June 24, 2015

Tonight, For All the Marbles



Wow, great game last night.

Adam Haseley was huge.  Just absolutely huge.



Hats off to Coach O'Connor for having the stones to start the freshman on such a big stage, in such a big moment.  Wow.

Granted, Haseley is likely to be our Saturday starter in 2016, but still.

Just absolutely huge.

Also huge: Ernie Clement and [especially] Thomas Woodruff, our 8-9 hitters who rang up a combined 6-for-8 with 3 RBI in a game we won 3-0.  Woodruff, as you know, hardly ever plays, and hardly ever played in four years in the program, unless his wheels were needed as a pinch runner.  Just incredible.



And you can't say enough good things about Josh Sborz.  He's easily one of the top three pitchers in the Brian O'Connor era at Virginia, joining Danny Hultzen, and...



Brandon Waddell, who draws tonight's start in the game that will determine the national championship.  And, oh yeah, our injured ace and 1st round draft pick who should be fueled by the quest for redemption against Vanderbilt after last season's game 1 meltdown in the championship series - Nathan Kirby - is available out of the bullpen.

We play tonight for all the marbles.  Can you believe it?

It sucks that we'll have to suffer through the truly awful announcing trio of Karl Ravech, Kyle Peterson, and Aaron Boone and that uber-annoying Vandy whistler, but hey.  Gotta suffer for our craft, ya dig?  Rally, Hoofans.

Assbags.

Make no mistake about this: If we win, it would be the biggest, most important UVA national championship to date, in any sport, ever.

There's a hierarchy of sports in the NCAA, based on revenue and fan interest (as per demand for television coverage and value in media rights deals).

#1 Football
~~~ long drop-off ~~~
#2 Men's Basketball
~~~ long drop-off ~~~
#3 Baseball
#4 Women's Basketball
#5 Men's Hockey 
(for the 59 schools who play it at the D1 level)
#6 Men's Soccer
#7 Men's Lacrosse (rising fast)
~~~ drop-off ~~~
Everything else

The importance of the specific sports to an athletic department are pretty obvious when you look at that list, and I think you can understand why winning a national championship in baseball would be such a big deal for UVA.



Just for gits and shiggles, here's the list of the 22 national championships UVA has won to date.

Boxing (1): 1938
Cross Country (2): 1981, 1982
Lacrosse (5): 1972, 1999, 2003, 2006, 2011
Rowing (2): 2010, 2012
Soccer (7): 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2009, 2014
Tennis (2): 2013, 2015
Women's Lacrosse (3): 1991, 1993, 2004

womp, womp

If *poof* the devil appeared and offered me a trade of X number of our historic national championships in order to provide us with one in Omaha tonight, I would trade Boxing, both CC, two of the lax titles, both Rowing, three of the Soccer titles, one Tennis, and two of the Women's lax championships in order to win one in baseball.  That's a going rate of 13 titles for the one in baseball.

Good thing it doesn't work that way, as I love and cherish each of our 22 championships (and I mean no disrespect to the players, coaches, administrators, and fans who earned them!)  But I hope this illustrates JUST HOW FUCKING BIG THIS WOULD BE IF WE'RE ABLE TO WIN TONIGHT!!!

It would rank up there with UVA football over FSU in 1995 and UVA basketball over Duke in the 2014 ACC championship game as my favorite moments as a Hoofan.  Like, I would probably weep.  Big, huge, heaving sobs.



So, tonight is big.  It's huge.  We really probably shouldn't even be in this game.  But you know, that's exactly what makes us so dangerous.  I feel like Vanderbilt is looking us right in the face and seeing A Team of Destiny, and deep down they know they can't do a damn thing about it.

Didn't you get that feeling last night?  Watching those Vanderbilt players, it seemed like it was written all over their faces.  "Oh fuck."  They already know what's going to happen tonight, and it's not a good outcome for them.

Again, this run in the postseason has been a ton of fun, and even if we lose, that won't be diminished.  Like I said yesterday, we're playing with house money.  We still have a chip and a chair, and now we're man-up in the final.

GO HOOS!  Go out there and own your destiny as the Kings of Omaha.




June 23, 2015

"A chip and a chair."

You've heard this saying by now, right?  The unofficial slogan of this miraculous postseason run for the Hoos?

Well, here we are.  Backs against the wall, but only after advancing further than anyone thought we had a chance to advance.  To borrow another poker idiom, we're playing with house money.  We have been since Lake Elsinore.  So screw it.

We go out there tonight, and maybe we lose, but holy crap it has been one helluva ride.

The good news is that we still have a chip, and we still have a chair.  That's more than 299 other D1 baseball programs can say today.

I have no idea who's going to pitch tonight.  Odds seem good that EVERYBODY is going to pitch tonight.  Smart money is on Nathan Kirby getting the start, but I'll be watching for Adam Haseley to take the mound at some point.  It's kitchen sink time.

This Vanderbilt team is loaded.  Just absolutely loaded.  And they trumped our ugly-ass lucky uniforms with uglier-ass luckier uniforms last night; they trumped our ace with a better ace; they trumped our pop-gun offense with cap-gun offense.  Tonight is a new game, a new chance to get some traction in this series.

If not?  Game over, and it was one helluva ride.

GO HOOS!  Thank you for an excellent postseason run.



June 18, 2015

ACC Divisional Alignment

I know I should be talking about baseball right now.  Believe me, baseball is pretty much all I'm thinking about!  But now that it's out that Nathan Kirby is starting tomorrow's game against Florida, there isn't much to say or pontificate upon.  We feel like a team of destiny.  We look like a team of destiny.  We feel like a team of destiny.  Two chances to beat Florida once, I like those odds... but the Gators might be (probably are) the best team in the country.  But we feel like a team of destiny.

I'll give the Hoos a 50-50 shot, really, a coin flip's chance, to beat the Gators once in the next two games and advance to the championship series.

For a team of destiny, I like those odds!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For now, with a focus on football, let's talk about divisional alignment in the ACC.  (I know, awkward, jarring transition.  Don't care.  My blog.)

Here's the current divisional alignment in the ACC:

ATLANTIC
Boston College
Clemson
Florida State
Louisville
NC State
Syracuse
Wake Forest

COASTAL
Duke
Georgia Tech
Miami
North Carolina
Pittsburgh
Virginia
Virginia Tech

The current crossover rivalries are:
  • Boston College / Virginia Tech
  • Clemson / Georgia Tech
  • Florida State / Miami
  • Louisville / Virginia
  • NC State / North Carolina
  • Syracuse / Pittsburgh
  • Wake Forest / Duke


ACC teams play every other team in their division once (6 games), their permanent crossover rival once (+1 game = 7 total), and then rotate through the remaining six teams, one per year (+1 game = 8 total).  Many fans think it sucks that it's possible to go a full five years - HALF A DECADE! - without playing a specific member of your conference.  I am one of those people.  For example, as much as awful as it is to watch us get our asses kicked by Clemson and FSU, I think it's somehow worse to think we won't see Klempsun again 'til 2020 or the Semenholes again 'til 2019.  We share a conference for shit's sake!  We should be playing each other more often!

I guess the other side of that coin is that I don't give two figs if Virginia ever plays BC, L'Ville, Syracuse, Miami, or Pitt.  Fine opponents, sure.  Good conference-mates.  But those football games mean nothing to me.

Anyway, halting this digression... It sounds like the ACC wants to stick with its scheduling model, at least for now.  But it also sounds like it's open to tinkering with the divisions.  Hence this Wahooze post.


Before I plow in, you have some required reading.


Teel Time: An easy divisional change to enhance ACC football, create VT-Clemson rivalry

ATLANTIC
Boston College
Clemson
Florida State
Georgia Tech
NC State
Syracuse
Wake Forest

COASTAL
Duke
Louisville
Miami
North Carolina
Pittsburgh
Virginia
Virginia Tech

Teel floated his idea last spring, and I think it's a decent concept... as far as band-aids go.  It's elegant and simple, and carries some tangible benefit.

Swapping L'ville and GT would:
  • Give the ACC an annual FSU/GT game, a ratings win for the conference.
  • Allow for a VT/Clemson crossover rivalry, another annual game that's a ratings win for the conference.
  • Establish BC as UVA's annual crossover.  I think that's a slightly easier SoS piece for the Hoos, essentially swapping Georgia Tech for Boston College.
  • Make FSU and Clemson - potentially the ACC's biggest flight risks - happy.
But I ultimately don't like it because it would set Virginia up to play annual games against five members of the "New ACC" (VT, Miami, L'ville, Pitt, BC) with only two annual games against the "Old ACC" (UNC, Duke).  Personally, I want as many annual games against the Old ACC as we can get.  So for me, Teel's idea is a non-starter, strictly from a Hoofan's perspective.


ESPN: Having fun with ACC division realignment

ESPN Option 1: Rivalries housed within the divisions.

ATLANTIC
Boston College
Florida State
Georgia Tech
Louisville
Miami
Pittsburgh
Syracuse

COASTAL
Duke
Clemson
NC State
North Carolina
Virginia
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest

I love this idea for Virginia, but think that Florida State would hate it -- it'd give them five games against the New ACC.  Plus, all of those Big East teams didn't join the ACC so they could start playing Big East teams with ACC logos on their fields.  So it's probably a non-starter.  HOWEVER, going with this alignment would allow for the elimination of the crossover rivals, opening up the scheduling so that each team would play every other team at least every three years.  I like that component quite a bit... but the ACC losing the inventory of an annual FSU/Clemson game isn't good for the conference.


ESPN Option 2: Balanced divisions.

ATLANTIC
Boston College
Clemson
Louisville
Pittsburgh
Virginia
Virginia Tech
Syracuse

COASTAL
Duke
Florida State
Georgia Tech
Miami
NC State
North Carolina
Wake Forest

Nutshell, six of the 14 ACC teams are "New ACC."  If any more than three of those six teams end up in Virginia's division, I am going to hate it.  With ESPN's second option, we get five of them, PLUS we would lose The South's Oldest Rivalry.  No thanks.


ACC Football Rx: Unequal Divisions?

GROUP OF 6
Clemson
Florida State
Georgia Tech
Louisville
Miami
Wake Forest

GROUP OF 8
Boston College
Duke
NC State
North Carolina
Pittsburgh
Syracuse
Virginia
Virginia Tech

Interesting.  Very fucking interesting.  I like it!  But it's way too complex and nuanced for the mouthbreathing idiots who are fans of some of these ACC schools to be able to grasp (a nod toward Blacksburg).


There are lots of other blog posts and sports page columns and opinion pieces about this topic that you can dig through the internet to find.  Like assholes, everyone has one!  As in, everyone has an idea for ACC Divisional Alignment.  I have an asshole too, and it poops shit!  Here we go...

THE WAHOOZE MODEL for ACC ALIGNMENT

ATLANTIC
Duke
Florida State
Georgia Tech
Louisville
Miami
Syracuse
Wake Forest

COASTAL
Boston College
Clemson
North Carolina
NC State
Pittsburgh
Virginia
Virginia Tech


Keep crossover rivals, which would look like this:
  • Duke / North Carolina
  • Florida State / Clemson
  • Georgia Tech / Virginia
  • Louisville / Pittsburgh
  • Miami / Virginia Tech
  • Syracuse / Boston College
  • Wake Forest / NC State

Boom.

Okay, discuss.




June 15, 2015

It's all on the line...

Tonight... In Omaha...

Read THIS.

UVA's storyline diverges here. This game means almost everything. The winner gets four days to rest its pitchers and needs only win one more to get to the finals. The loser has to win three. Connor Jones can go again on Friday, but if UVA has to play on Wednesday they'll be digging deep, and may not have the arms to win on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

In other words, a loss means the story goes like this: UVA scrapped and battled and put together a really nice improbable run, but unsurprisingly ran out of juice at the end. Good game, see you next year. A win, though, and UVA starts to look like the Michigan State of baseball: doesn't matter what happened in the regular season, just get Brian O'Connor into the tournament and watch how hard it is to kick him out of it.


June 4, 2015

The List, Part IV Preamble

I'm realizing that I only have time/energy for really short bursts of posts right now. But know, I'm cooking on The List, Part IV, which will be the biggest, baddest entry of the whole bunch.

In the meantime, a long list of names, representing the widest net I can cast for realistic potential candidates. Research these dudes at your leisure, but know that it behooves you to educate yourself NOW, for when Virginia is going through the search process LATER.

Major Applewhite, Houston
Dave Aranda, Wisconsin
Chris Ash, Ohio State
Mike Bobo, Colorado State
Troy Calhoun, Air Force
Matt Campbell, Toledo
Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Geoff Collins, Florida
Mario Cristobal, Alabama
Sonny Cumbie, TCU
Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
D.J. Durkin, Michigan
Luke Fickell, Ohio State
P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan
Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern
Scott Frost, Oregon
Justin Fuente, Memphis
Al Golden, Miami
Eddie Gran, Cincinnati
Tom Herman, Houston
Doc Holliday, Marshall
Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette
Curtis Johnson, Tulane
Joey Jones, South Alabama
Rhett Lashlee, Auburn
Lance Leipold, Buffalo
Pete Lembo, Ball State
Chuck Martin, Miami (OH)
Doug Meachem, TCU
Philip Montgomery, Tulsa
Chad Morris, SMU
Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
Mike Norvell, Arizona State
Jeremy Pruitt, Georgia
Matt Rhule, Temple
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma
Kurt Roper, Cleveland Browns
Bob Shoop, Penn State
Kirby Smart, Alabama
Jake Spavital, Texas A&M
Rich Stockstill, Middle Tennessee State
Jon Tenuta, Virginia
Brent Venables, Clemson
Ed Warriner, Ohio State
Matt Wells, Utah State
Justin Wilcox, USC
Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion


I'll have something on the Charlottesville Super Regional soon.  I hope.