Monday, May 27, 2013

weekend review

Well, after all the buildup the ACC tournament turned out - for UVA, at any rate - like most other weekend series.  Go somewhere, win more than you lose, go home, and no special accolades attached, which is code for we didn't win it.

That said, I don't call it entirely unsuccessful.  UVA got dusted by the Hokies on Wednesday - bad - and dusted Georgia Tech the next day - good.  Losing the first game meant we needed three things in order to happen in order to see the Hoos in the championship game, and #'s 1 and 3 got taken care of just fine while #2 (GT needed to beat VT, and didn't) never materialized.  Some short takeaways from the weekend:

-- When FSU dropped their second game of the tourney, it assured us of one important thing: UVA has more ACC championships this year than anyone else.  No ties: we have five to everyone else's less-than-five.

-- It's kind of been a while since Nick Howard started a game, and lately when Brandon Waddell has a good game it's usually on the order of "nice job getting out of all those jams."  I'm pleased to watch Waddell battle; you can tell he's got some of that no-fear mentality that our coaches want to see out of their starters, and when you've got that, developing your stuff is the easy part.  But right now, Scott Silverstein is the starter I trust the most on the hill.

-- Which in turn sets up nicely for the upcoming regional.  The #1 seed has the luxury of the option to hold back their ace for the second game,** and the way it goes this year, we don't even have to mess with the rotation to achieve that.

** Which I maintain is the most important game regardless of seed, but typically, the 1 seed is guaranteed to have the tougher contest in the second game, while the same can't be said for the 2/3 seeds.

-- Kevin McMullan has always been the Shamel Bratton of third-base coaches.  Don't do that don't do that why did you do that YESSSSSSS

-- Florida State - the #2 seed and Atlantic Division champion - went 0-3 on the week.  If you like you may call that an indictment of the silly division system that awards pointless division championships and serves no purpose whatsoever.  Although I would temper that by pointing out that FSU would've been the #3 seed in a correct divisionless system and would've still had GT and VT on their plate.

-- Seeing Whit Mayberry go long enough to be eligible for a win is nice.  That pretty much officially gives us four starters for the NCAAs, and a fifth (Kyle Crockett) who can turn in some very long relief outings and destroy left-handed hitting besides.  (And has a fan in Mike Martin, who sounded slightly awestruck in saying Crockett has a "beautiful, beautiful arm."  There's no Danny Hultzen or even a Tyler Wilson or Branden Kline on this staff, but what it lacks in ace-quality pitching it makes up for in depth.  Long after opponents have gotten into the part of their bullpen that makes their fans sweat, we're still trotting out quality arms.

-- A school of thought said that if we knew the FSU game would be meaningless as it relates to the ACC tournament (which it was since VT had already clinched their trip to Sunday's championship game) we should empty the bench and play all the dudes who don't otherwise play.  In retrospect, I'm glad we didn't, as it gave our players one last taste of extra-innings drama - and another lesson in how to win - before the NCAAs began.


And now for future baseball stuff instead of past baseball stuff:

-- UVA's tournament draw is pretty decent.  Nobody stands out as particularly scary in our own regional of UNC-Wilmington, Elon, and Army.  Army does have a solid pitching staff and will probably toss Chris Rowley again, the same guy UVA faced in last season's regional and managed to hit fairly well.  But no power-conference two-seeds and no sneaky mid-majors, like, say....

-- ....South Alabama, who is in our paired regional as a two-seed against host Mississippi State.  The Bulldogs actually got two such sneaky mid-majors, with Mercer tossed in there as well.  Mississippi State has a top-ten RPI but in terms of record was fifth in the SEC, behind Vandy, LSU, Arkansas, and South Carolina.  So we could've done worse in the draw.  Much worse.  UVA, by the way, is the national 6 seed.

-- I'll tell you who else could've done worse: Miami.  The tournament committee practically fellated the Hurricanes.  Miami's RPI is 19th, which might help explain it, but sheesh: this was a team with a losing ACC record.  They did beat Clemson, VT, and GT in weekend series, but also lost series to Duke, BC(!), and Wake (three of the four non-entrants to the ACC tournament) as well as Florida, who is a regional 3 seed.  Which is probably what Miami should be.  Instead they're a 2 seed with a nationally unseeded regional host.  Wut?  Well, they have one of the nation's toughest 3 seeds in Oklahoma State, so it's not all craziness.  I guess either the committee likes their RPI + series wins, or else it's a measure of respect for the ACC.

-- This is the bracket that will be used next year and in the future at ACC baseball tournaments.  It's a 10-team double-elimination.  Having been morbidly fascinated by how they will pull that off, I find that the final product doesn't disappoint in all its convolusion.  Stare at it til your head hurts, then come back here for the explanation, such as it is, if you need it.  Let's see if I can interpret that:

* The teams will be divided into two pools of five: 1-4-6-7-9 and 2-3-5-8-10.
* The top two seeds will get a bye. (Presumably, they will still be, stupidly, the division winners.)
* The first set of games, on Tuesday, will be 4-9, 6-7, 3-10, and 5-8.  The losers of those games head to the loser's bracket to play Wednesday.  In each pool, the best-seeded winner gets a bye til Thursday, and the worst-seeded winner plays the 1 or 2 seed on Wednesday, the winner of which advances to Thursday.
* The winner of this Thursday winner's bracket game advances to Saturday.  The loser heads to the loser's bracket, which concludes sorting itself out on Friday and sends a team to Saturday.
* By Saturday, we only have four teams left, two from each pool, which will play a single-elimination tourney to decide a champion on Sunday.

Got all that?  On one hand, I guess it's nice that they've found a way to reward better-seeded teams.  (I'm avoiding using the term "higher-seeded" because that bracket uses that term to mean worse.)  On the other hand, that has potential to grind up pitching staffs something fierce, and plus nobody will be able to understand it.  Is the ACC baseball tournament such a cash cow that it's so vital to have 10 teams there?  (No.  It isn't.)  Better alternatives include:

* The same thing we're doing now.
* Not having a tourney at all, playing one extra week of regular season ball, and handing the banner to the team with the best record.
* This.


Further stuff in brief:

-- Fresh off losing one Richardson, the football team picks up a future one in the form of OL Will Richardson.  Despite the limited space in the 2014 class, I think we'll probably try to get one more OL, but with Richardson and Steven Moss, the class is a paragon of quality-not-quantity on the OL.  Richardson has ratings ranging from high three stars to sitting inside the ESPN 150.  (Though admittedly, had he chosen Florida State instead, he had a much better likelihood of staying there.)

-- Paul Jesperson has settled on Northern Iowa as his landing spot.  Much closer to his home of Wisconsin than his other option, USC.  Much luck to him.

-- UVA's first two football games - BYU and Oregon - will both be 3:30 games, the former on ESPNUVA and the latter on ESPN2 or ABC depending on your location.  Win.  A strong showing in those games - which is probably to say, beat BYU and don't get embarrassed by Oregon - should set us up for decently-televised games through mid-October.  And since that's the softer part of the schedule, moving through it with aplomb might just give us some well-timed games (i.e. not at noon on Raycom) the rest of the year.

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