Golden: Texas bats need warming for the NCAAs; Sarkisian takes on the polls
- NBA fans have been involved in incidents with players during these players. There is a certain point where it gets to be too much,” said Brooklyn's Kyrie Irving, who had a bottle thrown at him by a Boston fan Sunday.
- Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian spoke out against those who make preseason predictions. Texas is picked by some to finish third behind Oklahoma and Iowa State this football season.
This week’s nuggets are dedicated to the Texas rowing, men’s swimming and diving and women’s tennis teams that have captured national team championships this academic year.
The rowing team, coached by David O’Neill, blasted past Stanford to clinch the first title in program history and continue the rip-roaring success we’re seeing from other Longhorns teams this spring.
Congrats on a job well done.
Texas’ quiet bats: Coaching legend Augie Garrido always said to make any real noise in a tournament situation, a team would need four reliable starting pitchers — the weekend rotation and a good midweek starter who would do in a pinch.
David Pierce, whose national No. 2 seed Longhorns open the postseason against Southern on Friday, has plenty of good arms at his disposal entering the Austin Regional. Ty Madden, Tristan Stevens, Pete Hansen and freshman star Tanner Witt can stand up against any foursome in America, but the Horns will need their bats to wake up if they are to make the College World Series for the first time since 2018.
'It's the best time of the year':Texas earns No. 2 national seed in NCAA baseball tourney
Texas rolled into the Big 12 Tournament on a nice offensive roll, with 30 runs scored in the series win over West Virginia that clinched a share of the regular season conference title. Texas batted .359 in those three games but went cold during its stay at Bricktown Ballpark with only 13 runs in four games. Worse, the Horns hit an anemic .181 over the weekend with 47 strikeouts.
While Pierce lauded his team for avoiding an 0-2 showing and getting to what was basically a semifinal against Oklahoma State, he thought the Horns didn’t stick with the process that got them where they are offensively.
"I just feel like the guys got away from who they are,” he said Monday. “They got a little bit big in their swings. It's a good place to drive the ball out the ballpark so you get a little pull-happy. A little tension with two strikes creates bad swings or chasing pitches. That's something that our young players need to understand and and learn from.”
Pierce added that the hitters have to get back to hitting line drives and, more importantly, hitting balls where they’re pitched. That said, Texas is a pitching-dominated ballclub which plays well at this time of the year. If the old Garrido credo holds true — scratch across four or five runs and depend on superior pitching to hold up its end — then so be it.
All told, there is some good offensive talent on this roster and a packed Disch may be just the cure for what ails these quiet bats.
Sark takes aim at pollsters: We dispatched our own Brian Davis to Houston last Wednesday, not because we thought Steve Sarkisian would say something enlightening to the Houston Touchdown Club, but because the new Longhorns coach was actually speaking at a live event that didn’t involve clicking a link on a laptop.
One of the most interesting quotes came when Sarkisian was asked about preseason prognosticators who have predicted the Horns will finish third in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma and Iowa State.
"I wish those people that would make those predictions would come out at the end of the year and then (we) give them a grade (of) how many right/wrong they got,” Sarkisian said.
It sort of reminded me of Charlie Strong’s first year when Kirk Bohls and yours truly each predicted a 7-5 finish in 2014 to the chagrin of assistant coach Vance Bedford, who kidded us about the lack of wins.
And we all know how that turned out.
Fans gone wild: On Sunday, Boston guard Kyrie Irving was nearly plunked in the head by a water bottle hurled from a young Celtics fan as the Brooklyn Nets exited Boston’s TD Garden after taking a 3-1 lead over the home team in their best-of-seven series.
It was the latest in a stupid trend of fans inserting themselves into the narrative. Some have forgotten that paying for a ticket doesn’t include the right to engage in physical acts outside of booing.
This all came after a fan threw popcorn on Washington’s Russell Westbrook last week and a Knicks fan spit on Atlanta’s Trae Young at Madison Square Garden. Tee Morant, the father of Memphis guard Ja Morant, said he was racially slurred against while in the stands in Utah.
The Boston assailant was escorted from the arena and arrested, and the Celtics organization is reportedly considering a lifetime ban from attending games.
"It has been that way in history in terms of entertainment, performers and sports for a long period of time and just underlying racism and just treating people like they're in a human zoo,” Irving told reporters. “Throwing stuff at people, saying things. There is a certain point where it gets to be too much.”
I know fans have been holed up in their living rooms watching games on TV and are now beyond excited to be back inside arenas, but you can’t blame stupidity on cabin fever.
The offender in Boston should receive a really stiff fine that hits him much harder in the wallet than that bottle would have hit Irving in the head.
Osaka shocker: Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka shocked the tennis world when she withdrew from the French Open on Monday. She was fined for skipping the mandated postmatch interview session following her first-round win.
"I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and message could have been clearer,” she said in a statement.
The soft-spoken Osaka, 23, has openly discussed her battles with depression in the years since she upset Serena Williams in the 2018 U.S. Open. Her exit shines the spotlight on the mental health issue on our planet and the need to put one’s own health ahead of everything else.
There was a perception that Osaka was making a power play when she announced she wouldn’t be speaking with the media before the French, but the $15,000 fine followed by the grand slam tournaments threatening harsher sanctions if she failed to fulfill her media obligations.
The real hope is she is working on herself and not merely trying to have her tennis cake and eat it, too. We all need a mental health break from time to time.
As the most endorsed female athlete on the planet — she has overtaken Serena after pocketing $34 million in 2020 — Osaka hopefully understands that media obligations come with the globs of prize money she has made since turning pro.
Money and fame aside, her biggest obligation should always be to her mental health and I wish her well.