Well, this weekend ought to be some fun.
Sometime in the early morning hours on Tuesday, Mississippi State rallied to dust off Southern Miss, advancing to the Super Regional Round to take on LSU.
Of course, that means former Tigers hitting coach Andy Cannizaro will now return to The Box to take on the same LSU players he used to coach, while also facing head coach Paul Mainieri, who has been a little bit sour about how the whole thing went down.
I don’t want to play these Bulldogs again, ya’ll.
I’m nervous as heck.
LSU swept Mississippi State during the season, but that is why I am worried.
It’s so dang hard to beat the same team five times in one season.
But it’s question time.
Q: What will be the pitching rotation order for this weekend? (Asked by Sam, Baton Rouge)
A: I don’t expect any curveballs or wrinkles. I expect Lange on Saturday, Poche’ on Sunday and Walker on Monday – if that game is necessary. I know that Walker is arguably LSU’s best pitcher right now and I know that there are probably talks to try and sneak him into the rotation somewhere. But you just can’t take the ball out of Lange or Poche’s hands. Those guys have done too much for the program.
Q: Why are you so worried about Mississippi State? (Asked by Rob, Kenner)
A: Because sports are weird, man – especially baseball. I think the Tigers are better than the Bulldogs in every facet of the game. But in baseball, sometimes sheer hunger alone can be enough to power a team in a short series. Mississippi State is hot right now and they will definitely remember being swept out of their home park by the Tigers. That worries me. Maybe I’m just a chicken, but I don’t have too good of a feeling about this matchup going into the weekend.
Q: With the way Jake Slaughter is playing, would you just leave him in the lineup? (Asked by Timmy, Breaux Bridge)
A: I would, but it wouldn’t be at the expense of Nick Coomes. I’d probably sit Beau Jordan instead. But it’s such a tough call to make because I’m never a big fan of tinkering with a lineup or depth chart that’s been so successful and right now, the Tigers are white-hot. Slaughter did look pretty solid up there over the weekend, though, and it’d be hard to take him out of the lineup.
Q: Settle a debate amongst friends – who will be LSU’s Friday night guy next year; Walker or Zack Hess? (Asked by Morgan, Gonzales)
A: If you’d have asked me this question two weeks ago, I would have said Hess because the guy is absolutely filthy – a future All-SEC pitcher for the final few seasons of his career. Hess has 71 strikeouts in 52 innings, while limiting opponents to just a .181 batting average. He’s one of the best pitchers in the country right now – even as a true freshman out of the LSU bullpen. But I think Walker may get the ball – just because of what may happen to end the season. In his last two starts, Walker has dominated the SEC Championship Game and also a Regional Championship game. In his final regular season start, he helped clinch the SEC Regular Season Crowd for the Tigers. That has to count for something, right?
Q: Based on what you hear, will Arden Key be back to open the season for LSU? (Asked by Tom, New Orleans)
A: I’ve not heard much on this topic, but shoulder surgery usually doesn’t just heal overnight. That usually takes a while. I will say Key is out for the opener, but is back pretty soon after that. LSU has a soft schedule for the first month or so of the season. There’s not much reason to rush him back until he’s 100 percent ready to go out there and dominate.
Q: LSU basketball recruiting is going wild! This is good to see. How good can LSU be next year? (Asked by BayouBasketball)
A: Pump the brakes. You’re 100 percent right. The recent signings are awesome and every, single LSU basketball fan should be thrilled. But pump the brakes. The Tigers were worlds away from being competitive last season, and it’s going to take a lot of time to rebuild the roster, while also changing the culture enough to turn this team fully around. I think finishing above .500 for the season and getting something like seven or eight wins in the league would be a huge victory. The following season, yes, it will be time to make a massive leap forward.
As always, we end with a few non-LSU questions, so let’s dive in!
Q: Can the Warriors beat the 1995 Bulls? (Asked by Ian, Monroe)
A: If the games were officiated under 1995 rules, absolutely not. The Warriors would get pushed, shoved, bumped and bruised while running off screens and it would completely obliterate their timing. If the game were officiated under 2017 rules, they’d probably win, though. They have the perfect team for today’s game. The Bulls had the perfect team for yesterday’s game. It’s truly not an apples to apples comparison.
Q: Any chance the Pelicans get back Chris Paul? (Asked by Mason, Thibodaux)
A: Absolutely not. The Pelicans are not a well-run franchise and Chris Paul is in the final stages of his career and wants to win. You know what DOESN’T happen when guys are trying to chase rings? They don’t end up in places like New Orleans with a franchise that’s never won before. That’s wishful thinking and it’s a fun storyline. But it is exactly that – a story; complete fairy tale stuff. He will be a Clipper, a Spur or a member of some other team that had a chance to win this season. He will not stake the final years of his career on a roll of the dice that Boogie Cousins gets his act right and quits playing like a 300-pound shooting guard.
Q: We’re having a hot dog eating competition on July 4th and you’re invited. We enjoy this column. How many dogs should we put you down for? (Asked by Matt, Metairie)
A: Before I was diagnosed with an ulcer a few months ago, I could have probably thrown down about eight – if on an empty stomach. Now? I’m a softy. I’ll take two or three with a couple of bottles of water. What can I say? I’m getting old and getting old stinks!
Q: If you were a baseball player, what would your entrance song be? (Asked by Paxton, Luling)
A: I am weird about music. Growing up, I loved rap. Now, it’s just sort of bleh. In high school, I loved heavy metal. Now, it hurts my ears to even think about that stuff. Today, I enjoy country music and guys like Florida-Georgia Line and a few others. So I’d probably take “Party People” by Florida-Georgia Line.
Photo by Sean Gasser.