It is rare for me to offer an "opinion" column on the Rebel Baseball team, and this is for the best because of my disdain for Mike Bianco. However, the Rebels are on the verge of doing something that no Ole Miss fan could've imagined after the 1-2 start in Mobile, Alabama.
Does anyone else remember that dreadful series? The Rebels came in ranked #6 and flying high. They had a new pitcher named Aaron Barrett that the team's pitching coach said was "a for sure Friday night guy." Then, reality set in.
Barrett wasn't good. We all told ourselves, "That's ok. He's a JUCO transfer, and he'll need time to adjust." However, we had another JUCO guy named Chris Corrigan. Only one problem: Corrigan wasn't good. We then had the opportunity to see Philip Irwin pitch. He was good, but it still remained unknown if he could be an SEC starter. Then another fear struck, Scott Bittle was no longer Scott Bittle. He lost in the 10th. Just like 2007! OH CRAP. Not only that, one of the most annoying people in the world sat behind us: Sweats McJaguar.
We beat Central Arky twice in midweek, but we faltered against TCU. Barrett was shelled yet again. Actually, our entire pitching staff was shelled.
So, the Rebels sat at 3-4 and were falling like a rock in the rankings.
Doesn't that seem like a long time ago?
Now, the Rebels are 31-11. You do the math. That means that after starting so poorly, we've gone 28-7 since then. That's impressive, Mike.
While Lafferty thought that Barrett was once a "for sure" Friday nighter, Pomeranz complete game performance @ Florida solidified his Friday night status (it also showed he's good when he isn't getting dranked). Bittle, in fact, is no longer Bittle. The good news: He's a heckuva Sunday starter. Also, as it turns out, Irwin is a SEC caliber starter. If that rotation doesn't satisfy you, how does Jake Morgan's closing role sound? He's 3-1 with a 2.13 ERA and 39 Ks in 25.1 IP. He has a 1.42 ERA in SEC play.
The emergence of flamethrowing David Goforth is nice too. He hasn't allowed an earned run since Clinton was President. Maybe that's an exaggeration. He has a 1.12 ERA and has only allowed one earned run in SEC play.
We're hotter than a two dollar pistol. What're you gonna do, Mike Bianco?
It's no secret that I don't like Mike Bianco. I don't think we should worship someone who has not taken us to Omaha and has been here for ten years! Now's your chance, Mike. Prove me wrong! PLEASE!
A couple of weeks ago, I made a post about what the Rebels needed to do to host. So far, the Rebels have done exactly that. Guess what? Now Rivals and SEbaseball.com have us a projected hosts. Interesting.
This weekend, the Rebels have an opportunity to take the series from the #1 team in the country. Our RPI is currently 17, and it could make it in the 12ish range with a series victory. Two weeks ago, I was praying for a regional. Now, I'm thinking we can get a national seed. Think I'm crazy? Ok....
For the first time in a long time, we control our own destiny. I think two from the SEC will get a national seed. Well, we have two series against Georgia and Arkansas, two of the three teams ahead of us in the SEC. We also have two series against Auburn and State, which are really inferior opponents. If we go 4-6 against GA and ARKY and 5-6 against Auburn and State, that's a 20-10 SEC record. With two in the tourney, that's a top ten RPI and a national seed.
I get all giddy. Then, I have to remind myself of reality. Under Bianco, Ole Miss has never won the SEC regular season title. We've never won more than 18 conference games. It would by typical for a Bianco team to take 2 of 3 from GA and then lose the road series against Auburn.
Really, I would be
content satisfied with 3-6 against GA and Arky and 4-6 against State and Auburn. That matches our best at 18-12 and would put us hosting a regional. But I ask myself, "What do we really want to be?" I refuse to be a "Well, it was a great series against Georgia. We lost two, but one of them was by one run. That's just baseball. HoTtY ToDDy! lol!" type of fans. If we are a program that is serious about making it to Omaha, we will take the series this weekend. If we are such a premier program, it's time to start winning these games.
Put up or shut up, Bianco.