down to zero, or the last competitor crosses the finishing line. Nobody knows the ending. The “actors” are in control of the season finale, and it’s up to them how the show will end.
Maybe that’s why sports fans keep coming back, even when the last season didn’t end how they hoped it would, and maybe that’s why the Eagles are heading up to Charleston, S.C. thinking that, regardless of the way the regular season played out, they’re still the defending SoCon champions and destiny’s still in their hands.
Maybe it will end the way they hope it will end, maybe it won’t, and maybe that sense of the unknown is why athletic programs will always have fans regardless of what happens as the credits start to roll.
Or, maybe I’m just venting because I invested so much time watching a long-running TV show that didn’t even come close to reaching its potential when all was said and done.
We’ve seen what the Eagles are capable of this season, and Wednesday when the SoCon tournament begins, we’ll see if they can reach their potential with a script that has yet to be written.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.