Thursday, March 31, 2005

Baseball Trouble

I know it is early- and all games are important- but don’t you kind of get the sense this is an important weekend series at home against the Blazers?

Look, the Wave is obviously a good baseball team. I am not down on them exactly. They pitch and hit better than all but a handful of teams in America. But this season is not a success with a second place C-USA finish coupled with a Regional tournament appearance.

A few more languid displays of ennui like last weekend at Louisville- and look out. Is it just me- but I cannot imagine those LSU Tiger CWS-style teams swaggering into the ‘ville and then promptly reduced to trying to scratch out a win before the rains in the series finale?

UAB has a nice club, seemingly playing well. They had some winnable games lately- and to their credit- they’ve won them: eight of their last ten. But with USF and Louisville head-to-head this weekend, even one loss means the Wave trails one team and is even with the other. Yes, you can say it is early- but after this weekend, almost a third of the league schedule is complete, with no games left with Louisville and a three spot at USF.

Worse, Louisville controls their destiny over the Wave- and holds the tie-breaker- so that one-game lead is really two. If the Cardinals play again like they did last weekend, or the Wave drops a pair again, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Tulane would be two back on paper and three in reality. Could we get nervous then?

It is kind of a “must win two” weekend- that is why this series is kind of important. Play bored and lose two to UAB would be a predicament. History suggests someone is going to get through this conference slate with seven, eight losses. In fact, didn’t the Pirates lose only five last year? Four losses, with 21 to play, does not leave much room for error- particularly since today Tulane evidently cannot count on three quality starts in a single weekend.

That is the first rub really. Aside from winning at least a pair this weekend, how about Tulane starts pitching like a CWS-quality team three times in a row against these unranked clubs? If Tulane is healthy, the Wave will hit and score. But imagine, it is the second game of the C-USA tournament, winner’s bracket. Are you confident in any of these guys right now to take the ball and win that game?

The second rub is the Wave has to, has to, win either the regular season or tournament to host even a Regional. The tournament is fraught with risk no matter what. It would behoove the Wave to start putting the hammer down- get a sweep or two- and turn that upcoming trip to USF into a “nice to win two” rather than “must win two- or three”.