One of the reasons I still enjoy living in Gainesville after 28 years is a weekend like this one. Look, football is my favorite sport and I love college basketball. But I am also appreciative of the other sports and the fact that Florida is so good in them makes it even more interesting. So covering five events in four days was a blast. This diary is probably more for me than you, but here it goes:
Thursday: I’m going to be late for baseball interviews but after driving in circles for 15 minutes a spot finally opens up. It’s 4:03 p.m. when I hit the field and talk to a couple of players and Kevin O’Sullivan. One thing about this team is that it looks different. The sophomores look like seniors physically. Sully is asked about his bullpen and he jokes about the fans not always appreciating his constant pitching changes.
Over to the O-Dome more than two hours before the game but I have to write. I knew this would be the case but the electricity in the arena is about a four compared to the 10 for Kentucky. It is nice to have the media room back to normal.
Heck of a game. Ole Miss takes more bad shots than any team in this league but enough go in to make the Rebels a team that’s tough to beat. Interesting comment by Billy Donovan after the game. He said the plays teams put on at the end of a game never work. You have to have a guy go make a play. Stefan Moody did. And Donovan laments that he doesn’t have that guy.
I also asked him privately about all of the threes Florida took (27). He said that the plan — because Florida has no low post game — was to drive and kick the ball out for threes. Unfortunately for the Gators, they made nine but missed 18 of them.
Friday: As hectic as the whole week has been, Friday is a breeze with only one thing to worry about. But while I was covering the gymnastics meet, I did watch a lot of the Florida-N.C. State softball game on my laptop and followed the UF-Rhode Island baseball game on Twitter. If you can’t multi-task today, you get left behind.
Watching the Florida gymnasts was like watching an NBA team play a college basketball team. Missouri isn’t awful (ranked 34th) but Florida is so much better. Of course, this was also a night when the Gators put up the nation’s best score.
After the meet, I said to Rhonda Faehn, “You have no idea what you’re lineup is going to look like at the NCAAs, do you?” With Bridget Sloan still out and Alex McMurtry still not competing in the floor, it’s scary to think how good Florida might be by the time it gets to Fort Worth.
“I have an ideal lineup in my head,” Faehn said.
Saturday: Double-dipping today.
It starts at lacrosse where — as little as I know about lacrosse — you figure Florida will roll. Michigan is in its second year of the program. Florida is No. 4 in the country.
After a little more than five minutes of play, it’s clear that Florida can name its score. It’s 7-0 and Mandee O’Leary will be able to empty her bench.
This was only my second in-person lacrosse match. One rule I simply do not get — if you throw up an air ball, you get it back. In lacrosse, if you fire one that hits nothing and you have the closest player to where it went out, you get to bring the ball in. That’s just dummy.
Across the street for softball and I’m there in time to see Florida beat N.C. State for the second time in two days. All anybody wants to talk about is Kirsti Merritt’s catch Friday night that was the top play on SportsCenter.
One more game and it’s home to my lovely bride for a late Valentine’s dinner. Stop eating the Cheetos!
Florida flexes its muscles to win its ninth straight game to start the season. Bailey Castro hits a bomb in the first inning and Aubree Munro launches a three-run homer in the third. Then, it’s a no-doubter by Lauren haeger in the fourth. This one is over and so is the baseball game over at the Mac as Florida is rolling.
I watch the last seven minutes of the men’s basketball game on TV. Like that wasn’t a predictable ending.
Sunday: It is an absolutely perfect day for a baseball game. I realize that both events I covered yesterday did not go the distance with lacrosse having a running clock and softball run-ruling Iowa. Baseball may take awhile today because it’s a Sunday and kevin O’Sullivan has a rested bullpen available.
The first three innings take 90 minutes. No inning can start after 3:45 because of Rhode Island’s travel situation so there’s that.
At any rate, Florida is up 3-0 as I sign off for The Sunday Blog. To sum up, I had free admission, great parking and free food and drinks for five events in four days. Is this a great country or what?