[For our answers to their questions, check out And the Valley Shook.]
On the eve of Ole Miss baseball's monster showdown with LSU this weekend, the Cup exchanged some lively Q's and some intriguing A's with And the Valley Shook, SB Nation's superbly run Tiger blog that you should all be checking out this week. The series, which pits the No. 10 Rebs agains the No. 7 Tigers, begins on Thursday with a nationally televised ESPN U broadcast.
PodKATT, a man known for his Twitter hilarity as well as his baseball knowledge, discusses the impossibility of beating Aaron Nola, the bizarre dwindling crowds at Alex Box and the most un-American thing possible: a tie in baseball.
My questions are in bold, PodKATT's answer's, well, aren't.
Ace starter Aaron Nola is 7-1 and has only allowed five runs over 64 innings. That's a 0.70 ERA. Should we even bother taking the field against this guy? Does he have a weakness?
Nola’s greatness has gotten to the point where last weekend, Arkansas decided to spare their staff ace for another day of the weekend rather than face him head-to-head. The single run he gave up last weekend almost certainly ended his chances at breaking the all-time LSU and SEC single season ERA record of 0.21 by Rick Farizo in 1970, but he still has a chance to finish as the best pitcher this conference has seen in 40 years. The only concern that LSU fans have during a Nola start is whether or not he gets any run support. Even then, you really just need one. Oh, and he has a tendency to hit at least one batter per game. Don’t take it personal.
Household names like Mason Katz, Raph Rhymes and JaCoby Jones are gone. On top of that, some of the big contributors that did return this season have seen a drop in production (Alex Bregman, Mark Laird, Christian Ibarra). Who is this team relying on at the plate?
Right now, the big bopper in the LSU lineup is JUCO transfer Kade Scivicque, who splits time between catcher and DH. The guy’s got a lot of power batting in the cleanup spot. The biggest surprise on the roster, though, has to be the amazing career turn around for center fielder Andrew Stevenson. He played in the second half of last season, mostly because of his elite defensive skills, but was the worst batter on the team with a sub-.200 batting average. He worked on his swing in the offseason and is now LSU’s leading hitter. There’s been some talk that he might get moved up in the lineup this weekend, especially after the first five guys in the lineup went a combined .115 last weekend.
Bregman was the national freshman of the year last season and hit .369. This year he's down to .283 and has seen a drop-off pretty much across the stat sheet. Is this just a sophomore slump? Is he more dangerous than his 2014 numbers suggest?
Bregman hit a severe slump right around the start of conference play where he had an abysmal couple of weeks, at one point going something like 2-for-40, and it pretty much took the whole offense with him. It got to the point where Coach Mainieri put him on a media blackout as an attempt to get him out of the funk. Things are better now, and he’s somewhat found his groove again. I wouldn’t say he’s back to last year’s performance, but he’s still a good threat at the plate. One thing that was impressive about his performance this season is that even in the worst of the slump, his fielding skills at shortstop remained excellent.
The Sunday starter has been somewhat of a revolving door for y'all. Who will we see on the mound in Game 3 this weekend?
Your guess is as god as mine. It looked like Kyle Bouman might have secured the Sunday spot early in the season, then he rolled his ankle in practice and had to sit a few weeks and hasn’t really been the same since. If I had to guess right now, I probably say Kurt McCune or Cody Glenn, but it really depends on how the staff was used in the previous two games. The only guy I’m positive won’t start in Game 3 is the staff closer Joe Broussard.
Seriously, how much did you hate that tie with Georgia? To what extent is Obama to blame?
One day we’ll get to a point where SEC baseball teams aren’t flying commercial out of New Orleans. Or at least they won’t schedule flights that cause early curfew times. Aside from the fact that it cost LSU a potential sweep (and that a 13-inning game without an ending is very unsatisfying), those half game make figuring out the SEC Tournament seeding a pain. I’m almost certain LSU will be seeded a spot lower because of it.
You tweeted last week that actual attendance at Alex Box Stadium has dropped to the 5,000 range and there hasn't been a physical 10,000 crowd yet this season. The team is winning and LSU folks love them some baseball. What gives?
I dunno, but it’s got to be the same problem keeping folks away from football games too. This past weekend, for example, the weather could not have been better and it was a division fight with Arkansas. New Alex Box is an amazing venue, there’s ample free parking and plenty of stuff to keep the kids occupied if they get restless. Yet the crowd was just as bad as some midweek games. And it’s not a problem of selling tickets, because the paid attendance average is still well above 10,000. There is just something keeping many of the 9,000-plus season ticket holders home. Maybe LSU is on TV too much?
There's a debate raging here at Red Cup over the morality of putting ketchup on a hot dog. Where do you fall on the condiment argument? Are you a classic yellow mustard guy? How fancy do you get with your toppings?
I’m not much of a hot dog guy, even at ball games (Alex Box Jambalaya FTW) but when I do, I’m a ketchup AND mustard guy. And no toppings. Save the greens for your salad, son.
[Edit: Why the hell don't we have jambalaya at Swayze? Damn you and your delicious food, Louisiana]
Alright, prediction time. Who wins and why?
Nola’s great enough to secure at least one game and the bullpen is shaky enough that a Sunday (or Saturday, in this case) on the road is probably a lost cause. So the second game is where the series will be decided. [Game 2 starter] Jared Poche’s good enough to get a win if he has some decent run support and I think LSU has turned that corner away from the slump. LSU takes the series in Game 2, probably in extras.