Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FSU's Martin seeks first title in 13th CWS appearance

As a lifelong baseball fan, Florida State coach Mike Martin is well aware of the role that numbers play.

Perhaps like no other game, a dizzying array of calculations is what defines baseball's participants at every level. And for his part, Martin has amassed mind-boggling numbers during a Hall of Fame career.

Save one.

Zero. That's his NCAA titles despite 12 College World Series appearances.

"When I was beginning in this (profession) in my early 30s, I was consumed by it; I wanted so much to win a national championship," Martin said. "And maybe it was for selfish reasons. Not any more. Now, my exhilaration is for these young men who have the opportunity to experience what college baseball is all about. They are arriving at the top. There is no other stop."

The Seminoles, making that stop for the first time since 2000, the 13th time under Martin and 19th time overall (without a title), open against Stanford at 2 p.m. today at Rosen­blatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.

Martin, 64, a former Seminole standout (1965-66) who's more often than not simply referred to as 11, his jersey number, might just have a team that can end the school's and his own 0-fer in Omaha.

FSU (54-12) features a potent lineup — led by junior catcher Buster Posey — that's hitting .354, a school record and tops in the NCAA this season, and is averaging 9.9 runs.

"Guys on this team believe in each other," Posey said. "Although the players don't talk about it, they all share a common thought to do something special:

"Everyone wants to get 11 that championship," senior rightfielder Jack Rye said.

Every sport is replete with successful coaches and brilliant players who have done everything but win the big one.

Think Ernie Banks. Dan Marino. Charles Barkley. John Chaney and Ray Meyer.

Who wouldn't want to be one of those guys?

Same for Martin. His record is 1,538-518-4 in 29 seasons at FSU, which puts him third on the Division I list for wins. He has helped groom 14 first-round major league draft picks, including Posey this year (No. 5 to San Francisco), and don't forget about his scores of All-Americans.

His players who stay graduate, and Martin is a tireless promoter of the game.

And it's not as if the team hasn't come close to a championship. FSU finished second to Arizona in 1986 and to Miami in 1999.

If you ask his former players, all of whom do an impersonation of Martin's drawl and folksy vocabulary (he actually says "dern"), each will say Martin doesn't need to win the elusive CWS ring to cement his legacy as a winner, both on and off the diamond.

"That would be a big plus, but he's made Florida State baseball what it is," said Red Sox catcher and ex-Ray Kevin Cash, a member of the 1999 FSU team. "He did everything he possibly could for us to succeed and win. When we lost, it bothered us, but it bothered us more for him."

Atlanta outfielder Matt Diaz, a one-time Rays prospect and another standout on the '99 team, is sure Martin's place among the greats is secure no matter what happens in the coming days — or years.

"I grew up a Dolphins fan, and everyone said that about Marino, that he didn't win a championship," Diaz said. "Looking back now, everyone considers him one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. I think that's how the baseball community will view 11.''

For his part, Martin isn't worried about that.

"Winning would be great for all of us," he said. "But I don't want to be anything other than what I am, and that's just a guy who really loves his job and loves to see young men have this opportunity. … We want very much to win it. But I don't want to be wanting it too much. That's not what it's about."

Brian Landman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3347.


College World Series

When/where: Today-June 24/25 (if necessary); Rosenblatt Stadium, Omaha, Neb.

Today's schedule: No. 4 Florida State vs. Stanford, 2 p.m., ESPN

No. 1 Miami vs. No. 8 Georgia, 7 p.m., ESPN

FSU's Martin seeks first title in 13th CWS appearance 06/13/08 [Last modified: Saturday, June 14, 2008 10:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NFL Week 7: What we learned


    Are the Purple People Eaters back in Minnesota? The Vikings sacked Joe Flacco five times and held the Ravens to 208 total yards in a 24-16 home victory, their third straight win. QB Case Keenum looked ordinary with a 67.7 passer rating after completing 20-of-31 for 188 yards and an interception. Kai Forbath …

    Trainers, top, check Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas after Thomas was hurt in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) OHTD122
  2. Bills' comeback against Bucs a win for the process


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It hasn't taken Sean McDermott long to understand how to play to his base. Asked if the Bills had "gotten away with one" Sunday, the first-year coach gushed about his team reflecting the character of the town.

    Under first-year coach Sean McDermott, the Bills are 3-0 at home for the first time in six years. “I love playing here,” he says.
  3. No. 18 UCF closes in on USF, which drops to No. 17


    USF remained ahead of UCF in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday — just barely.

  4. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  5. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]