Friday, February 15, 2008

Couple of newsworthy items

Few things on a Friday afternoon:

* First, Alabama has set its 2008 homecoming football game. It will be the Nov. 1 game against Arkansas State.

That's a little later than ideal in terms of weather, but since schools generally like to face a non-conference (read: beatable) opponent for homecoming, it might have been the only option. The Tide's other non-conference home games are against Tulane on Sept. 6 and Western Kentucky on Sept. 13, dates considered too early for homecoming.

* Alabama's baseball team was picked to finish last in the SEC West by league coaches. That's no surprise, given the Crimson Tide returns virtually no experienced pitchers from a year ago.

But baseball teams have been been known to make significant one-year turnarounds, so I wouldn't count Alabama out of the race just yet. The Crimson Tide opens the season a week from today, at home against Cal Poly on Feb. 22.

* Speaking of baseball, one of the Crimson Tide's all-time greats announced his retirement from the game on Friday. Jeremy Brown, a catcher at Alabama from 1999-2002, hung up his spikes after six years in the Oakland Athletics' system.

Brown was a first-round pick by the Athletics in 2002 and a prominent figure in the best-selling Michael Lewis book "Moneyball." But due to injuries and perhaps just bad luck, he never stuck at the major-league level, getting 10 at-bats in his lone big-league call-up in 2006.

* Fourth, and not least, Alabama softball is off to a 6-0 start heading into today's Crimson Classic. The Crimson Tide, ranked No. 4 in the country and preseason SEC favorite, has already sold every tickets for its home schedule.

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