The Back Nine comes at you after we have pretty much cleared the decks of Gators sports for the academic year (I know, I know, there is still track and field). Hopefully, no Gator fans were injured slipping on banana peels during the making of these orange and blue postseasons.
10. It’s very difficult to add enough water to the glass to make this postseason half full for Gators sports. Thank goodness for men’s tennis keeping the streak alive of Florida winning a national title. That was the bright spot (a very, very bright spot). But this postseason was a monumental fail otherwise. Teams simply don’t lose 19-1 elimination baseball games at home, get swept in a Super Regional at home without scoring a run, don’t bother to show up for a bowl game and admit to not trying, blow a double-digit lead in the second half of the NCAA basketball tournament and lose to a 15 seed and fall woefully short in so many other championships. Whether it is fair or not, a season in any sport is judged by how it finishes and “finishes” were not the strength of most Gator sports this year which leaves a lot of bad tastes in mouths. Mine tastes a little bit like a cabbage and cat litter sandwich.
11. That said, most schools don’t have the opportunities in so many sports to play in a New Year’s Six bowl, the NCAA basketball tournament, host regionals in so many sports and travel to compete and advance in so many others. We are spoiled, no doubt, by all of the success around here and the chances to see so many high-level events. Injuries derailed what could have been a special gymnastics season, volleyball made Gator fans proud with its effort and Florida did give Alabama a tougher game than another football team on its schedule. And, of course, there was the historic tennis title. So, there was water in the glass. Just not as much as we are used to.
12. I went to the last four innings of the Friday baseball game and it still doesn’t mean I am a jinx. I will say I’ve never been happier to see a season end. So many people asked me in the stands and on the way out to explain why this team underachieved and I’m sticking with my original answer – there are too many players trying to make the major leagues and not enough trying to win baseball games. How else do you explain so many hitters refusing to take advantage of the many shifts UF saw WHEN THE GATORS NEEDED BASERUNNERS. My gosh, it was aggravating and I know that’s the trend in Major League Baseball, but hit ‘em where they ain’t.
13. A perfect example is Jud Fabian, great kid who could make it to the big leagues. He also struck out more times than I did in high school (and I didn’t play baseball, wink, wink). He was rewarded with first team All-SEC because of all of those solo homers he hit. I thought Jacob Young was the best player on the team. But what do I know? It’s not just chicks who dig the long ball, it’s major league executives.
14. So, let me ask you because I did not attend either game – which was worse? Florida’s Cotton Bowl loss to Oklahoma or Saturday’s 19-1 baseball loss. Did you see any “give up?” I know I gave up. Kevin O’Sullivan talked about how proud he was of his team for hosting a regional again and that was an achievement. But the regional was lost the first day when the Gators refused to do a good job of situational hitting and gave away a couple of runs in the field. Like I said, glad it’s over.
15. I’ll just say it – I was wrong about Trae Young making it as an NBA player. The Hawks are now my favorite team. Although I am tempted to buy a Suns t-shirt.
16. And I am definitely buying a James Madison t-shirt. I have to admit I have been much more interested in the softball than the baseball and today should be appointment TV.
17. For the “Florida Four” this week we will give you (and we hate to bring it up again) the four times a Kevin O’Sullivan team only lasted two games in the postseason. Remember also that the only thing that has ever kept a Florida team out of a regional is COVID:
2021 – lost to USF and South Alabama in Gainesville.
2014 – lost to College of Charleston and N. Carolina in Gainesville.
2013 – lost to Austin Peay and Valpo in Bloomington.
2008— lost to Tulane and FSU in Tallahassee.
In between the 2013 two-and-barbecue and this year’s, Florida also won 31 postseason games and a Natty. Just saying.
18. Made the trip again to St. Augustine, this time to see my father-in-law who is in a nursing home (I hear there is a beach in St. Aug.) so we listened to some good tunes and the rides to and from. Here’s your Monday playlist:
“Sunday Sunshine” by Young Rising Sons.
“The Bandit” by Kings of Leon.
And for an old one, “Tell Her No” by The Zombies.