Our preview of the first weekend series of the season. Opening Day!!
Yeah, I'm taking over the weekend previews this year, so if there's something you'd like to see in them, let me know. I'll probably ignore you because I'm kind of ornery, but there's a chance I might take credit for your idea. But it's hard not to be excited by Opening Day! While our MLB loving buddies have to pretend they are excited by, literally, guys showing up (pitchers and catchers have reported!), we get to be excited by actual baseball.
Yet another reason why college sports are better. The other? No New York Yankees. Let's look at this week's victim.
Record: 32-24 (10-20)
Conference Standing: 5th in the ACC Atlantic division
Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm)
Davis Simon (The Wire)
Raymond Davis, Jr (2002 Nobel Prize in physics)
Kevin Plank (founder of Under Armour)
Lou Pai (former CEO of Enron)
Dan Snyder (counterpoint to Jerry Jones)
Steny Hoyer (House Majority Leader)
Carl Bernstein (of Woodward and fame)
David Broder (Pulitzer Prize)
Valerie Solanas (failed assassin of Andy Warhol)
Scott Van Pelt (ESPN)
Eric Milton (Minnesota Twins)
Pretentious music video:
Maryland is just inside the DC beltway, so I have to choose the greatest band to ever come out of DC for this week's pump up jam: Fugazi. I'm pumping up Blueprint, because hopefully we've found a blueprint to get us back to Omaha. Also, it's time for a change, as we move from the doldrums of the offseason to Baseball Season.
What a difference a difference makes.
LHP Jimmy Reed 1-3, 2.70 ERA, 52/16 K/BB
RHP Brady Kirkpatrick 3-4 3.04 ERA, 31/32 K/BB
Reed was last year's closer, notching eight saves, but he moves into the starting rotation along with last year's midweek starter, Brady Kirkpatrick. A freshman will get the Sunday start, but the Terp staff appears to be in flux right now. Reed is indisputably the ace, but Kirkpatrick's peripherals don't scare anyone. Maryland's success last year was predicated on pitching and defense, and most of those pitchers are now gone. If LSU can get to Reed, this could be a long weekend for the visitors.
KJ Hockaday 305/367/404
Jordan Hagel 317/403/478
Tim Kiene 241/345/414
Kiene led the Terps in home runs with a whopping six. Gee, how did they only score 275 runs? 3B KJ Hockaday is considered a pretty good pro prospect and is probably the most talented player on the roster, but OF Jordan Hagel is coming off the best season. It's not a lineup that scares me all that much, but they do return seven starters so they have some continuity, which certainly helps in an opening series. While LSU is playing around with lineups and trotting out freshmen, Maryland puts out a sure thing.
Yes. Look, I know it's become standard in the preseason to talk about how good Maryland is and how they are an up and coming team. And they don't out and out suck, but let's be honest: this is a team that has not gone to the tournament since 1971 and has not posted a winning record in conference since 1981. Getting better is a relative term. Maryland has managed to improve to a point that they are no longer a laughingstock, but they are not a terribly good team. They went 10-20 in the ACC last year, and that was considered a monumental achievement . That's how down the program was. Now, John Szefc takes over the head coaching job as Erik Bakich took off for the greener pastures of Michigan. When you are losing your head coach to a Big Ten school, things aren't going well. Bakich is a rising star, so his departure does not auger well for the Terp program, which was just showing signs of life.
It's an early series and anything can happen in the season opener, but LSU has to be thinking that if they can win on Friday, they should get the sweep. Maryland will trot out a freshman on Sunday, making his first start in the most hostile of road environments. Seeing as the deck will be stacked so much in our favor, I fully expect us to lose that game. That's how life goes, right?