OMAHA, Neb. --- One signature has changed Gordon Beckham's financial future forever.
One ink blot transforms Joshua Fields from a God-fearing country boy into a loaded, God-fearing country boy.
The sooner Georgia goes home, the sooner the Bulldogs' two All-Americans can start their financially strong careers. Major League money awaits.
Beckham and Fields were high draft picks three weeks ago, the culmination of years of toil on ball fields across the Southeast. Draft day was unforgettable in their households. Beckham's mother, Sully, shrieked when the call came from the White Sox at No. 8 overall. Fields' father, David, swelled with pride when Seattle rang 12 selections later.
This College World Series thing? Simply the after party.
High draft picks whose college careers are alive when Rosenblatt Stadium swings open its gates for the NCAA Tournament face temptation that run-of-the-mill players can't fathom. It taps on their shoulders like Gregory Hines on parquet. It tells them, again and again, "We've got contracts to sign. Bonus checks to cash. Bass boats to buy."
The temptation attempts to trick them, tries to put a ho-hum spin on a worthwhile pursuit, like chasing a national championship.
Naturally, some players acquiesce. They show up in Omaha gushing about the importance of winning the CWS and making history. All the while, voices of "advisers" named Boras and Steinberg resonate in the back of their brains. They lose patience, if they ever had any. They lose touch with the team concept. It becomes all about them.
And we're not just talking about Miami's batch of first-rounders this season.
To Beckham's and Fields' credit, the two have set aside their fantasies about what wealth brings and have stayed true to their team. They know how much a national championship would mean, not only to themselves, but to the players around them.
Beckham and Fields have a different mind-set because of the lousy season that Georgia endured last season. Hell-bent on preventing another slide like that has them transfixed on finishing on their terms -- closing out their college careers as national champions.
Agents can't slap dollar amounts on those experiences. They have value greater than any multiyear deal in the majors. Georgia's moments during this season, specifically the past three weeks, are sure things. What happens after Beckham and Fields take off their Georgia caps for the last time is not.
"I've been telling myself that this could be my last day at college," Beckham said Saturday after Georgia's 10-8 win over Stanford. "And now that we're in the national championship, I know this could be the last two or three games we play. I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to have fun. I'm not going to worry about pro ball yet."
Attitude like that is what separates championship-caliber players from selfish, money-driven ones.
Reach John Kaltefleiter at firstname.lastname@example.org.