CWS Talk, Tenner Blues & Mike’s Favorite Omaha Trip


Q. Our first question is from Arkie Redneck who asks: You think the guys on the team will forgive me for being so negative this season? I’m sorry for ever doubting. DVH for governor. President. Whatever.

A. One hundred percent sure that all is forgiven. You are one of thousands of Hog baseball fans who had serious doubts about this team. So how did it happen? Well, the opposite of last year. No SEC title. No SEC tournament title. A road regional and super regional instead of at home. They’ve had to do it the hard way. For most of the season they could not get their offense and pitching in sync. Something clicked at Stillwater. The two started complimenting each other. But more than anything the returning guys on this team never forgot that feeling from last year. So they changed the narrative.

Simple right? Yea, right. Nothing is simple in baseball. But they made it happen. Ain’t it fun now?

Oh, I’m pretty sure that DVH wants to keep the job he has. Let somebody else run the state and the country.

Q. Alex4Hogs88 says: Right after the Bama series loss I said this: “Well all I can say is that it is gonna be one hell of a mountain climb to get to Omaha this summer. #GoHogs”. It looks like we have a team of mountain climbers! And I’m super super glad we won’t see Tennessee there either!!

A. Yeah. Tennessee fell off the side of the mountain on the way up. Funny how that happens. Pretty sure these Razorbacks were happy to make your day.

Q. S-giles asks: Is there a more unlikely guy to send the Hogs to Omaha than Brady Slavens? I was thinking great, he’s the player I don’t want at the plate with the winning run at 3rd. He’s jinxed.

A. Not hardly and he didn’t just step up yesterday. Slavens had had some key hits throughout out the season and has been hitting well in the entire six-game run they’ve been on. But yes, he came up short several times in the regular season with runners in scoring position. But what I liked was seeing Slavens at the bottom of the dogpile and he got there not by hitting a home run but with a simple base hit to right. A lot of times that’s all it takes.

Q.Paul Blalack says: Looks like the SEC west division will have to take care of it.

A. You got that right. Arkansas, A&M, Ole Miss and Auburn all headed to Omaha and that one team from the East? Those guys in orange? They’re gone. Yes, as much talent as they had Tennessee was not immune to the curse of the number one seed. It’s now been what? 23 years since the top seed in the tournament won a national title.

Remember what I’ve been saying since early in the baseball season? Cut out the trash taking and the intimidation nonsense, Tony Vitello. Your team doesn’t need it. Keep it up and it will bite you. Wonder if he’s learned his lesson? And what about the Tweets Vols fans bombarded Arkansas fans with last year after Tennessee got in and Arkansas didn’t? What goes around comes around.

Thank you Notre Dame. Probably one of the few times ever that large numbers of Razorback fans have pulled for the fighting Irish.

Life is good.

Q. B. B. Hogs on Twitter wants to know: Why am I so happy that Tenner lost? Almost as happy that the Razorbacks won. Is Tony V. living in my head? Do I need professional help?

A. I’m your professional help for now and I say forget it. You’re fine. Most Hog fans remember the grief they took from Tennessee fans after the Vols went to Omaha and Arkansas didn’t.
They pretty much labeled Arkansas as the winner of two meaningless titles. Regular season SEC Champs. SEC Tournament Champs. So this year they are the victim of their own insults because that’s what their team did this season.

But it’s more than that and it’s not just Arkansas fans who have no use for the way Tennessee players coaches and fans behaved this season.

Let’s look at some of the responses on social media:

George Toler says: Embarrassed to be a Vols Fan, AGAIN!!!! We need to call out these fans that continue with unsportsmanlike conduct.

Bruce Forester from Texas says: Well Tennessee I hope you are proud of yourself. You shot yourself in the foot and the whole sports world is laughing at you. You had the talent but lacked the character. Take responsibility for your actions and learn from it.

Danny Kanell from Florida tweets: Congrats Tennessee baseball on a great season. So many memorable moments. Flipping off opponents rounding the bases. Coach getting tossed for chest bumping an umpire, crying over balls and strikes and of course sooo many pimped out bat flips.

After reading Facebook and Twitter late into the night last night I was amazed at the reaction to Tennessee’s loss from all over the SEC and beyond. They need to change their approach, coach players and fans. College baseball fans don’t like this stuff.

Q. Sweeny on Twitter asks: Is Connor Nolan as nice in person as he seems to be on mound in games? I never see him acting out or calling attention to himself.

A. Yes he is. It has always been a pleasure for me to cover the college careers of young men and women who have been raised right and know the responsibilities that come with getting a college scholarship and wearing that Cardinal and White uniform. Connor’s parents are great people. He also comes from a terrific hometown. Greenwood, Arkansas. A place that keeps turning out quality athletes who are quality people too.

Watching Connor this season has been a real lesson in how to overcome adversity. Midway through the season he was rolling. He became the pitcher a lot of us thought he could be. Then, without warning, he began to go backwards. There appeared to be no explanation for it. It was hard watching him walk slowly to the dugout after each rough start.

But then, when his team needed him the most, he stepped up on the mound against Grand Canyon and pitched seven innings of one run baseball and the Hogs were back rolling again.

In some ways his start against North Carolina was even more impressive. He shut them out for 6 2/3 innings, their lowest run total in the last 36 games.

He’s a class act.

Q. Eddy Lynn says: I saw where you posted a photo on Twitter of a North Carolina fan flipping Connor Noland off as he walked to the dugout after being relieved in the 7th inning. You said the fan should have been ejected. Don’t fans do that a lot?

A. Not really. You see it in the student sections at football and basketball games. At Baum-Walker it might happen out in the Hog pen. This man appeared to be a non student and he was on the first row of seats behind the Arkansas dugout not more than 25 feet from Noland. The other thing about it was a complete lack of triggering action by Connor. He just did his job and came out when DVH said, hey it’s time to go to the bullpen.
The reaction to what I posted has been predictable. Older fans tend to agree. Some younger fans saying, Hey we won, lighten up. He was mad, too bad for him.

All I will say about that is what my uncle used to say about that to me and my cousin, his oldest son. I’ve been where you are. You haven’t been where I am. What he meant by that is when we get older certain things become more important. Like how we behave in public. I think public behavior is a problem right now. We all need to start becoming more civil to each other. Maybe it’s not a huge issue at college baseball games but what that fan did was over the top.

If schools start holding people accountable for behavior like that it will stop. I’m not taking about yelling, getting mad and blowing off steam when you think an opponent or the umps or refs have disrespected your team.

I’m talking about just flat out being obscene when there’s no reason for it. Grow up. Act like an adult.

Q. Hogdogger asks: Aren’t there rules of taunting in baseball like in football and basketball ? Saw a lot of that from Riggio through this (the OSU) series. Looks like the commentators thought it was fine.

A. We addressed that last week. I though what he did was silly looking but didn’t rise to the level of taunting. What the Tennessee player did in their regional, flipping off an outfielder after he had hit the ball past the guy for two run double, was much worse. He should have been ejected.

There is a stricter standard for player conduct in the NCAA baseball tournament so I was surprised that they didn’t do anything. But they did suspend a Tennessee player and their pitching coach in game one of the Knoxville Super Regional. I think the umps ran out of patience with the Vols.

Q. mousetown says: For most of the season Peyton Stovall was kind of a disappointment. He was one of the highest ranked recruits in the country last year. But lately it’s like somebody lit a fire under him. What’s up?

A. According to him it was the opposite of having a fire lit under him. He tore the nail off a finger in his throwing hand going through infield before the second Ole Miss game. He missed 9 games and during that time he said he realized that had been putting too much pressure on himself. What he did on the baseball field was not life and death. He should be having fun playing ball. So when he came back he relaxed. In the regional and super regional he batted over .400 and had multiple key hits while scoring several runs.

Q. Lanny says: I love hearing the positive comments from Sam Pittman about freshmen receiver Isaiah Sategna who has joined the team for summer practices. I’ve heard he may be faster than Malik Hornsby. What do you think?

A. I haven’t timed them but with Hornsby in the mix as a slot receiver Arkansas will now have two absolute burners at receiver. They should loosen up opposing secondaries for sure. Some also see Sategna as a punt returner.

Our Otis Kirk wrote a story on Sategna and offered this quote from Pittman:

“Well, the expectations are high just like they are on everybody. But he’s such a talent. I’ll say this, the two days that I’ve seen him down there, he doesn’t say much, and he works his butt off.

That’s exactly what I thought he’d do coming from a coach’s son. And certainly his mother was a highly touted athlete, as well. He’s done a really good job, and we’re going to give him every opportunity to get on the field this year.”

Pittman doesn’t blow smoke so those words should be very encouraging for Hog football fans.

Q. Former Razorback D-Lineman John Ridgway got booted out of a Cowboys practice the other day for fighting with O-lineman John Ball. Some are trying to claim that he might have hurt his chances for making the team but….

….Pig in the Pokey says: Nobody’s mad at him at all, they are praising his fire.

A. I agree. I’m anything but a Dallas Cowboys insider but I can’t imagine the coaches are really mad at Ridgway. In that situation coaches will typically say, Hit the showers and cool off. Afterward somebody usually tells him, I love you fire kid.

And that’s what he did at Arkansas., He came in and made a place for himself right away. A lot of Razorback fans will be pulling for John Ridgeway to make it with the Cowboys this fall.

Q. Lanny is back with another question. He says: I know you don’t like the Aggies. What’s your reaction to their AD Bjork the Dork sending a letter to the SEC office trying to make Saban apologize for what he said about A&M’s use of NIL collectives in recruiting?

A. Bjork the Dork is Ross Bjork. He was grandstanding. There was no way SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey he was going to make Saban apologize without also making Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher apologize for what he said about Saban which was much worse. So both coaches ended up apologizing… sort of… and officially the matter is taken care of. But of course Saban and Fisher just gave SEC football a huge promotion going into this fall because the lead up to the A&M-Bama game in Tuscaloosa is going to be national news and hyped to the max. Personally I’m going to enjoy watching the Aggies get stomped by Alabama in that game. Is their anything dumber than bragging about getting lucky and beating Alabama at your place and then insulting the best college football coach ever when you have to play a return game at his place? That’s why I say that Saban rope-a-doped Jimbo. But then Jimbo rope-a-doped Bjork because his buyout is so huge even the Aggies will have a hard time running him off once the NCAA puts some new restrictions on NILs that could affect his recruiting.

Q. Maggie Maye says: You’ve obviously been to Omaha a lot of times. What’s your best memory of that place?

A. I can tell you what wasn’t. That dropped foul ball in 2018 or those crazy kids that overran one of my live shots the last time Arkansas played in Rosenblatt Stadium. Maybe the time we did a CWS special the year we rented our first house in Omaha instead of staying at the media hotel. We were overlooking the city from the backyard of that place and right in the middle of a commercial break it started raining like crazy. Somehow we managed to get all of our equipment inside and back working by the time the commercial break was over. Probably one of the few times I was thankful for a whole lot of back to back commercials.

I think my best memory is from 2012. I really liked that team because it had good pitching with Brandon Moore, Ryne Stanek and DJ Baxendale with Colby Suggs at 7-1 out of the pen with a 1.38 ERA. They beat Kent State and South Carolina but lost to the Gamecocks twice 2-0 and 3-2 just missing out of making the championship game of the CWS.

Those guys gave up just seven runs in four games but they didn’t have enough hitting. That team also featured Joe Serrano. He’s still my favorite Razorback baseball player because he was a good player and he was hilarious to be around. A natural born comedian.

That’s it for another Ask Mike. Next week I won’t be doing this solo, I think.
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