Pat Dooley’s Back Nine (April 18th)

The Back Nine comes at you after a great Easter weekend that included a little bit of everything and a lot of delicious food. Nobody makes holidays more special than my wonderful wife.

 

  1. Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap.  You just have to say, “We did the best we could. We put the heat on our opponent. They just got it done.” And that was exactly the way I felt after the NCAA gymnastics final. When you score 198 in the final, you’ve left it all out there. Oklahoma was just too good in the final event (beam) and nudged the Gators out of the top spot. It was emotional, especially for the super seniors who performed for the last time. Florida had an unbelievable season. To be second in the nation with the high level of gymnastics we saw in Fort Worth is nothing to be sad about. It was this close to a storybook season, but not all stories end the way we want them to end. I know, Gator fans who follow the sport really closely though Florida was underscored, but this is the most subjective sport there is and you have to live with it.
  2. Now comes the question – does an athlete who certainly is in the argument of GOAT in gymnastics come back for a super senior year? Trinity Thomas scored a 10 on the floor to try to pull it out and it was her 12th perfect score of the season, just two shy of the all-time single season record. Thomas has hinted that she may be back next year. She wants to enter graduate school either way and another season would be a nice bridge to the next Olympics. “We’ll see,” she said after the meet. The fire of coming close to a title may bring her back. I just know anybody who has ever watched her compete for the Gators is hoping we haven’t seen the last of her in orange and blue.
  3. Big shout out to the women’s golf team which upset No. 1 seed Auburn to reach the finals of the SEC Tournament before falling to LSU. And to the men’s tennis team for finishing the season with a perfect SEC record before heading to Athens for the SEC Tournament. And to the women for securing a double bye before hosting the SECs here in Hogtown starting Wednesday. And to the 4×400 men’s relay team for setting the all-time collegiate record during the Tom Jones meet. It was an exhausting football and basketball season around here, but we know we can count on an interesting spring every year. #Everythingschool.
  4. The uneven sweep for the softball team (I only say that because every game was an ordeal in the circle) has set the Gators up for a big weekend. Florida is two games out of first place and entertains Arkansas starting Friday (after a game against USF Wednesday). Florida has only two more SEC series remaining and the biggest thing is to play well against the Razorbacks and then LSU to close it out and possibly get a national seed. There is also a game at FSU mixed in there and the final weekend is a group of non-conference games. Of course, starting May 10 Florida will play host to the SEC Tournament, which should be a blast.
  5. Although the traffic over there is going to be brutal this weekend, especially on Sunday with baseball taking on No. 1 Tennessee at noon and the women playing at 1 p.m. across the street. It feels like every weekend this season has been huge for both teams (which is the way it is in this conference) and the SEC does a great job (not) of scheduling both at home almost all the time and setting game times that will cause snarls. But it’s better than nobody caring and having empty parks. I guess.
  6. Deric Fabian’s 10th-inning homer allowed the Gators to get out of Nashville with one win after leading all three games after five innings. Florida still has a lot of baseball to play, but the Gators seem to be a little like last season in that every time you think they have turned it around, they show you that they have not. This is the season in microcosm – Florida has won series from the No. 4 and No. 5 teams in the country, yet Florida is unranked.
  7. For those of you living in Jacksonville, please send me Ronald Acuna updates. He starts a rehab stint with Gwinnett with a series that starts Tuesday against one of the great nicknamed teams in baseball, the Jumbo Shrimp. Mmmm, jumbo shrimp. The Jacksonville team is also a sponsor of the 27th Bob Dooley Invitational. I can’t believe it is less than two weeks away. BTW, we’re looking for volunteers the day of the event. It’s a great cause and you will leave with a belly full of great food.
  8. The Heritage tends to be an overlooked tournament because it is a week after the Masters, but what a finish to this one. Jordan Spieth has won on consecutive Easter Sundays and the Masters is on Easter next year. Golf tournaments are a lot more fun with Spieth in the mix. And that Tiger guy.
  9. The best way to get over the letdown of a team coming so close to a national title and falling short? Go play some golf with your fam. Well, that’s what I did and I had this playlist:

* “The Lightning I, II” by Arcade Fire which is the best new song I have heard in a long time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJiALpiqpk8

* ”That’s Not Right” by Utopia.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04Xb6-UtoHs

* And for a song I had forgotten about from one of the great soundtracks ever (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), “Stay Alive” by Jose Gonzalez. Yes, I saw it again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04Xb6-UtoHs

 

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