Cal rallying in face of extinction
This could be the Bears' last season, but they're off to a good start
David Esquer gets pretty emotional when he talks about this year's Cal-Berkeley baseball team. Hard to blame him. Listen to the coach assess his top three pitchers -- Erik Johnson, Justin Jones and Dixon Anderson -- by saying, "I really think all three could have an opportunity to pitch in the big leagues," and you sense his excitement. And when he describes his second baseman Tony Renda as a kid who "is compared to Dustin Pedroia a lot because he's small in stature and he has the most disrespectful swing of any player I've ever coached," you can also feel the coach's genuine affection for this team.
And that's before even getting into the part about how this year's Cal Bears team could be the last baseball team to ever represent the school on the NCAA Division I level.
In late September, Cal announced it was dropping five varsity sports. Men's rugby, men's and women's gymnastics, women's lacrosse -- and baseball.
To read the full take on the Cal Bears' 2011 season, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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College Baseball on Insider
Insider has assembled a team to expand college baseball coverage in 2011. ESPN columnists Ryan McGee, Jeff Bradley and draft expert Keith Law are joined by CollegeSplits.com's Jeff Sackmann and longtime expert Will Kimmey in breaking down the top trends and stories each week.