THE BACK NINE

Dooley: Gymnasts overcome diversions


Published: Monday, April 17, 2017 at 8:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 17, 2017 at 8:50 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after an 11-hour sleep, which followed a two-hour sleep. Either way, my ears are still ringing from gymnastics.

10. I've been to the O' Dome when it was rocking. I've been to Auburn and Knoxville when they were beating Florida and the fans were standing on their heads. I've been to Cameron Indoor. There is nothing as loud as an NCAA Gymnastics meet. The music is played at an ungodly level and the screaming never stops. I'm not saying this to complain. I'm saying it because it's another reason I have so much admiration for these young ladies. I have trouble concentrating when the TV guys are dismantling their equipment behind me in a press box. And I'm not doing a triple backflip on a 4-inch wide beam. The Chaifetz Arena was a great facility to have the event and St. Louis is definitely a different city. One thing I discovered — you don't have to stop at red lights in St. Louis before dawn. And I'm not exaggerating.

11. I asked this question on my radio show (10-to-12 on WRUF) and I'm curious to get your input. Which would aggravate Gator fans more — Will Muschamp winning an SEC East title or Will Grier winning a Heisman Trophy? Grier had a great spring game for what it's worth and they are in love with him up in Morgantown. I think there is more sympathy from the Gator Nation toward Grier. I think the former is more likely to happen than the latter. I'm not saying it will happen this year, but eventually. I believe Muschamp learned from his time here and anyone who thinks he can't coach needs to go back to the predictions for South Carolina last year.

12. If I had told you that Florida would score 40 runs in baseball last week, you'd probably have figured a four-game sweep. If I had said before the week started that Florida would go 3-1 against FSU and Vanderbilt, you'd have taken it. Now we see if the Gators have truly discovered their bats or if last week was just a fluke. Florida is now 12th in RPI, which means the Gators need to keep the foot on the accelerator with a big series against South Carolina this Thursday-Saturday. Amazingly, there is a real chance that no team from this state will host a regional. We'll see.

13. Meanwhile, over on the softball field, Kelly Barnhill's ERA might become dust if she keeps it going. Her ERA is 0.19 after a no-hitter Sunday. Barnhill has been so dominant that Aleshia Ocasio, who is 7-0 with a 0.84 ERA, hasn't pitched in an SEC game this month. Part of the reason is that Tim Walton likes using Ocasio as an everyday player. When Florida recruited Barnhill, they hoped they were getting something special. But I don't think anyone expected this kind of dominance at this level. “You never know when they come in because of the frustration of suddenly giving up hits,” Walton told The Back Nine. “At the same time, she had the best ERA of a freshman (last season) we've ever had. The big thing now is she has a go-to strike pitch.” Florida, by the way, is now No. 1 in the nation in RPI. There is a real possibility that the SEC could get all 13 of its teams into the NCAA Tournament at the end of the year because they are all currently 36th or better in RPI.

14. I know tennis — both men's and women's — tends to fly under the radar in a city with so many successful teams. But those two teams had wildly different weekends to end up in the same place. The men rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat No. 17 Mississippi State and then handled Auburn to close the regular season. They start SEC Tournament play next week in Knoxville, Tennessee. The women had a stunning loss to Vandy that cost them an SEC title. They start SEC Tournament play this week in Nashville and both Gator teams are No. 3 seeds.

15. Joel Sherman of the New York Post stirred things up when he wrote a column saying that baseball should allow ties. His thinking made some sense because an 18-inning game can really mess with a pitching staff. But I don't think there should ever be a tie in anything, including the spelling bee. This is America. You win some, you lose some and sometimes it rains. Soccer shouldn't have ties. Hockey shouldn't have ties. And certainly the NFL shouldn't have ties. You have a full overtime period and then it's still a tie? Look, American sports are struggling to get people into the stands so you had better give them a winner and a loser.

16. Yes, I watched the NBA playoffs off and on and no I won't be overanalyzing them this early. The best analysis I can make is that sports showed this weekend why it is a distraction. You could think about Isaiah Thomas' sister dying in a car accident or you could watch him play basketball. You could think about the horrible tragedy of former NFL tight end Todd Heap accidentally killing his 3-year-old child or you could get lost watching baseball and softball. Sports isn't everything and it certainly isn't life and death. But it's there when you need it.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from the Bill Murray parody account because it made me laugh and I kind of needed one Monday morning — “I like to take an empty Krispy Kreme donut box to work and sit in the break room and watch all of the disappointed faces.” I'm not sure how long Tweet of the Week is going to last. Twitter has become more about promoting podcasts and stories and taking shots at political people than it is pithy comments about sports. Maybe I need to change my follows.

18. When I got on the plane at 7 a.m. in St. Louis and put on a playlist, it was like heaven after the syrupy, bubblegum junk that was constantly playing at gymnastics. I mean, I know they are playing to the crowd and the gymnasts, but when Florida had its byes I would go to an empty room and find silence. Anyway, let's get something musically that will reach you:

n “Had Enough” by Lower Than Atlantis.

n “Bel Espirit” by The Pixies.

n “Home” by Morgxn.

n “Here Come The Girls” by Trombone Shorty.

n And for an old one, “Halo of Flies” by Vincent Furnier, also known as Alice Cooper.

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

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