SDS Mailbag: Dumbest realignment decisions, Vandy vs. the Orioles and replacing SEC mascots with ‘Toy Story’ toys
It was great to see Vanderbilt claim the College World Series title Wednesday night. After what happened to Arkansas last year, seeing the Commodores go down 1-0 in the championship series had me worried.
However, I shouldn’t have been, as Kumar Rocker and Mason Hickman ensured nothing bad was going to happen to the VandyBoys. It’s crazy how good Rocker was this postseason.
The best part? He still has two more years in college. After what he did against Duke in the Super Regional, striking out 19 in a no-hitter, he’s going to be appointment television in 2020 and 2021.
His performance this postseason is going to be a lot to live up to next spring, but he’s exactly what college baseball needs, so I hope the folks at ESPN market him well when the 2020 season rolls around. He has legit No. 1 overall pick potential for the 2021 MLB Draft, and it’ll be fun to watch him continue to develop.
Anyway, here are your questions for this week’s SDS Mailbag:
Regarding UConn and the Big East reunion, what were the dumbest realignment decisions? Factor in geography, competitiveness, rivalries extinguished (in all sports), etc.
The Huskies are in the news this week for making a move back to the Big East, where they’ll rejoin a conference that has some of their former rivals, including Villanova, Georgetown and more. The conference doesn’t have football, though, so the Huskies are temporarily out of luck in that regard.
However, that may not be the dumbest decision when we factor in the recent realignment craze in college sports.
- Rutgers — I understand why the Scarlet Knights went to the Big Ten. The conference wanted that New York City market (even though Rutgers is across the river in New Jersey). Still, the Scarlet Knights have been getting crushed in nearly all sports since the move. They weren’t ready to make the jump from the Big East to the Big Ten. They went too soon and the fact that they have been outscored by Ohio State in football 271-27 (not a typo) in their 5 losses since joining the conference speaks volumes.
- West Virginia — The Mountaineers have done fine in the Big 12, but their nickname itself is proof that they don’t belong in the conference. Since Colorado moved on to the Pac-12, you know what the other Big 12 schools don’t have? Mountains. The closest road trip the Mountaineers have in their new conference is Iowa State, which is an easy 871-mile jaunt. That is, um, not ideal for the non-revenue sports.
- UConn — The Huskies’ decision to move back to the Big East, which doesn’t have football, is baffling. The women’s basketball team will leave the AAC without having lost a single conference game, but now the football team is screwed. They now need to fill their 2020 schedule at a time when almost every 2020 schedule for other FBS teams is filled up. The suddenness of the decision is what is most surprising, and what puts them No. 3 on this list. They should have allowed for more time so their football team wasn’t left out in the cold.
- Mizzou — Even at the time, I said Mizzou would have been better off going to the Big Ten. As a Mizzou grad (something I’ll try to mention in more columns), even I admit that it seems no one in the SEC wants the Tigers around. They won the SEC East in 2013 and 2014, but that seems like a lifetime ago. In fact, most SEC East fans, especially those who haven’t won a division title since then, conveniently seem to have wiped those seasons from their memory (cough, Tennessee, cough, South Carolina). I often wonder what would have happened if the Tigers would have gone to the Big Ten along with Nebraska and left Rutgers (mentioned above) out in the cold.
- BYU — The Cougars’ decision to leave the Mountain West, go independent in football and have all other sports play in the West Coast Conference hasn’t exactly paid off. First, Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s are there blocking the Cougars’ way in men’s basketball. Secondly, in football, they often have a nearly impossible schedule to manage as an independent. Meanwhile, the Mountain West chugs right along.
With the way things are going these days, don’t be surprised if we see some more utterly unthinkable conference realignment decisions in the near future. UCLA to the ACC? C’mon.
Could Vanderbilt beat the Baltimore Orioles?
Ah, I see what you’re doing here. This is a question in the same vein as “Could Alabama beat the Cleveland Browns?” or “Could Duke beat the New York Knicks?”
The answer, over the course of a 3-game series or longer, is no. However, baseball is a funny sport, and during spring training, it isn’t totally uncommon to see college teams pick up wins over major league teams and upper-level minor league squads.
And the Orioles barely qualify as a major league squad these days. Sporting a record of only 22-58 entering Thursday’s games, they already have the worst record in baseball by 5.5 games. We’re not even halfway through the season, so that gap may only increase as the year goes on.
Meanwhile, the Commodores have OF JJ Bleday, who was just the No. 4 overall pick by the Miami Marlins, 3B Austin Martin (who might end up being a top 3 overall pick in 2020) and freshman RHP Kumar Rocker (who could end up being the No. 1 overall pick when his time comes). Add in other major league talent on that roster, and winning one game over the Orioles isn’t that far-fetched.
Give it a full series and I’d bet that the Orioles would win, but Manny Machado and Adam Jones aren’t walking into that Baltimore dugout anytime soon. I’d pay to watch Kumar Rocker face Chris Davis 10 times in a row and see how many times Rocker struck out the embattled slugger.
In honor of “Toy Story 4” being released recently, please replace each SEC mascot with a Toy Story 1-3 character. No “Toy Story 4” characters, to avoid spoilers.
As someone who openly cried during “Toy Story 3” and was glad I was wearing 3D glasses, I hope “Toy Story 4” is a little easier on my emotions. However, I’m expecting it to be just as tear-jerking as the last one.
For those of us in the 25-32 age range, “Toy Story” was a defining movie of our childhood (“Toy Story 2” was just OK), so I’ll do my best to make sure I treat this question with the respect it deserves:
- Alabama: Woody — Woody is the sheriff in town and the leader of the toy gang. Yes, he has a challenger, especially in the first movie, but we’ll read more about that later.
- Arkansas: Hamm — Admittedly, I didn’t make it much beyond the pig-hog comparison here.
- Auburn: Emperor Zurg — Who is Buzz and Woody’s biggest enemy? Zurg, of course. Since the Tigers have a rivalry with both Alabama and Georgia (see below), this comp makes sense.
- Florida: Rex — Probably the most popular character outside of the two heroes (Buzz and Woody), Rex is often a key component of the gang’s plans. However, sometimes he (like the Gators) comes up woefully short in key moments, like when Florida dealt with the end of Jim McElwain’s tenure.
- Georgia: Buzz Lightyear — The aforementioned challenger to Woody’s throne. The cowboy (Alabama) has managed to remain more relevant nationally than the spaceman (Georgia) the past 3 years, but that could change this year (no spoilers!).
- Kentucky: Bullseye — Like Bullseye, the Wildcats are just happy to be here. When it comes to football, they’ll make some noise when they have a great year (like 2018). Other than that, it’s all about basketball.
- LSU: RC — Much like Coach O, no one (except for Woody) can quite understand what the remote control car is saying, but in the first movie, RC played a huge role. I’ll compare that to LSU winning the 2003 and 2007 titles.
- Mississippi State: Slinky Dog — A side character who sometimes comes up big (like when Mississippi State climbed to No. 1 in the rankings).
- Mizzou: Etch-a-Sketch — The Tigers have already reinvented themselves on multiple occasions since entering the SEC. First, they were a defensive powerhouse that couldn’t score any points. Then, they were an all-offense, no-defense, air-it-out team under Drew Lock. This year, they’ll change once again with Kelly Bryant at the helm. Sounds a lot like an ever-changing Etch-a-Sketch.
- Ole Miss: Magic 8 Ball — You never know what you’re going to get from the Rebels. Some years, you may get a “Signs are looking up,” others you may get a “Don’t count on it,” and in others, like when they have a bowl ban, you simply get an “Ask again later.”
- South Carolina: Lots-O’Huggin-Bear — The Gamecocks have a lot of pride for a team that hasn’t accomplished much. They’ve won one division title have never won an SEC football title. They have some serious talent that comes through now and again, but they’re not as bad as they think they are.
- Tennessee: Stinky Pete the Prospector — The Vols are rebuilding and should soon make some serious progress, but for now, they’re a fanbase who will take any chance they get to point you toward 1998 and how good they were back then. I was 8 years old back then. Have some more-recent accomplishments, please. (Note: “Toy Story 2” came out in 1999. Coincidence? I think not.)
- Texas A&M: Sid — The Aggies are looking to disrupt the powers in the SEC and take their place atop the conference. They want chaos and aren’t afraid to do what it takes to accomplish their goals (like hand a 10-year, $75 million contract to Jimbo Fisher). Sounds a lot like Sid.
- Vanderbilt: Mr. Potato Head — A great toy when everything is put together (like Vandy is in baseball). But can fall apart in a hurry in the wrong hands (basketball).
So there you have it. Now, off to see “Toy Story 4!”
In light of the news that Netflix is set to remove “The Office” in 2021, which season of Jim is your favorite and which is your least-favorite?
To me, the top Jim seasons are Season 1 and Season 4, but I’ll go with Season 4 as the best. He’s dating Pam (finally) and things are good. Jim is finding his groove, there’s no drama and they don’t have kids yet. “Fun Run” and “Dinner Party” are in that season, and Jim’s pranks like his fake proposals and his deliberately wrong charades guesses are in there, too.
The worst season is Season 6, when Jim has to deal with Charles Miner. He is often flustered, and he’s one of the worst bosses Dunder Mifflin has ever seen. It’s tough to watch (even more so than “Scott’s Tots”) and I dislike it even more than in Season 9 when Jim and Pam are having marital issues.
Since Netflix is making the horrible decision to sell the show back to NBC, I will now have to rewatch it at least four times over the next year and a half. Netflix and I aren’t on the best terms right now.
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.