First off, for Wally.
OK, after the jump, some baseball talk.
If you would have told any LSU baseball fan two weeks ago that you could magically arrange for the tigers to go 3-3 in SEC play over the next two series and hell, you'll even throw in two wins over Arkansas to help with tiebreakers... well, I doubt you would have any shortage of takers.
LSU was coming off a dispiriting series loss to Auburn and now had two straight series against top five teams, including a series against #1 Florida in Gainesville. 3-3 wasn't just the benchmark for success, it seemed like a near unattainable pipe dream. 3-3 was delusional optimism.
Well, if you had taken that deal, you would have shorted LSU a win. In each series.
Last year, LSU and Arkansas played an evenly matched series in which (almost) every game came down to one run. LSU got swept. This year, LSU and Arkansas played an evenly matched series in which (almost) every game came down to one run, only LSU did the sweeping. Arkansas wasn't really three games better than LSU last year, just as LSU isn't really three games better than Arkansas this year. But them's the breaks.
And the breaks are going LSU's way, after what has seemed like a waterfall of bad luck over the past two seasons. In fact, no game shows the extreme amount of good fortune LSU has received this season than the series opener against Florida, won because the runner couldn't be bothered to tag up from third on a long fly ball out.
Really? When was the last time you've seen that? A play so simple, so easy, you almost take it for granted. That was an absolute gift, and while last year's Tigers might have taken the gift to the returns counter, this year's version greedily took the gift.
This year's team isn't a whole better than last year's. They still have a real power shortage and the pitching, a team strength, has been inconsistent. But this year's team is far more opportunistic, and that leads to wins. This team doesn't wait for good things, it makes good things happen. And that is all the difference.
Even bad things have turned into good things. Arby Fields has been pressed into service due to injuries, and he's been a sparkplug for the offense. Jordy Snikeris has come off the bench and been a bigtime producer. Grant Dozar's forced his way into the lineup with big hits. This isn't the team we'd thought we'd have at midseason, but here it is. Every injury is just an opportunity for another guy to play big.
Now, LSU is in first in the West, one game out of the SEC lead. But we're not even halfway through the SEC slate, so let's not get too excited yet. But let's start planning on getting excited. These last two weekends were huge, now it's time to build on it and put the division away.