Day One in Baton Rouge – From the Bird’s Nest
Just some random thoughts and observations on Day One of the Baton Rouge Super Regional:
AH, THE BASIN---Don'tcha just love it? I rode with Dan and Mary Beth McDonald, as I have for the Sun Belt Tournament and the Houston Regional (never mess with karma) and we left much earlier than normal. Glad we did. It was smooth sailing until we got to the Lobdell Exit where things slowed down for a bit. But it wasn't a huge delay Those who waited until later paid the price. Traffic was clogged at spots throughout the trek on I-10, especially as one got closer to Baton Rouge. We'll leave early today, too. Because we're smart like that.
IT WAS WARM AND FUZZY--Good to see plenty of purple and red tailgating together For the most part, the fans left the ugly to the message board trolls. Those who were at the game showed the kind of respect good programs are supposed to show. I'm sure someone will have a less than great story...No one's perfect...but I liked what I saw last night.
WHAT HORSE YOU GOT?--We had a big flatscreen TV mounted in our booth and that booth had plenty of visitors when American Pharoah began his run into racing immortality. Everyone was rooting for him. No one in the booth bet the race.
BUT IF YOU DO WANNA BET----You'd have gotten great odds on the Cajuns last night. UL was -370. That's really big odds. Someone sent me a photo of a $500 bet that would have netted over $1600 had the Cajuns won.
BLUE EVEN MADE PURPLE TURN RED--Say What? The worst job behind the plate I've ever seen in the NCAA postseason was last night. I'll give the benefit of the doubt and just say Greg Street had a bad night. Because if that's his normal job, this game is in trouble. Street offended fans, players and coaches on both sides last night with his horribly tight and inconsistent strike zone. UL starter Wyatt Marks threw leadoff hitter Mark Laird five strikes in his first at bat...and walked him. Laird scored the first LSU run. Later in the game, hitters from both teams were visibly upset when pitches well wide of the strike zone were called strikes. It was just a very poorly called game. And I'll bet everyone who saw the game, either on TV or in person, will agree.
I'M SURE THEY MEANT WELL, BUT....Some of the things I heard in the press box were, well, downright patronizing. I overheard several people say how cool it was the Cajuns went this far. And, I even heard one say "Man, wouldn't it be great if they could win a game?" If they didn't think the Cajuns had a chance to advance, they haven't been paying attention. This is not the team that started 15-13, nor is it the team that finished third in the Sun Belt. I wouldn't be surprised if those same people showed up tonight and now EXPECT that this will go three games. It should be pointed out no one actually said any of this to me...just stuff I overheard. It should also be pointed out the majority of the media there knew the Cajuns were for real.
A NINTH INNING HUG FROM CHRISTIAN...My good friends Hans and Jenn Nelson (Hans does the PA for Cajuns' football and basketball) lost a son two years ago last week in a tragic accident. Christian has saved multiple lives as the result of the donation of his organs. The team wears bracelets honoring him and the family has done a wonderful job of raising awareness for organ donation. Christian's best friend was Brenn Conrad. As he rounded the bases after his pinch hit home run last night, I couldn't help but think of my friends.
OH, AND KIRK GIBSON, TOO--Admit it, it crossed your mind as well. Conrad's hobble around the bases (he's relegated to pinch hitting duty because of a hamstring injury) looked a lot like the Dodgers' outfielder in the 1988 World Series. I was tempted to say "I don't believe what I just saw," but that line was already taken.
BEN McDONALD DOESN'T GIVE A $@!& WHAT YOU THINK---The former LSU All-American was the color analyst for ESPN, and his twitter account blew up last night when he referred to the Cajuns as UL. Ben made a couple of his responses public. My favorite is
well if the state legislature steps on this field to play I'll call them what they want. Last time I checked they ain't playing!
And this one as well:
sports SID said UL. Pretty sure if they wanted to be called ULL it wouldn't say UL on their helmets and caps.
After the game, Big Ben's discourse of some of the things that were tweeted was just downright hilarious. But he also said there were some who claimed to be UL fans that said they wanted to be called ULL. Um...no Ben. Those weren't Cajuns fans. Ben understands even better, now.
IT'S ALL HANAGRIFF'S FAULT---We have superstitions in the press box. For instance, NEVER talk about how fast a game is moving...it's sure to slow down. NEVER talk about deadlines, because you'll wind up with Extra Bleeping Innings (what fans call free baseball.) Well, the Baton Rouge sports talk host and LSU baseball commentator visited with me before the game and said "Well, at least we don't have to worry about the weather>" Nicely done, Charles.
PLAY NICE AT THE TIGUE---If LSU fans show up to watch the game at "Tigue" Moore Field, be good hosts. Thank them for coming. Buy them a beer if you'd like. But don't act like they don't have a right to be there. It did say "open to the public," right?
WHO WON LAST NIGHT?--The correct answer is baseball in the state of Louisiana. These two teams played on a national stage and showed America how to play the game the right way. And, they showed the passion of fans from both teams. Florida/Florida State? Give me a break. The Pelican State wins. Be proud of that.