Let me just start by saying I believe in curses. I believe that there handful of haunted houses in America, especially in New Orleans. I also know, deep down, that I want to believe magic is real. So at the very least I am, unlike Michael Scott, full blown superstitious.
Truth time: I wore the same TCU shirt for every game this season...except one--and yes, I did wash it. I was driving to a tailgate with my buddy and he put on "Break Free", so I listened to that song before every game this season...except one. The lack of my lucky white Nike shirt, and the lack of Grande intersected at one game; the game we all know I'm dancing around. Did TCU lose in Waco because I didn't play "Break Free" or wear my lucky shirt? No. Do I blame that, and blame myself? Yes. It's just easier...
Did Kaylee Hartung jinx TCU? Not anymore than the lack of Grande jinxed the Frogs in October. Third down conversion rates and poor performance with RISP led the respective losses. And while the Baylor-TCU game was near legendary, and certainly one of the more exciting regular season games to played so far this decade, it's still hard for me to decide whether good football was actually played. Offensively, sure. But both defenses were catastrophic. That being said, Hartung is great at what she does, and has been great since her ESPN genesis. However, no matter who it is, and no matter whether he or she believes in curses, traditions should be taken into consideration. But this is sports; everything from the traditions, to the idea of the games themselves should be taken in friendly stride. Schlossnagle's playful reaction said it all. And hey, who says he's not a little bit to blame for not eating an apple?
And now we go to conspiracy theories.
To say Karl Ravech's response was infinitely worse, would imply that Kaylee Hartung is actually somehow at fault, or that even she would be the first to say "I f-ed up"--again, like Schlossnagle, in good fun. But Ravech, like the camera lingering, and slowing zooming in on Zander Wiel, like a Terrence Mallick movie, wouldn't let it go anymore than the anti-Hartung Twitter army. Just like any conspiracy theories from Stanley Kubrick directing the moon landing, to what actually happened in Roswell, or fun internet hoaxes, I have plenty of fun in throwing kerosene on the 'ESPN heavily leans to the SEC' rhetoric. The commentary on the Twittersphere even causes the normally cool-as-a-cucumber Kirk Herbstreit's blood to boil, almost to the point that he can resort to trying to defend nonsense or convincing himself of a lie. There's obviously the inherent problem of ESPN really liking the SEC or the Longhorn Network, but why is anyone surprised, let alone angered? They are, after all, business partners. No one really got mad when a Coca Cola was spotted in The Sopranos; but then again, it's because there's no one really that's ride or die for Pepsi. The Big 12 isn't Pepsi, and the SEC, while it may think it is, is not Coke. At least from the standpoint that's it the only Coke out there. A few years from now, when the 5 big conferences are whittled down to 4--and even if they're not-- they'll follow suit from the SEC Network, and this nepotism will be a non-issue.
But back to the game. TCU lost a great baseball game on Tuesday, simply put. Alex Young had 14 strikeouts in 7+ innings while giving up just one run on three hits. Normally a shoe-in for a win, but silence at the plate from TCU led to a 1-0 loss, their first shutout in 135 games. There were plenty of plate appearances: from the unlucky placement of Keaton Jones'--what, in most places would be a double--or Nolan Brown's dismal bunt attempt to advance K. Jones after Dansby Swanson failed to punch him out, or Dane Steinhagen trying his best to give the radar-gun-man a cold by swinging with a 3-0 in a volatile situation for the Commodores. Once Steinhagen showed Pfeifer he couldn't handle what he was throwing, Priefer threw him 2 more, and ended up striking out TCU's left fielder fairly easily.
LSU Game 2
But tonight begins a new, yet all-too-familiar chapter for TCU. The Frogs' have squandered all three of their second games in the postseason, and also remain winless in their second game in their 3-time College World Series history. And history, especially as of late, from a CWS point of view tells us they're not going to make it easy for LSU. The first time it happened, Matt Curry popped a grand slam to dead center, and last year they took Ole Miss to extras before coming up just short.
For LSU, they're going with the senior lefty, Zac Person of Eunice, Louisiana. Person (2-0, 3.34) has thrown only 30 good innings this season--albeit good innings--and this will also be only his second start of the season. Person is the a great choice, because the lefty matchup tends to hurt TCU more so than the righty, and as we've learned throughout the whole season it usually takes the Frogs a time through the order before they really start seeing the ball off lefties. Thus, for the Frog to tame the tiger like a Mr. Decimus Meridias, they'll have to wear down Person and get his pitch count high, early; whether that's making him throw a high number of pitches, even if he is effective, force him out in the 6th and then attack the LSU bullpen, or just doing it the old-fashioned way by getting hits and runs early. Lineup wise, I don't think I'd make Nolan Brown bunt again. And I'd also plead and pray to never let anyone, even if it's Cody Jones, swing at a 3-0 pitch in a 1-run game.
I like the move of throwing Mitchell Traver, because, by all means, he should be TCU's ace next year. Plus, the way he shut down offense-heavy A&M in the wee-hours of a Tuesday morning nearly two weeks ago, Traver is a wonderful for an elimination game. What happens after that, I can take a guess at the Frogs' most likely order of arms. But like Schloss, I'm taking it one game at a time.
The Tigers likely won't make any mistakes like they did Saturday, but the good news is, while Person is very good in his own right, he's no Jared Poche, and will have to pitch the game of his life to beat this very motivated TCU team who are playing this game, and every game they play from here on out for a superhero named Micah Ahern. Just about everyone who reads this knows of Micah, but if you're visiting from LSU or are just a fan of college baseball and happen to be reading this, I urge you to check out his story. Whatever may happen to TCU tonight on the diamond, stories like Micah's remind us that baseball is just a game, and there are indeed much greater things in life. Micah's passion for baseball and TCU baseball is certainly unparalleled, and it's what makes games like this worth playing.
We all love you, Micah. Go Frogs.