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  • Golden Football Magazine
June 12, 2015

My friends, I'm leaving today for three weeks in the Philippines, where I'll be doing some teaching and lecturing at Cor Jesu College in Digos City.

I'll be back late on July 5. Give me most of July 6 to catch up on sleep. Hopefully, I'll resume posting later that day.

In the meantime:

  • I leave the Cardinals six games in front in the NL Central.
  • My prediction of Warriors in six in the NBA Finals is still in play after they tied the series 2-2 last night.
  • I know I'll at least be able to follow LSU in Omaha over there and hopefully will see some of their games live or in replay.
Slice of History: LSU Records Its First Victory in Omaha
LSU stays alive by beating Maine
by Brian Allee-Walsh, Times-Picayune 6/2/1986
OMAHA, Neb. - Pitching, defense and hot-hitting Jeff Yurtin kept LSU alive in the 40th annual College World Series Sun­day afternoon.
The No. 2-ranked Tigers, paced by Yurtin's four-hit, five-RBI performance, eliminated No. 7 Maine, 8-4, before an esti­mated 9,000 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium. ...
"They weren't knocking the cover off the ball outside of Yurtin," Maine coach John Winkin said. "Let's face it: The ball had eyes for them today, they capitalized on their run­ning and they made the double play. That's the difference, but that's also the mark of a good team."
Yurtin, a senior third baseman, collected four of LSU's eight hits to raise his average from .354 to .366. He ripped a solo home run in the seventh, a two-run double in the first and a two-run single in the third. He also started one of LSU's four double plays and snared a line drive off Don Hutchinson's bat to end a Maine rally in the fourth inning.
"This is the first day that I've actually put together a com­plete game," Yurtin said. "I'm just happy that we won be­cause we needed to win to stay here."
Yurtin wasn't the only LSU hero in the field. Left fielder Rob Hartwig robbed leadoff hitter Gary LaPierre of an extra­base hit with a diving catch in the first. And center fielder Mike Papajohn and shortstop Jeff Reboulet collaborated to gun down Maine's Mike Bordick, who tried to stretch a dou­ble into a triple in the fifth.
"We had a lot of good fortune today," LSU coach Skip Bert­man said. "A lot of our ground balls found holes between third and short. They weren't hit very hard.
"Some of their ground balls were 'at 'em' balls, and allowed us to get four double plays and kill those innings."
The Tigers struck quickly, scoring two runs in the top of the first, three in the third and one in the sixth for a 6-0 lead.
Yurtin gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the first with a double to left-center field agains Maine starter Jeff Plympton, 8-3.
Yurtin struck the key blow again in a three-run third inning with a two-run single. The Tigers' lead grew to 5-0 as Rob Leary stayed in a rundown long enough for Jim Bowie to score from third.
The Tigers - who lost to Loyola-Marymount, 4-3, Friday night - made it 6-0 in the fourth as Craig Faulkner scored on Burke Brossard's groundout.
"It's easier to pitch when your team gets two or three runs in the first inning," said LSU starter Stan Loewer, who pitched the first 5 2/3 innings. "You don't have to play with the batters or try and paint the corners. Our defense played great behind us all year and they did it again today."
The Black Bears cut the deficit to 6-2 with single runs in the fourth and fifth.
LSU scored an unearned run in the sixth to make it 7-2, but Maine pulled within 7-4 on Bill Reynolds' two-run homer in the bottom half of the inning.
Bertman didn't hesitate to pull Loewer at this point in favor of freshman Dan Kite. But Kite didn't last long. After walking Hutchinson, Gregg Patterson came on and struck out Dave Gonyar to end the inning.
Yurtin's 10th home run closed out the scoring in the sev­enth.
Loewer, 14-4, recorded his sixth straight victory. Patterson allowed one hit over the final 3 1/3 innings to register his first save of the year.
Bertman said he will start either Mark Guthrie (9-1) or Pat­terson (3-0) Wednesday night.

L: 1986 Tigers celebrate Regionals victory to qualify for Omaha for first time; R: Jeff Yurtin
College Baseball Roundup
Tuesday, June 9
The NCAA Baseball Committee didn't do so great a job seeding the teams this year.
  • Four of the Top Eight seeds didn't make Omaha.
    UCLA didn't even win its regional.
    Louisville, Illinois, and Missouri State lost in the Super Regionals.
  • Until late last night, there was a possibility that the CWS this year would consist entirely of SEC (5) and ACC (3) teams.
  • But Cal. State Fullerton (Big West Conference) and TCU (Big 12) crashed the party by defeating Louisville (in 11 innings) and Texas A&M (16 innings), respectively.
  • The SEC almost duplicated in baseball what its softball teams did in getting 5 of the 8 spots in the World Series in OKC. But the league will have to "settle" for having just half the field in Omaha.
  • The SEC entries split out with two on each side of the bracket and, luckily, neither pair plays each other in the first round.
  • Wouldn't it be awesome to have all four win and meet in the winner's bracket games Monday and Tuesday in their respective brackets.
  • Unfortunately, I'm leaving for the Philippines Friday for three weeks and will be there through the CWS. Hopefully, I can watch the LSU games on my laptop. The problem is that LSU's game Sunday at 2 PM CDT starts at 3 AM in the Philippines, which is 13 times zones ahead of Central Time - literally a half a world away. Who knows? With jet lag I may be wide awake at 3 AM Monday when the Tigers play on Sunday in Omaha.
    Incidentally, the SEC also had four of the eight teams in Omaha in 1997 when Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Mississippi State won their regionals in those days of 48-team tournaments (8 regionals of 6 teams). LSU beat Alabama 13-6 in the final game that year. In that era before they dead­ened the bats, the Tigers scored 10, 13, and 13 runs in its final three games in Omaha.
    Four SEC teams also made the CWS in 2004: Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, and South Carolina. Notice that LSU is the only one in common from the 1997 group. However, none of the four SEC teams made the finals.

Here's the breakdown of how each conference fared through the Super Regionals.

2015 NCAA Baseball Tournament
Conference Teams Regionals Super Reg. CWS Total %
SEC 7 17-5 9-3   26-8 .765
Big West 2 4-2 2-1   6-3 .667
ACC 7 15-7 5-4   20-11 .645
Sun Belt 1 3-0 0-2 --- 3-2 .600
Ivy 1 3-2 --- --- 3-2 .600
Mo. Valley 3 7-4 1-2 --- 8-6 .571
Big 12 3 5-5 2-1   7-6 .538
Colonial 2 4-4 --- --- 4-4 .500
Atlantic 10 1 3-1 0-2 --- 3-3 .500
Big Ten 5 11-7 0-4 --- 11-11 .500
West Coast 1 2-2 --- --- 2-2 .500
Big East 1 2-2 --- --- 2-2 .500
C-USA 3 5-6 --- --- 5-6 .455
Pac-12 6 10-12 --- --- 10-12 .454
Big South 2 3-4 --- --- 3-4 .429
America East 1 1-2 --- --- 1-2 .333
Mountain West 1 1-2 --- --- 1-2 .333
WAC 1 1-2 --- --- 1-2 .333
Horizon 1 1-2 --- --- 1-2 .333
American 4 3-8 --- --- 3-8 .273
Atlantic Sun 1 0-2 --- --- 0-2 .000
Summit 1 0-2 --- --- 0-2 .000
Southland 1 0-2 --- --- 0-2 .000
SWAC 1 0-2 --- --- 0-2 .000
Southern 1 0-2 --- --- 0-2 .000
Patriot 1 0-2 --- --- 0-2 .000
Ohio Valley 1 0-2 --- --- 0-2 .000
NEC 1 0-2 --- --- 0-2 .000
MEAC 1 0-2 --- --- 0-2 .000
Mid-American 1 0-2 --- --- 0-2 .000
MAAC 1 0-2 --- --- 0-2 .000
  • No Surprise
    The SEC is 26-8 - AWESOME! And that despite Ole Miss going 0-2.
  • Biggest disappointment:
    Pac-12 just 10-12 and #1 overall seed didn't win its regional.
  • Biggest Fades
    Remember back in March when Texas A&M (which started 24-0) and USC were the hottest teams. Both faded down the stretch as they played stiffer competition. At least, the Aggies made the Super Regional and nearly beat TCU to go to Omaha.
What a Game!
Sunday, June 7
The much-anticipated Super Regional between LSU and ULL lived up to its billing in Game One.
  • First, we didn't have to stand. Through my friend's son, an Assistant Event Manager for the Super Regional, we sat on folding chairs in front of the first row of the LF bleachers.
  • We stood up and applauded Jake Fraley as he came to his spot in LF after hitting the two-run HR in the third inning.
  • I had the foresight to bring my umbrella, although it was to shield against the sun if necessary (it wasn't). But when it started raining in the top of the 8th, I was able to stay in my seat as most of the fans filed out.
  • I thought for sure the umps would delay the game when LSU finally recorded the third out in the top of the 8th because it was raining hard at that point.
  • But they kept playing and the rain lessened, then stopped by the 9th.
  • Manieri left Lange in one pitch too long. He had no one warming up in the bottom of the 8th. So it was obvious he would send Lange back out. He started Bugg warming up as the inning began, presumably to be brought in if a man got on.
  • But the PH, Brenn Conrad, who hadn't hit a homer all year, got a first pitch get-it-over fastball and deposited it into the RF bleachers to tie that game and send Lange to the showers.
  • Bugg put the Cajuns down in order, then became the winning pitcher when Sciambra smoked another fastball in almost a carbon copy of what Conrad did.
  • A GREAT GAME! As we walked to the car parked next to the Athletic Building by Tiger Stadium, several ULL fans walked past. My friend said, "That was a great game" and the Cajun said, "It was awesome!"
  • By NCAA fiat, LSU had to give 600 "prime" tickets to ULL (a fixed number, not a % of capacity). If you look at the picture below, you'll see a block of red just at the right edge. But there's also another block of red down the 1B line between P and C. LSU had to move two blocks of season ticket holders to make room for ULL fans.
  • We had just a smattering of ULL folks in the bleachers. And, as you can see from the picture, there wasn't an empty seat in the house.
NBA Finals
Thursday, June 4
Just before Game One begins, I'm stating my pick.

Golden State in six games.

  • Kevin Love's absence has not stopped the Cavaliers so far, but I think it will have enough of an impact to keep Cleveland waiting another year for a pro sports championship since the Browns won the NFL title in 1964.
  • You can also throw in the injury to another member of Cleveland's Big Three - Kyrie Irving. If he plays, as expected, the Warriors' offense will exploit him.
  • Also, the Western Conference was much better than their Eastern counterpart all season.
  • Finally, Golden has to pick Golden State, right?
National Champs!
Wednesday, June 3
I had a fun afternoon today watching LSU meet USC for the national championship. No, it wasn't football or even baseball. It was golf.
  • It was match play golf, which I enjoy so much more than stroke play.
  • Each team consisted of five golfers who played head-to-head according to lineups set by the coaches. To win, a team has to score 3 points, which can be done by winning three matches or winning two and tying two, etc.

You need a different mindset in match play compared to stroke play.

  • In stroke play, a 9 on a hole really hurts your score and therefore your team's total.
  • But in match play, the two contestants in the match start at 0 again on each hole. It doesn't make any difference whether you lose a hole by one stroke or four. It just counts as one hole won or lost.
  • That creates an environment where golfers can be more aggressive. You can also change your approach to a shot based on what the opponent did. If the opponent smacked his tee shot into the water and has to take a penalty, you can play conservatively to just make par, which will undoubtedly be enough to win the hole. You're competing only against one golfer and one hole at a time unlike stroke play where you're competing against the entire field and need to make the lowest score you can on each hole.

The Tigers jumped out to an early lead and kept it into the back nine.

  • However, USC rallied and made the score LSU leading in two matches, Trojans leading two, and one "all square" (tied).
  • But the two Tigers leading their matches closed them out to put two points on the board.
  • Then Englishman Ben Chapman, one of the LSU linksmen who down one hole, tied his match with an eagle at 17. Then his USC opponent hit his shot off the 18th tee into an almost unplayable lie and had to waste a stroke chipping back into the fairway.
  • That gave Taylor the opening he needed and his par putt clinched the title for the Bengals.

The victory gave LSU its fifth NCAA Men's Golf Championship overall and first since 1955. How much you want to bet that the Tiger golf team will be introduced to the crowd at Saturday's night Super Regional either before the game or between innings? And maybe the softball team, 3rd place nationally, also?

"Consistency" by Plate Umpire
Wednesday, June 3
The announcers on ESPN coverage of Monday night's Cardinals-Brewers game (the first of two 1-0 games and the only one the Redbirds lost in the three-game series) started talking about the performance of the plate umpire early in the contest.
  • K Zone, the electronic tracking system, showed pitches that sailed inside to right-handed batters were repeatedly called strikes by Rob Drake.
  • Some pitches were three or more inches off the plate, and hitters on both teams beefed.

The announcers spouted the usual mantra. "All you can ask is consistency."

  • BALONEY. And this game provided a good illustration of why I say that.
  • The right-handed starter for Milwaukee, Mike Fiers, threw a fast ball that tailed in to right-handed batters and away from left-handed batters. By giving him 3-4 extra inches on that side of the plate, Drake enhanced Fiers' efficiency.
  • But the Cardinals starter, southpaw Jaime Garcia, threw a fastball that tailed away from the righthanded batters and into the lefies. But Drake gave no extra inches on that side of the plate.
  • So Drake's "consistency" helped one pitcher and hurt the other. In other words, it wasn't just something the hitters and pitchers had to adjust to and therefore "no big deal." No, THE UMPIRE'S SKEWED STRIKE ZONE WAS UNFAIR.

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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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