League Pitcher of the Year? Been there, done that.
Conference Coach of the Year? Well you'd better earn it if you want to keep this job!
Unlike any major sports program on campus, high expectations follow the Sun Devil baseball program. And best of all, the team and coaching staff buys into that notion deeper than all fans combined.
The mantra of ‘act like you've been there before' is one that has consistently been noticed in ASU's postseason performances over the past few years and despite a new coaching staff, that outlook undoubtedly will carry over into this year's team.
Wins are demanded. Conference championships are expected. Sun Devil baseball has delivered on both requests but now that four consecutive Pac-10 Conference Championships have been earned, mere appearances in the College World Series do not satisfy the maroon and gold palate as they did a few years back. The stakes have been raised and national supremacy is the only means of satisfaction.
Is this philosophy overzealous, conceited or presumptuous? Perhaps.
But who are we to underestimate the Sun Devil baseball program?
This past fall, in the midst of ‘Murphgate', would any sober Sun Devil fan have predicted that ASU would earn the school's first number one overall postseason ranking? No one, save for the festive fraternity members already tailgating in preparation for the 2010 football season.
There's something rejuvenating about the success that Sun Devil baseball has enjoyed this season. Other ASU sports generally left much to be desired and baseball appeared to be headed down a similar path due to preseason chaos but the storm was weathered and excellence continued.
Thanks to the baseball team, at ASU, sports are once again fun. Sun Devil fans are chomping at the bit for the squad to reinstall a prideful swagger into all that support maroon and gold.
Another local team recently adopted a postseason anthem of ‘why not now', and though it did not work out for that franchise, perhaps no phrase better fits this year's Sun Devil squad. Other ASU teams have had more name value or big league fire power, but this team possibly could be the most potent of all that have pushed toward major postseason accomplishments recently.
Thanks to a team based more on grit than gaudy statistics; more on team unity than individual star power, Friday marks the start of what could possibly be something very special for Arizona State athletics.
Was ASU's excellent regular season expected? By no means.
Is it something that is truly a surprise? Not really.
Will ASU be the final team standing at the end of the college baseball season? Who's to say. But it will undoubtedly be a fun journey to follow.