Dig Baton Rouge

The Sports Troll: You’ve got questions … I have answers

I’m in a foul mood.

My Houston Rockets just got crushed in the NBA Playoffs and it’s been raining for like 20-hours straight – a pain everyone in Louisiana has felt this week.

I need to go to the store to buy groceries, but now it’s cold, and I just picked up all of my long sleeve clothes and put it all in the attic.

So far, May stinks, and I’m already ready for it to be June.

OK, now that that’s off my chest, let’s take some questions.

The LSU baseball team’s sweep of Alabama is hot on people’s minds, but as always, folks are asking me about football and other things, as well.

We also got quite a bit of non-LSU questions this week, which will keep me on my toes later in the column.

Q: Don’t you think LSU’s coaches are doing something wrong in baseball? How many players have had big freshman seasons, then regressed throughout their careers? (Asked by Eugene, Mississippi)

A: This is actually an interesting question. I can think of several guys now who were freshman powerhouses with the Tigers, but then disappointments as upperclassmen later in their careers. Do I think it’s coaching? Not really. If the Tigers were developing players poorly, all of their upperclassmen would struggle and that’s certainly not been the case in the past several years. But your point remains valid, because Alex Lange certainly isn’t the same guy he was as a freshman and neither was Matty Ott nor Anthony Ranaudo. It’s puzzling to say the least.

Q: Not all the way LSU-related, but what are your thoughts on Nick Saban’s new contract with Alabama? (Asked by The Fire)

A: Before I answer, I am curious as to why you listed your name as ‘The Fire’. I have weird stories to tell about fire, but they involve beer cans, sawdust, two people fighting, crawfish boils and guys getting burnt on their wrist, so we shall save all of these adventures for another column. Back on the subject, Mr. Fire, this is absolutely an LSU-related question, because Alabama’s success directly coincides with LSU’s. My thoughts on the contract are two-fold. First, I think the idea that a coach in the league will make $12 million a season is Busch League and is a glistening example of why players ought to get paid (when schools have the funds to do it). That $12 million split 100 ways (for each player) would be $120,000 per player. No, I don’t think college players deserve $120,000 per season, but I think we can compromise on $30,000 per player, which would still leave Saban room to make a disgusting $9 million per year. Secondly, I wonder how much longer ol’ Napoleon has left in the tank. Saban is 65 and he’s beginning to look it. His new deal is for close to a decade, but can he really bring that much tenacity to his profession into his mid-70s? I doubt it.

Q: Will LSU be able to count on Jared Poche’ for the rest of the season? He’s been terrible lately (Asked by Bellick, New Orleans)

A: I honestly don’t know, man, because you’re right, he’s been pretty shaky for the better part of 35-40 days now. Poche has such a small margin for error because he doesn’t get any strikeouts with power. He has to locate perfectly to be effective and he’s just left too many pitches out over the juicy part of the plate in the past month. Can it get fixed? Sure. He’s a veteran. But he’s struggled for long enough now to make me wonder.

Q: How do you think LSU basketball recruiting is doing so far? (Asked by J.P., Napoleonville)

A: I like what Will Wade has done in a limited timeframe. He’s collected a few mid-level prospects and has kept a keen eye on the Class of 2018. Recruiting won’t be the issue with Wade. He’s going to be able to get players to Baton Rouge. But so did Johnny Jones, honestly. The difference will have to lie in X’s and O’s, execution and making those quality players buy into a team concept – something Jones failed at pretty heavily.

Q: If the NCAA Tournament started today, where would LSU be seeded? (Asked by M. Rojas, Houma)

A: No way they’d be a national seed. They don’t have enough wins over quality opponents. I think they would be hosting a regional – albeit barely. The final few weeks of the season can change that drastically up or down.

My non-LSU questions were deep this week, so here we go!

Q: I see your food posts on Instagram. What’s your favorite beer choice for a relaxing weekend? (Asked by Brian, Larose)

A: I am a Coors Lite kind of guy when I am drinking cheap. I know, I know. It tastes like water, yadda, yadda. I’ve heard every insult before, so spare me. When being adventurous, I like Corona with lime (during warm weather months), Abita Strawberry and also some Sam Adams. I’m not picky.

Q: Here’s the deal: I read this column and see all this talk about the Rockets and Cowboys. Why no love for our hometown teams? (Asked by Brandon, Baton Rouge)

A: I don’t root for the Saints because my dad brainwashed me into being a Cowboys fan since birth. In fairness, he liked the Cowboys since before the Saints existed and he just refused to change allegiances. That same thing is why I am a Rockets fan. The Rockets WERE the local team before the Hornets came to New Orleans. Spare me the insult about them, too, because I’ve watched their games on TV and have seen their pitiful attendance. EVERYONE in Louisiana roots for someone else, too.

Q: Jericho is gone. Who is the best wrestler in the world? (Asked by Wayne, Galliano)
A: The best pure wrestler in the world in terms of being able to work in the ring is A.J. Styles and it’s really not even all that close. The dude is the modern day Ric Flair. He makes everyone he’s wrestling against look so much better than they actually are. If asking me for a hot gimmick, right now, I like Jinder Mahal. It’s edgy, controversial and awfully close to that line you shouldn’t cross, but that’s why it’s working.

Q: Who won the NFL Draft? (Asked by Nick, Paris)

A: A question from Paris … as in Paris, France? Surely this must be from Paris, Texas, right? Either way, the answer is the New York Jets. Jamal Adams was the best player in the NFL Draft, and the Jets did right taking him while other teams scratched and clawed for overhyped and overrated quarterbacks who (in many cases) couldn’t even win in college. I also like the pick of Marcus Maye, who I think will contribute right away, as well.

Q: Settle a debate with a friend. If the Cavs and Warriors combined teams, could they beat a team made up of all the 28 other teams combined? (Asked by Thomas, New Orleans)

A: My goodness, what a question! I’m usually a “bet on the field” kind of guy, but your Cavs/Warriors rotation would feature LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and whoever else. That’s pretty lethal. The rest of the league team would have James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis and a bunch of other legitimate stars, so they’d probably win the series. But it sure wouldn’t be easy, which is a true testament to how good both of those teams are.

Photo: Jamal Adams by Sean Gasser.


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