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Vanderbilt Baseball Mail Bag #1: Answers to Your Questions

Letters... we get letters... we get stacks and stacks of letters...

College World Series - Michigan v Vanderbilt - Game Three Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Your long national nightmare is nearly over—baseball season starts Friday. Here are my answers to your questions:

*Note: I write this while re-watching the CWS Finals. You should probably do the same while reading. Live your life right. Some things stay on the DVR forever.

Question from RancorIsGold:

Not really a question. Please provide an irrefutable argument for why I must spend Valentine’s Day evening watching the Diamond Dores instead of going out and spending $200+ on a “nice dinner without the kids”.

Asking for a friend.

Also, We are playing the Wolverines again, twice since the CWS. Are they going to be our new Louisville??

2nd question first: As long as former Vanderbilt assistant Erik Bakich (2003-09) is Michigan’s Head Coach, I have to assume Corbs will try to schedule the Wolverines. I mean, our other pre-season exhibition games were against Oklahoma State, coached by the man who took over for Bakich—Josh Holliday (2009-12)—when Bakich took the Maryland jerb.

Will they be our new Louisville? No chance. We love when our former assistants have success. We hate those Louisville d-bags. Oh, and Louisville, WE HAVE THE BARREL NOW. COME GET SOME, YOU CRUMB BUMS!

As for your most important “not a question,” I will give you the exact strategy I have already successfully used on the Lady Friend (don’t worry, she doesn’t read mail bag articles):

  1. Do not, I repeat DO NOT lead by mentioning the start of the Vanderbilt baseball season, and then saying, “Valentine’s Day is supposed to be spent with that which you love the most...” She will, quite justifiably, take umbrage. Why did I bring it up? Because you will have to continually repeat these instructions in your head during the entire conversation. You will want to make such an equivocation. You MUST NOT make such an equivocation.
  2. Mention, seemingly out of nowhere, how annoying those “Day after Christmas Sales” are, as the things you bought in the weeks and months leading up to the Holidays are now near universally 60% off. Listen attentively as she spends the next few minutes talking about related topics of sales that happen after the season is over and the price gouging weeks that precede it. Listen even more attentively when she brings up the women she does not get along with at work, even though it has nothing to do with this conversation. Agree that she is correct—Brenda is annoying, and is only nice to the rest of the office when there is cake. You will need to bank on that good will later. *Note: You should have already cooked dinner and done the dishes without once mentioning that you have done so. There should be chocolate on the table that you purchased for no reason other than you know she likes it. Red wine should already be poured, or you should be opening a bottle seamlessly during the conversation. Prosecco is also acceptable. I almost didn’t mention this, as it’s so obvious, but then I remembered how dumb most people are. **Additional Note to Knoxville readers: This wine should be poured into glasses and ingested orally. No exceptions.
  3. This conversation should naturally veer from price gouging holidays to Valentine’s Day, as the day was literally invented by greeting card companies. If it doesn’t, you will have to steer it there, though casually. Think more, “Remember how pricey the ‘Market Price’ nonsense was at [fancy restaurant you went to once on V-Day that refused to list prices on the menu because they are dicks]?” than, “I WANT TO WATCH BASEBALL AND YOU WON’T LET ME AND I HATE YOU.” Again, consult point #1. Remember, you have to freaking nail this part, as otherwise, she will point out that you can always DVR the game. If she laughs at your “Market Price” anecdote, you’ve got a shot. If she makes a face that indicates she’s almost physically hurt by the memory of how much they ripped you off, you’re in. If she puts her hand on your knee after making said face, you have fully convinced her without appearing to have made even one argumentative point.
  4. If you’re like me, and did this with the stoic, placid, poker face intensity of Tyler Brown in a bases loaded two out situation, you are home free, and all it takes is to bring up Open Table on the phone, and let her see that her favorite restaurant is booked, and even though you tried to make the reservation weeks ago, nothing was available at all on V-Day, or only bar seating at 2:15pm or 12:45am. Scroll a bit so she sees it has seatings available at normal human eating times on Thursday and Saturday. *Note: I am not implying that you should not have made a reservation at this point. No, you should have made a V-Day reservation, but at a time that is either slightly too early or slightly too late (based on her preferences), and at a restaurant you know she loves, but you have eaten there recently. In fact, if you didn’t take her there in the past month—even better if it was two weeks ago—you are a rank amateur.
  5. At this point, she will say, “ You know, what if we just went out Thursday instead?” Answer by silently making the reservation on the app, putting your phone away, pouring wine, and putting on 90 Day Fiancee, or whatever crap TV she loves that’s got a bunch of episodes taking up space on your DVR.

Question from Will Terry, Your Friend from College:

Is it actually worth going to Omaha for the CWS? Seems like it would be fun.

An emphatic YES. Unless you are an insurance agent, visiting relatives, or rural Nebraskan looking to move to the big city, there is no real reason to visit Omaha, NE in months not ending in “-une.” However, the city goes all out for the CWS. It is their event of the year. Not their main event. Their event. The only one. Beyond that, half of Louisiana shows up to feed all comers and drink all the party liquors in existence—no matter whether LSU makes it or not.

I say, right here and now, us Vanderbilt fans should follow the LSU model and book our hotel rooms now—not just for 2020, but for all coming years until the sun explodes (and/or a long extinct virus leeches out from the former arctic permafrost and kills us all).

I mean, LSU fans started doing this because they were pretty much in the CWS every other year starting in 1986. (Research time: Yes, I was pretty much correct on that one. From 1986-89: 3 times. From 1990-99: 7 times. From 2000-09: 5 times. From 2010-19: 3 times. That’s 18 times in 34 years, folks. If anything, I was underselling it.)

Well, in the last decade, we have been to Omaha 4 times, and won it twice.

In other words, let’s get a few friends from college and make the trip this year no matter what. You in?

*Note: for those who do not know “Will Terry, Your Friend from College,” he is Will Terry, my friend from college. Hope that cleared up any confusion.

Question from WestEndMayhem:

What happened to that bozo pitcher from Louisville?

Luke Smith, best known for cursing out known nice guy Julian Infante for no discernible reason—and subsequently watching helplessly from the dugout as Pat “Runs-DMC” chopped a game winning double over third base off reliever Michael McAvene, which propelled Vanderbilt to the CWS Finals, and sent Louisville packing—is a senior pitcher for Louisville University.

And on the pedestal, these words appear: My name is Luke Smith, Douche of Bags; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.

He is expected to be their #3 starter, but #1 bag, this season. Hope that answers your question.

Question from Jimbo ‘00:

You mentioned the lack of lefties in the previous post. Is this our biggest weakness? If not what is?

Great question, and the answer is no. Not by a long shot. Our biggest weakness will be the lack of power in our lineup. Last year, we hit 100 home runs, while giving up 33 to opponents. With JJ Bleday (27), Stephen Scott (14), Julian Infante (12), Ethan Paul (9), Philip Clarke (9), Pat DeMarco (7), and even Walker Grisanti (1) and Jayson Gonzalez (1) gone, we only have 20 of those 100 dingers back, and half of those belong to Austin Martin.

Might some younger guys step up? Certainly, but I would set the over/under at 50 HR for 2020. In other words, we will not be demolishing other teams. Rather, we will need pitching, defense, and speed to be our calling cards in our 2nd title defense year of the millennium. Luckily, our pitching is likely to be so dominant that we will only need to average 3 or 4 runs per game to get back to Omaha.