Monday, May 14, 2012

weekend review

Confession: I didn't actually watch one single pitch of the baseball this weekend.  Kind of stupid really, since I shelled out the money for the live video I ought to be taking advantage of it, but other stuff got in the way.  I will say this: the most encouraging development of the weekend is Scott Silverstein getting back on track by throwing four innings and allowing zero free trips to first base.  And against a good lineup, too.  Without Whit Mayberry I have no idea who'll be our fourth pitcher in the postseason - Shane Halley, maybe, or Johnny Wholestaff - but we're certainly going nowhere with just two.

So one of those things that got in the way was obviously the lacrosse game, which I wasn't gonna miss for the world.  I'd say it lived up to expectations.  I don't care if the two teams combined for only 11 goals, it was one of the better games I've seen this year because both defenses were at the very tops of their games.  Everyone loves watching offensive explosions, but a really good defensive battle is also to be appreciated, and that's what we saw.

First you have to tip your hat to Princeton's goalie, Tyler Fiorito, without whom the game wouldn't have been close.  I wasn't disappointed in the offensive effort despite only producing six goals - Fiorito probably robbed us of three on his own.  Also deserving a tip of the hat is their top defenseman Chad Wiedmaier, who basically shut down Steele Stanwick for large stretches of the game.  And no, that wasn't Wiedmaier who leapt futilely into the air trying to stop Chris LaPierre's end-of-half pass to Stanwick for the miracle goal.  I don't know who that was, but Wiedmaier was the guy conspicuously slamming his stick to the ground in anger.  I like making the other team do that.

Speaking of LaPierre, is there any other choice for player of the game?  Besides that unbelievable pass, which was nine-tenths hork-and-pray but still, you've got to appreciate the shot block.  Yeah, you know what I mean.  The only time this year I've seen someone hit that hard by a lacrosse ball was the time an Ohio State attacker got beaned by his own teammate's shot against Michigan.  (It was funny later because he was OK, but he went down like a bag of bricks.  At least Shocker meant to do that.)  I wonder how many different colors LaPierre's chest is today.

I'd be remiss also if I didn't mention Matt Lovejoy, who played maybe the best game of his career.  Not even kidding, and not even just because he got the first point of his college life.  The whole defense was simply excellent - best game of the season - and Lovejoy clearly led the way.

That game was a great experience for getting ready for our next opponent: Notre Dame.  The best defense in the country, but not an explosive offense.  If you're gonna play the Irish it's a good idea to get used to the idea that five or six goals might be enough, but you'll have a hell of a time just getting to that point.  And I'll tell you what else that game was good for: ammo against anyone who wants a shot clock in lacrosse, which I absolutely don't.  Look at me like I'm crazy all you want, because I'm well aware that both teams earned stall warnings on their first possession.  But the rest of the game, the stalling was not excessive, and the defense was of the tough, physical, and very entertaining sort that would largely disappear if all the defense had to do was wait 45 or 60 seconds to get the ball back.  That kind of tight, well-played matchup isn't going to show its face if we have ourselves a shot clock era next season.

One final thumbs-up: the jerseys.  I like orange numbers and lettering better than blue, but I never did like the stripe across the front of the shoulders.  If this is the look for the next couple years (the way the shoulder-stripes were also introduced in the tournament) then I'm a fan.  We'll be the lower-seeded team next-weekend (and thus in colored jerseys) and I hope and expect to see an equally sharp-looking blue or orange version.


-- So the other big news of the weekend was Florida State's temper tantrum about media money, third-tier rights, and leaving the ACC for the Big 12 and so on.

My first thought is, what the hell is your damn problem?  We footballized the conference to try and help boost your profile.  We extended a middle finger to traditionalists in order to do so.  We bent over backwards to accommodate your wishes during our first round of expansion, put Miami in the other division so you could play them in the ACC CG (which you've never done), put the ACC CG in the state of Florida so it'd be nice and convenient for your fans to get there, and embarrassed ourselves by playing the game in front of a totally empty stadium as a result.  You repaid us with academic cheating scandals and mediocre-ass football, and now by whining like Texas about third-tier media rights.  You want to be treated like kings in football, start by beating Wake Forest and Virginia.

Naturally, the Big 12 is where they'd want to go if they want to control their third-tier rights.  Texas made a giant stink about them, drove off the desirable parts of their conference, and turned to the rest of the Big 12 and said "now gimme my Longhorn Network."  The remainder of the conference said, "that would be fine, and would you like us to suck your dick too?"  Now Florida State apparently wants the same treatment.

Fortunately, there are calming voices in the wilderness.  Because despite a few harsh words I might have just said about Florida State, the ACC is not better off if they leave.  Frank the Tank is a guy who's always had a level head about realignment issues, and here's his take on the situation.  An excerpt:
ESPN has zero incentive to see the ACC get raided. None. Nada. Unlike its contracts with every other power conference, ESPN has complete top-to-bottom control of all ACC TV rights. This means that ESPN has more of a vested interest in the survival of the ACC specifically over every other conference – it’s the one league that the people in Bristol aren’t sharing with Fox, CBS or the Big Ten Network. In fact, think of it in these terms:
The ACC is the single largest content provider to all of the ESPN networks, whether college or pro.
Emphasis his. Remember who writes the checks, now.

This next is even better.  It's a very, very enlightening look at the reality of the situation and highly recommended.  The money shot:

I’ll bottom line this for those of you who think FSU should dump the ACC for the Big 12 because the Big 12 would allow the Noles to reap huge profits from their third-tier rights. If FSU left the ACC for the Big 12 the only additional athletic inventory it would have to offer a TV network is its worst football game and three or four additional men’s basketball games. How much money do you think the Seminoles stand to gain from the ability to sell their football game vs. Savannah State and men’s basketball games against Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Georgia Southwestern, Jacksonville, and UNC-Greensboro?  How many of those games would FSU have to sell before unburying itself from the ACC’s $20 million exit fee?

The rest of the article comes highly recommended at least by this intrepid blogger.

So my semi-educated guess is that FSU, or at least their board of trustees, is all bluster.  I don't think they'll go anywhere.  I could be wrong, of course.  I could be overestimating the intelligence of their brain trust.  But if they're really serious about the Big 12, someone should set them up a meeting with the presidents and ADs at Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas A&M, so as to get a few pointers on working with Texas.

-- Schedule news today: the football "future schedules" page on the official site now lists a home-and-home in 2017 and 2018 with Stanford.  Damn if that ain't a long way off.  I'd still rather put some Big Ten or SEC teams on the schedule - we seem to be going Pac-wacky with USC, and now future dates with UCLA and Stanford - but I'm not gonna complain about a home-and-home with quality opponents regardless of where they're located.

Also, next year's Big Ten basketball opponent for the Challenge is out, and it's Wisconsin.  Cue up the jokes about the score being 38-35.  Add that to our gig in the preseason NIT and the picture of our hoops schedule is starting to come together.

-- When it comes to baseball recruiting, every time you get a good one you have to sweat it out until the MLB signing deadline in August to see if you'll actually get to keep your new toys.  Sometimes they stay (Branden Kline, Danny Hultzen, Derek Fisher), sometimes they go (Justin Nicolino.)  So we greatly appreciate the gem of this year's class saving us the heart attacks; top pitcher Nathan Kirby, who could've been a first-rounder, decided to not even go through the medical requirements.  It would've been a little better if he'd phrased it in a way that didn't sound like he was purposely failing a drug test, but we know what he means.  Kirby could very well be the best player entering college ball in the whole country next year.  So if this year is our reloading year, next year is the one where we just grab a bigger gun.


Anonymous said...

any idea on how the rest of our baseball class looks, relative to coming to college? There's always the potential for a surprise, but Kirby was the prime guy, I think (off the top), and with the new MLB draft rules, it seems that the chances of a guy leaving seem slim.

It's definitely a bright spot, following the disappointing loss to Tech. As of now, I'd guess that probably knocks away our chances, which were slim, of being a regional host. So, I guess we'll be that very good number 2 seed that teams don't want to face.

A lot of credit for Brian O'Connor and Co. on this season. They took a very mish-mash of a squad (best bat was a raw freshman) and the rotation was inconsistent at times. There wasn't that dependable Andrew Carraway/Will Roberts/Tyler Wilson veteran arm once Whit Mayberry went down. The pen lacked the dependability of guys like Packer/Wilson/Arico. Yet, they molded a top 25 squad in a full rebuilding year.

Chances are high that we'll lose some guys (Taylor, Bruno, Kline), but Fisher/Papi and Co. should lead a solid lineup next year where hopefully guys like Gragnani and Harrington are playing key veteran roles (I guess, with the new rules, you can't rule out Reed and Colin going pro either, though). Mayberry should be back as a rotation arm, and Kirby should grab a slot. Lewicki has looked good this year, and I hope Crockett gets a look as a starter. Howard looks like a guy that might be developed as a good pen arm (I really thought he was headed for positional duty in college ... guess we can't rule it out yet with the number of guys that might go, but the mound seems to be his future). All in all, next year has a chance to be a very strong club.

Sandmeistr said...

Not sure it's fair to Fisher, let alone the rest of the team, to include Papi in there. Something's obviously up there, and I wouldn't be shocked if he left the program. It would be silly if he did, but you never know.

I'm hoping (selfishly) that Bruno, King, and Taylor all decide to return next year. And if they don't, it's because we've won the World Series.

I agree re: Crockett and hopefully Mayberry. Kirby should be that hot shot frosh pitcher we missed (had the Rangers draft) this year. If Silverstein comes back and Kline decides he has something to prove, we'd have a pretty good staff.

Anonymous said...

hmm ... on Mike Papi, are there rumors to that effect? That would be disappointing. He looked likely to be in line, along with say, Kenny Towns, to get a ton more PT next year as some veterans move on.

I completely forgot about Silverstein being a RS Jr. No clue where his draft value is.

BA had a chat recently that suggested Chris Taylor was a possible top 3 round guy. If he is ... tough to fault him if he goes. Hard to see him going that much higher than that with another year. Bruno looks like a possible top 10 round guy as well. I'd be shocked if Kline came back - even in a season where he didn't meet some expectations, he was still a good arm and is projected as a top 2 round guy.

Starting to think Crockett may be ... this cycle's Matt Packer, the lefty with good stuff, but is just too valuable in the pen.

Brendan said...

I think the safe approach is the usual one: assume we'll lose every junior (or redshirt soph) that's making a contribution. Even a junior picked in the 25th, 28th round is likely to go. That means Bruno, Harrington, Kline, Taylor, King, Silverstein. Maybe Gragnani if his injury isn't off-putting. I'll consider it a bonus if we keep any one of them.

Sandmeistr said...

No rumors or inside knowledge or anything of the sort re: Papi. Just find it odd that a guy who was starting suddenly stopped getting playing time with no apparent injury.

And I agree with the everyone eligible leaves theory. Just once, though, I'd like them to think of me instead of themselves...

Anonymous said...

Gragnani (and to a lesser extent, Harrington) should go back, though, since they'll likely be in line for a lot more AB's next year. With the new rules the way they are, collegians, and seniors, may fill up some top 10 round slots that they might not have in the past. Both Gragnani and Harrington could be in line for a lot more AB's (and both could get a chance to play in the IF, where both profile better). In turn, this could perhaps lead them to get drafted higher on account of the draft limitations.

I can understand it if they decide to bolt if they are in the top 15-20 rounds, but anything outside of that, it would seem to make more financial sense for them to go back to school. I guess you never know about health, so if they have some fear on that, perhaps, and I certainly don't know about family dynamics for those guys either, but just speaking in terms of the draft and opportunity.

* Just speaking to the comment about guys bolting as 25th rounders. I think there's a shot Harrington and Gragnani go in the top 20 rounds. So much is unknown with the new rules.

Brendan said...

Of the guys I listed, Harrington is the most likely to stay because he has another year of leverage. Juniors leave so often because as seniors, they don't have the leverage of threatening to stay in school, so unless they can be sure of boosting their stock by at least 8-10 rounds, if not more, they're getting the best offer they'll ever get. But Harrington isn't guaranteed to be a top-20 rounds guy and will still have leverage next year. He may stay. Bruno's in the same boat except that he could go in the top five or eight rounds. Grags is such a wild card because of his injury, there's no telling how the scouts see him.