Weekend after weekend, split after split, I’ve harped the Harvard baseball team’s need to do better than 2-2 if it wants to make it to the Ivy League Championship series. This still holds true, but despite trudging through the Ancient Eight schedule with its consistently inconsistent brand of play, the Crimson still has a chance to win the Rolfe Division.
This weekend Harvard faces division leader Dartmouth in the two teams’ annual home and away series, and while the Crimson sits three games behind the Big Green and one behind second-place Brown, the boys from Cambridge aren’t down for the count just yet. If Harvard sweeps Dartmouth and Brown goes 2-2 or worse, the Crimson will emerge as one of the most unlikely dark horse division champions in recent history.
Of course, those are all huge ifs. It’s impossible to tell which Harvard team will show up on a given day: the dominant, well-rounded squad that shut out Brown, 9-0, last weekend or the Little League imposter that took a 24-1 beating from Columbia a few weeks back. It seems to be one or the other with the Crimson these days, and while it’s possible that good Harvard shows up against Dartmouth, it’s more likely that both Jekyll and Hyde come to the party.
Not to mention that the Big Green is in first place for a reason. Dartmouth pounds the ball so hard throughout its lineup that it has one dude named Brett Gardner (no relation to the light hitting, lightning-quick Yankee center fielder) who is fifth in the Ivies with eight home runs but doesn’t even have enough at-bats to qualify for a batting title. The Big Green also has some nice arms on its staff, including super reliever Cole Sulser, who’s managed to rack up 41 2/3 innings, a 6-0 record, and 45 strikeouts this season. Even if Harvard plays at its best this weekend, it still might not be as good as Dartmouth.
Of course, anything is possible, and the Crimson could pull off the sweep. But it will still need Brown to lose...a lot. That’s also unlikely, considering the Bears have last-place Yale on their plate.
I hate to be bleak, but there aren’t too many scenarios that end with Harvard playing for an Ivy League title. Maybe I’ll go online Sunday night and find out that I’m totally wrong, but in all likelihood, I’d advise Crimson baseball fans to take solace in the old Brooklyn Dodgers’ mantra: Wait ‘til next year.