• Golden Basketball Magazine
Tigers in Semifinals [5/27]
I watched the whole game Thursday night!
  • I was disgusted in the top of the 7th when 2B Cole Freeman and RF Antoine Duplantis botched a pop up to start a two-run inning for the Bulldogs.
  • But I hung in there and was rewarded in the bottom of the inning when MSU committed almost exactly the same error.
  • But C Michael Papierski, in the lineup for his defense, got those runs back with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the inning.
  • The Tigers have scored seven of their 16 runs in the tournament after two were out - clutch hitting.
LSU Baseball Update [5/26]
For the second straight night, I turned off the LSU game before it was over.
  • When Florida tied the game in the bottom of the 9th, I was so disgusted by the error committed by "defensive replacement" Brennan Breaux (plus the fact that the clock was striking midnight) that I had reached my limit of baseball for one day.
  • The Tigers were fighting their guts out to beat one of the best teams in the land, and this clown drops an easy fly in LF to put the tying run on base. (In a similar play, Breaux muffed an easy fly in foul territory down the LF line in the Florida series last weekend.) THE SCORER GAVE THE BATTER A DOUBLE - A RIDICULOUS CALL SINCE BREAUX HAD THE BALL IN HIS GLOVE WITHOUT AN EXCEPTIONAL EFFORT. SCORERS ACROSS ALL OF BASEBALL ARE MUCH TOO LENIENT ON FIELDERS. AN 8TH-GRADER WITH AVERAGE COMPETENCE COULD HAVE MADE THE CATCH.)
  • Yes, the Tigers finally won, as I learned as soon as I got up this morning. But they had to play five more innings until 1:45AM, lessening their chances of defeating Mississippi State tonight.
  • You could look at Breaux's error as a makeup by the baseball gods for the missed call at home when Jake Fraley scored the tying run in the 8th. The gods giveth, and the gods taketh away. (As a rabid fan, I want the giveth but not the taketh.)
  • Breaux partially redeemed himself by drawing a walk during the 14th inning rally that produced the two-run victory margin.
  • Wednesday night's game also provided a redemption of sorts for Jordan Romero, whose pinch-hit in the 14th drove in the go-ahead run and ended his 0-for-17 drought.
  • And Jesse Stallings turned in the finest outing of his two-year LSU career: 5 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs although he walked and got lucky in the 11th with a line drive DP to get him out of a bases-loaded-no-out jam.
Slice of History
NCAA to Drop Southerners If They Drop Code - Bushnell
 Eastern Conference Commish Voices Threat
 by Pat Robinson

 International News Service article in the Times-Picayune, May 11, 1949
New York, May 10 - Asa Bushnell, commissioner of the Eastern College Athletic Conference, said Tuesday that if Southern colleges drop the "purity" code, the NCAA will drop them.
His threat was voiced in answer to reports that the South­ern, Southeastern and Southwestern conferences intend to disavow the "sanity" or "purity" athletic code in a meet­ing this month.
"I haven't been informed officially that the Southerners in­tend to drop the code," said Bushnell. "But if they should do so, they would be barred from competing in all National Collegiate Athletic Association championships in all sports."
Asked what might happen in a sport such as football, which has no official national championships, Bushnell re­plied: "In general that would be up to the individual col­leges which wanted to play against the Southerners. But that would not apply to our Eastern Conference. None of our conference colleges would be permitted to play the Southerners - or anybody else defying the code - because we have a special rule by which our colleges have agreed not to meet colleges which do not live up to the same code."
This would mean that Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, Penn, Army and Navy would be barred from football competition with colleges disavowing the "purity" code.
The hitch between the South and other parts of the country arises over the athletic financial aid and recruiting points.
The coaches in the East don't like the general hypocritical standard under which they operate any more than their brothers in the South. But they are forced to pay lip ser­vice to it.
Off the record, most coaches will admit that subsidizing and recruiting of athletes goes on in all parts of the country.
The South wants to pay the boys open and above board. Many "pure" colleges verbally disown such practices but have a blind eye for undercover payments.
The only difference between paying a hard-running half­back openly and having an old grad slip him so much a week for expenses is a question of honesty. The South wants to do it honestly.

International News Service
Atlanta, May 10 - Athletic officials of the Southeastern and Southern Conferences indicated Tuesday night that they would ask the Southwestern Conference to join them in demanding that the National Intercollegiate Athletic Asso­ciation approve athletic scholarships.
A meeting between the college presidents and the athletic directions of the three conferences, meanwhile, has been scheduled for May 28 in Atlanta.
The calling of this meeting in itself is unusual. The South­eastern, Southern and Southwestern athletic authorities frequently hold conferences concerning their respective groups. A confab among the leaders of the three athletic conferences, however, is definitely out of the ordinary.

LSU Baseball Update [5/25]
"Well, I guess they were due for a bad game."
  • That was my attitude of resignation midway through Tuesday night's SEC Tournament opener for LSU against Tennessee. I even turned to another channel, not wanting to watch my team self-destruct. (More on what I turned to later.)
  • After having their 11-game winning streak broken by Florida in the second game last Saturday, the Tigers played poorly in all aspects of the game, especially in the field. Even the reliable Kramer Robertson made two errors, with Antoine Duplantis chipping in a third.
  • But the Rally Possum finally awoke from his slumber in the 7th. (He likes to conserve his energy for the late innings.)
  • But for R.P. (as his friends call him) to do his job, the LSU bullpen had to hold the Vols. After throwing three perfect innings against Florida, Parker Bugg gave up two runs in the 6th and needed Jesse Stallings to hold UT at four runs. Then Hunter Newman threw two perfect innings, striking out half the batters he faced.
  • The Tigers got three in the bottom of the 7th and had the tying run thrown out at the plate - incredibly, the third man out a home in the game. (Will Manieri either dismiss Nolan Cain from his staff for '17 or at least get someone else to coach 3rd?)
  • Then came the magical 9th. Brother Martin's own Greg Deichmann creamed a fast ball over the CF fence, 405' away, to tie the game. At that point, I figured, "We're definitely going to win this game." And, sure enough, Kramer Robertson came through again with a bases-loaded single.
  • I thought the Tennessee coach did LSU a big favor when he removed starter Will Neely when he gave up a double to start the 7th after shutting out the Tigers for six innings. His bullpen has not been too good all season, and it failed him again.
  • And not to be overlooked amid the late inning hoopla, didn't Jake Latz look great in his two innings? It's obvious why the redshirt freshman was so highly rated coming out of high school in Lemont IL. Fastball in the low 90s, sharp curve, and even a changeup. Manieri's must be licking his chops at the prospect of having Lange and Latz for his weekend rotation next season when, like LSU's 2016 football team, the Tigers will undoubtedly start the season in the top five.
  • I'M WONDERING IF ANDY CANNIZZARO IS BEING GROOMED AS MANIERI'S REPLACEMENT. The 36-year-old Tulane grad has done a great job as hitting coach, taking a starting lineup with eight newcomers and improving them to 3rd in the league in hitting. Watching him with the players before and during games, Andy seems to have a great rapport with the young men. Manieri is young enough that Cannizzaro may go elsewhere for a while to get head coaching experience before returning to LSU when Paul retires.
  • Speaking of Tulane, I hope the Green Wave are not sent to the Baton Rouge Regional. It's not that I'm afraid of them, although they did beat the Tigers both times they played them this season behind the same P. But why play a team in the Regional that you've already played in the regular season? And I imagine think the Green Wave would have the same sentiment. Tulane is given an outside chance at hosting a regional, although they may have to add the AAC Tournament Championship to their regular season title to do so. In that case, the LSU and Tulan,e Regional winners may be paired in the SuperRegional, as happened in 2001, Skip Bertman's last year as coach, when the Greenies won two-of-three to advance to Omaha.

Now we have a great day of baseball in Hoover AL.

  • Here's how the eight teams stack up in the various polls.
    1. Mississippi State 1 3 3 6
    2. South Carolina 8 9 9 7
    3. Texas A&M 2 1 2 5
    4. Florida 5 4 1 2
    5. LSU 6 8 7 8
    6. Vanderbilt 7 10 6 11
    7. Ole Miss 10 11 10 19
    9. Alabama -- -- -- --
  • This is a World Series in itself. Even in the least-SEC-friendly ESPN poll, five of the eight are in the top 10.
  • Everyone assumes Alex Lange will start for LSU against AJ Puk of Florida in a long-awaited pitching duel. But neither coach has made that official. Manieri likes to play it coy with his pitching selections.
What's Wrong with the Warriors? [5/25]
When I mentioned above that I turned away from the LSU game when they were losing 4-0, the channel I changed to was TNT for the Warriors-Thunder game.

Both conference finals have produced surprises.

  • The Thunder won again to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals.
  • If OKC completes their upset over the record-setting Warriors, I will attribute their victory to two main factors and one lesser factor:
    --Steph Curry's injuries.
    --Rookie coach Billy Donovan's lifting OKC to a new level.
    --Draymond Green's poor play.
  • First, Curry. Here's his regular season stats vs. the post-season:
    Steph Curry 2015-16 PPG FG% 3P% Asst/G Reb/G
    Regular season 30.1 50.4 45.4 6.7 5.4
    Post-season 24.5 45.3 38.1 5.5 5.4
    Clearly, his injuries have diminished his play, not to mention the fact that he missed four games entirely, although he hasn't missed any against OKC.
  • The Thunder have steadily improved over the course of the season under Donovan's tutelage. Here's OKC's stats for the last two seasons.
    Oklahoma City Thunder PPG OPPG Diff.
    2014-15 104.0 101.8 2.2
    2015-16 110.2 102.9 7.3
    Scott Brooks is a good coach, as evidenced by the Wizards hiring him after a year of idleness. But Billy is better. Their defense against Golden State has been outstanding. And their general aggressiveness on both ends of the court has overwhelmed the Warriors for large portions of games. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have been OKC's mainstays for eight years, but Donovan is getting more out of the rest of the roster. Sometimes a coach like Brooks is doing a fine job, but it takes a change to get a team over the hump. The Thunder reached the NBA Finals but lost to Miami. Maybe Donovan's first squad will go all the way.
  • Now Draymond Green. Here's his stats for the regular season and the series against OKC.
    Draymond Green 2015-16 PPG FG% 3P% Asst/G Reb/G
    Regular season 14.0 49.0 38.8 7.4 9.5
    Post-season before OKC 17.7 53.3 41.7 6.9 10.4
    Western Finals vs OKC 11.3 33.3 16.7 4.0 7.0
    Draymond's performance against OKC is made even more evident when you look at it game-by-game.
    Draymond Green 2015-16 Pts FG% 3P% Asst Reb
    Games 1 & 2 in Oakland 33 44.8 25.0 11 13
    Games 3 & 4 in OKC 12 12.5 0.0 5 15
    The Thunder have done a great defensive job on Green (and the entire Warriors' team), especially at home.

Meanwhile, the Raptors have derailed Cleveland's express train, at least temporarily.

  • Toronto not only broke the Cavs' 10-game playoff winning streak, they beat them again at home to even the series.
  • The Raptors' problem is that they must win a game in Cleveland to reach the finals.
  • Their best bet is to do that tonight in Game 5. They don't want the Series to come down to a Game 7 on LeBron's home court.
LSU Baseball Update [5/24]
The Tigers did themselves proud against the Gators.
  • They won the game that Alex Lange pitched, as they needed to do, but in an unusual way. The Thursday night opener was suspended in the bottom of the 3rd with no score. When it resumed Saturday morning, the Tigers won without Alex throwing another pitch. The key was Parker Bugg's three perfect innings of relief.
  • In between, LSU took the Friday night game 5-4 behind Jared Poche's best outing of the season: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R/1 ER, 4 K, 3 BB. The Tigers were aided by Florida ace A.J. Puk's upset tummy (Can't stomach pitching in Alex Box Stadium, A.J.?) that limited him to just two innings.
  • But the Gators, with supposedly the deepest pitching staff in the land, should have been able to weather that storm. But seven hits from Antoine Duplantis (4) and Jake Fraley (3) at the top of the order did in the visitors, 5-4. Hunter Newman recorded his sixth save with a perfect 9th.
  • The Tigers actually had an opportunity to capture one of the top four spots in the SEC Tournament and the first day byes that go with them had they swept the series. But Florida salvaged the seven-inning second game Saturday, 6-2. That ended the Rally Possum's streak at 10 in a row and LSU's streak at 11.

So #5 LSU must play #12 Tennessee tonight in a loser-go-home first round game.

  • I expected Manieri to come back with Lange since Alex threw only three innings last Thursday. Then he could use him again if the Tigers reached the final Sunday.
  • But Manieri surprised me - and a lot of other people, I'm sure - by selecting Jake Latz, who has pitched all of 3 1/3 innings this year after enduring arm miseries for over a year. It will the redshirt freshman's first start against an SEC team.
  • Obviously, Paul thinks LSU has sewn up a regional as does every commentator I've heard the last week.
  • Apparently, coach also thinks that his club has little chance at moving in the top eight to host a super regional if they win the regional. Otherwise, how explain taking a chance at being one-and-done, which will certainly fry the Top Eight possibility? The flip side of that is he may figure the Tigers must go deep into the tournament to move up and that can't be done if he burns Lange against the Vols.
  • I'm sure he thinks Latz can play an important role in the regional and wants to stretch him out some - three innings tonight would be a "stretch.".
  • His big problem, of course, is that LSU and Florida had to play two games Saturday. So Poche is not an option until Thursday if the Tigers get that far.
  • If the Tigers vanquish Tennessee, I would be very surprised if Lange doesn't take the hill against the Gators, the #4 seed, Wednesday night at 8. But the tournament becomes double elimination at that point - except that the winners of Saturday's two games go to the finals. No more "must beat them twice" to get to the final. (The team with one loss going into the semifinal against the undefeated team in the subdivision has to play an additional game to get there.)

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About This Site
This site is devoted primarily but not exclusively to college and pro football. The unique feature of this site is the publication each fall of the author's rankings of all FBS college football teams and similar rankings for the NFL. I live in New Orleans and am a graduate of LSU and FSU. So I present a Southern and particularly an SEC point of view but one that is reasonably objective. I also publish a monthly Football Magazine with stories from the past and a monthly Baseball Magazine with a similar format. During the winter and spring, there's a monthly Basketball Magazine.

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