“The next time someone whines baseball doesn’t have enough action, you can do two things: first, explain the planning, strategizing, calculating, and deception taking place before every pitch. Second, you quote Hall-of-Fame announcer Red Barber: ‘Baseball is dull only to dull minds.’” –Zack Hample
We live in a society where people feel obligated to second guess everything that occurs in the sporting world. The same people who criticize Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith are the same people who created them!
It’s everyone’s right to be a victim of bad coaching, poor umpiring or refereeing when their favorite team loses a game, but baseball is a chess match where a one-run victory is often a bigger statement in most cases than a 19-9 win over Notre Dame or a 13-2 win over Michigan State.
A baseball skipper knows where each of his players should be on defense in correlation with who is on the mound, the speed of a base runner and the next two or three players on deck. Tracy Smith has to challenge certain players based off of their potential in a game today. This is something perhaps that will build confidence to better become realized in the middle of the 8th inning of a critical game 1 on June 15th at Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
The outcome now is really going to be weighted by a subsequent outcome down the road, and baseball is a game of depth and situational play. A .500 record in the last twenty games cries for a hot streak to emerge for Tracy Smith’s young Sun Devil squad. It’s time to stop washing game uniforms and to start the voodoo of tournament baseball. This should be a fun stretch for Arizona State.
ASU Baseball (37-17) fell to 3rd ranked Stanford (41-11) 3-2 on Saturday in the regular season finale at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Arizona State is just 2 wins in their last seven games, part of an average final two months where Tracy Smith’s Sun Devils went 10-10.
Scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-5 against Stanford on Thursday night, ASU Baseball was looking to close out the regular season schedule with a series win Saturday. Sophomore Boyd Vander Kooi made his fifteenth start of the season and hurled a career-best eleven strikeouts, the most by an ASU pitcher this season. Boyd went seven scoreless innings without allowing a free-ride to the Cardinal.
Here is where Sun Devil fans were questioning Tracy Smith once again. Having worked seven shutout innings without allowing a walk, Vander Kooi was relieved by Freshman Blaze Burzell in the top of the 8th. Burzell retired the Cardinal in order. But in the 9th with two outs, Burzell allowed two Stanford hitters to reach base. Smith then called on hard-throwing Sophomore R.J. Dabovich to get ASU Baseball out of the jam and seal the victory. Stanford shortstop, Tim Tawa, then stepped to the plate and hit a three-run dinger off Dabovich, ultimately handing the 3rd ranked Cardinal the series win. Stanford has won every series this year save for one.
Baseball is not a game of minutes but one of split-seconds. Every trial (pitch) creates thousands of potential scenarios. We had a kid on the hill Saturday who has been clocked at 98 mph. Sun Devil R.J. Dabovich would win nine out of ten trials against Stanford’s Tim Tawa, and the one hit would likely be a single, not a home run.
“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.” –Tommy Lasorda
Arizona State has 5 losses to 2 wins in their last seven. They have lost series to Nebraska, UCLA, USC, Washington, Stanford, and Oregon State where they had at least one game they should have won. Tracy Smith’s teams compete until the last pitch. Period. If you know baseball, players psychologically give up in losing cultures, and that’s simply not the case at Arizona State today.
Tracy Smith’s Sun Devils are young and have made some fundamental mistakes. They are .500 in their last twenty outings. Otherwise, they are 27-7, and the Pac-12 Conference is the best in baseball. With that being said, the next step for Coach Smith is to tackle Conference play, something our basketball program has begun doing.
The most important thing Tracy has done is built a new culture by all accounts. With a team filled with his recruits, he has a chance to go deep into the college world series. Statistically, this Sun Devil team can play with any team in the nation, and if the magic is right, they can dominate.
So erase the rankings from your mind. The regionals are a new season, and entire tournaments can be won by the team that gets hot. “Streaks” psychologically can dominate baseball in tournament play, but “belief” is a powerful tool.
ASU Baseball now awaits their NCAA Regional placement. The seedings are released tomorrow, Memorial Day, at 9 am PST on ESPNU. I have ASU in Lubbock, Texas where they will play as a (2) seed with (1) Texas Tech in the region. ASU should win out of this region in my observation.
Event: Selection Show
When: Monday, May 27, 12 p.m. EST
How to watch: Your local ESPNU station
Streaming: ESPN+ or WatchESPN
Regional Tournaments and Super Regional Tournaments will be taking place from May 31-June 10, before the commencement of the College World Series on June 15th.
Event: College World Series
When: June 15-26, first pitch time varies by game
How to Watch: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU
Streaming: ESPN+ or WatchESPN
DieHard Devil’s Top-20 teams to watch:
The Projected Field:
^ Denotes host school
* Denotes automatic qualifier
|Los Angeles, CA.||Oxford, MS.|
|1. (1) UCLA^*||1. (16) Ole Miss^|
|2. Creighton*||2. NC State|
|3. UC Irvine||3. Connecticut|
|4. Nebraska-Omaha*||4. Bryant*|
|Nashville, TN.||Coral Gables, FL.|
|1. (2) Vanderbilt^*||1. (15) Miami^|
|2. Florida State||2. Louisiana State|
|3. Liberty*||3. Florida Atlantic|
|4. Alabama State*||4. Wright State*|
|Fayetteville, Ark.||Corvallis, OR.|
|1. (3) Arkansas^||1. (14) Oregon State^|
|2. Indiana State*||2. UC Santa Barbara*|
|3. Texas State*||3. Tennessee|
|4. Canisius*||4. Harvard*|
|Starkville, MS.||Stillwater, OK.|
|1. (4) Mississippi State^||1. (13) Oklahoma State^|
|2. Southern Mississippi*||2. Texas A&M|
|3. Nebraska||3. Dallas Baptist|
|4. Jacksonville State*||4. Sam Houston State*|
|Louisville, KY.||Waco, TX.|
|1. (5) Louisville^*||1. (12) Baylor^*|
|2. Indiana||2. Missouri|
|3. Virginia Commonwealth*||3. Iowa|
|4. Ball State*||4. Stony Brook*|
|Athens, GA.||Chapel Hill, NC.|
|1. (6) Georgia^||1. (11) North Carolina^|
|2. Illinois||2. West Virginia|
|3. Duke||3. California|
|4. North Carolina A&T*||4. Campbell*|
|Greenville, NC.||Lubbock, TX.|
|1. (7) East Carolina^*||1. (10) Texas Tech^|
|2. Auburn||2. Arizona State|
|3. Clemson||3. Houston|
|4. Elon*||4. New Mexico State*|
|Stanford, CA.||Atlanta, GA.|
|1. (8) Stanford^||1. (9) Georgia Tech^|
|2. Brigham Young*||2. Michigan*|
|3. Fresno State*||3. Illinois State|
|4. Navy*||4. Samford*|