June 22, 2012
"I'm taking back what's mine."
------------------------------- GREEN DAY
A thousand apologies for not blogging yesterday morning, but I was up late preparing for the doubleheader I knew was coming and it slipped my mind. Then today, my hotel wireless connection decided to stop working, which is why I went about 100 feet across the way to the "business center," and here it works. Ain't technology grand?
Here's a double blog post for the double games I watched on Thursday.
* First, what a great day. I don't know if I've ever seen two games in a day like that, where the pitcher just completely dominated. Throw in that they were both left-handed, both pitching to keep their teams alive in the College World Series, both living up to the expectations placed on them by the reputations of predecessors (or themselves). I expected it from Michael Roth, but to see Jordan Montgomery throw that well in such a huge situation left no doubt about the moxie of the big freshman. His defense was very, very fine in an under-stated role, because as Montgomery has learned how to pitch, he hasn't quite learned how to get out of the potential big inning. Those plays on Thursday — Tanner English throwing out Bo Bigham at third base, Joey Pankake starting a double play, Christian Walker doing the same — were what really saved Montgomery from having to sweat too hard. The Gamecocks won, and Tyler Webb didn't have to be used, which was another bright moment. USC set itself up perfectly for a winner-take-all game today.
* Great how Montgomery — Gumby — was open about how it's been passed down. Steven Bondurant, College World Series hero of long ago, channeled himself into Michael Roth in 2010. Roth channeled himself into Montgomery in 2012. That's how programs are built — by the ones that leave passing it onto the new guys. It's not just, "We did this, and now we're gone." Guys like Roth, Adam Matthews, Walker and Matt Price are telling the new guys how important it is to keep the glory alive.
* Today stands to be something. Looking at it, Arkansas seems to have the pitching edge, because D.J. Baxendale is the Hogs' best hurler, and he's fully rested. He'll have his offense going against Colby Holmes, who it beat on Monday. Holmes didn't pitch that badly, but gave up a couple of two-out RBI hits, and the Gamecocks never got their break against Ryne Stanek. Baxendale is better than Stanek, but USC has won two games and Arkansas is coming off a loss. USC has been here before, Arkansas hasn't. They key to the game is how effective Holmes can be — if he can't at least eat some innings, USC will have to go to Webb, Evan Beal and/or Price and hope that it can get one more big swing.
* On to a favorite topic of the fans — the announcers. Apparently, Mike Patrick and Orel Hershiser were at it again on Thursday, talking about "Little Bill" Dantzler and how Roth threw a gem of a shutout — in a 4-1 game. Don't get the wrong idea here — I'm not defending them at all. I think it's only necessary that any announcer that's called in should do his research, and correct their mistakes on-air if they make them. That being said, here's why complaints about the two or anybody else are used with wasted breath. College baseball still doesn't command enough attention to have a lot of full-time baseball analysts. The only one who does it full-time is Kyle Peterson. He can't do every game, so the others fill in. When you really take over calling a game for a strange team, you're left to rely on stats and notes, which never tell the whole story. All the announcers can do is try to be correct with the little things — like names and facts. Some do all the research they can, some show up and look good/sound good on camera. Far too many of the latter, but it's not going to change anytime soon.
* Horribly unfair to ask USC (or Kent State, for that matter) to play two games on Thursday when there was an open day to be used. Yes, it helps that USC doesn't have to play until late tonight, but with an open day on Saturday, there was no need to play a tripleheader on Thursday. It helped Arkansas, because it got an extra day of rest just like Arizona did (for being in the bracket that finished first), but now the Razorbacks have to use their extra day and play again. That assumedly takes Baxendale out of the picture for at least Game 1 of the championship series (if Arkansas wins) and if USC wins, there's no telling who would get the ball on Sunday. In USC's case, playing two on Thursday might prove beneficial if the team isn't too dog-tired today. At least the pitching was used up today instead of the day before the championship series, which would have been Saturday.