There's a good reason why Omaha has been nicknamed “Baton Rouge North.” When LSU makes it to the World Series, they take a legion of fans with them.
For the first time in school history, the LSU Tigers lost in the College World Series final.
Up to that point, the program was like the Michael Jordan of college baseball. They had reached six finals, and they had gone a perfect 6-0. The six championships had them tied with Texas for second-most national championships all time.
Things didn’t go as swimmingly last week as the Tigers were swept by Florida. Though they came up short, the loss surely can’t be contributed to lack of support from their fans.
There’s a good reason why Omaha has been nicknamed “Baton Rouge North.” When LSU makes it to the World Series, they take a legion of fans with them.
When you take a look at the many spectators making their way to TD Ameritrade Park, you might temporarily lose your bearings and think you’ve transported to Nicholson Drive.
For as far as the eye can see, there’s swarms of purple and gold. There’s tailgating, there’s jambalaya, there’s gumbo, there’s every ingredient of a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon at The Box.
Yes, LSU was swept in the championship series. Yes, there were times during the second game that were just plain ugly, and yes, losing to Florida always feels like a Joe Frazier punch to the gut.
Still, you can’t help but be proud of being a Tiger.
The team showed tremendous perseverance in winning not just one but three elimination games.
Even with their pitching rotation running on fumes, they were able to beat No. 1 Oregon state twice in two days. Those guys had only lost four games in four months.
And the fans, they proved why they’re the best in college baseball.
They packed the park every time LSU took the field and made the stands look like a raging sea of purple.
LSU may have lost to Florida on the field, but in fan support, it was a mismatch.
Gator fans were hard to find. The two championship final games looked like a weekend series at Alex Box.
I joked afterward that it was rough having to watch Florida celebrate winning the national championship with their 32 fans, but that number probably wasn’t that far off.
LSU head coach Paul Mainieri made sure to recognize his rabid fan base when the World Series came to a close.
He said, “I’d just like to thank all the LSU fans and people that have followed the program. They came up here in droves from Baton Rouge and all parts of Louisiana and really throughout the country.
“And we’re really sorry we couldn’t deliver the championship for them. I know they wanted it badly. They encouraged us, and we represent a wonderful state, and I wish we could have finished the job.”
Nothing illustrated the passion of the LSU fans more than the general admission line at the park. It went on for blocks as spectators sat patiently, trying to get in to see their Tigers.
The TV numbers were just as strong.
This ended up being the most watched World Series since 2014.
Game two peaked at 2.6 million viewers, which was a 72-percent increase from last year’s World Series finale.
Game one was the most watched opener since 2011, with 1.8 million viewers.
New Orleans was by far the highest-rated market throughout the country during the final series. It produced an average rating of 19.3, and game two reached 20.1.
Game two had a live audience of more than 26,000 fans. It was the fifth-highest attended game in World Series history.
It’s quite amazing how much better the event’s ratings and interest level increase when LSU is in the dance. They have what other teams don’t: Tiger Nation.
And hey, LSU fans just weren’t cheering on the Tigers in Omaha, they were saving lives.
Senior pitcher Jared Poche’s father, Dr. Jerry Poche, made national news during Monday night’s game one, when he helped save a a Florida fan’s life that had gone into cardiac arrest. Jimmy Roy, father of LSU strength and conditioning coach Travis Roy assisted.
When Dr. Poche got there, the man had no pulse, and he wasn’t breathing. He revived him with CPR until the paramedics arrived and rushed him to the hospital. His condition later became stable.
Saving lives, being respectful to opposing teams and fans and fervently supporting the Tigers win or lose, this is why we have set the gold standard. This is why Baton Rouge will always be the epicenter of college baseball.