Thursday, May 22, 2008

And ... maybe not

The SEC baseball tournament and the deadlines of the print media world collided in catastrophic fashion Wednesday night, at least for me.

In a column I wrote for Thursday's paper, I predicted that this Alabama team was different than those of the last three years, which had made pitiful showings in Hoover. Since Alabama's first-round game with Kentucky didn't start until 10:50 p.m. (nearly three hours after the regularly-scheduled first pitch), I had to write something to fill the space in the paper.

Little did I know, Alabama would go out on the field and get embarrassed by a pitcher making his first career start. The Crimson Tide got three runs and five hits against Kentucky starter Aaron Lovett in its first trip through the order, but couldn't manage much after that in a 9-3 loss.

Alabama has now lost four consecutive SEC tournament openers, and will try to stay alive when it faces top-seeded Georgia at "1 p.m." today. (I put that time in parentheses because there is a game that starts at 10 a.m., meaning Alabama's game will surely not begin on time). Austin Hyatt is scheduled to pitch for the Crimson Tide.

Most of those in the know (I'm not including myself in that category) have speculated that Alabama is already in the NCAA tournament, even if it goes 2-and-out in Hoover for the second straight year. But another loss today might make up the selection committee's mind in a negative way.

Though it finished second in the SEC West and fifth in the overall SEC standings, Alabama is ninth in the league in the RPI rankings. It's possible the 6-8 seeds in Hoover and perhaps even 9th-place Arkansas, could jump the Tide in the tournament pecking order.

At least today --- and for as long as Alabama stays alive in Hoover --- we won't have to worry about a deadline crunch.

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