Blog Archives

LSU rallies

Maybe I spoke too soon. LSU has cut Fullerton’s lead to 3-2, and it has two on with nobody out. The Titans are going to make a pitching change, pulling starter Kyle Seabolt.

Even if the Bayou Bengals win, it’s still a long way back. They would have to defeat Vanderbilt or TCU Thursday, and then hve to beat the other Friday and Saturday to reach the final. But a victory today would at least allow LSU to finally get the TD Ameritrade monkey off its back, where it has yet to win.

Lot of baseball left.

Not a favorite flashback

The first inning from Omaha this afternoon had to make a few LSU baseball fans, and one former LSU baseball media relations assistant, have a Groundhog Day experience.

Fullerton scored three runs in the bottom of the first off of LSU ace Alex Lange. If the Bayou Bengals cannot get it together, they will be on a plane tomorrow morning heading back to Baton Rouge, their 2015 campaign ended, and with it the career of many LSU starting position players.

Let’s go back 21 years to the Groundhog Day experience I referred to at the start.

The date: June 5, 1994. Eleven days after my graduation from Brother Martin High School. Exactly one week before O.J. Simpson (allegedly) murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Nine days before the New York Rangers won their first Stanley Cup since 1940. Seventeen days before the Houston Rockets won their first NBA championship. Sixty-eight days before the beginning of the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, and 91 before Bud Selig canceled the 1994 World Series. Less than three months before the son of a former NFL quarterback made his collegiate debut for the Tennessee Volunteers.

I had no clue about the Internet. I had no clue you could communicate electronically via e-mail. I certainly didn’t have a cell phone. My dad always told me to take plenty of quarters in case I had to stop at a pay phone. Yeah, do that as a not quite 18-year old white kid in the middle of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.

I had yet to attend an LSU baseball game in Baton Rouge. Up until then, the only LSU games I saw were at the Superdome in the annual Busch Challenge, renamed the Winn-Dixie Showdown in 1993. I knew Bill Franques was the media relations director for LSU baseball. I had no idea the voice I kept hearing on the radio broadcasts of LSU baseball away games with Jim Hawthorne was his.

LSU bowed out of the College World Series June 5, 1994, another typical hot and humid Sunday in the Crescent City.

No, check that. They Bayou Bengals were swept away from the CWS by an F-5 tornado (the Enhanced Fujita scale didn’t come around until Greensburg) named Call State Fullerton.

Titans 20, LSU 6.

Just one year after winning its second CWS in three seasons, one year after freshman Brett Laxton struck out 16 Wichita State Shockers in a three-hit shutout in the championship game, LSU went “two-and-barbecue” in Omaha for the first time in what was the Bayou Bengals’ seventh appearance.

Fullerton was eliminated in its next game by Florida State, but it was just ramping for what would be a dominating 1995, which saw the Titans steamroll its way through the season, including four games of the South Regional at the old Alex Box Stadium, on their way to their third national championship under Augie Garrido, joining titles in 1979 and 1984. Garrido actually left Fullerton from 1988 through 1990 to coach Illinois, but came back in ’91 when Larry Cochell, Garrido’s successor, left for Oklahoma.

LSU did not recover in 1995. In fact, it got worse for the Bayou Bengals. They started the season ranked #1 in all the major polls and ripped off a 31-4 start (8-1 in the SEC) through April 12, but then the bottom fell out.

LSU lost four of its five series vs. SEC West teams, lost twice more to Alabama in the SEC West division tournament (I’ll explain that another time), and then the Bayou Bengals were shelled for 31 runs in two regional games vs. Rice to bow out.

It got much better in 1996. LSU rebounded to win the national championship, won another in 1997, and came close to a third straight in 1998.

As for 2015, it doesn’t look good. LSU is down 3-0 in the bottom of the 2nd.

Sports mania Monday

I have not left my house today. However, that’s not to say it has been boring.

Far from it.

There has been so much going on in the world of sports, more than usually happens on a Monday, especially during the summer. It’s expected in the fall, since there’s a Monday Night Football game, the highlights of Sunday’s NFL games run non-stop on ESPN and NFL Network, and many college coaches hold their weekly press conferences on Monday, including LSU’s Les Miles.

Bud Black became the third National League manager to lose his jpob when he was axed by the San Diego Padres at 2 p.m. (noon in San Diego). The Padres were expected to contend in the NL West despite the presence of the World Series champion Giants and the Dodgers having the game’s best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, plus a star-studded lineup, but the Swinging Friars are one game below .500, and the only reason they’re in third place is because the Diamondbacks and Rockies are pathetic, although not as poor as the Phillies and Brewers.

Milwaukee was the first team to fire its manager this season when it sacked Ron Roenicke May 3. The Brewers were 7-25 at the time, and they are still struggling at 24-41 following tonight’s loss to the Royals.

Two weeks following Roenicke’s dismissal, the Marlins canned Mike Redmond only minutes after Miami came within one out of being no-hit by Atlanta’s Shelby Miller at Marlins Park. The Marlins were expected to give the Nationals a run for their money in the NL East this year, but right now, the only thing keeping the fish out of the cellar are the woeful Phillies.

Not long after Black lost his job, Vanderbilt completed a stunning comeback in the College World Series, scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth to down Cal State Fullerton 4-3.

The game game began last night, and the Comoodores had no answer whatsoever for Titan ace pitcher Thomas Eshelman. Fullerton went ahead 3-0 in the fifth, but in the bottom of the sixth, the heavens over Omaha opened up and rained down hard enough that Noah would have needed his ark. The NCAA declared the field unplayable and ordered the game suspended until 11 a.m. today.

Only the game didn’t start at 11 a.m. The NCAA was forced to backtrack when the rain kept coming, and the start time was pushed back three hours.

Reigning national champion Vanderbilt scored in the bottom of the sixth when the game resumed, but the Titan bullpen shut down the Commodores in the seventh and eighth.

Zander Wiel, who doubled home Vandy’s run in the sixth, started the ninth with a double. Two batters later, Bryan Reynolds singled him home and the ‘Dores were within one.

Vandy’s next batter was freshman Jeren Kendall, a left-handed hitter.. Fullerton had left-handed relief ace Tyler Peitzmeier on the mound. Peitzmeier came into the CWS having limited left-handed batters to a .208 batting average this season.

So what does Kendall do? He jerks a full-count fastball into the Titan bullpen in right field. Game over. Vandy into the winner’s bracket to face TCU, Fullerton to play LSU in the second loser-leaves-town matchup.

If the Bayou Bengals fail tomorrow, the SEC will be down to two, both from the East, Florida and Vandy. Arkansas lost 4-3 to Miami to bow out 0-2. Right now, Virginia and Florida are locked in a 0-0 battle in the bottom of the sixth. It’s after midnight in Charlottesville and Gainesville, so I wonder how many people are still watching.

The Stanley Cup will not be returning to Florida. PRAISE JESUS.

The Blackhawks wrapped it up tonight in Chicago, blanking the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0. It’s Chicago’s third Cup in six years after not winning it for 47 consecutive seasons from 1961-62 through 2008-09. The Blackhawks also clinched the Cup at home for the first time since 1938. They won it on the road in 1961, 2010 and 2013.

I’m still seething over 2004, when the Calgary Flames gagged away a 3-2 lead and lost in seven to the Lightning. Calgary lost game six at home when Martin St. Louis scored for Tampa 33 seconds into overtime, and of course, the Flames’ goose was cooked back in Florida two nights later.

Even worse than the Lightning winning it, they got to keep the Cup an extra year, thanks to the lockout which wiped out the entire 2004-05 season. And then it got stupid when the Carolina Hurricanes won the Cup in 2006 over the Edmonton Oilers. I still wonder how many people in Raleigh-Durham can name all 30 NHL teams. Probably not many.

The Women’s World Cup featured four matches from Canada today. The host nation choked away what looked like a sure victory vs. the Netherlands when the Dutch scored in the 87th minute to forge a 1-1 draw. The Netherlands are a superpower in men’s association football, but the women’s program lacks far, far behind.

That’s not uncommon for one gender to have a strong association football team and for the other to be lagging. The men are far ahead of the women in England, Italy and Spain in addition to the Netherlands, while the United States, Canada, China and Japan are the opposite.

The are only two countries where the men and women are on equally strong footing.

The most obvious is Germany. Deutschland won the Women’s World Cup in 2007, it has won the men’s Cup four times (including 2014), and I would bet my bottom dollar it will beat the United States if and when the countries meet.

The other country with futbol equality is Brazil. It lost the 2007 women’s final to Germany, and it still has one fo the strongest men’s squads, the implosion at the end of the 2014 World Cup notwithstanding.

Virginia has broken the scoreless tie with Florida in the bottom of the sixth. The Gators have not been behind very much during the NCAA tournament, but the way they’ve swung the bats, it’s next to nothing.

Have a good night and pleasant tomorrow.