By: Eric SanInocencio
SEC Digital Network
Birmingham, Ala. – This is the time of year were things are supposed to be slowing down.
After returning to the office after a week at SEC Spring Meetings, the normal course of action is to start stepping back from the daily grind.
In this business, the sports calendar stretches about as long as the academic year. It begins in August, just as school does, and “officially” ends in June, with the final wrap up coming in the form of the SEC’s yearly gatherings. While there are still sports still in competition, the upcoming six weeks are used as a “break” before it starts all over again.
Ironically, my first day back in the office during the “cool down” period coincided with one of the busiest days the SEC Digital Network has seen in the past two months. While the sheer number of contests might have been smaller, the importance of what was transpiring made it all the more critical.
So, after a full day at the office, I headed home to continue working. What was my night like? I’ll recap it for you.
– After wolfing down a quick dinner with the family, I assumed my position in front of the television. The 2012 MLB Draft is getting ready to start. The SEC should factor heavily in the early selections. Vanderbilt’s baseball game was also starting, as they faced a pivotal winner take all against North Carolina State.
– Ole Miss takes the field against TCU. The Rebels are also in a win or go home matchup, with a berth in the NCAA Super Regionals at stake.
– With the third pick in the MLB Draft, the Seattle Mariners chose Florida’s Mike Zunino. Zunino, who lead the SEC in home runs this season, became the highest SEC selection since 2008. That year, former Vanderbilt star Pedro Alvarez went second overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
– That didn’t take long. LSU’s Kevin Gausman was just taken by the Baltimore Orioles, the fourth pick overall. Gausman was widely considered one of the top college arms available, and gave the SEC two of the top four picks. Nice start for the league.
– Can you say Roll Tide? Well, for nearly everyone in the league, that was the rallying cry from Oklahoma City. Alabama advanced to its first ever Women’s College World Series Championship Final, and was preparing to square off against Oklahoma. The SEC has never won (can you believe that?) a softball national title, so hopes are this could finally be the moment. We shall see.
– My wife has officially had enough. After watching me flip channels back and forth, I was banished to the room. Completely understandable, since it is a lot to ask of both her and my in-laws to watch SEC sports all night. Can’t fault their logic. Moved headquarters to the master bedroom.
– Alabama pitcher Jackie Traina gets a big strikeout to strand Oklahoma runners at first and third. The Crimson Tide has danced around danger all night, but to this point has avoided the big inning. Still scoreless from Oklahoma City.
– The third SEC player is off the board, with Mississippi State’s Chris Stratton getting chosen 20th overall by the San Francisco Giants. Stratton, the SEC’s Pitcher of the Year, went from starting the season in the bullpen to becoming one of the league’s most dominant arms.
– The Tide scores! A sac fly gives Alabama a 1-0, and with Traina on the mound that looks promising. Starting to hope.
– Well, there goes that hope. Oklahoma strikes right back, plating two and reclaiming the lead. Alabama finally got burned, and will have to make a late-inning comeback to avoid dropping the opener of this series.
– What once looked like a promising night is starting to crumble in SEC land. Vanderbilt, who’d held the lead for most of their game against NC State, gave up six runs in the final two innings to lose to the Wolfpack. This heartbreaking loss ends the Commodores season. The SEC is now down to five teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament.
– Make that four. Ole Miss, another team pegged for a run to Omaha, falls to TCU 7-4. The Rebels end the year at 37-26.
– A bit of good news to stem the tide. Florida’s Brian Johnson, perhaps the best two-way player in the country, is drafted 31st overall by the Boston Red Sox. Johnson will likely begin his professional career on the mound.
– All is not well that doesn’t end well. Alabama can’t overcome a 4-1 deficit, losing the opener against Oklahoma. The Crimson Tide must win two straight now to capture the National Championship. Deflating, but still possible.
– “Work” begins. I start compiling the game stories of the night, and put the finishing touches on the SEC’s MLB Draft page.
– All the games/scores are posted, and it is nearly time to close up shop. My wife went to sleep, so I’m back in the living room.
– I start thinking about how crazy this night was. I decided to start writing about it. You are currently reading those excerpts.
How that’s for a “slow” Monday for the SEC?