Back Nine: Fans also battled weather


Fans also battled the elements this weekend at McKethan Stadium.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Monday, June 11, 2012 at 5:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 11, 2012 at 5:15 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you a little bleary-eyed from a long weekend of rain and drama. Which leads me into my first item.

10. It was a draining weekend for everyone involved whether you were sweating in the press box or on the field. But the Back Nine wants to make a special mention of the Florida baseball fans. I'm quick to be critical of Florida fans who leave basketball games early, but those baseball fans on Sunday who came back after a 2-hour delay and sat in that brutal heat and humidity until the end deserve a lot of credit. I was miserable and I was in the press box with an unlimited access to cold drinks. I can't imagine what it was like for the fans who gutted it out when it would have been easy to go home and watch it on TV. But you know what? I bet they are happy they did because it was one of the most amazing games I've seen and to be there was a lot better than watching it on the tube. Anyway, you fans who were there, pat yourselves on the back. You showed me something Sunday.

11. I know there are a lot of people who can't understand why a super regional in Florida would be played at the hottest time of day and Arizona would start its super regional at 10 in the morning. You have to understand one thing — it's ESPN's world and we're all just living in it. The student-athletes and fans are at the bottom of the list when it comes to the network's concerns. Or the backbone-less NCAA's. ESPN will tell you when you will play your games, OK? And if you don't like it, the network will take its bags of cash home and you'll have to listen to the game on the radio. It's just the way it is.

12. So it's back to Omaha for the Back Nine. I spent 14 days there last June and six more in March with basketball. It's a great city and the College World Series is a great event. I have opted out of the media hotel because there's something that bothers me about sleeping next to a prison. But enough about me, how about Stony Brook? I tell you, it wouldn't be a stupid bet to wager money on the Seawolves winning the whole thing. That is a very good baseball team and to come back from the drama of the first game to win twice shows those guys have some guts.They totally outplayed LSU. And while I'm saluting fans, LSU fans showed why they are some of the best baseball fans in the country when it was over, giving a standing ovation to the Stony Brook team and high-fiving their players.

13. It will certainly be good to see Andy Lopez in Omaha. The Arizona coach and former Florida coach will be making his fifth trip to the CWS with three different teams. “I can't wait to see all of the people from Florida,” he told the Back Nine. “I have nothing but great feelings about my time there. I loved it there. Maybe I'm goofy, but I can't wait to see Jeremy Foley.” Foley, the UF athletic director, fired Lopez in 2001. Lopez said he received 143 text messages when his team completed a sweep of St. Johns and many of them were from former Florida players. When I talked to him last year, he said he had a feeling that this year's team could be special. “We went to College Station (to face Texas A&M in the super regionals) and we forced a third game,” he said. “We got back to the hotel and they had checked us out. They didn't think we could win. We ended up in three different hotels. It was as disruptive as you can get. But it didn't bother these guys. We battled them and lost 2-1.” A big factor for the Wildcats is that they can host now because of a new stadium. They went to regionals eight of the last 10 years and had to go on the road for all of them, three times as No. 1 seeds.

14. So I know what you're thinking — Florida vs. Florida State in the finals. But there is a lot of baseball to be played before we get to that point. It would be high drama to see the two rivals going head-to-head, each trying to win its first national title. But let it come to you. Let's just see what happens.

15. It's kind of become a tradition that I watch the NBA Finals and the U.S. Open in Omaha and I am looking forward to both. I'm not a big NBA fan, but I do like to watch the fourth quarter of playoff games. This series, I'll be watching from start to finish. It's funny, I heard an ESPN radio commentator talking about how he'd never seen two championship series like Miami-Boston and San Antonio-Oklahoma City where there were such knee-jerk reactions to every game. Uh, yeah, but it's the ESPN screaming heads who are making the knee-jerk reactions. When Boston won Game 5, I told everybody (OK, I told my wife and my dogs) that Miami was going to come back and win the series. The overreaction is just something we have to live with in this day and age.

16. Meanwhile, the Open should be fascinating as always. If you are not a golf fan, you still will want to watch because I'm betting Tiger Woods will be a factor. And how can you not watch the Thursday and Friday pairing of Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson. One thing you won't see at the U.S. Open — Gators. This is the second straight major without any Florida golfers involved.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Cody Jones of FightingGators.com — “Tarp is coming off the home plate area. Avent says the chalk for the batters boxes is too worn out to play.” He was referring to N.C. State coach Elliott Avent's complaints that the outfield was too wet to continue Sunday's game. It was soggy but it was very playable.

18. The iPod was put to use this weekend during the many rain delays at McKethan Stadium. Last week I mentioned a song by The Dimes and they sent me a link to their entire album. It is highly recommended. But this week, let's try these lovelies — “Trembling Hands” by The Temper Trap, “Generals” by The Mynabirds and for the old school in you “Knockin' On Heaven's Door” by Bob Dylan. Four chords, really easy to play.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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