This weekend, Vanderbilt welcomes a school whose namesake was part of a group that was, incontrovertibly, some of the worst people who have ever lived - 16th century Basque Jesuits - for a three game series at The Hawk.
#2 Vanderbilt University (12-1) v. The Xavier Unflinching Champions of Religion-Based Torture and Burning - nee Musketeers (3-8)
Friday, March 11, 4pm CT SECN+
RHP Jordan "Stuff/Top Sheff" Sheffield (2-1, 1.59) vs. LHP Zac Lowther "Of the Hill People" (1-1, 2.84)
Saturday, March 12, 2pm CT SECN+
TBA vs. LHP Greg "Jackin' it" Jacknewitz (0-2, 4.41)
Sunday, March 13, 1pm CT SECN+
TBA vs. TBA
Why so little information past today's pitching match-up? Partly, it has to do with Kyle Wright fully recovering from injury (perhaps Corbs moves him to Saturday?), but it might also have to do with either/both of K-Chow and Donny "The Element" Everett finally getting healthy enough to pitch. Bowden has been effective in innings 1-5 of most of his starts, but has not been able to pitch deep into ballgames. Perhaps this begins his shift to the back of the bullpen, but in all honesty, we haven't needed him there yet (due mostly to Hayden "The K-Reamer"Stone, Maddux "Raise your" Conger(s), and the fact that the majority of our games haven't exactly been close). Perhaps, as we have only one midweek game before opening SEC play against MSU next week, Corbs is planning on giving either Day Man or Mad Dog some innings this weekend. Perhaps I should have learned by now to just trust Corbs' and Brownie's decision, as they probably didn't expect this kind of Spanish Inquisition--
NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!!!
Or the Goa Inquisition, either.
Quick Actual History Lesson:
Xavier University is a Jesuit school named after Francis Xavier - nee Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta, born April 7, 1506, died December 3, 1552 - the first Jesuit Missionary. Let me backtrack... Xavier wasn't even supposed to be the first Jesuit Missionary, as Ignatius "Reilly" Loyola actually chose to send Nicholas Bobadilla and Simão Rodrigues, but Bobadilla became deathly ill, and Loyola decided to send any old asshole rather than run the risk of Rodrigues having to pull a Weekend At Bernie's move in India. Basically, Xavier got in off the waitlist, and like many a Xavier student who did the same, proved instantly incompetent at any and all tasks, resulting in the deaths of many innocent Indians.
Xavier focused his missionary work mostly on the Portugese Empire in India, Borneo, and Japan (didn't take). While in India, Xavier, instead of, you know... trying to learn about their religions/culture, instantly deemed them to be the "Devil's instruments." As such, he not only converted Indians by force, he also forced them to take on Portugese names and wear European garb (you know, like all racist colonizers do). Just so you don't think it's just me who finds these decisions abjectly horrid and Xavier himself woefully ignorant, ask the Jesuit who attempted to write a flattering biography of the man, James Broderick, who wrote that Xavier had: "woefully inadequate views about Indian religion and civilization."
Seen above: The "Benevolent Christian Wheel of Compassion."
Though he wasn't technically alive for the Goa Inquisition, he definitely did tell King Joao III to do it - and he was in attendance at the first Auto-da-fé, where he personally witnessed many condemned and two burnt alive. Rather than the more famous (though always unexpected) Spanish Inquisition, in which the goal was to convert/save the souls of Jews, etc., the Goa Inquisition was entirely a mission of not trusting foreigners (so let's torture and kill them instead of preaching the Good Word, goes the logic). In it, those who had already converted to Catholocism were tortured and killed, as they were suspected of returning to the practice of their old religions in secret. This atrocity went on for about 250 years, so let's just say there's an incalculable amount of blood on his hands (mostly incalculable due to the records of it being destroyed by the Catholic Church immediately upon its abolishment in 1812), though history tends to overlook these types of things because they'd rather create a saintly mythos around people like this. *For an example of these forced historical meta-narratives: see this comic of what we tell people about Christopher Columbus versus who he actually was by The Oatmeal. Or read Christopher Hitchens' excellent reportage of Mother Theresa in The Missionary Position.
Back to baseball...
Who to Watch For (Vanderbilt):
You all know the stars, but I'd argue the bigger thing to watch for on this last weekend before SEC play is:
1. Who are our weekend starters past Sheffield? (Covered above)
2. Who gets the most playing time in left field and/or first base? Perhaps this is fodder for an entire column to be written at a later date, but as of press time, though Ro "Not Tony Kemp" Coleman (.277/.382/.340, 0-2 sb-att, .923 fld%) and "Zombie" Kyle Smith (.270/.413/.432) have been playing adequate ball, they have clearly been outplayed by freshman Walker "The Purple Wave" Grisanti (.625/.700/1.125, 1.000 fld%) and Penn "The Law" Murfee (.471/.526/.529). It appears that the best allocation of playing time would be some combination of L/R platoon in LF, with Ro getting starts against lefties, and Grisanti getting starts against righties, or Grisanti locking down LF and leading off, with Ro splitting DH duties with whomever of Penn Murfee or Kyle Smith is not playing 1B that day (though Stephen Scott shouldn't be completely out of the competition just yet, either). Either way, we need to find a way to get more ABs for both Grisanti and Murfee. That much should be clear thus far.
3. Who will be our middle infielders? All have been playing well, and it's still an active competition at this point, but here are my thoughts: a) Connor Kaiser has had the strongest glove, but weakest bat. His numbers look fine (.278/.350/.278) but his swing has not looked strong, and the majority of his hits have been bloops, poor defensive plays, and, well, luck. However, he has, by far, the best range, and makes plays look easy in the field. b) Conversely, Alonzo Jones has been, by far, our best middle infield bat (.333/.415/.511) with ludicrous speed (4-4 sb-att), but his defense has been good, not great. At second base, he should be more than adequate, but I don't have as much confidence in him at SS yet. c) Ethan Paul has looked solid at the plate and in the field, but unspectacular in both. His numbers (.278/.458/.278) don't look all that different from Kaiser's, but he's looked far superior at the plate. He's the 2nd best hitter, and has the best pure singles swing, of this group. Looks to be someone who can eventually hit 2nd in the order, as he's a solid contact hitter with a good eye. Will need to work on his bunting. d) And then there's Tyler Campbell (.293/.396/.390), who has just been so reliable in the field, and has been holding his own at the plate. Of late, he appears to have locked down the SS position - while he doesn't have the range of Kaiser or the arm of Jones, he has great instincts and has made all the plays thus far. Like Vince Conde before him, there might be more talented youngsters champing at the bit, but he's the most trustworthy option at the moment.
If I had to guess, Corbs' middle infield combination of Soup at SS and Ludicrous Speed at 2B will prevail, but that said, I doubt they'll be the starting double play combo in all three games this weekend.
Who to Watch For (Xavier):
The Grand Inquisitors have only two batters hitting north of .300, so let's say them. Sophomore OF #20 Blaine "People Named Blaine Don't Get Nicknames" Griffiths has a slash line of .357/.419/.536 with 2 2Bs, 1 HR, and 4 RBI. Senior second baseman #1 David "Salt in their Wounds" Morton is batting .303/.324/.394, which, you know, is okay, considering the rest of their lineup.
However, the man to watch out for is Sophomore OF #10 Will "Chesty" LaRue. You could argue the reason I've singled him out is the fact that he's 8-9 swiping bags this year, but you all know the real reason.
Break out your thumb screws, it's time to karmically torture some Jesuits.
See you in the comments.