May 7, 2017 7:31:56 PM
Before I begin, y'all are awesome. This was definitely the most participation I've had in a mailbag yet, so thank you all for that.
Let's lead off with my favorite, from @lounge_dawg. Will MSU ever find a true Sunday starter?
No. Now I'll tell you why that is and why you should kind of enjoy it this way.
First, it's May. Even if MSU is to go to Omaha, there's only 3 traditional Sunday-type spots left: at Georgia, LSU at home to end the regular season and in a potential Super Regional. I realize there are times when the SEC Tournament, regionals and Omaha can produce similar rotational outings, but tournament baseball tends to get weird for teams like MSU with wildly limited pitching staffs.
The other reason is Jake Mangum. His hand should heal in the coming weeks, in theory making himself available to pitch again. Injecting uncertainty into your pitching situation at the end of the regular season is no friend of established roles.
Now, why you all should like it this way: This is very much becoming the identity of this team. Look at all the national coverage of this team, most of it preceded by local coverage (or, definitely mine, at least) that hit on the same points: this team is laughing in the face of everything it should be and continues to win.
This team: behaves as if it only has one catcher on the roster, has spent more time missing its fifth-best bat (Hunter Stovall) than using it, has rotated quite a bit at the corner outfield spots, has used two outfielders and a first baseman on the mound, has made the best hitter in America change position twice (outfield to DH to first) and has what could basically amount to half the pitching staff most other programs do in terms of men available. Regardless of how it ends, this will go down as one of the most memorable MSU baseball seasons in the lifetimes of many of you reading this, so what's the fun in getting a Sunday starter now?
@lounge_dawg had another good one I'll get to later, but first, one from @MsStBaseballFan: Will Cannizaro replace the fake dirt at home plate with real dirt for 2018?
Let me tell you three things that are absolutely true: I have not thought about this before you said, I have not asked about it at all....and I haven't heard even an inkling of this being considered.
One thing at a time, brother, is the gist of it here for me.
With everything happening to Dudy Noble in the next 24 months, I find it hard to believe new dirt is a priority. I will say this: I try to keep myself from being the person handcuffed by tradition, but this is one exception. I want to see dirt. I'm very much not a fan of turf where dirt should be on a baseball field...I just don't think we'll see it. Or if we do, I feel good it won't be for 2018.
Darren McGee (@TheOriginal44_) has a good question about the Saturday game at College Station: Were you surprised they didn't bring in Self earlier? Thought they could have pitched he and Price 4-5 innings.
I actually think MSU wanted Trey Jolly to be the Saturday innings eater after that short Billingsley start. It's been about a month since Jolly has thrown more than 21 pitches in an outing and this was his first appearance of the weekend, so he was clearly fresh. He just didn't have his best command that day, so it wasn't meant to be.
To address your bigger inquiry on Self, I don't think Cannizaro wants to make a habit of using Self before the seventh inning. That being said, Cannizaro may have gone a little new school on us a la Cleveland Indians and their use of Andrew Miller last year in the playoffs: use your best guy for as many high leverage outs as you can, don't worry about when those outs come in the game. Every win is huge at this point, with MSU on the bubble for hosting a regional, so who is he to save any punches at this point?
I also don't think he expected Self to finish the game when he put him in it, but when the kid's dealing like that, only a fool wouldn't let it ride.
Jess Hardy (@hardymsu69) asked a question I've asked myself sometimes: Does Cannizaro wear long sleeves to hide some hideous tattoo? Or does he not want to make everyone around him look smaller?
I actually remember Cannizaro showing up to a press event in just a polo one day. So having seen the man's forearms, that and old pictures of him confirm he's not hiding any tattoos.
As for the joke at the end: that man would make us mere mortals look weak no matter what he wore. I'll say this much, though: a man that can be comfortable in long sleeves in the Mississippi heat in May is a greater man than I. I think my buddies on the beat would agree I put more effort in my dress than any other daily beat writer and even I have basically stopped wearing pants to games: khaki shorts all day.
Now, back to @lounge_dawg's other question, asking for golf course recommendations around Hoover for those of you going to the SEC Tournament.
First of all: hello there, fellow golfers. I'd love to hear any and all of your suggestions for golf courses around SEC towns/anywhere I travel for work. Hit me up.
I found a really good guide at birminghamal.org. I'll give a little more info below, but for a list of what your options are, that's as good a starting point as you'll find on the Internet.
For those trying to stay in the Hoover area (just south of Birmingham proper), there are two Robert Trent Jones trail facilities: Ross Bridge and Oxmoor Valley. Golfers that don't know of it, I strongly suggesting Googling the RTJ Trail. Every inch of it is majestic. You'll pay extra for that quality, but those that can should absolutely look into it.
Highland Park is close to downtown Birmingham and seems to be a bit more affordable than the RTJ Trail, so you can do that and pair it with a local Birmingham meal in downtown. Or, if you're willing to venture slightly out of Hoover in a different direction, Woodward Golf and Country Club is another (seemingly) more affordable option. You're just both leaving Hoover and not getting closer to downtown Birmingham in going there: not that that's a bad thing, necessarily, but it's worth noting for those with busy agendas.
Let's end with this one from @gridirondawg: Will TBA ever win SEC Player of the Week?
It makes absolutely no sense that he hasn't. TBA hasn't allowed so much as a hit, much less a run, all year long. This guy is out here pitching twice in a weekend more times than not and he has yet to say no to an assignment Cannizaro's given him, despite how much he's asking of him.
I wonder if it's a MSU thing. Cannizaro did say earlier last week that TBA was, "back from suspension." MSU must be refusing to nominate TBA as punishment for his previous transgressions. That's the only thing that makes sense.
I know the first two picks in the MLB Draft are probably going to be that kid from Louisville and the high school from California that was on the cover of SI recently, but any organization that doesn't give TBA a hard look is foolish.
5. Out There for the week of April 22, 2018 ENTERTAINMENT