Monday, April 21, 2008

Good for Tulane

As LSU and Tulane prepare to resume their rivalry at Tulane's rebuilt Turchin Stadium (sorry, Richie, I can't bring myself to call it Greer Field at Turchin Stadium), several thoughts come to mind.

The first is to be happy for Wave head coach Rick Jones and his team. They finally have a home again. A real home. A home they don't have to share with a Triple-A team.

And, to top it off, their home has been rebuilt. See Turchin was going to be renovated following the 2005 college baseball season -- a season that ended with Tulane playing in the College World Series. Well, some two months after Baylor eliminated the Wave from college baseball's marquee event, we all know what happened.

Katrina hit and New Orleans never was the same.

Ditto for Tulane. It spent that fall working out and living in Lubbock, Texas. Then it came back to New Orleans and spent two seasons playing in cavernous Zephyr Field, home of the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs. It was a marriage of convenience, but, according to Jones, not of happiness on both sides.

Regardless, Tulane has a new ballpark -- a sparkling one at that. So as LSU makes its maiden voyage to the redone yard in New Orleans, it's time to be happy for Jones and a Tulane program that, hopefully, is home for good.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekend wrap

We're another weekend closer to the end of college baseball season. What did we learn?

* We learned LSU's wacky season just gets wackier. The Tigers had a chance to salvage one game from their series with East-leading Georgia. Then the bullpen blows a late lead and extra innings are rendered meaningless by the SEC travel curfew. Wow.

* We learned there's heart in Natchitoches and on Kings Highway. Northwestern State and Centenary both needed sweeps this weekend on the road and both delivered.

* We learned Louisiana Tech looks like a team that has given up. Tech finally gets the starting pitching that it thought it would have all year and suddenly the Bulldogs can't hit or hold a lead.

* Finally, we learned Grambling is a legitimate SWAC title contender. The Tigers were one out away from a weekend sweep of Arkansas-Pine Bluff before a walkoff grand slam ended their hopes of a sweep. Still, the Tigers own a .667 winning percentage in conference. That's good enough for me.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I-20 blues

For a pair of baseball teams wearing red, white and blue along I-20, Saturday night was particularly dreadful.

On the college level, Louisiana Tech FINALLY got a good start out of slumping junior Luke Burnett at San Jose State -- and the bullpen blows it.

On the opposite coast, the Texas Rangers FINALLY got a good start from slumping free-agent signee Jason Jennings -- and the bullpen blows it.

Tech already has had a long season and it looks like the Rangers are following the lead of the Bulldogs.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Missed my predictions

Here we are three weeks into the Major League Baseball and I still haven't made any predictions.

You could say I learned my lesson with my gawd-awful attempts the last couple of years, but the truth is I forgot. I got so busy doing something else that I didn't post the predictions you all have come to love -- and, I'm sure, mock.

So, without further ado, here goes another edition of Pugh's Picks for the Major League Baseball season:

American League
East champion -- Boston. I know it's not always a chic pick to go with a team that either A) won a World Series or B) went deep into the playoffs. But I can't see the Yankees coming up with enough pitching to overtake the Red Sox.

Central champion -- Detroit. Slow start or not, this offense will hit and the pitchers will pitch. And the Tigers will overcome their early deficit.

West champion -- Los Angeles. The return of John Lackey, and prudent planning by the front office, will keep them a step ahead of Seattle.

Wild-card -- New York. Why not? The Yankees still have enough money to fill the holes that will appear during the season.

National League

East champion -- New York. The Mets appear to have shaken the hangover from last season and have gotten the Phillies out of their heads.

Central champion -- St. Louis. The Cardinals appear to be for real. Dave Duncan is a certifiable miracle worker.

West champion -- Arizona. They added Danny Haren to their rotation and they learned to hit. Look out NL.

Wild card -- Chicago. Despite having Ted Lilly as a No. 2 starter, the Cubs should beat up on the Central enough to win the wild card.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Belated congratulations

When I leave the office for my two days off, I try to get as far away from work-related things as I can.

So, to Louisiana-Lafayette baseball coach Tony Robichaux, a belated congratulations on career win No. 500 as the Ragin' Cajuns skipper.

I worked with and for "Coach Robe" for three years in college, covering him for the student newspaper then serving as his sports information director for a year.

I can't believe it's been seven years since I attended a game at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field, but it's good to see Robichaux rolling along.

It's been seven years since his name was bandied about for the LSU opening when Skip Bertman left and Robe was always a candidate for the perpetually on-the-h0t-seat Rod Delmonico at Tennessee.

Time flies, but Robichaux stays consistent. That's a rarity in today's college baseball world and another reason why Robe remains one of my favorite people in the business.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Morgan shows his ignorance

Just one day after Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day, Joe Morgan put his foot in his mouth.

During Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees telecast on ESPN, Morgan was talking about the decline in black players in Major League Baseball. He proceded to talk about how a Red Sox player should be described as a "black Red Sox player" or a "Caucasian Red Sox player" et al.

That point would have been well-taken had Morgan, in his recent past, not blasted the Houston Astros for employing a lack of black players.

In his attempt to do the right thing -- for the record I agree with his concept -- Morgan shed light on his past shortcomings.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Welcome back, B.J.

Looks like the Toronto Blue Jays have 'em a closer again.

Former Airline High standout B.J. Ryan returned from Tommy John Surgery on Sunday, picking up his first save of the season. And he did it in style.

Ryan moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Westlake about a year-and-a-half ago. He made his return to a major league mound just miles away at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington.

Ryan may not pitch on back-to-back days for some time, but it appears he's well ahead of a normal Tommy John rehab patient's schedule.

That's good news for the Blue Jays, who are counting on a healthy year to see what they truly have.