Thursday Thoughts - The Comforting-as-a-TeddyBear Version

"This next one is the first song on our new album... it just came out this week... and the song is called, 'Surrender'"

"I know there's nobody out there who came here get mellow. Anyone who wants to get mellow, can just turn around and get the ____ out of here!"

"You wanted the best and you got the best. The hottest band in the world..."

"The warning I've received is the brown acid that is circulating is not good. It is suggested that you stay away from it."

Go ahead, name the quote with the live concert album. Ten points to the first one to do so.

Like the famous quotes above, this is going to be a statement weekend in college baseball for a handful of teams. Do or die. State your case now or forever hold your peace.

At the top of the polls, it's not really a gut-check weekend or anything. Mostly, just try not to look foolish against your conference also-rans. Like when you were a kid and just hoped and prayed you didn't get that ugly zit on your forehead on the morning of school picture day.

I'm also going to enjoy this weekend while I can because this is going to be my last weekend at home, possibly until the end of June. But more about that later.


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For now, we've got the specter of the post-season looming over teams all across the country. Like the opening above, here are the teams that need to stand up and make a statement this weekend to the NCAA tournament committee, or get cut down and become grist for the mill.

The Make-A-Stand teams this weekend:

- LSU.
Record: 26-20-1
RPI: 41
Opponent: at No. 3 Arkansas
If history holds true, any SEC team with a 35 or higher RPI doesn't get much love from the committee. And Fayetteville is no place for a team hitting .256 to make up ground.

- Coastal Carolina.
Record: 36-9
RPI: 11
Opponent: at Nebraska
Could be a No. 1 seed is on the line here. If you look at CCU's schedule, they've never had to face a high-quality pitching staff in a three-game weekend all year. That .325 team batting average is in jeopardy. But the Chants can certainly pitch their way to a series win.

- Wake Forest.
Record: 28-22
RPI: 34
Opponent: vs. Miami
Wake has been hangin' around and hangin' around long enough to where now they're in the mix for an at-large spot. But answer me this... how did their RPI jump up 12 freakin' spots by sweeping Duke last weekend? Gah, does the RPI suck!

- Cal Poly.
Record: 24-20
RPI: 72
Opponent: at Long Beach State
This is do-or-die time for Poly. Win two or three and they're RPI will skyrocket. On the flip-side of that is the more important fact, win this series and the Mustangs could find themselves in first place in the Big West. That's what we call a "screw the RPI, we don't need no stinkin' RPI!"

- Missouri.
Record: 31-12
RPI: 22
Opponent: at Texas
The Tigers need a quality win or two. I mean, they're not listed here because they're in danger of not getting a bid, but a series win here could help make a run at a No. 1 seeding. And a lot of critics traps getting shut.

- Kentucky.
Record: 30-13-1
RPI: 56
Opponent: at South Carolina
Like Mizzou, you have to look at UK's record with a jaundiced eye. Unlike Mizzou, the Cats have no good out of conference wins to hang their hats on and they've lost four of their last five SEC weekends. Another one of those and the Cats won't get a sniff at baseball in June.


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This CAN'T be---
Hard as it is to believe - and get ready to wipe away a few tears - the college baseball season has already come to an end. Sniffle. Sniffle. The Patriot League, not ones to adhere to all this "let's push the season back to take advantage of better weather" junk, has seen three teams already end their seasons.
Holy Cross (12-22)
Bucknell (16-24)
Lehigh (13-30)
All three teams, ironically, finished their seasons at the bottom of the PL standings.


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The 10 Best Series of the Upcoming Weekend---
These are the ten stadiums I'd want to be at if I had my choice:

1- Pennsylvania (20-17) at Brown (22-18)
Like that new car smell, the first NCAA tournament bid will be awarded here. (Easy endorphins, easy does it.). These two Ivy Leaguers won their respective divisions and will play a best-of-three series on the Brown campus in Providence. This is the first time since 1995 that the champion will be someone other than Harvard or Princeton. Which is kind of a bummer, because after his near-no hitter of Arkansas last season, I was itching to see what Princeton's Christian Staehely had up his sleeve.

2- Oklahoma (28-17) at No. 17 Oklahoma State (31-13)
Ahhhh, the Bedlam Series. Again, it doesn't matter if these two schools were facing each other in a crunkin' contest, I'd wanna be there. It's one of the most intense rivalries in sports. Both teams have reason to need this series win. For OU, it's the fact that they sit at 8-10 and in 6th place in the conference. Any further down and it's getting near no-Big-12-tourney point. And can you believe OSU's No. 60 RPI? For that reason alone, this is a biggie for the Cowboys.

3- No. 28 Missouri (31-12) at No. 3 Texas (37-12)
This series means an awful lot more to Mizzou than the Horns. I have to admit, I saw the Tigers split a pair of games at Arizona State earlier this year, including a 3-2 shutdown job, so I'm impressed with the Black and Old Gold. But their schedule hasn't afforded them many more chances to prove their worth. So here you go guys. Jacob Priday was great to watch in their series clincher vs. Texas Tech, going yard twice in seemingly the exact same spot.

4- Coastal Carolina (36-9) at Nebraska (25-18)
This makes it a Big 12 triumvirate of places I'd want to be starting tomorrow. But this one is possibly the most intriguing, with this being a key factor of whether the Chanticleers will be a post-season No. 1 seed or host site in the Big Dance. The Chants can go pitch-for-pitch with NU, having two quality starters in Bobby Gagg (8-1, 2.68) and Andy DeLaGarza (9-1, 2.91). It's the offense that will get the big test in Lincoln.

5- Louisville (31-13) at St. John's (30-12)
On March 3rd, you have to wonder what was going through RedStorm coach Ed Blankmeyer's mind. His charges are 0-7 and teams like Lamar, UC Santa Barbara and Rice are on deck. Well, SJU blew through those teams 3-and-0 and have gone 30-5 since. Meanwhile, the Cards are 22-6 since Mid-March, led by a pair of .400+ hitters in Isaiah Howes (.409-10-42) and Logan Johnson (.400-10-45). Jeez, the UofL team ERA is just 2.84 for crying out loud. Now you see why they're in position to take over the Big East with a series win here. Even the weather is going to cooperate this weekend on Long Island.

6- East Carolina (29-15) at Houston (25-19)
I'm still shaking my head that ECU is in the position it's in - just 7-7 in C-USA play and only three games ahead of last place Central Florida. Especially after seeing them vanquish Cal State Fullerton back in early March. That was so impressive. But, now the Pirates find themselves behind the 8-ball and if they lay another egg like they did at home vs. USM last week, things may even get tough in at-largeland. Houston, with Wes Musick (6-3, 2.76) and the flashes-of-brilliance that is Aaron Brown (6-3, 4.57), is coming off of a surprising series loss at Marshall. And we are Marshall without Matthew McConaughay pitching.

7- Louisiana-Lafayette (32-13) at Louisiana-Monroe (27-20)
Despite being 1-and-tied-for-2 in the Sun Belt standings, these two teams ain't so hot. UL-L is 4-5 of late and UL-M went 1-3 last week and - this is from the freakin' weird department - got outscored 48-25 in those three losses. But here's the real kicker as to why the Cajuns will keep a hold of first place after this weekend: they lead the SBC with a 3.87 team ERA and - I love this stat - just 99 walks. The Warhawks have the SBC-worst 6.08 team ERA and 200 walks... Check... mate.

8- Cal Poly (24-20) at No. 23 Long Beach State (27-14)
A couple of knee-jerk thoughts here:
1- Cal Poly, at 8-4, is still in the thick of the Big West title chase, but this is either a step-up or step-off weekend.
2- Long Beach needs to keep winning to - and I know some of you out there think this is a stretch - keep their hopes of a national seed alive (No. 9 in the latest RPI).
And 3- I can't wait to get a cold brew in my hands and watch Grant Desme (.388-12-47) take on the Dirtbag hurlers (Big West best 3.32ERA) down at beer-friendly Blair Field.

9- Stony Brook (22-18) at Binghamton (19-13)
It's almost weird to look at the America East standings and not see Maine at the top. But these are the two league-leaders now (at 8-3 and 13-2 respectively) and come in with the two best arm staffs in the AmEast. But the Bearcats have the best hitter in the northeast in Brendon Hitchcock (.421), a steady singles slapper. Give the edge to the Bearcats for intangibles like better hitting, better fielding and home field advantage. And another reason to want to head to Binghamton this weekend... isn't Cooperstown nearby? I've never been.

10- Kentucky (30-13) at South Carolina (33-13)
The SEC is always boiling with huge matchups. But this weekend, this might be the only one with huge ramifications. Are the Wildcats a mirage? For a team with 30 wins already, a No. 56 RPI means they've been a sheep in wolves clothing. Well guess what guys?... win this series and all is forgiven. In fact, an outside shot at the NCAAs also comes with it. Carolina is on a 3-5 path of sloth and has given up 49 runs in those five losses. Sure Arik Hempy is back and pitching well, but ace Harris Honeycutt is running out of gas.


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Best off-the-radar matchup---
Wright State (27-15) at Miami (27-19)
Okay, who here thinks the Raiders will be overcome with stage fright? Let me tell ya', it ain't gonna happen. For three reasons:
1- You probably forgot that WSU won a three-game series at Ole Miss. Yes, that SEC behemoth.
2- Kyle Kearcher, a strapping 6'6" lefty, is bad ass (7-3, 2.84, 66.2 inns, just 11 walks), including a win against the Rebs.
and 3- Two of Wright State's coaches are former Hurricanes - head coach Rob Cooper and assistant coach Greg Lovelady.
With the Canes not quite playing Canes baseball, this could be another interesting series. Do I predict another Ole Miss redux for the Raiders? Well, probably not. But it's not out of the realm of possibility for them to pull off at least one W.

You know, I wonder if any of WSU's players have seen video of Coach Lovelady from the Miami 2001 national championship team and seen his hideous, I'm-a-pasty-white-rapper long, thin sideburns and told him how idiotic he looked? Guys, go find a video tape of it. 'Coz you should.


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Quietest post-season run in Division I---
Winthrop (27-19).
The Eagles were all the rage in the pre-season, even getting a No. 24 ranking from Baseball America and All-American status for pitcher Alex Wilson. Well, like the Morton Downey Show, they crumbled under their own expectations, suffering through an 8-14 spell in February/March. But since Big South play began, the Eagles have gone 15-6 overall and are currently at 11-1 in conference play. Percentage-wise, that's first place ahead of RPI No. 11 Coastal Carolina. Winthrop is currently way down at No. 89 in the RPI, but has an easier schedule than CCU the rest of the way AND they'll get the Chants at home to close the season May 18-20.

Which leads me to this...


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Best Mid-Week Win---
Winthrop - 16
College of Charleston - 14
The horse-hide was flying out of Patriot's Point Field, with eight combined home runs between the two Southern mid-major powers. But the biggest blast came from the bat of Phil Carey, who completely obliterated a 9th inning grand slam to give WU the win. A win which wasn't lost on head coach Joe Hudak, "This was a big win for us as their RPI is about 18 or so. That gives us a chance of getting an at-large bid."


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Best way to get back on track from an 0-3 weekend---
Cal State Fullerton - 2
Pepperdine - 7
The Waves decided to start Friday ace Barry Enright in this Wednesday mid-day matinee. Well, whether it was to get back on the right track, to insure a W against a good team for the RPI or just the fact that they don't have any weekend games ahead, the strategy worked. Enright went 8.0 innings, gave up just two hits and improved to 11-2. The Titans meanwhile, used seven different arms and saw Evan McArthur get off the skids with a two-run single in the 9th. But their skein continues.


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College baseball pimps---
Like most of us stitch heads, I've spent a good bit of time searching other websites and venues that regale the sport we all love. Three of the more interesting ones I've stumbled upon lately have been BigTenHardball.blogspot.com, run by Brian DeCaussin, Cornnation.com, a site devoted to Nebraska sports that has added baseball coverage this year, and BuildTheDam.com, a website devoted to our national champion Beavers.

I really like what these guys do for the sport. Especially Brian's Big 10 site. It's very similar to what I saw in the early stages of Mark Etheridge's SEBaseball site, just something started out of love for the game and devoted to a conference (Mark's site started out as an SEC site before expanding to the brilliance it is now).

The Cornnation and BuildTheDam sites are part of a network of websites devoted to certain college teams throughout the country. But unlike most of the other northern teams in that system of sites, these two concentrate a good bit on baseball at this time of year. Not just spring football results, rumors and other needless garb. Both include a lot of Big 12 and Pac 10 coverage with them, including weekend previews and reviews.

Check them out if you get the chance.


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The Stitch-head Nation Tour stops in Minneapolis, Corvallis and Oklahoma City---
Also, and ironically so, I'll be heading into the dens of these guys' coverage areas in the next three weeks. I bribed the right hands and photographically blackmailed the right suits up at CSTV to be lucky enough to have this as my schedule for the next three weekends:

May 11-13. Ohio State at Minnesota series. (I know Brian, pick your jaw up off the floor)
May 18-20. Arizona State at Oregon State. (My second baseball visit to hippie-land)
May 24-27. Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City. (Praying for a cold front)


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My head is only getting bigger---
Jon Johnston, the curator of the Cornnation.com site, decided to do a short Q&A with me earlier this week (he scores points for giving me another outlet for my angst). He had a few interesting Qs about the state of college baseball and CSTV's part in coverage and garb like that. He even asked a few opinion-type questions (yes!). If you wanna check it out, click here:

http://www.cornnation.com/

And Jon, I think I speak for all stitch-heads here in saying that I'm glad you're including baseball coverage to your site. Rock on man.

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This week's YouTube moment---
See what happens when a baseball team tries to act like a basketball team. Check out this Tyler J.C. video clip. And keep in mind, it's a good thing they decided to stick to baseball and not go the basketball route.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2BjmJF_w8M

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Not your Mr. Thurston Howell the Third's TeddyBears---
Okay, so it's good to branch out, right? On Wednesday night, I returned to the El Rey Theatre in Hollywood, where I had seen the Hoodoo Gurus recently. This time, the Swedish group The TeddyBears were playing. They have a song out called "I'm a Punkrocker" with guest lead vocals by the legendary Iggy Pop. Thinking they were more punkish, I went to check them out on Wednesday night. Turns out they're more of an electronica/trance-house type of band, tinged with rock and even rap and raggae undertones. Not exactly my cup of tea, right? Well, they were still really fun and - you may not believe this one - they performed the whole show with three of the members wearing black suit-and-ties and over-sized mascot-like bear-heads. Yes, the entire show. They also had two drummers, a guitarist, a bassist and a TeddyBear-head guy on a mixing board. It was freakin' hilarious. Behind them were two video screens that showed clips from famous movies the whole show long. Movies like The Godfather, Warriors, The Shining, Taxi Driver, Clockwork Orange, Easy Rider, etc. Only thing is, the characters in the clips all had TeddyBear heads super-imposed on them. It was pretty funny. And no, Iggy Pop didn't make a cameo when they played "Punkrocker," though I was praying he would. Here's a picture from the show:


TeddyBears.jpg
The TeddyBears. They're punkrockers, yes they are.


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Quick YouTube moment, part II---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIiP-aAaupA
Just in case you want to see the TeddyBears video featuring Iggy Pop and scenes from a New York City limo. Don't worry, it's only two minutes long.


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Who I'm unabashedly cheering for this weekend---
Coppin State.
The Eagles are 0-41 and have only three games left, at North Carolina A&T this weekend. As highlights to their season so far, Coppin has a pair of five-run losses, including Wednesday's 8-3 defeat at the hands of Georgetown, and a two-run loss at Maryland-Eastern Shore (6-4) back on March 24th. In that game, CCU had the tying run at bat when catcher Chris Roberts struck out looking with a man on second base. C'mon CSU! Just pull one out this weekend, man. If you do, I'll make you my Team of the Week in the East. No questions asked.


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Finally, a special RIP---
To Bobby "Boris" Pickett.
He's the guy who wrote and sang "Monster Mash" with his band, the Crypt-Kickers. It's a song that comes back each and every Halloween and one we all know very well. Pickett died last week at the age of 69 here in Los Angeles at Veterans Hospital of Leukemia. In one of the biggest oddities in music history, his one-hit wonder hit the Billboard charts three separate times - it went to No. 1 after its release in 1962, was No. 91 in 1970 and then went to No. 10 in May of 1972.


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Have a great college baseball weekend wherever you are. I'll yap at ya' some more later on.

G'night.

Comments

Eric, If you want to go out for a few beer's when you are up for the OSU vs Gopher tilt let me know. I would love to have a few with you.

Be prepared to be disappointed with Siebert Field. Should be a great series.

Trent

So it is www.buildingthedam.com not builthedam.com... Simple mistake, but might want to correct that for the die hard beaver fans!

Eric, I breifly met you at the WFU game when you won your trivia contest. hey shoot me an email when you get a chance at rentatlanta@yahoo.com I have a photo submittal for College Baseball's catch of the year to send to you ... game ending catch, no less.

Eric, I'm surprised that Oregon State at Washington isn't on your radar screen for this weekend.

I went to the game at Safeco Field last night. It set a Pac-10 attendance record: 10,421. It was a generally cool event, except for the fact that it lasted 3 1/2 hours. They closed the roof during the sixth inning. The speed of each pitch (along the the total balls and strikes for the current pitcher) was displayed on one of the scoreboards, and they showed a few replays on the big video screen. I think it was only the second ball game I've ever been to where they had a band.

Oh yeah, the Huskies won 6-2. The biggest play was when Curt Rindal, playing first base, snagged a line drive by Darwin Barney to snuff out a rally by the Beavers in the eighth.

Okay. One at a time here. And no pushing from the back of the line.
Trent- You kiddin'? Beer is fortified with vitamins and minerals. Of course. And I've seen Seibert before. Went up there for a football game two years ago.
Patrick- See my "mea culpa" in tonight's edition. My bad.
C- An Email should be with you now.
Bob- To the guru of D2 and NAIA college baseball. Thanks for the write-up on the game bro. You always come through for me.
Thanks to all for readin' and writin'.

Eric

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Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is CSTV.com's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert