So Tennessee has become a baseball state?
I guess that happens when our college football teams are stuck in a perpetual implosion and our college baseball teams are playing in the College World Series, which starts Saturday.
Personally, I’ve always preferred football over baseball and point to the famous words of Phillies first baseman John Kruk as the reason why. The portly Kruk was known to say, “I’m not an athlete … I’m a baseball player.”
Kruk also gave a hilarious interview with David Letterman where he talked about giving up his jersey number to a big-name free agent the Phillies had signed. Kruk told Letterman that it’s common for players to sell their jersey number to a new team member for thousands of dollars, but he agreed to let his number go for a case of beer because it was the lucky number of this player’s wife.
Letterman asked, “So how did that turn out?”
Kruk answered, “Well I drank the case of beer and they ended up getting divorced so I guess it was a wash.”
The College World Series has become increasingly popular around these parts, thanks in large part to Vanderbilt’s powerhouse program. Vanderbilt won the most recent CWS in 2019.
Vandy and the University of Tennessee are two of the eight CWS finalists. The brackets have been set and they can meet in the finals.
Oddsmakers agree this matchup is likely with Vandy listed as the favorite to win the CWS and the Vols listed as the No. 3 favorite.
Vandy has a pitching rotation that features Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker. Leiter leads the nation with 156 strikeouts and has the highest strikeout-per-nine innings at the CWS at 14.6. Rocker isn’t shabby with a 13-3 record and 2.46 ERA.
“Honestly, the season would have felt incomplete if we didn’t make it this far,” said Leiter in an AP interview.
The power-hitting Vols enter the CWS with 50 wins, the most of any team. UT likes to hit the ball over the fence as the Vols have homered in 26 of their past 30 games, including seven of those game with four or more HRs.
The Vols lead the CWS field with 3.2 homers per game in NCAA Tournament play. Five Vols have hit 10 or more home runs this season.
In the first round, Vandy faces a high-scoring Arizona team that leads the CWS field with 8.6 runs per game. UT faces Virginia, which won six elimination games to reach the CWS.
UT leftfielder Evan Russell said in an AP interview, “You never know how we’re going to win.” Here’s hoping the Vols and Commodores find a way to meet for the national championship.