Tidying Up Some Loose Ends

In an effort to stem the tide of e-mails correcting me for a couple of errors in yesterday’s chat, I figured I’d clarify a couple of things. First of all, I wrote that Elon was snubbed for a regional last year, which is of course false; Elon was the No. 2 seed in the Clemson regional. Also, I said that San Diego State is the favorite in the Mountain West Conference, forgetting about that little program in Fort Worth. Texas Christian is undoubtedly still the team to beat in that conference–I love the Horned Frogs’ pitching staff. Earlier, in the podcast, I referred to Vanderbilt’s Brett Jacobson as “Casey,” who was actually a former Stanford basketball player. It was just one of those days–sorry for the brain cramps. Travel and lack of sleep conspired against me.

As for the other topic flooding my e-mail inbox–yes, we left Mississippi out of the top 25 this week. The Rebels started the year at 25 but were bumped last week without playing a game so we could make room for San Diego. Ole Miss won a pair of games against New Orleans this weekend, but none of the teams at the back of the rankings lost, so the Rebels will have to wait another week to push their way back into the top 25. Having closer Cody Satterwhite sidelined with tendinitis and inflammation in his shoulder doesn’t help either–he’s the most important arm on that team, and without him it’s not the same team that we ranked No. 25. He has been throwing bullpens and could be on the mound by the end of the week, but the Rebels don’t expect him to pitch this weekend. I know it seems a little odd that we bumped an idle team from the rankings last week, and this week we moved a pair of idle teams up to No. 1 and No. 2, but you have to remember that the rankings do not exist in a vacuum; a team’s ranking is influenced by the performance of the teams around it. The whole purpose of the rankings is to compare teams to each other, after all. You can argue about the utility and value of such a comparison, because we all know that what really matters is what happens on the field. The rankings are just a fun tool designed to spark discussion about who the best teams are. And if the Rebels take their upcoming series against No. 21 Evansville, I’m certain they’ll be right back in the rankings. The best way to move up is to win series against quality opponents.

We’ve got a few good games on the schedule today, particularly on the West Coast, where UC Riverside goes to UCLA, Loyola Marymount visits San Diego State, San Francisco and California meet in Berkeley, and Southern California plays at Pepperdine. USC’s Tommy Milone will go for his third straight midweek win against senior righthander Rob Della Grotta, who was limited to just six innings a year ago by injuries and could give the Waves a boost if he can return to his sophomore year form. Della Grotta beat the Trojans in the 2005 Long Beach State regional, allowing just two runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings.