A few years ago, I woke up on a Sunday morning and felt the need to ramble a bit. There had been a game the night before, I’m sure I tweeted throughout, but woke up the next day with more to say. The game was no longer going on, but I knew I left some stuff out. Opinions. Meaningful, important, necessary opinions, dang it. Ones I knew you just had to have. Lots of them. I needed to get them out. But if they weren’t thoughts as the game was going on, then, well, what the hell were they?
Alas, the rest is history.
But this week, I’ve decided to change the format of Thoughts The Morning After (TTMA). As we have launched and attempt to grow our all-new 1010XL.com, that seemed like the perfect place to put them all under one bow rather than send them as a series of never-ending tweets. They will be mostly sports, but not all. They will be random. I hope they are fun. And you will have access to them early Monday mornings.
With that as the way-too-long backdrop, I present edition 1 of the all-encompassing edition of …
Thoughts The Morning After (TTMA).
You now why the college baseball post-season is so good now? One, the ESPN folks televise so much of it, including all of the Super Regional games. But the main reason is that college baseball is more like the professional game, and for that matter more like the brand played in the big leagues, than ever before. No, the players obviously aren’t nearly as good. But the style of play is so similar.
For starters, they finally have the bats right. College baseball uses aluminum bats, unlike professional baseball, which uses wood. But the metal bats finally perform very much like the wood bats. Finally. The sweet spots are about the same, the carry is about the same, thus, the amount of hits and runs per game is about the same. It now LOOKS like a real baseball game.
Beyond that, coaching is so good now in youth and travel baseball, baseball’s answer to AAU hoops, the players truly are being developed well before college. They are bigger and stronger and more fundamentally sound than ever. There was a time college baseball was a litany of walks and errors and bad play. Not any more. Teams aren’t as efficient as the pros yet, but it’s closer than it’s ever been. Which makes the whole thing, if you love baseball, really fun to watch.
It also lends to more parity.
At this writing, only Oregon State and North Carolina had swept Supers. Auburn-Florida, South Carolina-Arkansas, Texas-Tennessee Tech are all tied at a game apiece and headed to final games Monday. Texas Tech-Duke and Vandy-Mississippi State could be headed for a similar fate. Cal. State Fullerton played Washington in a third game winner take all late last night.
So enjoy the rest of these dramatic supers. And next week really lock into the College World Series. It will be a blast.
As for Florida vs. Auburn …
I think the Gators will beat Auburn Monday night. They have the better team; they have post-season experience. Yesterday was the first Super regional game win ever for the Tigers. Florida wins two almost every year.
I also think it really helps that UF freshman pitcher Jack Leftwich, who likely will start for the Gators, started the elimination game last weekend vs. FAU. Leftwich was a little shaky — appeared nervous — in the first inning against FAU, then settled down. If there going to be post-season jitters, hopefully some of those are out of the way. It won’t be easy — I sure wish they had J.J. Schwarz back — but I like the Gators. …
More TTMA. …
Shame on LeBron James for not being smart enough to avoid punching a whiteboard if that is, indeed, what happened. I’m a big LeBron fan, and I get the end game frustration of Game One, overall frustrations of being on a team with hardly any other star players other than him. But you have to be smart enough not to do that. … As for where he may wind up, my gut says a very big market. Los Angeles, New York, Boston. Conventional thinking is Philly or Houston, but I don’t think so. We’ll see. … Say what you want about how it got built, but the trio of Durant, Curry and Thompson is really unbelievably good. Maybe even better than I realized. The trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili won four rings together. How many will these guys get? They will be hard to beat no matter where LeBron lands. …
Tweeted this earlier, but I have big hopes for Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Jags’ new starting tight end procured through free agency. I’ve seen enough practices now that I’m not gun shy about setting at least my bar high for him. The Jags have had good tight ends, but not great ones. This guy, though, has all the tools. Big, can block, can really run and get down the field. He’s athletic, agile, fast. He has soft hands. And he seems really driven. You can really see all of it when you watch them work out.
Man, can this team use a tight end. … Bortles has looked really, really good every time I’ve been out. I know it’s just been non-contact OTA’s, but he has been so sharp. Sometimes folks can’t wait to tell you when he has been awful, so it’s important we tell everyone he is very, very good. … I’m glad Jalen Ramsey is speaking Tuesday, but I still don’t sense his skipping OTAs will have any effect on the team. Same with Fournette. Just don’t think fans will notice.
“Shades of Blue” with Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta returns next week. This is the last season. But don’t miss it — it is absolutely fantastic. And, um, it has J-Lo. … “Billions” starts shortly, so I can’t type forever here. … Have you heard “Monday Night RAW” is coming to town. WITH ROUSEY?! I’m so in.
I’m very excited about the Alliance of American Football, which launches next spring. Think about how great that will be — the Super Bowl is played; it will feel like football is over, then the very next week this bad boy launches for the better part of three months. Which is awesome.
You guys think Hacker will want to tailgate with me when RAW and Rousey come to down? And Ballou? And Chadd Scott? and Big Country and Hays? Just wondering.
I keep getting this feeling, more and more, that Emory Jones will be the Florida quarterback at some point this season. I didn’t believe that earlier — felt that he would need a year to get bigger, get acclimated to college life and football. But with Feleipe Franks looking just ok in the spring game and with Kyle Trask not having played in big games at all because he was the backup in high school, I just have this hunch. Not to start the season, but sooner rather than later.
Indians pitcher Corey Kluber lived on the First Coast for a while — lived in St. John’s Golf and Country Club for a while I believe. You probably don’t know much about him, but you should. The former Stetson star might be the best pitcher in baseball. Find a way, at least. On TV, to watch him pitch a game this year.
Why don’t they have movies with all humans any more? Every movie has to have robots or superheroes or mutants. What’s wrong with just humans?
Everyone often talks about how unreal the Florida overall athletic program is, and it is. The Gators win the SEC all-sports trophy every year and finish high in the Directors’ Cup. But don’t sleep on the FSU program. The Noles just won the softball natty; their men’s basketball team almost made the Final Four, the girls hoops program is very good; baseball earned a top eight national seed on the heels of last year’s trip to Omaha. And football is a few years removed from a natty and then followed that up by going undefeated in the regular season and making the College Football Playoff. The athletic program is legit. …
Man, the Rays aren’t even trying to win. They just traded Brad Miller, one of their few decent players remaining, for a minor leaguer.
Good to see Dustin Johnson win right before the Open. I still don’t think there is a more talented guy out there.
So Rafa Nadal won the French for the 11th time. Did anyone notice?
Former Ponte Vedra star Max Miller had four RBI for Duke Sunday night. If the Blue Devils win Game 3 Monday and if Florida wins, Miller gets to play against the Gators’ Keenan Bell. That’s two Jacksonville guys who I’ll bet know each other well.
So today, before playing golf, I watched Florida-Auburn from the pool. Had music playing in my ear while the game was on. Had it on shuffle and “Pleasant Valley Sunday: by the Monkees came on. Quit judging, it’s a great song. But it’s now stuck in my head. Absolutely stuck …
Enjoy our lineup on 1010XL all day Monday. Martineau, Carlyon, Brooks and I will see you at 3 p.m.
(You can follow Frank Frangie on Twitter @Frank_Frangie)