Monday, May 11, 2009

being #1 has its perks

The baseball team finds itself in a pretty good position coming out of this weekend. OK, not as good a position as we could be in if the bullpen didn't have this habit of pitching batting practice to the opposition, but pretty good. Here's the deal. We're currently in fourth place in the ACC. I harbor no hopes of a top-two seeding, because we're not too likely to pass both Georgia Tech and UNC in our division - not with them both playing bad teams this weekend. Actually I don't think we're going to pass either one. But fourth place is nice for now, because the way the seedings work (#'s 1, 4, 5, and 8 are in one group) a lot of bad things would have to happen for us to slip out of this group. You don't want to be sixth because it means playing two out of FSU, GT, or UNC, but fourth or fifth is fine because no matter what, it's one game against somebody really good, one against someone right at your level, and one against someone crappy. And we know we can beat all of those three really good teams, because we've done it.

The ACC tournament isn't important for the ACC's sake though. We have a national tournament to think of. We will host a regional, we know this; unless there's an unforeseen meltdown approaching, three baseball teams from somewhere in the nation will once again descend on Charlottesville, hopefully to fill a role as sacrificial lambs.

This past weekend, though, gave us a boost in the rankings, and now we're hanging around 10th place in most polls. This is juuuust outside where you need to be to host a super-regional (a seed 1 through 8.) When the RPI comes out tomorrow I suspect we'll see a little boost also, from last week's spot at 12th. The exciting thing is how many ACC schools are in front of us. GT and UNC in all the polls, and FSU as well in most of them. Yes, that makes it harder to win the tournament if there are so many good teams in it, but it also means winning the tournament would be a sure bet to vault us into a top-8 seed and a super-regional. And those other guys aren't kidding themselves that we can't do it, either.

Then again, those other guys don't have the bullpen from hell, either.

But what about that #1 seed for the lacrosse team? It really does wonders for your abilities to advance in a tournament, wouldn't you say? I won't bother boring you with an analysis of the game. There's nothing I can say about it that you couldn't already guess by "eighteen-zip after three periods." Notre Dame was not so lucky. Unimpressed by their ability to dominate a mostly bad schedule, the NCAA slapped them with a 7-seed and a visit from Maryland, who dispatched them without much trouble. Otherwise the tournament went according to seed expectations, though UNC and Hopkins received scares. I am glad that wasn't us. Speaking as a Red Wings fan, one sport with scary sudden-death playoff overtimes is plenty if I want my heart to last me til I'm old enough to forget where I left my reading glasses.

So as expected, Hopkins is next. I refuse to be fooled by the fact that it took them 3 overtimes to knock off a middling Ivy and will probably have the third quarter of our last game against them on constant playback in my head during the entire game this weekend. I get pessimistic like that. On the plus side, UVA was well-represented at the Hopkins away game and I expect we'll be so again in Annapolis. What with the game being held within 50 miles of both schools' alumni bases and UNC-Duke playing at the same venue on the same day, it promises to be electric. It's mid-spring. Annapolis is a terrific town. The stadium is excellent and hopefully will be full. The atmosphere will probably be better than the following weekend at Foxborough. I'm not even kidding. You'd better be there. Wish I could, but I'll settle for the semis and the championship game if we make it that far.

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