Dig Baton Rouge

The Sports Troll: A little Q&A before the World Series

The LSU baseball team is going to the College World Series.

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost in the NBA Finals – in five games (like we predicted in a Sports Troll Q&A). And Conor McGregor is going to fight Floyd Mayweather later this summer (like we predicted in a Sports Troll Q&A).

Man, what a time to be alive!

So, let’s have a little more fun and open the mailbag.

Who knows? We might even make predictions about some things that will happen later on in the future.

We have a history with such things, you know?

Q: So, what are your thoughts on LSU’s chances in the World Series? (Asked by Jim, Baton Rouge)
A: I think they have a great shot – as good a shot as anyone. A lot of the national seeds got eliminated in the NCAA Tournament, so I don’t know that this is the strongest College World Series field there’s ever been. If the Tigers continue to hit well and if they get steady pitching and defense, it’s going to take a Herculean effort to beat them.

Q: Which drafted LSU baseball player will be the best pro? (Asked by Cindy, Houma)
A: I think it has to be Alex Lange, right? No disrespect to the others, but I think Lange is awfully close to a sure thing – especially if he converts to a late-inning reliever. My concern about him at the next level would be durability and whether his elbow could last as a starter throwing all those off-speed pitches. But if he becomes a closer, that will help his elbow quite a bit, and he will be a filthy late-innings guy.

Q: What does LSU have to do to beat Florida State? (Asked by Robbie, Sulphur)
A: Start on the mound. Alex Lange has to get the Tigers off to a better start. In both of his NCAA Tournament outings so far, he’s been flat in the first few innings, which has run up his pitch count. That can’t happen against the Seminoles. If Lange gets LSU going early and the Tigers have a cerebral approach at the plate, I think the result will be pleasing to folks wearing purple and gold.

Q: Does the big park in Omaha help or hurt LSU? (Asked by Coon, Monroe)
A: I think it helps. Think about it. Outside of Deichmann, which LSU hitter is reliant on the home run ball to have success at the plate? The Tigers hit their share of home runs, yes, but they’re mostly a gap-to-gap doubles-based team. That doesn’t go away in a deep ballpark. Hell, if anything, it might get even more effective in a deep park. I think scoring runs will be the least of the Tigers’ concerns – if they stick to the same approach they’ve had for the last few weeks of the season.

Q: We have Lange in Game 1. Who would you throw in Game 2? (Asked by Troy, Hammond)
A: Eric Walker. I say that without hesitation, too. I love Jared Poche’, but this is business. The dude hasn’t gotten anyone out consistently in a while. He was bad against Texas Southern in the Regional, then a train wreck against Mississippi State in the Super Regional – all the while Walker has been filthy. I am not going to Poche again until my two top pitchers have already been used. I hate to be so blunt about it, but at this stage of the game, the goal is to go win a championship.

Q: LSU’s deep World Series runs always have a surprise hero. Who will it be this time? (Asked by Al, Biloxi)
A: I’ll take the cheap way out. I’ll say Michael Papierski. I think he has a chance to have a great tournament. That would be a shock to national pundits who haven’t seen the Tigers play and only focus on his subpar batting average. But to the diehards, we know that the dude’s been raking lately – one of the hotter hitters on the team.

Q: What do you think about Coach O’s insistence on keeping other schools out of Louisiana for satellite camps? (Asked by Fred, Donaldsonville)
A: I like it. His job is to win football games at LSU and keeping great Louisiana players at LSU makes that much, much easier. I understand the gripes that high school coaches have about some guys not getting exposure, but it’s not Orgeron’s job to worry about that. It’s his job to protect LSU. And that’s what he’s doing.

Q: You laid into Andy Cannizaro hard on Twitter. Why the beef? (Asked by Rocky, Mandeville)
A: Because he acted like a clown at the end of the Super Regional. The game was long decided and it was well past midnight – let the game end. Substituting pitchers what felt like a dozen times just to troll the opposing fan base isn’t exactly a good look. But then again, neither is going 0-5 against an in-division SEC rival in a season.

OK, now, we take a few non-LSU questions.

Q: How many consecutive titles can the Warriors get? (Asked by Chad, Thibodaux)
A: I think two or three. That’s about it. They are about to have to make some really tough decisions. The Warriors are only able to exist in their current form because Steph Curry had a bunch of injuries early in his career, so he inked a long-term, small-money contract. With that deal about to run out and Draymond Green and Klay Thompson all about to get paid on the horizon, they’ll either need to lighten up the load some or pay mountains of money in luxury tax penalties – something that most owners are unwilling to do.

Q: What is the dumbest rule in sports? (Asked by Samantha, New Orleans)
A: Dumbest rule? Goodness, I didn’t expect to get this question here. I think the DH rule is dumb in baseball, but not dumb enough to be my answer. I’ll go with the foul-out rule in basketball as my answer. In football, if you commit three holding penalties, we don’t throw out the offensive lineman. If the quarterback has too many delay of games, he doesn’t get ejected. So why do we make the star power in the game less because someone fouls too many times? I want fouls to be tracked and repeat offenders to be penalized. But I’d much rather teams get free throws and possession for every foul someone goes over the limit. If someone gets their sixth foul, it’s one shot and the ball for the opponent. If seven fouls, it’s two shots and the ball and so-on and so-forth.

Q: Can McGregor beat Floyd? (Asked by BlackBeltBobby)
A: Absolutely not. It won’t be competitive. This is like a soccer player challenging the best hockey player to an ice hockey shootout. Sure, they both may score goals. But the hockey plays hockey and the soccer player doesn’t. Yes, Conor McGregor punches in his fights, but he’s not a boxer. Floyd Mayweather is – one of the best to ever be born. This will not be competitive.

Q: Barbecuing this weekend. Give me a quick beer to try. (Asked by Tommy, Lafayette)
A: Abita Blueberry. I had some this weekend for the first time. It’s fantastic.

Photo by Sean Gasser.


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