"The first duty of man is to conquer fear. He must get rid of it, he cannot act till then."
"I ask Jobu to come. Take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come."
-Pedro Cerrano, Major League
Column X, Week XI: "Is Very Bad to Drink Jobu's Rum. Very Bad." or "There's a Guy Whose Entire Job is to Make Sure Uga's Balls Don't Get Too Hot."
Vanderbilt: 30-12 (8-10 SEC) #14 USA Today, #25 Baseball America
v. Nine Generations of Inbred English Bulldogs: 21-19-1 (7-9-1 SEC) Unranked.
I get the frustration. I fully understand the weariness that comes when a team plays below expectations, and further, the ennui that accompanies all of this when you (read: me) say things like, and I quote, "This is our year,"thus predicting a season ending in Omaha, on the last day, with arms raised in exuberance, or something like that.
Now I'm not saying we don't have the talent to make that a reality (as I've said before, a run like MSU or UCLA's last year, where we suddenly catch fire in the tourney, is not out of the question), but our current reality is this: We're barely hanging onto a spot in the top 25. We are potentially one more series loss from moving out of the "locks" to make the NCAA tournament. Our once dominant weekend rotation of Beede, Miller, and Ferguson are looking eminently hittable. Beede, in particular, has turned into the frightened puppy crapping all over the carpet we saw in his postseason starts last year as the pressure of performing like a top 5-10 pick in the upcoming MLB draft has caused his mind to suddenly remember he was born a lefty. We really, really, can't overstate how much we really miss Tony "The Man of Steal" Kemp, and I would not be opposed to pulling a Danny Almonte and fabricating a birth certificate that makes him a freshman again (and paying him handsomely for his troubles). Zander Wiel is playing more like Barnaby Jones than Awesome X. Rhett Wiseman is playing less like "The Natural" and more like "The Sundance Kid" as he jumps off a cliff. Ro Coleman... exists. We can't seem to string any hits together. The power's in a season-long outage. We can't bunt (for hits especially, but even our sac bunting skills are less than stellar). We're committing more errors than my average Comp student on his final papers. We've lost our last three SEC series, to a decidedly average Arkansas, a less than average a(ss)T(o)m(outh), and THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED. We're sub .500 in conference play. And worse yet, the Houston Astros are now threatening to sue me for Tony Kemp-related player tampering.
So I suppose we should all slit our collective wrists.
(Reaches into the box of Lee Corso Brand Mascot Wrists) NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND!
Two words: Carson Fulmer. Four more words: Is pitching this Saturday.
And yet even more words: Let's not give up on this team just yet. Xavier Turner has a 27-game hitting streak going, Dansby is still The Mansby, and The Aluminum Foil is about to be unwrapped (I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good, so... whatever). The Florida Flamethrower will be on the bump Saturday, Beede gets a potential confidence-building start against a team that should be much better than they are (I mean, the Atlanta Braves have drafted Georgia talent almost exclusively), but have lost 5 straight, that could propel him into a strong finish down the stretch, and with Ravanelle, Stone, Bowden, and now both Millers in the pen, we shouldn't miss Fulmer's ability to close too much.
Though a word of caution to Tyler Beede: Walker Buehler is waiting in the wings, leading the team in wins and throwing a CG W with 1 R allowed this midweek game against Memphis. Pitch well, Young Beedah, or midweek games will be Buehler's day off...
Friday: RHP Tyler Beede (5-5, 3.75 ERA) v. LHP Ryan Lawlor (3-3, 3.43 ERA)
Prediction: Vandy 6 - UGA 4
Saturday: RHP Carson Fulmer (1-1, 1.64 ERA) v. RHP Robert Tyler (4-3, 2.45 ERA)
Prediction: Vandy 4 - UGA 1
Sunday: RHP Tyler Ferguson (5-3, 3.17 ERA) v. TBA (win-loss record and ERA to be announced)
Prediction: Vandy 8 - UGA 5
Jobu Rollins... drink your rum. Hats for bats; keeps bats warm. Brooms for sweep; keeps house clean.
Rum Not to Drink Whilst Watching Vanderbilt Get Back on Track With a Sweep of Georgia: Jobu's. Is very bad.
*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 purchase some rum to entice Jobu to come and get us out of a tailspin. He will not drink Jobu's rum. Is very bad to drink Jobu's rum. Very bad.