Day Two in Baton Rouge – From the Bird’s Nest
Just some thoughts on the final game of the NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional:
I LOVE THE EVENT STAFF AT ALEX BOX STADIUM: The folks at the gate. The guys running the elevator. The woman keeping the hot dogs and nachos plentiful in the press box. I love them all. Always smiling, always helpful, always personable. Our event staff at the Tigue is top notch as well. But here, you have to have a LOT of them. They've been well trained. And, it's consistent. Every time I've been to the new Alex Box. The first people you meet have a lot to do with your first impression. LSU gets it.
OK, WHERE'S THE COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT? No, I wasn't mistreated. It wasn't the fans, the staff, the media or the weather. Wireless internet in the press box was horrible. That is all.
BLUE WAS TRUE: I criticized the home plate umpire in game one of the Super Regional. He deserved it. I'm not going to be critical of Billy Haze. Outstanding, consistent strike zone. He was approachable when a coach had a question. And, it wasn't about him. THAT'S what we should expect at this level. Hope he's chosen for Omaha.
WHOA! SOMEONE CALL THE NAME POLICE---I'm not a "buy a t-shirt guy" at these things. But, I had to get the one pictured. They sold THIS? At Alex Box Stadium? Yes they did. And every other commemorative t-shirt I saw said "Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns." No Lafayette. No ULL. So far, no one has been arrested for breaking the law. And LSU fans who saw the shirts were not hospitalized for trauma as far as I know.
I WANT ONE---Within 15 seconds of posting a picture of that shirt on my facebook page, I had a private message from an out of town friend asking me to get one and send it. Because the request came so quickly I had time to do it (I purchased it one level below the press box.) But then requests started coming in DURING the game. I kinda couldn't help those folks.
I LIKE LSU BASEBALL FANS---Especially the ones in the grandstand. They understand the game. They respect their opponent. And, they give credit where it's due. LSU fans gave Gunner Leger a standing ovation when he was relieved in Sunday's game (just as Cajuns' fans did for Alex Lange and Jared Poche.) And, they were on their feet for Kyle Clement after his two spectacular plays in center field on consecutive at bats. A segment also remained afterward to applaud the Cajuns as they walked down the right field line toward their bus when it was all over. If you spend time with message board trolls you get the smack. If you spend time with LSU baseball fans, you get the respect you've earned. Four super regional appearances will do that. I'm sure there are a smattering of Cajuns' fans who caught grief from the Walmart T-Shirt crowd. But true Tiger baseball fans make it a joy to go to Alex Box.
......WELL, MOST OF THEM ANYWAY--This, from a friend of mine..."...walked into the (stadium) I said 'good luck' to the first couple I saw. SHE replied, 'good luck to you losing tonight.' Took a deep breath and told more than 100 other people the same. Exactly three responded in kind." C'mon. Be big people. As my grandma used to say "God Don't Sleep."
THE ESPN GUYS: Adam Amin came in and visited before game two. He was pretty excited about game one. He had a great call on the back to back defensive plays by Kyle Clement last night. And, Ben McDonald saw my tweet of the tee shirt before the game and gave me a thumbs up. Both of those guys appreciate good baseball and they get how good the UL program is.
MY KIDS OBVIOUSLY HATE ME---I was unaware that Adam and Ben had mentioned my name during the telecast, until three of my children mentioned it on Facebook. They all thought it was very cool. And, I liked that they posted it on social media....until I realized if they heard that, they weren't listening to Dear Old Dad. And, when someone pointed that out they agreed they're really bad kids. They each have to get me some Yuengling in order to be forgiven.
THANK YOU AND GOOD NIGHT--The final words from the "Voice of the Tigers" Jim Hawthorne as he signed off in his final game at Alex Box Stadium. Jim was recognized during the ESPN broadcast for his years of covering LSU baseball. The man is making his 17th trip to Omaha. Charles Hanagriff reminded the audience that LSU coach Paul Manieri told Jim before the season the Tigers would take him to Omaha one last time. That's one heckuva way to go out and it couldn't happen to a better guy. I admire and respect him as a fellow broadcaster and even more as a man. Very. Classy. Individual.
AND, SPEAKING OF HANAGRIFF--He did not come by the booth before the game to talk about the weather forecast. It did not rain. Thank you, Charles.