Friday, March 11, 2005

Our Terrible Revenge

The big win at Alex Box removed any chance this big week for Tulane baseball could be a disaster. I listened to the LSU broadcast on the radio- talk about shock & awe. It was gratifying to hear the place was near empty by the eighth inning- as LSU fans headed early into the parking lot to puzzle over the location of their 1998 Ford Probes- complete with mis-folded free maps from Mobil tucked into the glove compartment. "The stadium emptied early tonight," one announcer intoned in the post-game- so at least, for one night, we did not have to hear blathering about the greatest fans in college baseball.

Yes, 1-3 would still be a disappointment, particularly after winning the first game at LSU- but I find it hard to believe Tulane isn’t going to get at least one this weekend at home, in front of a raucous mob. They definitely can get two against the Titans- and that will be enough to cement them atop the national rankings for a bit. Three feels greedy.

This series with Fullerton is important for reason- one last look at our complete starting pitching rotation in a big spot against a team with serious World Series aspirations. Our rotation probably has only one more weekend series left, with a team that would not knock you over with surprise, if they made it Omaha- so the impressions the pitchers leave this week will linger. I am convinced Tulane can hit. I think Tulane can get outs out of the bullpen consistently. These starters are the last link to real May success. It would be heartening to see strong back-to-back-to-back efforts. In some respects, as I would always rather see Tulane win, I would rather see Tulane lose a game 4-2, then win 16-12.

I don’t have much to say about the LSU game per se- you cannot take much from individual baseball games. Tulane pitched well, got more clutch hits than the Tigers and got quality relief pitching for like the umpteenth time. It is an easy game when you pitch well.

I was pleased to see Tulane take the game seriously enough to run a trusted arm out there Tuesday night. Particularly once conference play starts, or a heavy out-of-league opponent rolls in, these managers seem real reluctant to break the weekend rhythm: x on Friday, y on Sat and z on Sunday- and the Devil take the rest. It tends to be particularly true at Tulane/college in general- as the Wave frequently ask a lot of the rotation to play the field on days they do not pitch. But LSU is LSU- and wins in Baton Rouge will count huge when assigning the multiple southern regional locations. It was an important game to get- more important that the third game against Cal Fullerton.

Plus, Tulane doesn't need seven innings from our guy mid-week- because they have guys they trust to get twelve outs or so in the 'pen. You can blow the 'pen out a little at LSU Tuesday- and the Wave did to get some key late outs- but not Friday or Saturday. Particularly in college, it seems a big difference when you ask a kid only for 18 outs instead of 24.

Mind you, normally, I am against breaking up the rotation. These mid-week games, particularly emotional clashes with Louisiana schools, are great chances to find a fourth starter to take the ball in a big spot at some point. Might as well find out now, against an emotional Nicholls State that will be firing every bullet it has, which of your "least options" looks like he can get 15-18 outs in a big emotional spot in May.

But you know, Tulane can also never go wrong taking a strong shot at LSU. So it is half dozen of one, half dozen of the other. Sometimes it is okay to sort of achieve what you want, no matter what you do. You can play either Forte or Jovon, for instance, and always be mildly disappointed. Or Nick Cannon could hurt his shoulder or his elbow- regardless he cannot play quarterback in the spring. That sort of thing.