May 23, 2014

UVA Baseball: Shit or Get Off the Pot

You might think this post is harsh.  I think it's harsh, too!  But it's honest.  And honestly, I'm not used to feeling this way about Virginia Baseball.

Brandon Downes' sad .215 average in 51 starts is a problem.

When Brian O'Connor took the helm in 2004, we were a floundering program that had barely survived being cut by the athletic department.  In the ten seasons since, we have not failed to advance to an NCAA Tournament, and we've twice seen the Hoos in Omaha for the College World Series.  Everything was awesome.

Take a look:
  • 2004: 44-15, Regional loss to Vanderbilt
  • 2005: 41-20, Regional loss to Ohio State
  • 2006: 47-15, Regional loss to Evansville
  • 2007: 45-16, Regional loss to Oregon State
  • 2008: 39-23, Regional loss to Fullerton
  • 2009: 49-15-1, CWS loss to Arkansas
  • 2010: 51-14, Super Regional loss to Oklahoma
  • 2011: 56-12, CWS loss to South Carolina
  • 2012: 39-19-1, Regional loss to Oklahoma
  • 2013: 50-12, Super Regional loss to Mississippi State


But then, as always happens with good teams, the weight of expectations began to build.  Heading into the 2014 season, we had - on paper - the most loaded roster in the history of Virginia Baseball.  The lineup was arguably the best in the country, and the pitching was sick-nasty.  Expectations were astronomical --- and rightfully so.

The regular season went well, despite some head-scratching losses (VMI, Pitt, ODU, series loss to Wake) and some scary close shaves against clearly inferior teams.  With that grit and close-game confidence, we had the #1 ranking on lockdown from wire to wire.

Yet here we are.  No ACC regular season crown, and after yesterday's 7-6 loss to Maryland (and Maryland's subsequent 5-3 win over Florida State today), we have been officially eliminated from ACC Championship contention.  We've had a good season, but we haven't won jack shit.  We'll play our last two games exhibitions in Greensboro - tonight vs. UNC (7:00 PM) and tomorrow night vs. FSU (also 7:00 PM) - for pride, and to stay in the hunt for the national #1 seed in the NCAAs.

Starting Artie Lewicki against Maryland was a mistake.

I don't want to beat around the bush.  We're 43-12 (.782) on the season, which is awesome.  But no hardware coming out of ACC play is a major disappointment, especially considering how watered-down the conference is and how loaded our roster is this season.  In order to avoid seeing this season swirl the toilet and end in horrific unmet expectations, we need to get our shit together and take care of business over the course of the next two weekends.  We need a good national seed, a favorable draw, and we need to win our Regional (May 29 thru June 2) and our Super Regional (June 5-8) to advance to the CWS.  Anything less is going to be a colossal failure.

Sorry, but that's how expectations work.

It's time for the 2014 Virginia Baseball team to shit or get off the pot.  Pull it together, and start winning games that matter.  Is this season going to be like any other in O'Connor's tenure at UVA, or is it going to be special?  Can the team live up to its potential?  Can we get to 50+ wins and advance to the College World Series?

Omaha or bust.

GO HOOS!



4 comments:

  1. Does the fact that FSU ain't winning this whole thing make you feel any better?

    I've come to grips with the fact that we'll lose in the Supers. Not sure yet if I'll call the season disappointing if that happens. It'll definitely make getting to the CWS that much sweeter though. As a UVA fan I've learned how to play mind games with myself.

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  2. Who gives a shit about ACC's? The format is atrocious, and we're already a lock for a top 8 seed. Nobody would have predicted Maryland's hot streak. I think you have to start your best pitchers against the best teams in your pool regardless of the order of games. The real postseason will define how we look at this year.

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    1. Totally agree that the NCAA's are what matters. Still would like to collect ACC championships, though. All will be forgiven with a trip to Omaha.

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  3. The format is miserable. UVa takes a one-run loss in the first game and, before taking the field again, they know they're eliminated. The format could use some adjustment, certainly.

    Also, Maryland lost, so that rules.

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