The Back Nine comes at you after a birthday celebration for my incredible wife Karen, who turned 29 again on Sunday with a birthday brunch at Spurrier’s and a visit to The Salty Dog. Where would I be without her? Don’t answer that.
10. So, my policy as the executive director of the Negative Rooting Club is to buy a t-shirt for the team that knocks off the team I least want to win it all this year. Well, that team was Kansas because I didn’t want the Jayhawks repeating for local reasons (see: Florida 2006 and 2007). But at the same time, I can’t buy a shirt from an SEC team. It’s a tough policy. Just know, Arkansas fans, that I was there with you in spirit and I’ll buy a beer for the first Arkansas fan I see when the Hogs come to Gainesville this fall.
11. And I will get back to the tournament, which has been pretty special despite an absence of the Gators again this year (to be honest, Florida looked absent from the NIT as well), but the lead story of this weekend was definitely gymnastics and the ridiculous score (and SEC meet record) the Gators put up to win the SEC Championships up in Duluth, Ga. Trinity Thomas, I am going to miss you. On a scale of 1-to-10 when it comes to the clutch gene, she’s an 11. Just amazing,
12. Oh, but I guess I will have to buy a Kansas State t-shirt after they beat Kentucky. I can’t understand how that assemblage of players lost as many games as it did this season except that defense does tend to be optional. I also can’t figure out how a player on a talented team can play three NCAA tournament games in two years and score 63 points and grab 59 rebounds and go 1-2 in the tournament. Oscar Tshiebwe, it wasn’t your fault.
13. Still. The SEC did pretty well in the first weekend with three teams still around. Tennessee surprised me, Alabama did not and Arkansas, well, we covered that. My bracket is a mess like everyone else’s but at least my two finalists are still playing — Bama and Miami. Don’t hate the messenger. The SEC and Big East have the most teams still playing with three each.
14. One thing in my older years that I have noticed about the NCAA Tournament – it peaks early. The first two days with all of those games are so great and then it’s not quite as good the next two and then it’s just single games with the best teams. I mean, it’s not like it’s bad. It’s just not as good as it is early. I wonder if the expanded football playoff will have that same kind of vibe.
15. It feels like a couple of weeks ago that Florida wrapped up its series with Alabama in baseball. It felt weird not to have any baseball or softball on Saturday in March, but it was a nasty storm. At any rate, Florida faltered in Game Three, but if you are going to win the SEC – something that still matters around here – you have to win your home series and they did just that.
16. It will certainly be an interesting eight days for the Gators as they go to unfriendly FSU on Tuesday, then travel to play three against the defending national champs in Oxford, then play FSU again, this time in Jacksonville. This team has played only two road games this season, so we’re going to find out a lot.
17. And a tip of the batting helmet to the softball team for getting it done with a pair of wins after losing the opening SEC game of the season. We tend to get blasé about the softballers when baseball gets exciting and the basketball tourney is going on, but the ladies are 22-5 and Skylar Wallace has Josh Rivera numbers. Let’s compare:
Rivera — .418, 10 homers, 35 RBI, six steals.
Wallace — .455, 7 homers, 29 RBI, 16 steals.
18. To be honest, my weekend was so decadent that most of the music I saw was on commercials. But I still managed a playlist:
* “Where Is My Mind?” by Tkay Maidza. I can’t even tell you what the commercial was for, but this different cover of the Pixies’ classic made me want to listen to it a dozen times.
* “In The Waiting Line” by Zero 7.
* And for Karen, “Happy Birthday” by Lenny Kravitz.
You didn’t think I’d go cliché did you?