Vacation is a funny thing. A lot of folks do it differently. You know what I’m talking about, via social media some folks seem like they never left, others are in full broadcast mode and post a constant stream of food, shots of the <insert type of nature> and other, usually poorly-framed pictures of the day to day in another city or country. Me? I disappear. Completely. As in, I don’t even look at social media when I’m on vacation. Be that as it may, after our vacation to San Francisco, California, I am back and playing catch-up with sports in New Orleans.
So, let’s take a little trip.
The current buzz in New Orleans, non-statue category, is all about the NFL draft, which kicks off Apr. 28, proving once again that the only thing worse than the NFL’s concussion problem is its unrelenting endlessness. It just never stops.
Anyway, for Saints fans, there are two trains of thought. The train I’m riding is the, “don’t even think about using one of the first two picks on offense,” train. Which to me is the only plan that makes sense, but there are those in the digital landscape that mention Stanford running back, Christian McCaffrey, or Washington’s speedy wide receiver John Ross entering the Saints first round draft plans. With the addition of Adrian Peterson, the McCaffrey talk probably goes away, but the Saints need to focus on defense, defense, defense.
Speaking of defense, or lack thereof, the Tulane Green Wave baseball team lost sole possession of first place in the American Athletic this weekend against the University of Houston Cougars. Tulane (20-21) took the first game of the series, but an error-filled second game led to an excruciating 8-7 loss, which was followed by a 12-2 shellacking in the rubber match. Tulane and Houston are now tied at 8-4 atop the AAC at the halfway point of the conference season.
Tulane successfully got over the awful hump known as the first 15 games of their season, but would need a more than stellar finish to the campaign to be considered for an at-large bid. So, it’s conference tournament title or bust time for Tulane. With that being said, a win tonight at Turchin Stadium over the LSU Tigers would go a long way to righting the ship’s course to the postseason.
Speaking of the boys from Baton Rouge, as always they are among the top 15 clubs in the nation and, as always, it seems like the sky is falling. The #13 LSU Tigers (27-14) are obviously solid, but definitely aren’t playing up to the level of the TCU’s and North Carolina’s of the world. Worst still for LSU, if the season ended today, they would find themselves in the single elimination round to kick off the SEC tournament.
The UNO Privateers (19-21) just want a win. After a quality series victory over Lamar, the Privateers have gone on a seven-game losing streak and find themselves tied with Nicholls State for eighth place in the Southland, which is the last spot that qualifies for the conference tournament. UNO is coming off consecutive sweeps at the hands of the league-leading McNeese State Cowboys and the Big 12’s Texas Longhorns. They’ll look to get back on track versus Incarnate Word in San Antonio this weekend. The May 12-14 series versus Nicholls State looms large.
Not speaking of pro baseball, thankfully the minor-league baseball season has started and the New Orleans Baby Cakes (8-11) social media channels actually post about baseball, and whoever’s plan it was to shove baseball hat sales down the city’s throat should be sent to the minors of social media.
Beach volleyball was a sport I excelled at while growing up. By that I mean, beach volleyball on Nintendo. I was always the dude with the spiked hair. I’m just kidding, this was the early ‘90s, all of the characters looked the same. Anyway, Tulane’s beach volleyball team had a heck of a weekend, in the CCSA championships, which were played in northern…Georgia?
That’s fine. The ladies of the Green Wave (22-13) had a solid weekend, posting their first two conference tourney wins in program history, and also knocking off the #12 South Carolina Gamecocks. You can watch the women in action this weekend at the New Orleans Duals at UNO on the Lakefront. After the game, the team will say goodbye to their senior class, which includes Tea Juric, who is evidently their Greatest Player Ever. OK, I don’t know if that’s accurate, but I guarantee she could terrorize you on the volleyball court.
I realize the NBA playoffs are in full swing. Is there any other kind of swing? Not that I have much to add here, except someone please tell me when Game Four of the finals starts, because, much like the World Series, that’s when I start watching.
More importantly, let us not forget, it’s only 11 days until the Kentucky Derby, or for most of the world, the Kentucky Derby party. Get your hats ready ladies and fellas please don’t show up in a T-shirt or a pullover. It’s the Derby, bro.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Flying Tiger Brewery’s “Heroic Hops” IPA
Playlist Recommendation: Prince – “FunkNRoll”
Around the Way
The NFL Draft is upon us, making college kids’ dreams come true, while also putting a lot of green into their pockets. Every fan knows all about the all-stars who show up for the draft spectacle and walk up on stage. Those guys are cool but I like the underdogs as well, the guys who are about the grind.
Look no further than former Rummel High kicker Taylor Russolino to get all of the hustle you need. Russolino didn’t go to a big university (Millsaps College) and didn’t get drafted. He had to make his career happen on will alone. First, Russolino attacked the CIFL with the Marion Blue Raiders, then moved on to kick for the hometown New Orleans Voodoo, before an injury cut his season short.
Russolino kept going. He scrapped his way to Spokane, then made the big move, all the way to Shanghai. Yes, they do play arena football in China. For the Shanghai Skywalkers, Russolino would be selected to the 2016 CAFL Dream Team. Then he kept going. After an invite to the Special Teams Combine in Mobile, Alabama, Russolino headed back to California and is putting in work with former NFL kicker Michael Husted. Just like that select group of college kids this weekend, Russolino is waiting for the call, waiting for that chance to show what he’s made of, because that’s what grinders do.
Photo credits: kentuckyderby.com, unoprivateers.com, lsusports.net