Wednesday, April 10, 2013

weekend review

Apologies for there being nothing to read yesterday.  The next two weeks might be a little bit sporadic and spotty as it's more or less crunch time on the road to the old MBA.  In fact at the moment I'm procrastinating on about 20 pages' worth of papers to do this instead.  So it'll be a tad short as well.

Plus, if you're reasonably familiar with stuff I've mentioned in the past, you can probably put two and two together and come up with another reason I wrote nothing yesterday.

Reason #2 why this will be short: nothing happened in the lacrosse game that hasn't happened in the past.  I've got lots of material for an end-of-year post, which will be much sooner than we're accustomed to, that may shed some light on why the wheels came off so badly.  I don't know whether it's a psychological bias on my part or what, but it seems like most of the time, winning generates a lot more analyzable results than losing.  Despite the joke that a really bad team can always find new ways to lose, usually what happens is that the team can't do X, Y, or Z, and as long as they can't, they lose.

By contrast, the baseball team has been finding all sorts of interesting ways to win, including three more this weekend.  All involved the long ball and high-scoring games in some fashion, which itself is kind of a new thing for a program that has tended toward station-to-station offense and shutdown pitching to rack up its victories.  Only about halfway through the season, UVA is only six homers shy of the 25 that they've accrued in each of the past two seasons.  (The year before that, 2010, was the final year for the ping-bats, so the comparisons cease to be valid.)  And this latest series was on the road at Wake Forest, so for this weekend at least, the closer fences at Davenport aren't a factor.

It's usually worthy of a headline when a major leaguer homers twice in a game, and it's awfully rare for a UVA player to do it.  Maybe it happens once or twice a season, if that.  So I call it astonishing that Joe McCarthy did exactly that and it was only the third-most interesting home run story of the weekend.  Reed Gragnani's first UVA career home run is an even bigger deal, if you ask me, and it's still only second.  It's Mike Papi taking home the weekend crown with a two-out, two-strike, ninth-inning grand slam to turn a three-run deficit into a one-run lead.  Exactly like you draw it up in your head when you're ten years old.  Put that game on a bigger stage than just a regular-season series against a low-level conference team and it would rival the RALLY TO OMAHA for drama.

This is UVA and we can't have nice things and when we do we can't enjoy them, so we have to talk a bit about the pitching, which I think is in range of reason to worry.  Of the starting pitchers, only Nick Howard had a good outing.  Brandon Waddell gave up six runs and Brian O'Connor had to use up Whit Mayberry in the first game.  Scott Silverstein and Josh Sborz combined for four innings of horror before the bullpen settled it down long enough for Gragnani's eighth-inning tiebreaker.  With Artie Lewicki still a little ways away from returning and a long ways away from being ready to start (think 2014) and Mayberry probably still not yet ready for six innings either, and Trey Oest coming up shaky against VMI during the week, options are very limited if the rotation collapses.  Sborz is still learning his way around a lineup and Nathan Kirby is not happening right now.

So let's just hope there is no collapse.  It's basically sink or swim with what we got.  The solution, if it comes to needing a solution, is probably to keep the starters the way they are and lean on the pen for some long-run innings, and then have the bats do what they have to do.  BOC may be loath to bring Austin Young, Kyle Crockett, or Mayberry forward to take the ball as a starter, but all three are worth three or four good innings a series.  It's not crazy to prefer those be the 6th, 7th, and 8th, instead of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.


Events of the day necessitate a recruiting board update.

-- Moved K Gary Wunderlich from blue to orange.  That would be the event of the day.  Is it a little crazy using a scholarship on a kicker in one of our most limited years yet?  Not when he might be the best rising senior kicker in the country and multiple family members hold UVA degrees.  That he earned three stars on Rivals says something, because kickers don't usually get stars.

-- Moved ATHs M.J. Stewart and Travon McMillian from yellow to green.  I think UVA has a deal of work to do if they want to reel in either of these guys, but they're at least seriously in the conversation.

-- Removed TE Chris Laye (Auburn) and CB D'Andre Payne (Tennessee) from yellow.

-- Added RB Joe Mixon to red.  Would I bet any money on UVA pulling Mixon away from the other coast?  No.  Especially with like 40 other schools trying to do the same.  But there is at least a flicker, and Mixon is talking about waiting all year, which means if the coaches work hard on it they can give themselves a little staying power.

Yes, it remains a much smaller board than it was at this time last year.  Probably had ten more names on it back then.  I don't exactly expect to see a flood of new offers, either.  Slow and steady is the key here, which is why these updates have only been once every two weeks.  The coaches are probably doing almost as much work on the 2015 class as the 2014 one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know you haven't really had a chance to talk about the spring game or anything like that, but I just have to vent a little since this post is partially on the topic of football.

Is it really this perpetually difficult to decide on a starting quarterback? Are we going to do this every single year? I love coach London for a whole bunch of reasons, but I'm increasingly feeling as if his complete mishandling of the quarterback position is going to be his downfall.

I get it - nobody has really pulled away from the pack and there is no clear starter - but at some point you need to make a decision and stick with it. All the "well, maybe Sims is the guy, no no, Verica, no no Sims" destroyed last season and completely undermined the confidence of the quarterbacks to the extent that a junior non-NFL prospect left the program for his final year!

Anyways, sorry, had to get that out of my system. I just don't understand why so many other programs can have the position settled and not have this gigantic question mark at the most important position in football while we screw around every year and make an average of 4 or 5 QB switches per game.

And best of luck on finishing the MBA! I'm slogging through my thesis right now and it blows (for a MPP), but hey, it's almost all over right?