"How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds makes ill deeds done."
-Adam West, Lookwell (quoting Shakespeare, The Play of King John)
"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."
-Voltaire, from his letters (1767)
"Hey, who has better vacation ideas than AAA? According to the publisher of this AAA guidebook, no one."
-Milhouse Van Houten, "Bart on the Road"
Column VII, Week VIII: "We Have Scotch'd the Snake, Not Kill'd it" or "Tennesseein' is Tennebelievin'."
Vanderbilt: 24-6 (5-4 SEC) #4 USA Today, #7 Baseball America
v. Those Who Shall Not Be Named: 19-8 (3-6 SEC) Unranked
*Were #21 and #22 last week before being swept at South Carolina.
This week, the three things that I hate more than anything - the Supreme Court officially sanctioning the purchasing of candidates by oligarchs (as long as they don't directly hand them sacks of money with dollar signs on them and yell to all who can here, "THIS IS SO YOU'LL ALLOW ME TO RUIN ALL THINGS FOR EVERYONE FOR MY OWN PERSONAL GAIN!!!"), the forced interaction with the various wig shop owners and other human remnants of the 1982 World's Fair who live to the East and root for Those Who Shall Not Be Named, and a veritable buttload (a buttload being a unit of measurement defined as two hogs heads or approximately 126 gallons) of pollen being continually blown in my face by Louisiana's early April near-constant death-winds, causing everyone who's seen me for the last two days to come up and ask why I'm crying, trying in vain to console the puffy-eyed monster I've become - have turned me into a white-hot ball of rage. A sneezing, itchy-throated, tearing, puffy-eyed white hot ball of rage. One whose rage and desire for revenge could only be accurately depicted by the vicious quill of the Bard of Stratford upon Avon. Since I cannot control the proliferation of tree sperm en masse, or even by ingesting the strongest of over the counter allergy potions, my body's reaction to it, and I certainly cannot control the whims of the nine who rule us all, I must focus my vengeful spirit on Those Who Shall Not Be Named. I must confine my anger to the wave of orange who, like a contagion, must be contained within Knoxville, lest they spread to parts where humans reside, and turn them from beings of reason into callers of the Paul Feinbaum Show. We must beat back these forces, and though their army is made up of men who chose to join by their own volition, I am winding the watch of [my] wit; by and by it will strike.
Those Who Shall Not Be Named were chugging away at the start of the season, opening 12-0 (even sweeping a pretty good UNLV team at home), and kept pouring it on against Arizona State and Mizzou, holding an 18-2 record going into the 2nd weekend of conference play. Since then, the worm has turned, and they're 1-6 in their last 7 games, and earlier accusations that they may have backwardly funneled all their energy into their opening slate appear to hold water, as they've hit a wall, losing 2 of three v. Auburn, getting hammered by the Cocks, and suffering a 2-1 hangover loss to ETSU this Tuesday, proving once again that a man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.
Still, Those Who Shall Not Be Named will pose a challenge, as though we've been the victor in our last three series (8-1), we have but the slightest of edges on the all time record (156-155-3), they're 14-3 at home, they are our bitter rivals in all things sport, and it's impossible to hold down the contents of one's stomach amongst all that orange. Our players should consider color-tinted sunglasses, or at the very least, swap out their sports drinks with Pepto Bismol in preparation.
Ach! My eyes burn as I gaze upon their cursed stat sheet. Hell is empty and all the devils are here!
No, I must forge on. Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste death but once. Their rotation is anchored by Senior RHP Nick "Andy" Williams (whose warm-up music is "Moon River"). Though he has a 1.96 ERA thus far this season, his ERA during his first three seasons was north of 5.oo, and he began the season in the bullpen. By naming him their Friday starter, Those Who Shall Not Be Named, like Don Pedro before them, are betting that in time the savage bull doth bear the yoke. But coach Corbin surely replies, "The savage bull may, but if ever the sensible [Tyler Beede] bear it, pluck off the bull's horns and set them in my forehead, and let me be vildly painted; and in such great letters as they writes, ‘Here is good horse for hire', let them signify under my sign, ‘Here you may see [Tyler Beede, the man with the three million dollar arm].'"
Dave Serrano, making the mistake of King Lear, granted his Saturday slot to his son, the young Kyle, and though he opened with a win against Purdue, his non-flattering answer that he has no words to describe his love for his father caused King Serrano to see red and disown him in favor of the various Gonerils and Regans who have assumed a weekend rotation slot. King Serrano may yet cast favor onto his son and grant him the Sunday slot, but not before Cornwall blinds Gloucester.
For their batsmen, though they have four north of .300 and three close behind, they've hit just .247 (60-243) as a team through their last seven games (1-6). We'll have to be wary of Scott Price, Nick Senzel, Christin Stewart, and Taylor Smart. As Laertes said to Ophelia, "Be wary, then. Best safety lies in fear. Youth to itself rebels, though none else near."
As for Vandy, we've taken 2 of 3 from LSU and UK, but have seen the horrors of taking but 1 of 3 from MSU. What's done can't be undone, however, the golden age is before us, not behind us. Of late, Vince Conde and Xavier Turner have been stinging the ball (Turner is currently on a 17 game hitting streak, actually, and is batting .397 since the streak started), and ‘twas overheard that Dansby of Swanson shouted to the heavens, "Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have Immortal longings in me" and raised his batting average to a lofty .361 on the heels of a 5 day stretch that saw him hit 9-17 with 3 multi-hit games, 3 doubles, and a home run!
We know what we are, but we know not what we may be.
Friday: RHP Tyler Beede (4-3, 2.47 ERA) v. RHP Nick "Andy" Williams (3-2, 1.96 ERA)
Prediction: Vandy 7 - Those Who Shall Not Be Named 2
Saturday: LHP Jared Miller (6-1, 1.73 ERA) v. RHP Hunter Martin (2-1, 1.14 ERA)
Prediction: Vandy 5 - Those Who Shall Not Be Named 3
Sunday: RHP Tyler Ferguson (5-0, 1.36 ERA) v. TBA (as Those Who Shall Not Be Named live up to their monniker)
Prediction: Vandy 8 - Those Who Shall Not Be Named 0
*That's right. We're winning all three! Boldness be my friend. It's brooms or bust this weekend!
Libation to drink while watching us destroy "Those Who Shall Not Be Named": Lady Macbeth Scotch Ale from Granite Brewery. If you don't get the reference, read a book some time. What did you think I was going to suggest? Franzia and a funnel?
*Author's note: "Baseball, Bourbon, and Bad Decisions" will be a weekly column throughout the 2014 baseball season. Andrew VU '04 is a writer, educator, and ne-er-do-well living in the whirlpool of despair (Baton Rouge, LA) and is writing this column based largely on the fact that VandyTigerPhD is a large Italian man threatening his life if he doesn't hold up his end of the bargain. Throughout the season, the writer will use no advanced statistics, whatsoever, and will go purely on what he sees, instinct, and bourbon-fueled bluster. On occasion, he will mercilessly plagiarize the Bard when filled with rage and in need of succor. O, vengeance! Why, what an ass am I!