Question from Your Uncle Mike:
Which will get first: the answers to Mailbags 9 and 10 or a Basketball Player Report Card?
Follow up: Espinal or Bulger? I’ll hang up and listen.
The Mail bag. This answer and the existence of this answer is also a tautology.
Yeah... nothing to blame it on but being an academic in May. I’ll do my best to answer both bags here (though some questions will be cut because we would already know the answer to them due to time’s eternal push forward).
As for the catcher dilemma, it unfortunately has to be on a matchup by matchup basis. Espy is clearly the best defensive catcher, so when playing a team that is a threat to steal many bases, I’d go with him. The Bulge is clearly the best (read: most consistent) bat of the two, and it’s not like it’s a massive defensive difference (again, it’s just the arm and a little better job framing). Against teams, like this weekend at The Jorts, where we will need to plate a bunch to hang, I’d go with The Bulge.
Question from parlagi:
Are you more confused about the series loss, or the Eurovision entry winning that Italian poll?
I am no longer ever confused about the whims of the voting populace. Think about it this way: pop music is terrible, and yet, by definition popular. Hmm... two questions and two tautologies. Getting tautological up in this bitch!
As such, as polling is only a gauge of what is popular, not what is good, I am not surprised. I am, of course, boiling over with rage. Over both.
...but more the Eurovision crap. Let’s just say when the massive floating alien head screams, “SHOW ME WHAT YOU’VE GOT” at Earth, we will not then “Get Schwifty.”
Question from Chasrad:
I do not understand why Corbs did not have Vastine bunt in the top of the ninth vs. Alabama. Was he following analytics, his “gut”, or what? Your thoughts?
It seems to be a combination of both. Here’s Aria quoting Corbs directly:
"Anytime you're on the road, unless I feel the bunt is the best play, I feel like ... the way to win the game is guys swinging the bat and figure it out themselves and it didn't work the other night. Tonight we had to bunt in certain situations"— Aria Gerson (@aria_gerson) May 10, 2023
I do not happen to agree with him here. I know what the MLB analytics says about it, but that’s dealing with major league freaking defenders. If they ever actually ran the stats in college, and added in errors and such to the positive category, they’d see that bunting... especially when done by a skilled bunter who’s giving himself the chance at a hit—not just some old NL pitcher type bunting it right back to the pitcher terribly—it’s the better play.
Question from Dore31:
Given the inconsistent play the last few weeks, is this team more likely to get bounced from a regional or make a deep run in Omaha?
Ah, so I see we have arrived at the annual Schrödinger’s Diamond Dores question. The answer is both, as I have no idea what matchups we will face in our Regional, whether we will stay a National Seed (and hence, get to host until Omaha) after these last two weeks of conference play, whether a meteor will hit, rendering all of this moot, etc.
However, I can answer it as a hypothetical, providing you allow me to introduce yet one more hypothetical.
If all three of Holton, Owen, and Futrell are throwing their A games, we are most likely to make a run to Omaha. If any of the three are injured or ineffective, we might not make it out of a regional (you know, if our regional opponent is a veteran team with no real stars, but tons of crafty pitchers and play-the-right-way batters—you know, Indiana State).
I really hate to ride the fence, but there are so many variables with this team that I cannot give you a straight answer, as I could in many previous years. I mean, I might not be correct in that answer—as I would have definitely said deep Omaha run in ‘07, for instance—but I could give you a definite “most likely to happen” based on inductive reasoning. This team’s a lot more like that Connor Kaiser squad that went off on Clemson and took Clanga to the wire than our current record would lead you to believe.
Here are the teams I thought could (and would) win the National title: ‘07, ‘11, ‘13, ‘14, ‘15, ‘19, ‘20, and ‘21.
All others are basically that Connor Kaiser squad referenced above, regardless of what their record, seed, or national rank was.
Question from Dinard’oh & HMS Dore:
This team feels like it is missing something, but I can’t put my finger on it. If you could add one piece that made this team a lock for Omaha, wnat [sic] would it be?
Which former vandyboy [sic] would you put in thos [sic] lineup to kickstart the offense?
It’s missing an offensive superstar. It may also be missing an Ace (but only if Holton doesn’t return to his Ace form of earlier in the year). Yeah, the answer to this question is 100% Bryan Reynolds. They have the straw that stirs the drink (EBJ), but they don’t really have the guy who, you know, hits everything. Though I like Young Hickory, don’t tell me sticking Perv-Stache at RF or LF would not instantly make this lineup a beast to deal with.
*Note: I would also have accepted Pedro Alvarez, Austin Martin, JJ Bleday, Dansby freaking Swanson, and any of the top catchers we have previously had, like Chi Chi Rodriguez, Jason Delay, or Phil “The Hit Man” Clarke.
Question from VandyStud:
Why in the world do we still have Holton as the Friday night starter?
Because when healthy and on his A game, he’s the best pitcher on the squad. Would moving him to Saturday or Sunday do much of anything right now? Pulling him means it’s Patrick Reilly starting right now. Do I need to type any more?
Question from RocketCityVandy:
Who has the damn monkey’s paw and how can we break it’s hold on us?
I completely understand this question, and yet, at the moment, we are the #1 team in the SEC and a National Seed. I don’t know who holds it, but the thing to do is to STOP FREAKING WISHING UPON IT.
Question from ask_thedoctor:
Vandy has a half-game lead in the SEC standings over LSU, but our schedule is backloaded and they have pillow fights for the rest of the year. 1) Do you think we come ahead for the SEC Crown? 2) other than seeding for the tournament and a new trophy in the case, does it matter?
Follow-up question: under what W/L/conference record circumstances would we NOT get a 1) National Seed 2) Regional Seed?
Yeah, LSU finishes with Clanga at home and at Ugga. LSU is, at the very least, going 4-2. Possibly 5-1. Our most optimistic take would be to be 4-2 after playing The Jorts and Arky. 3-3 would have us feeling pretty fine, as well. Any lower is bad and we should feel bad, but definitely in the realm of possibility. Yeah... we might hang on to the East, but there’s no way we’re finishing ahead of both LSU and Arky.
As for your follow-up, we could probably lose out and still be a Regional Seed. For National Seed: 21 wins is a lock, 20 is pretty much a lock, and 19 usually gets SEC teams ranked within the top 8 in. To get to 20, we need to split the last 6 games with The Jorts and Arky. Pull for a series win this weekend, as it makes it infinitely easier.
Question from elevenpoint8:
Is there any hope of the lineup being shuffled, or are we going to be forced to watch guys like Diaz and Austin work through slumps in the top half?
The lineup seems to be shuffled endlessly of late. We don’t have the offensive depth we are accustomed to, but yeah, Corbs has been playing fast and loose with the lineup card of late. Just hope we collectively come out of the slump... like... now. I’m not saying they all have to be as hot as Davis Diaz, but the batters not named Davis Diaz should stop collectively slumping now, please and thank you.
Question from aidantf:
I hate to think about it, but with some key pieces leaving at the end of this season (EBJ, Ogre, Noland, Big Maldo, the list goes on), do you see Corbs reaching into the transfer portal for more than just one guy? I’m not confident that many of our HS recruits will stay with their commitments if their names get called in the draft, as they usually do.
I think he’ll always be open to an RJ Schrek type guy (someone who has graduated, or is in good standing at a good academic institution), but he has fully committed to being a “development” program, and not, you know, the Chuggers. Frankly, I prefer it, as I like getting to know the players and their career arcs and not... you know... Jerry Stackhouse’s House of Transfers.
*Note: The writer has just been blocked by Stack.
Question from Jessecuster44:
If you were to rank the top 3 games we shouldn’t have lost so far this season, what would they be, and is there any game there where the lack of hitting wasn’t partially to blame?
- First game of the series against The Chuggers on 4/21.
- Losing to the freaking Central Arkansas Cocaine Bears on 2/21.
- Losing to Alabama on 5/6.
The only game where this was not due to lack of hitting was #1, as Maldo just got tagged on good pitches. Still, score more than 3 and we don’t lose, so... yeah... that qualifies as partially.
Question from Dinard’oh:
Can you recommend a good fainting couch to go with my screaming pillow?
All Victorian fainting couches will get the job done. Get an Edwardian one posing as a Victorian one, and that’s where you run into problems.