Posted: 1:20 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, 2014
By Brandon Larrabee
The first weekend of SEC baseball is being disrupted by -- snow? -- but there are still a few games you can keep an eye on
For a long time, the B1G has pushed to start the baseball season later and later in the year -- on the theory that if they were able to play more home games early on, Midwestern teams would not struggle to win baseball games. The rule that essentially forced all teams to start their seasons this weekend has its roots in those complaints, even though mid-February is still too cold for first pitch in most states north of the Mason-Dixon line.
And, at least this year, south of the Mason-Dixon line as well. No fewer than five SEC baseball teams have had their schedules altered or completely overhauled as part of a blast of winter weather that has effected the Southeast (and, lately, locations to the north as well.) The most dramatic change has been to Missouri's weekend plans, which had to scrap plans to attend the "Best Bet Classic" in Jacksonville, Fla. Instead, the Tigers will travel down to McNeese State for the revival of the "Lake Area Classic."
Meanwhile, a couple of the schools you least expect to be affected by cold weather have been forced to postpone their openers. With Columbia -- the one in South Carolina -- thawing out from an ice storm, the Gamecocks will now play a doubleheader Saturday as part of their series with Bucknell.
Scott Stricklin's debut at Georgia will also have to wait a day, as the opening matchup with Georgia Southern has been pushed back a day. Omaha won't travel to Knoxville given the conditions in East Tennessee, so the Volunteers will spend the weekend playing just Purdue. (Meaning they are only playing Purdue, although "just Purdue" is an acceptable way of referring to any of the Boilermakers' teams.)
And Kentucky's first pitch with Virginia in Wilmington, N.C., was pushed back to 1:30 p.m. ET today, though the problem there might be rain instead of snow and ice. (As an aside, I don't get Friday afternoon openers in college baseball, but okay.)
Vanderbilt, for its part, will face no such winter weather problems when it follows the SEC baseball tradition of never traveling outside the Southeast by visiting Long Beach State for a three game series. The Dirtbags -- really, they call themselves that -- touted the fact last year that they had a winning record for the third consecutive season. So there's that.
Florida, meanwhile, will face an ACC team in Maryland that did one thing last year that Florida didn't: end the season with a winning record. On the flip side, Florida did something last year that Maryland didn't: go to the. Something tells me the Gators will take the trade.
It's the centennial season for Florida, which is trying to rebound after its worst year under Kevin O'Sullivan. While we can only learn so much from a series against Maryland -- which didn't make Baseball America's projected tournament for this season -- starting out with a solid win against a team from a BCS conference would still give some hope that last season was a blip and not the beginning of a trend.
There are a few games on regional television this week. On Friday, Florida's game against the Terps airs on Fox Sports Florida at 7 p.m. ET, while LSU's matchup with New Orleans airs at 8 p.m. ET on CST. LSU is also on CST at 3 p.m. ET Saturday for another game against New Orleans, and at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday as it faces Grambling.