Paul Mainieri laid down the law on LSU’s Media Day.
He allowed his players to talk about Omaha for that day only, and then issued a gag order on the topic.
This is the right move on a lot of fronts. For one, the logic of “we’ll cross that bridge when we get there” is sound. It’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s a long season and the SEC half of the schedule is it’s own season inside of a season.
Secondly, nobody ever won a championship before March and no team has ever finished the season without a loss. The best teams let the game come to them and take their lumps in the same stride that they take their walk-off winners. The Tigers can still be a top two team and still drop a midweek game to McNeese.
Lastly, the journey is more important than the destination in a way. Depending on what poll you look at, LSU is either the #1 or #2 team in the nation. I get that places a lot of pressure on the program, but if there’s any lesson to be learned from LSU teams of the past it’s that that losses in February doesn’t mean the team is hopeless when the calendar turns to June.
LSU is so highly rated because they have an enviable collection of veteran players along with a plethora of young stars. Antoine Duplantis is gunning for an SEC hit record and Landon Marceaux has dominated against batters in preseason scrimmages. On paper, LSU is stacked top to bottom.
But baseball isn’t played on paper. Saul Garza will miss time behind the plate with a knee injury. Ma’Khail Hilliard is battling shoulder soreness. There’s really no telling how Josh Smith and Eric Walker especially will play coming off Tommy John. TJ is notoriously difficult injury to bounce back from, after all. Maybe Marceaux will understandably lose a step when he plays SEC teams every weekend. Injuries are almost guaranteed to shakeup the roster at some point in the season.
Even if it goes super well, I shouldn’t have to tell how quickly things can turn sour given how we all saw how LSU ruined Oregon State’s run at the best season in college baseball history two years ago. The Beavers finished 56-6 and didn’t lose a single game in March or May. That didn’t matter, because LSU gave them 33% of their losses in Omaha to end their season.
After LSU beat that Oregon State team, surely they could beat Florida for the school’s seventh national championship. I mean come on, that will go down as the best team in the sport’s history.
It’s okay to be passionate, I encourage that. But if you live and die with each pitch you will not enjoy your time. If LSU goes down their projected path, a time will come around the end of May where it will be ok to get nervous for every 3-2 pitch. But that time is not now.
Now just enjoy the fact that baseball is back. You have a special opportunity to watch a team with all the pieces required assemble itself in front of you. So long as the Tigers win at least two games every weekend in 2⁄3 of their series, then everything will be fine.
Don’t worry with that one-hopper that Bianco misjudges or that that variance in delivery Marceaux shows when his pitch count climbs, or any other perceived problem of the same ilk. I guarantee you that Mainieri is worrying about plenty and will waste no time adjusting it.
Omaha wasn’t built in a day, after all.