You know the old adage: “It’s better to be lucky than good.”
It could easily be debated whether that’s true, but no will argue that it’s better to be lucky than bad.
The Klamath Falls Falcons certainly make the case that it’s better to be lucky than bad.
There’s a Legion Ball team in the state of Oregon, a good one, out there who is really one of the top-eight teams this summer who won’t be playing at Kiger Stadium in the state tournament Saturday.
Meanwhile, because Klamath Falls is the host of the tournament, the Falcons receive an automatic berth.
Few would claim that it has been a good summer for the Falcons on the baseball diamond. Being 13 games below .500 is a characteristic of a bad team. Having multiple games where the number of errors exceeds the number of runs you score is not a characteristic associated with a good team.
Even the most optimistic of people couldn’t spin that the Falcons belong in this tournament. Sure, a team’s record doesn’t always correlate with how good or bad a team actually is, but more often than not, your record is what it is for a reason.
As Randy Adams, the play-by-play man for the Falcons wrote earlier in the week for the Herald and News, the Falcons biggest hurdle to they had to climb was getting their youthful, inexperienced players up to speed.
And that’s true. A look up and down the typical Falcon’s lineup card reveals there are several of the big-time players — all-state and all-league caliber players — who are eligible to play from this past spring are absent.
Also, Legion ball teams are made up of all the class levels in high school sports 6A-1A. There are no 6A players on the Falcons roster, which is not the case for many of the other teams.
Sometimes you have to go with what you have and deal with the growing pains that come from getting inexperienced players experience.
This should bode well for the players on the team for the ensuing spring and summer seasons. There are times where it’s prudent to sacrifice wins for the development of younger players. The reps that younger Falcons are getting now are vital to them improving as baseball players and helping the program improve as well.
Still, seventeen teams finished with a better record than the Falcons in their respective areas this summer. Only the Portland Eastside Cutters (2-28) have fewer total wins than the Falcons.
That’s the bad, now the lucky.
Despite 6-31 (3-17 Area 4) record, the Falcons are in the tournament. Time and time again, postseason baseball shows that just about anything can take place on the diamond in do-or-die situations.
The obvious example is the 2007 Oregon State baseball team. A team that in all likelihood should not have been in the 64-team field. Finishing with a losing record in the then Pac-10, the defending national champs got in because they were the defending national champs.
One of the lowest seeds in the field, the Beavers not only won a regional and a super regional, but won each and every game in Omaha to capture a second national title.
Yes, that is an extreme outlier, a rarity in sports. But the fact of the matter is that it could happen, as unlikely as it may be.
Klamath Falls Area 4 record can be attributed to the fact they play in arguably the best Area in Legion Baseball.
Four teams — Eugene Challengers, Willamette Valley Titans and the Medford Mustangs — all advanced to the state tournament. Neither of the other two Areas can make that claim.
The Falcons received an added dose of luck with its opening matchup draw, the Medford Mustangs.
Saturday will be the sixth time that the two southern Oregon teams square off this summer. Medford, to their credit, have won all five of the previous matchups. How the sixth matchup plays out is a bit of a mixed bag.
Medford dominated the first three games, winning by a combined score of 37-3 which included two shutouts of the Falcons.
A week after the shellacking, Klamath Falls responded, losing 2-1 and 8-5 in a doubleheader. In both games, the Falcons held leads but squandered them in the sixth inning.
The Falcons are showing signs that they are playing their best baseball at the end of the season. The blowouts have been fewer and further between. Now they have another chance to define how this summer went.
The cool thing about that Oregon State’s ‘07 title is that what they are known as — champions. The losing conference record isn’t associated with them because they were the team dogpiling in the middle at Rosenblat Stadium.
Postseasons, for better or for worse, define the success of a player or team. It happens across the board.
Win a game in the state tournament, suddenly the perception of a bad season morphs into a good one.
The Falcons are just lucky to get that chance.