Monday, June 02, 2008

Return of the Jedi

Watching the Seminoles wreak havoc through the loser’s bracket- hanging up 17 runs versus Florida, 24 versus Bucknell, and 17 versus our very own Wave- I am reminded of the fish-like admiral bellowing at Lando Calrissian about his inability to repel such firepower from the Death Star.

So it is hard to be optimistic. I’m pretty sure Florida State is a better baseball team than Tulane. Fortunately, Tulane’s good play- and a little luck- have put them in a position where that isn’t so relevant.

I think, as a coach, the first strategic assessment you make is “are we better than these guys at baseball?” If the answer is “no”- then your first tactical mission is to not play a game of baseball.

Some sports are easier than others. In pro-hockey, you routinely see teams try to turn hockey games into contests of “who wants it more? who will pay the price?”: chasing big hits, using physical intimidation on star players, etc.

Baseball is harder obviously. But we sort of catch a break tonight- as tonight’s game is sort of a scrambly “all hands on deck affair”.

No way does Jones want to get into a typical Friday-Saturday-Sunday style contest with these guys: see who can get 18-21 quality outs from the starting pitching, orderly relief pitching, consistent hitting night after night.

Fortunately, Coach doesn’t have to. We don’t have to beat these guys at a straight up baseball game; we have to beat them at some close relative of typical baseball. A relative with a lot more variability and less routine- more unknowns, more guys being asked to do atypical things- that FSU might not be way better than Tulane.

Tonight throws a zillion variables out there. Obviously, the Seminoles bring them big, bad sticks. But the game is fraught with variables- particularly on the pitching side. Florida State probably has better pitching overall over a routine three game set- but do they have better pitching coming back on short rest? uut of routine? With a record of 51-11, there has been a lot of talent- but also a whole lot of routine over there. Tonight, notsomuch. It is one thing to name a kid with a day or two of rest as a source of twelve good outs- another to actually see him do it?

And isn’t that what Tulane wanted Thursday- a one and done with FSU- where even though they’re better- they gotta rely on some mysteries and suppositions to get it done? Mission accomplished.

I’m not saying it is done; its gonna be a hard task. But I just don’t feel hopeless about it.

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