We are 28 minutes into Easter 2015, at least in the Central Time Zone. Easter arrived earlier today at other points across the globe.
In Rome, it’s 7:30 a.m., meaning Pope Francis will deliver his Easter message from St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City shortly. Pope John Paul II could not deliver his final Easter message in person, as he was near death on March 27, 2005; he would pass away six days later.
A few Easters of mine involved LSU baseball.
In 1999, the Bayou Bengals lost 4-3 at Knoxville to Tennessee. We flew back that night, going from Knoxville to Atlanta to New Orleans to Baton Rouge, with the last leg, of course, on a bus. At least all of the luggage arrived with the plane at New Orleans, which was not the case earlier in 1999, when half the luggage on a flight back from Arkansas got delayed and didn’t arrive at the Baotn Rouge airport until the next afternoon. Some of my luggage was among that which did not make it.
LSU was supposd to host Mississippi State in baseball on Easter Sunday 2002, but a torrential downpour overnight prompted Ted Stickles, LSU’s Director of Game Management, to call off the game at 9:30 a.m. that morning.
Mississippi State coach Ron Polk was happy to get out of town early. LSU coach Smoke Laval was pissed at Stickles for calling the game so early, and with good reason. His team won the second game of the three-game series Saturday and had the momentum going into the rubber match.
Bill Franques and I were equally perplexed as to why the decision was made so quickly to call a Southeastern Conference game. We thought Stickles could wait a little longer, especially since Mississippi State did not have a travel limit and was going back to Starkville on a bus, not flying out.
This was out of the umpires’ control. Prior to the beginning of the game, the home team has total control of whether or not to begin the game, call it because of weather, whatever have you. Once the first pitch is thrown, that contorl shifts to the umpires.
The exception in college baseball to these rules are in postseason tournaments, particularly the College World Series. At the CWS, the chairman of the NCAA Division I baseball committee, in consultation with both coaches and the umpires, makes the decisions.
Sure enough, by 11:30 that morning, the sun broke through the clouds.
This wasn’t the first time it had happened. In 1997, Stickles gave in to Auburn coach Hal Baird, who wanted to get out after his team lost the first two games of a series in Baton Rouge. Same thing happened: the sun was shining by time of the scheduled 1 p.m. first pitch.
The next year, Easter was in Nashville, where LSU beat Vanderbilt to avoid a three-game sweep against the Commodores. Vanderbilt was playing its first season under Tim Corbin, who has built the only private school in the SEC into a baseball superpower, but at that time, nobody could see it coming.
Most Easters in Kansas were uneventful, until 2013, when I was in Columbia for LSU’s baseball series vs. Missouri. The Bayou Bengals swept.
This year, LSU played its serires at Alabama in Birmingham Thursday-Friday-Saturday. Its bus should be somewhere between Hattiesburg and the Mississippi-Louisiana state line on Interstate 59. The Bayou Bengals would have been home by now, but the game went 13 innings, meaning it didn’t get over until after 7 p.m., and add in the extra hour of travel from Birmingham instead of Tuscaloosa (Alabama’s stadium was torn down and is undergoing major reconstruction), meaning it will be a longer night than expected.
As for me, I’m so wired right now I could probably drive straight back to Russell. Maybe I will.