You didn’t really think that racing officials from New York were going to keep California Chrome from his chance at a Triple Crown because of the use of a nasal strip did you? We haven’t had a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, there’s no way an attention-starved sport like horse racing was going to end Chrome’s chance on a technicality. I hope he wins it.
Thursday at the Valley---
There is no tougher day at the Valley Tournament than Thursday in the loser’s bracket. You have to win two games with a pitching staff that’s thinning at best, tattered at worst. The Shocker’s approach here has been …varied. On Tuesday against Illinois State they looked like they’d rather be at a knitting clinic, yesterday against Evansville they played like there was nowhere in the world they’d rather be. Today it was back to a stitch in time.
It would be nice to think that this team would want to play with the highest of intensity every day out, but it simply hasn’t been that kind of group. Add to the equation that most of them know a purge of the roster is coming and you can understand their lack of focus. Then again, that’s kind of a chicken and the egg kind of argument---would there be a purge coming if this group had been more locked in this season?
Thursday morning offered an interesting microcosm of the season, facing a Southern Illinois team that they beat three times by a combined total of 21 runs—they slop around against a pitcher who was throwing for the first time in three weeks and manage all of 1 hit and run against him in six innings. Southern even staked Wichita State to three errors and the Shockers did little with them. There was a time that Wichita State used to be judged nationally, then regionally—now it’s how they stack up in the Valley where they finished fourth this season. There’s a lot of work to be done in this program.
Promising freshman pitcher Sam Tewes came down awkwardly on his right leg on his last pitch of the sixth against the Salukis, he was transported off the field by EMS with leg in an inflatable cast.
Who’d have thunk?
Tough time to chill for Casey Gillaspie, who was visibly frustrated for the first time this season after going 1-10 with five walks in Terre Haute.
Does Serge Ibaka really make that much difference?
It’s tough to chalk up a 35 point loss as ‘just one of those nights’. Oklahoma City has simply been outclassed through two games in their series with the Spurs, a team they’d beaten in ten of their last twelve meetings. The absence of Ibaka has created more favorable matchups for San Antonio and head coach Gregg Popovich has taken full advantage. Of course, it helps when you have Danny Green Burying seven three-pointers, but it’s the job they’ve done on OKC’s Russell Westbrook that’s really telling.
The big question with Ibaka out was whether or not Westbrook would try to take up too much of the offensive slack himself and the answer has been---yes. According to ESPN, the Thunder is now 15-19 in the last five postseasons when Russell Westbrook takes at least 20 shots; they are 19-7 when he attempts fewer than 20. Westbrook is a dynamic talent, but he still hasn’t found the balance between involving and facilitating others, while still getting his shot. Right now the matchup in the Eastern Conference looks far for intriguing than the one in the west.
Moose is loose—
I’m not sure why it took so long, by the Royals finally made a move to send Mike Moustakas to Triple A in Omaha. You simply can’t afford to have a corner infielder hitting .152 and his nerves had obviously started to fray with his recent meltdown with local media. It would be one thing if the Royals were sailing along seven or eight games over .500, maybe then they’d have the luxury of patience. But, already seven games back of the Tigers, they have to find guys who can produce game in and game out, Moustakas seems a long way from being that kind of player right now. You hope that it has the same affect that it did after similar moves with Billy Butler and Alex Gordon, but every player reacts differently to a demotion…we’ll just have to wait and see.