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‘Tis the season
It’s always weird for me to say Carnival has arrived since, in some ways, it feels like it never ends. Be that as it may, Carnival officially kicks off in New Orleans this weekend with the arrival of Krewe of Bohème and Krewe du Vieux. Gird you loins as you know where, and how, it goes from there. Just as the best season of all seasons will kick off so will the college baseball season and, weird but true, professional football.
Like a five-pound bag of beads screaming towards your skull let’s take a look at what is heading directly at us.
Tulane Green Wave
I attended my first ball for a riding krewe this past weekend at the Iris Ball. It was a great time all around but I was most impressed by how when the dance band dropped their first note the party people hit the dance floor with gusto. They were ready to go.
You have to hope that the Tulane Green Wave is ready to hit the ground running as well. A series victory over George Washington University, who are picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic 10 (which has 13 teams), won’t turn any heads but this is a mission critical series. The Green Wave absolutely have to win this series to wash off the dread of the last two seasons. Successful seasons are built off of baby steps and this first one is important. The days of losing to the likes of Army and Air Force have to end. What they don’t want is to have a bad first weekend and then welcome Ole Miss to town next weekend.
I know someone can be cautiously optimistic but can someone be cautiously VERY optimistic? This club is being predicted to finish in the middle of the pack or worse but if you look at the pieces I believe this team has winner written on it.
The club will roll out Keagan Gillies and Kaleb Roper as their top two pitchers. These two young men have comparable stats and both have held opposing teams to a .228 batting average or worse. If the bats can do an able job behind these two the Green Wave can stack up a lot of victories.
The bats should be there as well with four of the top five batters returning led by Trevor Jensen (.306 BA, 9 HR’s, 35 RBI). Hell, the entire starting line up basically returns with the exception of Grant Witherspoon, which is a big hole to fill in the lineup. If no one regresses and the club can generate some stolen bases and get average production, offensively and defensively, out of the catcher spot this team could make a run at the NCAA regionals.
It all kicks off this Friday as Tulane hosts George Washington University on Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Turchin Stadium.
Let’s take a second to salute all of the college baseball fans that live in New Orleans that also love going to all of the parades. What a pickle! At least last year you could get to the first game of the season but now, with parades rolling on Friday and Saturday, what’s a fan supposed to do?
The Privateers have a solid opening series scheduled at home against the Michigan State Spartans. It’s a great way to kick off the season.
The Privateers have pretty consistently been picked to finish close to the bottom of the Southland this year (aside from the coaches’ poll where they are placed seventh) but return some big bats in Beau Bratton and Pearce Howard.
The team’s success will depend on a revamped pitching staff built around new faces and guys being asked to take on larger roles. All of this amounts to what could be another season of shootouts and that’s just some fun baseball to watch.
Also, who cares what the pundits say? This team scrapped its way into the Southland tournament last year and was one rough inning away from winning it all. Coach Blake Dean hasn’t missed the Southland Conference playoffs in his three-year tenure and I’m not betting against him this year either.
The UNO Privateers host Michigan State this Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Maestri Field.
Yeah, I read all about the new football league coming and saw the promos on social media but much like Mardi Gras day, the kickoff of the Alliance of American Football, or AAF, crept up on me.
I watched parts of three of the games and it was A-OK by me. It’s a smart move by the league to begin immediately after the Super Bowl and there were a lot of storylines to follow. Plus, new uniforms are cool, even when they’re bad.
The league’s only real star power is the head coaches like Steve Spurrier in Orlando, Rich Neuheisal in Arizona and Mike Singletary in Memphis, which definitely gives the league some cred. You’ll find a few former college stars smattered throughout the ranks like Trent Richardson, who seemingly still can’t get past the line of scrimmage, for the Birmingham Iron.
More that anything else, it was a fresh take on football. Having no idea what will happen turns out to be fun. Some plays are great and some are a dumpster fire from the get-go. The speed of the game is very refreshing as the league has adopted a 35 second play clock, done away with kick offs and a dearth of commercials keeps the action moving.
It looks like the Arizona Hotshots and Orlando Apollos are the teams to beat as the new league heads into Week Two of a 10-week schedule. We’ll see what happens.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Bayou Teche Brewing's "LA 31 Giant Hop" Double IPA
Playlist Recommendation: The Meters – "Fire On The Bayou"
Around the Way
Have you ever done something perfectly? Like perfect perfect? I’ve royally screwed up a few times but even that was not perfect.
Anyway, congrats to Tulane senior Tiera Gulum who bowled a perfect 300 game over the weekend in Orlando. She averaged 199.60 during the tourney to lead the ninth-ranked Green Wave.
It would seem her score really tied the room together and that was my requisite Big Lebowski reference, man.