Monday, March 28, 2011

weekend review

I've been watching baseball a long time - longer than any other sport I like - and I haven't seen too many series that put the capricious nature of the sport on display like this weekend's series against Maryland. A sweep, by the way. Which looked as if it was going to be in some danger during the first game of Saturday's doubleheader.

If you're in need of evidence that the baseball gods are the most demanding of all the other sports - perhaps combined - witness the 8th inning of game 2 of the Maryland series. Down 2-1, things were looking dark until Maryland center fielder Korey Wacker caught the final out of the bottom of the 7th and opted against the standard practice of rolling the ball nonchalantly back to the mound for the pitcher to use. Instead he spiked it. Hard. And deliberately. Leave it to Maryland to find new ways to show up the opposition before the game is even over. This violation of the Code was not met by either UVA or the baseball gods with acceptance, and in retaliation the gods turned Maryland's normally sure-handed left-side infielders into Booty the Clown. After they themselves recorded assists on the first two outs of the inning. UVA took advantage by singling home a run to tie, and then brought Kenny Swab to the plate, who hit the pitcher's offering so hard that it bounced past the diving first baseman into foul territory for a base hit - after first ricocheting off the pitcher himself. And who was this hard luck pitcher who saw his infielders twice play an ill-timed game of kickball to put two on with two out and then felt the winning base hit slam into his ankle before he ever saw it coming? Korey Wacker.

UVA scored 22 runs in the series - 17 of them in three innings. The final margin of the third game was provided in the second inning when UVA plated four runs, and the first game saw the floodgates open in the fourth as UVA broke the scoreboard. It doesn't go past nine runs per inning on the line score, see. People arriving late to the game must have wondered how 1 + 2 + 1 + 0 = 14.


The lacrosse team could have used some luck, because once again they started the game off flat and fell short on their furious comeback. Aiiyy. Oh, and by flat I mean shitty. I might have said this before, but our offense looks like Hokie basketball. One guy runs around a little to see if he can shake his man. When he can't, he passes to someone else, who tries. When he can't, he passes to someone else who tries again. Eventually someone either coughs up the ball or shoots, the latter with mixed results and not often the desired one. Motion without the ball is nonexistent at times, and when finally someone does put himself in position to receive a pass that could actually do some damage to the scoreboard, he lets it fly right past the stick. The ACC schedule is coming up, and it's gonna be awful hard to even go 2-1 if whatever that was makes any more appearances.

Even Adam Ghitelman was less than his usual solid self, but that might be because the defense thinks that other teams run their offense the same as we do.

After two weeks of doing lacrosse bracketology, a few games on TV, and a little over half a season, the lax landscape looks like Syracuse and a bunch of teams separated by nothing. Teams 2 through 10 in the rankings don't seem to be any different from each other, and the next 10 are probably capable of beating anyone in the top 10 as well. So while the good news is we're clearly no worse than any of the other contenders except maybe Cuse (which Villanova demonstrated is not invincible by losing 5-4 in the very last minute of the game) we're also clearly no better unless we figure out how to play more than half a game.


Other stuff:

- The lady swimmers were 13th and the men a very, very solid 8th at the NCAA nationals these past two weekends. The men were headlined by a second-place relay and the first individual national championship since 2000 when Ed Moses was doing his thing. Matt McLean not only won the 500 freestyle, he blew away the competition by nearly four seconds. Yes, that's an eternity. He's the third swimmer at UVA to win a national title and he beat the event's defending champ en route to it.

- Better cross-pollination is something I wanted to see in the unsolicited suggestion box post I wrote a while back, so I'm pleased about the lacrosse/football extravaganza this weekend. Because Maryland is the lax opponent, Hit A Twerp With A Stick Week is underway and it should be a good crowd for the game. Even more betterer is that the spring game (as well as lax) will be on ESPN3. It's great that the admin is getting on board with the '10s. I'm slightly selfishly annoyed about the ESPN3 thing on account of shelling out $30 for the live video package - part of the attraction of which was the spring game which is now free to all - but regardless, the fact that they have it on the video package is a poor reason not to open it up to ESPN3 if ESPN is willing.

- We're #1 again in 2 of 5 baseball polls. I don't care too much because it puts a target on your back and doesn't get you to Omaha, but some do, so there you go. Annoying siderant: why the hell is ACC baseball broken up into divisions?

- Georgia Tech has a new basketball coach, and hooray it's not Richmond's Mooney or VCU's Smart or anyone you thought might get the job. It's Dayton's Brian Gregory. Gregory's got a decent record at Dayton but this is not the proverbial home-run hire. Instead of swinging for the fences, GT choked up on the bat. Chances are excellent that he's an improvement over Paul Hewitt in the X's and O's department but I'm not sure we'll see GT earning a first-round bye in the ACC tournament any time soon.

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