VU baseball, football unplugged

Mike Yastrzemski and the Giants were victorious again, this time over the Cubs, 5-4, last night at Oracle Park.

Being a Giants fan can be tough if you live on the East Coast or in the Central Time Zone. Late nights, but you power through it for Yaz and Tyler.

Yaz went 2 for 4 with an RBI single and another single. He's now hitting .265 with 9 homers and 28 Ribeyes. The Giants have now won 16 of their last 19 and moved to 51-50 and just 2 back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the second spot in the Wild Card standings. The Washington Nationals are only 2 1/2 ahead of the Gents for 1st place in the WC. The wild card game is a 1 game winner take all, so it's pretty important to get the home field if you finish 1st in the race, but it's not critical. The Giants have proven they can win anywhere, but they're especially tough at Oracle Park.

They are such a resilient team. They were down 4-2 in the bottom of the 8th and scored 3 times and closed the Cubbies out in the 9th for the victory. My daughter was there and sent me a photo. Wow, what a stadium. She was right behind home plate. Man, I wanted to be there with her, but maybe some other time. She had a blast.

Tyler pitches Wednesday vs the Cubs. Tyler, in his last outing vs the Mets last Friday Night, went 8, gave up 3 hits, 0 runs, with 1 walk and 5 K's. His 94-95 MPH heater was cookin and his breaking stuff was outstanding.

If Tyler is controlling the ball, he's a tough one to face. I really like what I'm seeing out of the man.

The great Madison Bumgarner (5-7, 3.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 26 BBs, 127 K's) squares off with the Cubs Yu Darvish tonight at 8:45 at Oracle. Darvish is 3-4 with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP, but he's an electric talent, so he's dangerous. Gotta pitch well, defend, which the Giants do very well, and get some timely hitting. Can't wait.

Sonny Gray was spectacular for the Reds last night in their 6-5 victory over the Brewers last night at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Sonny went 6, gave up just 4 hits, 1 earned, with 2 walks and 7 K's. He was awesome. Sonny just battles. He left with a 4-1 lead, but the Brewers hit a grand salami in the bottom of the 8th. But the Reds hit a 2 run homer in the top of the 9th and held on for the victory. Sonny didn't get the victory, but he's pitching exceedingly well. Sonny is 5-6 with a 3.29 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning), 38 walks and 127 K's. Sonny is hitting 93-94 consistently and can get it to 95 sometimes. His 85 MPH slider and his low 80's curve are spectacular pitches. Really like what I'm seeing out of Sonny.

Walker Buehler was beyond sensational Sunday for the Dodgers in their 9-0 victory over the Marlins.

Walk went 7, gave up 5 hits, 0 runs, with 0 walks and 11 K's. Walker is now 9-1 with a 3.23 ERA and an 0.96 WHIP, which is superb. Walk has only issued 17 walks and struck out 131, so an incredible strikeout to walk ratio, almost 8:1 K's to walks. Wow. The Dodgers have the best record in baseball at 67-35, .657 ball. The Yankees are next at 64-35, .546. I know the Dodgers would like to finish with the best regular season record in MLB to secure home field for the playoffs and World Series. That's an important advantage in the postseason.

So awesome stuff from our players. Bryan Reynolds had an RBI double last night and is hitting .331 with 7 homers and 39 RBIs. BR has been spectacular this season. The Pirates unfortunately lost to the Cardinals last night, 6-5.

Will have more on our guys on Thursday, maybe a quick blast tomorrow. David Price pitches against the Rays Wednesday and Mike Minor (Rangers) goes against Seattle. Both David and Mike are on the road. And of course, Tyler pitches against the Cubs at Oracle Wednesday.

Will have a lot more coming up the rest of this week. Also, will talk about our 2020 baseball team. A lot of talent coming back headlined by Austin Martin, Kumar Rocker, Tyler Brown Mason Hickman and Harrison Ray. Will be using some new guys at positions, but they’re talented young guys and our pitching should be spectacular. Will have more on our Vandy Boys on Thursday. What a year in 2019. Just can’t get over what our guys accomplished. SEC regular season, SEC Tournament Championship, Regional, Super Regional, 13 players drafted, 59-12, 23-7 in the SEC, and to cap it off, the National Championship. Those guys led by our seniors, Ethan Paul, Stephen Scott, Julian Infante, Walker Gristanti and Patrick Raby were Just spectacular stuff. That’s a memory for a lifetime. Excited to see what 2020 holds for another ultra talented Tim Corbin team.

Our 13th commitment of the 2020 recruiting class is Diego LaMonica, a 5.7 and 87 high 3 star tight end out of Gulliver Prep in Miami. Diego chose the West End over offers from the likes of South Carolina, Georgia Tech, UVA, Wake Forest and South Florida. Diego is 6'5", 227 and is a load and an exceptional blocker and receiver. He can do a lot with the ball when he catches it.

So DMase is assembling an excellent class for 2020. Chad Bishop of Vandy 247 Sports has told me that we have a really good shot at landing 4 star linebacker Devyn Curtis out of Brentwood Academy in Nashville. That would be a huge addition. We don't have a lot of spots left, so we need to get Devyn in the fold. I've read and heard we're looking at 15-18 spots and we already have 13. Hoping we can get another running back. There are prospects out there who are very interested in us.

Will have more on football on Friday, more of an extensive piece.

More on Yaz, MLBers, VU football

The great Mike Yastrzemski launched a walk off 385 foot homer to left central at Oracle Park in San Francisco yesterday in the bottom of the 11th to lead the San Francisco Giants to a tremendously large 3-2 victory over the New York Mets.

Yaz hit a 3-2 pitch into the left central field stands and the crowd of 35,000+ passionate Giants fans, most of whom were still there, were sent home ecstatic.

Yaz, Tyler Beede, who is now pitching superbly and I will have more on Tyler tomorrow as well, and the Giants are now 50-50 and have won 15 of their last 18 contests. They are one of the hottest teams in baseball. For Yaz, that was his 9th home run and 27th Ribeye of the season. Mike was called up from triple A Sacramento in early June. The man is now hitting .259 and playing tremendous left and right field for the Giants.

The Giants are now just 2 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race in the National League, trailing only Milwaukee and a couple of other teams. The Giants host the Cubs in a 3 game set starting tonight at Oracle Park.

Great stuff from the man. The 28 year old from Andover, Mass. has paid his dues to reach the big leagues and is making the most of his opportunity. The Giants have become my favorite team in the majors. My daughter works and lives in SF and we want to a game at Oracle in May of 2018 and had a blast. What a beauty of a stadium with the San Francisco Bay as the background.

The Giants have a shot at getting one of the wild card spots for sure. Just gotta keep cookin.

Will have more on Yaz, Tyler and all our guys tomorrow on the blog. Will send out a notice.

Also, will have football stuff. DMase was beyond spectacular at Media Days last Thursday. More on Coach Mason and the team and our 13th commitment, a huge tight end pickup, who we landed on Friday.

Will check with you tomorrow.

Have a super day. 

Gus, Mason, Stoops cap off media days

Gus Malzahn says he has his best defense he’s had at Auburn in the 6 years he’s been at the helm. He thinks this could be the best team he’s had at Auburn. That’s if the quarterback comes through.

On defense, it starts up front with seniors Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe. Davidson and Brown are 300+ pounders and Coe is 260 and is a pass rushing savant. Brown, whom Malzahn said will be a first round draft pick in 2020, posted 10 1/2 tackles for loss and 4 1/2 sacks in 2018. Davidson added 2 1/2 sacks and 4 1/2 tackles for loss. Coe finished the year with 13 1/2 TFLs and 7 sacks. This is a formidable group and one SEC offensive lines are going to have nightmares going up against .There is depth behind that trio as well. Auburn lost 4 linebackers off of last year’s team, but Malzahn is high on the group they have coming back led by K.J. Britt and Chandler Wooten. The secondary looks strong with Daniel Thomas and Jeremiah Dinson returning at safeties and Javaris Davis back at corner. Kevin Steele has a lot of talent to work with and the 2019 recruiting class was the 11th ranked class in the country with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball for the Tigers. Anders Carlson returns to kick. He struggled some last season in his first year, but has the genes with his brother Daniel being a prolific kicker for the Tigers just a few years back. Punter is Arryn Siposs from Australia. Malzahn likes him as well. Return game looks fine with explosive Noah Igbinoghene returning kicks and the dynamic Anthony Schwartz returning punts. Schwartz is one of the fastest players in the country and Malzahn called him “just a football player.”

Quarterback is the really interesting position at Auburn. Redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood, out of Florida, a high 4 star, and true freshman Bo Nix, a 5 star, are 2 obviously talented players. It’ll be a battle for the job, but both have powerful arms, Gatewood has really good wheels, and Nix’s are pretty decent, and they’re both good leaders according to Malzahn. So it’ll be a major competition coming up in fall camp. Gatewood had an excellent spring game and Nix did some good things as well. As most coaches say, Malzahn wants to know who’ll run the offense best and inspire confidence in his teammates.

Boobie Whitlow, Kam Martin and Shaun Shivers return at running back. Whitlow ran for 787 yards and 6 TDs and was hurt some last year. He’s a real talent. I like both Martin and Shivers too. They’re not big guys, but both are tough and have excellent speed.

The wide receiver position is well manned with Schwartz, who caught 22 passes for 357 yards and 2 TDs and ran for 5 more, electric sophomore Seth Williams, who caught 26 passes for 534 yards and 6 touchdowns, and veterans Eli Stove and Will Hastings, who are both back from injury. They all look like NFL receivers and there is depth.

The offensive line, very importantly, returns all 5 starters and all are seniors. Left tackle Prince Wanogho is a stud. This should be really good news for the Tigers as they had trouble protecting Jarrett Stidham last year. So Gus feels really good about his guys up front on both sides of the ball. There is size, physicality and depth. What you need.

Auburn finished 8-5 last year and 3-5 in the SEC and that’s not good enough at Auburn. Malzahn knows that. He says Auburn wants to win championships and he understands the hot seat pressure that comes with a struggling season. He likes this team a lot though and thinks they can be special. The Tigers open up with Oregon at AT&T Stadium in the Advocare Classic in Arlington, TX on Saturday, August 31st. Quite an opener for the Tigers. Oregon has one of the top quarterbacks in the country returning in Justin Herbert and Coach Mario Cristobal had a top 10 recruiting class in 2019 and has brought back some excellent players. They’re picked to win the PAC-12 and will be quite a challenge for the Tigers. I know Auburn fans can’t emphasize enough how important that opening game is. The game will kickoff at 6:30 PM CT and be televised by ABC. After Tulane and Kent State at home, the Tigers go to A&M on Saturday, Sept. 21st for another massive tilt. Then Mississippi State at home, Saturday, Sept. 28th, another war, then @ Florida, Saturday, Oct. 5th, wow. Then the Tigers have an open date, then @ Arkansas, Saturday, Oct. 19th. The following week, Oct. 26th, the Tigers are @ LSU. Another whammy. Then Ole Miss at home, Saturday, 11-2, Open date, Georgia at home Saturday, Nov. 16th, Samford Nov. 23rd at home, then the Iron Bowl, Saturday, Nov. 30th.

What’ll it take for the Tigers to get to Atlanta. They’ve got a brutal schedule but are loaded with talent. Oregon, @ A&M, State at home, @ Florida @ LSU, Georgia and Alabama at home. With that kind of a schedule you just have to look at week 1 and try to win that one and go from there. it’s daunting, but I like this team if Gatewood or Nix comes through.

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt

Derek Mason was as usual positive, optimistic and charismatic at media days. He likes his team. They have a three man arsenal on offense with running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who rushed for 1,244 yards and 12 TDs last season and is as dynamic a running back as you’ll find in the country. Wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb caught 87 passes for 918 yards and 9 TDs last season. And tight end Jared Pinkney caught 50 passes for 774 yards and 7 TDs. They all came back for their senior years because they wanted to get their degrees, help their team get to another bowl game this season and win it, and improve their draft stock. Three very electric, explosive players. There is talent out wide along with Lipscomb too. The quarterback and the offensive line could be question marks. Deuce Wallace and Riley Neal will battle it out to start under center. Wallace has experience and can run it as well as throw it and Neal, a transfer from Ball State, threw for 7,393 yards there and 46 TDs and ran for 15 more in 4 years at Ball State.. Whoever starts will have talent around him, who he just needs to get the ball to. Backfield depth could be an issue. Vaughn needs to stay as healthy as he can.

The offensive line has some talent up front, with size and physicality, so if they can produce that would really help this offense.

On defense, Mason feels like he has the best defensive front he’s had, linebacker is good at starter, but needs to develop depth and secondary looks pretty strong.

Vanderbilt opens at home with Georgia on Saturday, August 31st at 6:30 PM CT on the SEC Network. Tough one to start the season, but Mason is optimistic about it. He and Kirby Smart are close friends. Mason said Smart is like a “brother” to him. Then the Dores are @Purdue at 11 AM CT, Saturday, Sept.7th on the Big Ten Network. Then an off week, then O and the Bengal Tigers of LSU come to Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21st. Key games are @ Ole Miss, Saturday, Oct.5th, Missouri at home, Saturday, Oct. 19th, @ South Carolina, Saturday, Nov. 2nd, @ Florida Saturday, Nov. 9th and @ Tennessee , Saturday, Nov. 30th.

It’s tough, but all the schedules are tough in this conference. Mason embraces it. He is just such a positive guy, and his players love him and would climb the Himalayas for him. That’s a powerful thing. It’s hard at Vanderbilt, but they certainly have the right man for the job who is building a quality program.

Kentucky, Mark Stoops

Mark Stoops put together an awesome 2018 campaign taking his Wildcats to a 10-3 record, defeating Florida for the first time in forever, close to 40 years, and defeating Penn State in the Citrus Bowl, 27-24. It was the first 10 win season for Kentucky since 1977. Stoops has recruited well and really coached his players up.

Terry Wilson returns at quarterback. He completed 180 of 268 passes, 67% for 1,889 yards, 11 TDs but 8 interceptions. He’s a good runner as he rushed for 547 yards and 4 TDs. But he will be challenged at quarterback by Troy transfer Sawyer Smith, who has 2 years left to play, and completed 62% of his passes for 1,669 yards 14 TDs against 6 ints in leading the awesome Troy team last year to a 10-3 record and a 42-32 victory over Buffalo in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile. Their coach, Neal Brown, landed the job at West Virginia after the season when Dana Holgerson left Morgantown to coach the University of Houston, so Smith needed another spot. That’ll be a really interesting competition. Wilson has accuracy issues, so I like Smith better.

Benny Snell was an all world tailback for Kentucky for 3 years. He rushed for a conference leading 1,449 yards and added 16 TDs. He’s in the NFL, but A. J. Rose is a promising replacement. who ran for 442 yards and 5 TDs last season and Stoops likes his depth there. Wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. caught 67 passes for 745 yards and 5 TDs. He’ll be the leader of a receiving corps that Stoops likes.

The offensive line has great size, and Stoops feels very good about them as well.

The defense returns only 4 starters, but the emotional and talented linebacker Kash Daniel returns. He’ll be the leader on defense after posting 84 tackles last year with 7 for loss. Stoops likes his guys up front and in the secondary. He’s got some younger players on defense, so they’ll need to grow up quickly.

Kentucky’s first big game is Florida at home Saturday, Sept,. 14th, then they travel to Mississippi State to play the Bullies Saturday, Sept, 21st. Then they’re @ South Carolina, Saturday, Sept. 28th. After an off week, the Cats play Arkansas at home, Sat, 10-12. Then it’s @ Georgia, Sat. 10-19, Missouri at home Sat. 10-28, open date, then a big one at home versus Tennessee, Sat. 11-9. @Vanderbilt, Saturday, 11-16. After a home game against UT Martin, 11-23, The Cats host Louisville Saturday, 11-30, and the Cardinals new coach Scott Satterfield, who had so much success at App State the last several years.

Stoops liked the 10 wins but wants more. He’s recruited well, and Kentucky football is on the rise. Stoops has done an excellent job, and they should be a highly competitive team this season if their quarterback comes through and their young defense plays well as quickly as possible.

Day 3 Media Days, Saban, Muschamp, Joe Moorhead, Chad Morris, the 148th Open Championship prediction

Day 3 at Media Days was like a rock concert as it always is when Nick Saban walks through the door.

Quite a spectacle. Saban likes his team and he should. Tua is back after completing 245 0f 365 passes, 69%, for 3,966 yards and 43 TDs against 6 interceptions. He was phenomenal all the way up to the SEC Championship game against Georgia where he struggled and Jalen Hurts had to bail the team out, along with a Kirby Smart unconscionable fake punt decision, as the Crimson Tide won the SEC again, 35-28 over Georgia, and moved on to the playoff. Tua was good against Oklahoma, but struggled mightily against Clemson in a 44-16 loss. His opening pass was a pick 6 by Clemson which was just as shocking as the 44 yard TD pass he threw on 3rd and 26 to DeVonta Smith a year earlier to win the National Championship for the Crimson Tide against Georgia.

It wasn’t Tua’s night. It wasn’t Saban’s night. Saban pointed to the fact that his coaches were checked out and looking for other jobs and players were looking at the NFL draft. Those are excuses. Dabo simply, said,“the better team won,” and left it at that. There was no gray area on which team was the better team last year. Saban needs to get over it and concentrate on 2019. Because he probably has the best recruiting class he’s landed at Alabama and the talent returning is off the charts.

The wide receiving corps is the best in the country top to bottom. Clemson has the elite Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins, but the Crimson Tide has Bilenikoff winner Jerry Jeudy (68-1,315 yards, 14 TDs) Henry Ruggs III (46, 741 11 TDs), Jaylen Waddle (44, 710, 7) and DeVonta Smith (42-693, 6). It’s a phenomenal collection of receivers. And there is young depth that’s off the charts good. I look for freshman John Metchie to have a major impact. He had a heckuva spring game and he’ll be a factor. Jeudy is superb as are Ruggs, Smith and Waddle is as explosive as a shotgun shell shot out of a 12 gauge catching the ball and returning punts.

The offensive line looks 10-12 deep, big, physical and talented. Running back with Najee Harris and Brian Robinson looks solid. Not spectacular yet, but possible. It’s Najee’s time to step up. Robinson has his opportunity too.

In the spring game I saw the best collection of defensive players I’ve seen in a long time in college football. Raekwon McMillan will lead the front. Linebackers Dylan Moses, Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis, who is back from injury, should be forces. There is young talent there that looks terrific as well. One guy I forgot to mention up front is freshman D.J. Dale. He’ll be a dominator on the defensive line.

Secondary looks outstanding with Trevon Diggs back at corner and primed for a tremendous year. Jared Mayden and Patrick Surtain Jr look like potential stars as well. The kicking game should be better with freshman Will Reichard from Hoover now a specialist on the team as a freshman. I know Crimson Tide fans are happy to see him. But he needs to deliver. For some reason, Alabama kickers have really struggled while Saban has been in Tuscaloosa. Have to have a good kicker. Maybe Reichard is the answer. Punter looks like Mike Bernier or Skyler Delong. Kick returners could be Robinson and Ruggs III. There is good competition there according to Saban.

The Tide opens up with Duke on Saturday, August 31st at 2:30 PM CT on ABC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for the Kickoff Classic. Duke has really improved under David Cutcliffe. He’s done a fantastic job with the team and the program in general. He’s a top flight coach. But that could be a long afternoon for the Blue Devils. New Mexico State at Bryant-Denny Saturday, Sept. 7th at 3 PM CT on SEC Network. @South Carolina Saturday, Sept. 14th at 2:30 OM CT on CBS in what could be a challenging game as quarterback Jake Bentley is back for his senior year for the Gamecocks. He’s been really good at times and maybe not as good at others. But he’ll have a good year this year. Will Muschamp thinks he has his best team yet in Columbia in his 4th season and that’s quite a home field advantage, so not an easy task for Bama. Southern Miiss at home Saturday, Sept. 21st. Ole Miss at home, Saturday, Sept. 28th. Open week, then a huge game @ Texas A&M on Saturday, Oct. 12th. Tennessee comes to Tuscaloosa, Saturday, Oct.19th, then Arkansas comes to Tuscaloosa for homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 26th. The Tide is off Nov. 2nd and then LSU comes to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9th for what should be a 7 PM CT kickoff on CBS. Could be major implications at that point both in the SEC West and nationally. @Mississippi State the next week Saturday, Nov. 16th and that’s no bargain. Western Carolina comes in Saturday, Nov. 23rd for their paycheck and their kill. Then it’s the Iron Bowl, Saturday, Nov. 30th @ Auburn. If Auburn has good quarterback play, they will be a highly formidable opponent.

This team can certainly win it all. Clemson will have a lot to say about that, LSU is getting better and better and becoming elite, Georgia, of course, is elite under Kirby Smart. Ohio State and Oklahoma with Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Jalen Hurts (OU) under center respectively should be contenders as well. Michigan and Texas are pretty highly thought of, but I’m not sure I’m buying either team yet. They haven’t proven it. Michigan was a disaster at the end of last season and Texas defeated a Georgia team in the Sugar Bowl that didn’t want to be there. They both could be very good teams, but I don’t know if I buy Jim Harbaugh and Tom Herman are elite coaches on the same level as Saban, Dabo and Kirby. I don’t see that right now.

Should be a spectacular season. Tua needs to stay healthy though younger brother Taulia looks like he’ll be terrific. Not sure if Mac Jones can get it done in big games and Paul Tyson is a project. But I really like Taulia. I see him as the backup and a highly capable one. He will be an excellent quarterback at Alabama and he could very competently replace Tua if Tua sustains an injury.

So this is another elite team. SEC Championship, Playoff, National Championship is certainly right there in in the team’s sights. They need to stay in the present though and not repeat the mistakes of last year though Clemson was the best team in the country last year. We’ll see this year. The talent is there to excel at the highest level.

Will Muschamp, Joe Moorhead and Chad Morris also spoke yesterday.

Muschamp has the toughest Strength of Schedule in the country according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). They open with North Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Saturday, August 31st at 2:30 PM CT on ESPN. Most people here will be watching Alabama-Duke, but this is a good interstate rivalry and Mack Brown is the new coach at North Carolina returning to a place where he had a lot of success in the late 80’s and 90’s. The Gamecocks will be tested in that game some. Alabama at home Sept. 14th, @ Missouri the next week, Sept. 21st, open week then @Georgia, Saturday, Oct. 13th. Florida at home Oct. 19th, @UT, Oct. 26th, Vanderbilt at home Nov. 2nd. App State at home Nov. 9th. @A&M on Nov. 16th. Open week then Clemson at home, Saturday, Nov. 30th. So it’s tough for Will and his group. Muschamp is funny and engaging. He’s an awesome interview. He likes that this is the toughest schedule in the country. He embraces it. He said his goals for his teams are to win the state, over Clemson, win the SEC East, win the SEC championship and then his team would be headed to the playoff. Like the confidence and optimism. I’m a Will Muschamp fan.

Mississippi State’s Joe Moorhead did a good job as well. He got Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens at quarterback. Stevens will battle it out with returner Keytaon Thompson for the starting job. I’ve seen Stevens play. He’s for real. He can sling it and he’s got good wheels. He should be the guy. State lost all 4 defensive linemen, 2 of which, Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons, were first round picks in the NFL, so they’ll have to replace them. Offense should be pretty strong with Stevens under center and running back Kylin Hill, who rushed for 734 yards and 4 TDs last season while being hurt some. He’s a stud though. Moorhead really stressed throwing the ball down the field in his press conference and that gives me reason to think he’ll go with Stevens who is much more accurate and has a stronger arm than Thompson. Moorhead was offensive coordinator at Penn State and coached Stevens for 3 years there so he knows how good he can be. I look for this team to be very solid if some young guys on defense can step up.

Arkansas is still in the rebuilding stage in Chad Morris’s second year. They do have 2 transfer quarterbacks with good talent. Nick Starkel came up from Texas A&M and Ben Hicks, whom Morris coached at SMU, is coming up to Fayetteville as well. There’ll be good competition at that position. Without seeing Hicks play much, I’m not sure who will win this job. Starkel had his moments at A&M and Hicks threw for over 9,000 yards at SMU, so that might not be decided until 2 or 3 weeks into fall camp. Should be interesting.

148th Open Championship Prediction

Defending champion: Francesco Molinari at Carnoustie

Royal Portrush Golf Club Northern Ireland, 7,317 yards, par 72, first time there since 1951 only other time the Open was not in England or Scotland.

Players really like the track. 58 bunkers, not a massive amount, but they come into play off the tee. Rough is thick. Links course. No. 16 is a beast, a 235 yard par 3. Watch for some dramatics and some agony on this hole because if the player misses long right or short right, he’s going down a mountain onto the beach or in rough up to his waist.

Weather, Some rain, typical for Ireland. Wind anywhere from 9-18 depending on the day.

TV: Today-Friday, 12:30 AM-3 PM CT Golf Channel; Saturday, 3:30-6 AM CT Golf Channel. 6 AM-2 PM CT NBC. Sunday, 3:30-6 AM CT Golf Channel. 6 AM-1 PM NBC.

Winner

I’m going to take the 24 year old Spaniard. I haven’t seen a leaderboard today so I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve been bullish on this guy since he won the Irish Open 2 weeks ago. I like this young gun to break through and win his first major championship and hoist the Claret Jug on Sunday.

Jon Rahm

Day 2, Smart, Pruitt, Fisher and Luke

Day 2 of Media Days brought some of the heavyweights in the SEC. Kirby Smart and Jimbo Fisher are established names in the business. Jeremy Pruitt was a terrific defensive coordinator at Florida State and Alabama and is starting to make very good progress at Tennessee, though it is still a work in progress.. Matt Luke and Ole Miss are now eligible to play in a bowl game after not being able to participate for 2 years due to NCAA sanctions. Luke is charged up about the possibility and is building the Rebels program back.

Here is what the 4 coaches had to say about their respective programs on Tuesday.

Kirby Smart, Georgia

Kirby Smart is 24-5 in 3 seasons at Georgia. He said yesterday that’s not good enough. Smart brought up an interesting stat yesterday. He told the media at Media Days that Brooks Koepka had a .0005 better scoring average than Justin Thomas last year, and Koepka earned $5 million more than Thomas. While Paul Finebaum and Marcus Spears of the SEC Network were making fun of stat guys before Smart’s appearance, maybe they need to study the stats a little better. As Bill Parcells used to say, “the numbers don’t lie.” Some stats really matter.

Smart hasn’t seemed to have been able to get over the hump with Nick Saban. Saban owns a 16-0 mark against his former assistants, a stat that Smart is fully aware of. He knows he’s got to defeat Saban to win a national championship. That’s the goal. But he’s got a lot of games in front of him before he can get to Saban and Alabama.

Jake Fromm is back for his junior season and brings a pretty strong resume, though there are some holes in it. Fromm has outlasted Jacob Eason, who is now at Washington and is expected to start, and Justin Fields, who is now at Ohio State and is the presumed starter. Both were 5 star quarterbacks out of high school with immense talent. Fromm held both of them off for the starting job. Fromm had an excellent year last season completing 207 of 307 passe, 67%, for 2,761 yards, 30 touchdowns against 6 interceptions. He lost to LSU, Alabama and Texas, in the Sugar Bowl, so he still has more to prove. The major question for Fromm and Smart is can they get over the hump and win it all. That would mean winning the East, the SEC championship game against Alabama or possibly LSU, that’s an outside possibility, and then win it all.

Fromm has D’Andre Swift in the backfield which is a huge plus. Swift rushed for 1,049 yards and 10 TDs last season. He is strong, physical and fast. He’s a tremendous asset for Fromm and the offense. Brian Herrien, a dependable hard nosed senior running back, is also returning. 5 star sophomore James Cook is back as is 5 star Zamir White, who was injured before the season started last year. The wide receiving corps is inexperienced but talented. Jeremiah Holloman, who was expected to be a key piece in the passing game, was dismissed from the team for assault on a woman. He caught 24 passes for 418 yards and 5 TDs last season. Riley Ridley, Terry Godwin, Mecole Hardman and tight end Isaac Nauta have left for the NFL. Demetrius Robinson, who was a 5 star out of high school and transferred from Cal in 2018, could be a key piece. Tyler Simmons caught only 9 passes for 138 yards and 2 TDs, but is a major talent and will be relied on also. Then there’s youth, but a lot of 4 star and a few 5 star talents. They’ll have to grow up quickly. One of the new wide receivers is Hoover 5 star George Pickens, who was committed to Auburn all the way up until the last day in February but flipped to Georgia.

The offensive line has great size and will be led by left tackle Andrew Thomas (Jr. 6’5”, 320). There is a lot of starting experience and physicality up front.

On defense, Georgia returns 6 starters and Smart feels really good about this group. Safeties J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte are back and linebackers Brenton Cox, Tae Crowder and Monty Rice will anchor a strong group there. 5 star freshman Nolan Smith (6’3”, 235) could be a factor this season at linebacker also. The defensive line has good size. Rodrigo Blackenship is back to kick for what seems like his 10th year. He’s very good and clutch.

The Dawgs finished 11-3 last season and 7-2 in the SEC. Jim Chaney left for Tennessee to coach their offense so James Coley takes over as Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach. Coley has been on the staff and Smart is confident in him. On defense, Mel Tucker, Smart’s defensive coordinator for the last 3 years, left to take the head coaching job at Colorado. Dan Lanning will take over the defense and Smart, as always, will be very involved.

The Dawgs open their season at Vanderbilt on Saturday, August 31st at 6:30 PM CT on the SEC Network. Could be a kill. Notre Dame comes to Athens on Saturday, Sept. 21st. Then the Dawgs are off, then @ Tennessee, Saturday, Oct. 5th, South Carolina and Kentucky come to Athens on Oct. 12th and Oct. 19th (both Saturdays) respectively. Then the Dawgs are off before playing Florida, Saturday, Nov. 2nd in Jacksonville. Apparently, the Florida fans are already dogging at Georgia on twitter. That’s dangerous. The Gators may have already lost the game. Then Missouri at home, Saturday, Nov. 9th, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry @ Auburn, Sat. Nov. 16th, A&M at home Sat, Nov. 23rd, then @ Georgia Tech, Sat. Nov. 30th.

Smart has expectations through the roof in Athens. He’ll deliver. It’s just a matter of if he can take it a step or 2 further and somehow figure out a way to defeat Nick Saban. That’s a tall order. But that’s the 43 year old from Montgomery’s goal.

Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee

Jeremy Pruitt’s key point was that last year he had 2 offensive linemen who weighed 300 pounds. Now he has 15. He is returning 17 starters from last year’s 5-7 team, and they’ll be a much improved team. And while Pruitt says he has a lot of talented players on the team and a lot of potentially talented players, it’s more potential this year. But ESPN’s FPI stats has UT winning almost 8 games this season. The 45 year old from Ashland, AL. is building a potential winner in Knoxville.

Another key point Pruitt made was that he has on his staff coaches who have been a part of 16 national championships as assistants. He’s excited to have Jim Chaney on his staff as offensive coordinator. Chaney was making $950,000 per year at Georgia last year. He’ll make $1.5 million this season, $1.6 M next season and $1.7 M in 2021 at Tennessee. Pruitt said that Chaney is pretty happy with his “pay grade at the end of the month.” Chaney is a solid coach, but I’m not sure he’s prolific. He can get too conservative at times in crucial 3rd and even 4th down situations, but he’s got a new opportunity and we’ll see how he fares. Pruitt also hired Tee Martin back as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Martin came from USC where he was OC there and had mixed results, but he was a 1998 national championship quarterback at Tennessee and will recruit well and probably be pretty good at a position. Derrick Ansley is defensive coordinator coming from Alabama, and Pruitt feels very good about him. So Pruitt is very high on his coaching staff.

He will have 40 players on his roster who have degrees, 11 of his 12 seniors will graduate in December, and his recruiting class averaged 27 on the ACT. Very impressive.

Jarrett Gurantano is back for his junior season after completing 153 of 246 passes, 62%, for 1,907 yards, 12 TDs and 3 ints. Pruitt said Guarantano has the players’ trust in the locker-room. If the junior quarterback can step it up this season, the Vols will be much improved. Ty Chandler is back at running back after rushing for 630 yards and 4 TDs last season. The wide receiver corps may be the strength of the team led by Marquez Callaway, who had 37 receptions for 592 yards and 2 TDs last year and Jauan Jennings who pulled in 30 passes for 438 yards and 3 TDs. Both could have huge seasons if Guarantano can get them the ball and the offensive line, which has been a question mark for a while now, can give Guarantano protection in the pocket.

The defense will be led by middle linebacker Daniel Bituli, who finished last season with a team leading 79 tackles with 7 for loss. Pruitt says Bituli speaks 3 languages, English, of course, French, and Congo dialect, he’s a native of the Congo. But Pruitt told him the only language he wants him to know is football.

The schedule features a big game on Saturday, Sept. 21st at Florida, off, then Georgia comes to Knoxvegas Oct. 5th, State comes to Knoxville the following week, Sat. Oct. 13th, then a difficult one @ Alabama, Sat. Oct. 19th. The Vols then host South Carolina, Saturday, Oct. 26th, UAB comes to Knoxville, Saturday Nov.2nd in what could be an interesting contest, though UAB lost a lot of seniors but have quarterback Tyler Johnston and running back Spencer Brown and some excellent young talent returning. @ Kentucky, Sat. Nov. 9th, @ Missouri Nov. 23rd (after an off week) then Vandy at home Saturday, Nov. 30th.

So there should be a lot of improvement in Knoxville. Pruitt is an excellent coach in my opinion. He is on the verge of putting the Vols back on the SEC and national radar.

Jimbo Fisher, A&M

The 53 year old from Clarksburg, West Virginia is coming off a successful 9-4 overall and 5-3 (SEC) campaign in 2018, his first season in College Station, including a 52-13 Gator Bowl victory over N.C. State. Fisher is changing the culture at A&M and looking for championships. He’s another Saban assistant who is looking for that elusive victory over his former mentor.

His 2019 recruiting class was 4th in the country, but 3rd in the SEC behind No.1 Alabama and No.2 Georgia, depending on if you’re looking at 247 sports or Rivals. Rivals had Georgia 1 and Bama 2. 247 had Bama then Georgia. Texas was 3rd in the rankings. So Jimbo is recruiting well with all that talent in Texas at his disposal, but a lot of competition in the state along with teams outside the borders.

Fisher has 11 returning starters, 7 on offense and 4 on defense. Kellen Mond comes into his junior season after showing immense improvement last season. In 2018, Mond completed 230 of 415 passes, 57%, for 3,107 yards, 24 TDs against 9 ints. Fisher is expecting even more improvement from his former high 4 star quarterback who he didn’t sign, but has coached up the last year and a half. The Aggies lost Trayveon Williams to the Cincinnati Bengals. Williams rushed for 1,760 yards and 18 TDs last season so that’s a lot of production to replace. Mond rushed for 474 yards and 7 TDs last season, and Jashaun Corbin will be the starter at running back this season. He rushed for 346 yards and a TD in 2018. The line is big and physical, the receivers are solid and the defense is young but talented under solid defensive coordinator Mike Elko.

But it’s the schedule that stands out. @ Clemson in week 3, Saturday, Sept. 7th with a 2:30 PM CT kickoff on ABC. Auburn comes to Kyle Field on Saturday, Sept. 21st, The Crimson Tide comes to College Station on Saturday, Oct. 12th. Then on Saturday, Nov. 23rd, A&M is @ Georgia, and on Saturday, Nov. 30th they’re @LSU. So very tough.

Fisher is firm in his commitment that winning championships is the only goal at A&M. With his $75 million contract, that’s what’s expected. This year will be tough, but Fisher is building a major winner.

Matt Luke, Ole Miss

Matt Luke wants his team to get to a bowl game this season, that would be successful year and he brought in a top 20 class in 2019 and has a top 20 class so far in 2020. He inherited a mess after Hugh Freeze got the program in trouble with the NCAA and Ole Miss was not allowed to play in the postseason in 2017 and ‘18 and lost scholarships. Last year the Rebels went 5-7 overall and 1-7 in the SEC.

Luke hired Rich Rodriguez to be his offensive coordinator and Mike McIntyre to be his defensive coordinator. Both had some success as head coaches, Rodriguez at West Virginia, not at Michigan or Arizona, and McIntyre had some success at Colorado. Both got fired though. But Luke hopes both men’s head coaching experience will help him.

Redshirt freshman Matt Corrall will be the starter at quarterback. He has thrown only 22 passes, completing 16 for 239 yards, 2 TDs and 1 int. But he’s got talent, He was a 4 star out of high school. Senior Scottie Phillips will return at running back after rushing for 928 yards and 12 TDs in 2018. They lost some highly talented wide receivers to the NFL, but return some young talent. The offensive line has good size, and they’ll be tested in the SEC. The defense returns 10 starters but was the worst defense in the SEC last year in points and yards allowed. So McIntyre will have his work cut out for him in changing the culture of this defense.

The Rebels open the season @ Memphis on Sat. Aug. 31st at 11 AM CT on ABC. Week 3 they host Arkansas at 6:30 PM CT on the SEC Network (week 0 is Florida-Miami August 24th). The Rebels go to Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 26th. Vanderbilt come to Oxford on Saturday, Oct.5th. @ Missouri Saturday, Oct. 12th. A&M comes to Oxford Saturday, Oct. 19th. The Rebels are off then play @ Auburn Saturday, Nov. 2nd. LSU comes to Vaught-Hemingway on Saturday, Nov. 16th. And, after an off week, Miss State comes to Oxford for the Egg Bowl on Thursday, Nov. 28th, Thanksgiving Night at 6:30 on ESPN.

So, like every other team, Ole Miss will be severely tested. Luke is hoping for the postseason, winning there and to continue building.

SEC Media Days kicks off with day 1

The unofficial start of football season commenced today in Hoover at the Wynfrey Hotel as SEC Media Days cranked up once again for its annual summer showcase. The big news from Commissioner Greg Sankey was that Media Days will be held in Atlanta next year and Nashville in 2021. Don’t know what that means for Hoover going forward. It’s been a great venue for the event, but the SEC is expanding the brand, I guess that’s what you’d call it, and Atlanta and Nashville are major cities in the South and nationally, so that was the decision. Still, a classic event today and going forward the next 3 days in Hoover.

Speakers today were Dan Mullen of Florida, Ed Orgeron of LSU and Barry Odom of Missouri. Here’s what each coach said about their respective teams.

Dan Mullen, Gators

The Gators finished the 2018 season 10-3 and blasted Jim Harbaugh and Michigan 41-15 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. So Mullen’s first year was a pretty resounding success after the struggles the program experienced under Jim McElwain.

The Gators kick off the 150th season of college football on Saturday, August 24th against Miami at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. That’s a phenomenal opener for the college football season. The game kicks off at 6 PM CT and will be broadcast by ESPN. The Gators are then off Sat, 8-31, host UT Martin, Sat. 9-7, @ Kentucky Sat. 9-14, host Tennessee, Saturday, 9-21, host Towson Saturday, 9-28 (No line), host Auburn for homecoming (interesting) on Saturday, 10-6, @LSU, Saturday, 10-12, @ South Carolina Saturday, 10-19, Off Saturday, 10-26, Georgia in Jacksonville Saturday 11-2, versus Vanderbilt Saturday, 11-9, @Missouri Saturday, 11-16, Off, versus Florida State, Saturday, 11-30.

This is a possible SEC Championship team. The FPI index produced by ESPN gives Florida a 19% chance to win the East behind Georgia’s 58%, but this team does return quite a lot of talent. Junior quarterback Feleipe Franks returns. After some up and down results for the first 9 games of the season, Franks finished the season throwing 12 TDs in his last 4 games against 0 interceptions. He’ 6’6”, 240 and can run. Mullen was asked how Franks was able to turn it around and Mullen said he started listening to quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson and Mullen, and not Twitter. Mullen asked him towards the latter half of the season if he was going to listen to him and Johnson or to people on Twitter. Mullen told him if the Twitter people knew more about coaching quarterbacks than his coaches, that they should coach him. Franks got the message. He finished the season completing 188 of 322 passes (58%) for 2,457 yards 24 TDs against 6 ints. So a lot to build on off his performance from last year. Franks also rushed for 7 TDs. Mullen said Franks figured out with his size that if defenses are going to give him the middle of the field he’s going to run 20 yards for a TD.

Lamical Perine returns to lead the running game. He rushed for 826 yards and 7 TDS last season. Van Jefferson is a stellar wide receiver. He pulled in 35 passes for 503 yards and 6 TDs last year. The offensive line has been an issue for the Gators for several years now, so playing well up front is critical to the Gators taking a very good season last year and making it a great season this year.

D end Jabari Zuniga will anchor the defense. The senior is 6’3”, 295 pounds. He posted 11 tackles for loss and 6 sacks last season. Linebacker David Reese, a 6’0” 221 pound linebacker, was the second leading tackler on the team last year with 81 tackles.

Zuniga was at Media Days today and was asked about the wide assortment of shoes that Dan Mullen shows off. Zuniga said, “He’s definitely got a deep closet.”

Mullen had a hole in one this summer at Lake Oconee Golf Course at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia. He sank his 173 yard shot with a 7 iron. That’s probably just one less club than Dustin Johnson would have used. That’s pretty large.

Florida, which returns 13 starters, 7 on offense, 6 on defense, should have a very good team this season and their fortunes depend on the play of their offensive line and Franks.

Coach O, LSU

Coach O is pretty fired up about his team this season as the Bengal Tigers come off a 10-3 season and a hard fought Fiesta Bowl victory over UCF, 40-32. That was LSU’s first New Year’s Six/BCS bowl victory since 2007.

O hired Joe Brady as his quarterbacks coach. Brady comes to Baton Rouge from the New Orleans Saints and their prolific NFL offense. Brady will team up with offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger as they implement a spread offense for the Tiguhs. Joe Burrow was a resounding success last year at quarterback for O and the Tigers. Joe completed 219 of 379 passes, 58%, for 2,894 yards, 16 TDs and 5 ints. He also ran for 399 yards and 7 TDs. Coach O said they’re going to give Burrow more chances to run the ball. O is confident in Burrow’s backup Myles Brennan who was a highly sought after recruit in high school, a high 4 star, so if Burrow gets hurt, they have a pretty solid backup. But I really hope Joe stays healthy. He’s an awesome guy and really good for college football. He’s a heckuva competitor too. O better not run him too much. That would be a mistake.

O brought in 99, 5 star running back John Emory Jr. and 94, 4 star Tyrion Davis to compete for the starting running back job with returners Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who ran for 658 yards and 7 TDs last season, and Lanard Fournette, Leonard Fournette’s younger brother, among others. So there is some real talent in the backfield for the Bengal Tigers.

Justin Jefferson is the leading returning wide receiver. He caught 54 passes for 875 yards and 6 TDs last season. There is talent and depth on the perimeter according to O.

4 of 5 offensive linemen return and the defense will be anchored by the secondary with projected top 5 NFL draft pick safety Grant Delpit, who had 5 ints last season, leading the D. Cornerback is in good shape with junior Kristian Fulton, whom O is very high on, and star 5 star freshman and 3rd ranked player in the country in 2019, Derek Stingley Jr. manning the corner positions. The defensive line will be anchored by Rashard Lawrence.

O wants his team to be more physical on both sides of the line of scrimmage and become better at stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback. Key games include @ Texas, Saturday, 9-7, at 6:30 PM CT on ABC. Texas could be a top 10 team in the preseason poll though I’m not sure I’m buying that. It’ll be tough in Austin though. Florida comes to Baton Rouge Saturday, 10-12, @ Mississippi State the next week, 10-19, Auburn at home Saturday, 10-20, and after an off week, at the Crimson Tide, Saturday, 11-9, sure to be at 7 PM CT on CBS. @ Ole Miss, Saturday, 11-16, and home to A&M, Saturday, 11-30. That A&M game is going to have those Tiger fans charged up after last year’s 74-72, 7 overtime loss at College Station in which it looked like the Bengal Tigers had that game won 3 or 4 times only to be reversed by instant replay. It was a tough pill to swallow, so A&M better buckle up. The key for LSU is navigating this difficult schedule and somehow defeating Alabama, which is hard for any team to do. Clemson seems to have the best luck with that, but they’ve dropped a couple to the Crimson Tide as well. But the Alabama game isn’t the be all, end all for the Tiguhs. They have 11 other games and can have a highly successful season regardless of their result in Tuscaloosa. Looks like this team has a serious shot at winning 10 or 11 games and making another New Year’s Six Bowl. Could be even better with the talent on this roster.

Barry Odom, Missouri

Two major things happened for Odom and Missouri. Kelly Bryant decided to transfer from Clemson to Mizzou after deciding he wasn’t going to get a shot at quarterback with the prolific Trevor Lawrence taking over from him. That has really generated a lot of excitement in Columbia, MO.

But another thing happened and it’s not too good. Missouri received a bowl ban for the 2019 season due to a former tutor completing course work for several football players. It’s a tough thing to handle. Missouri is appealing the decision and will find out in August if the NCAA will lift the bowl ban. It’s tough on the players, but academic integrity matters.

This team has good talent with Bryant under center along with running back Larry Rountree III returning. Rountree rushed for 1,216 yards and 11 TDs in 2018. Wide receiver Johnathon Johnson returns after catching 59 passes for 737 yards and 5 TDs last season. The offensive line will be big and physical.

On defense, middle linebacker and leading tackler Cale Garrett returns. Garrett finished 3rd in the SEC in 2018 with 106 tackles. Cornerback DeMarkus Acy picked off 3 passes last year. He’ll be the leader in the secondary.

The Tigers open the season @ Wyoming on Saturday, 8-31, at 6:30 PM CT on CBS Sports Network. Wyoming should be a pretty good challenge on the road. Then the Tigers host West Virginia and new coach Neal Brown, who came to WVU from Troy where he had tremendous success. So 2 challenges right out of the gate. South Carolina comes to Mizzou on Saturday, 9-21. The Tigers are @ Kentucky, Saturday, 10-25, then they’re off, then @ Georgia, Saturday, 11-9, then Florida (10-16), and Tennessee (10-23) come to Faurot Field. The Tigers finish the season off @ Arkansas in Little Rock.

This team has a good talent and is coming off an 8-5 season in 2018 though they lost their bowl game to Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl, 38-33. How good this team will be depends on how Bryant can execute in Derek Dooley’s offense. The team has offensive weapons. They’ll need to play better defense to get themselves to the 9 win plateau this year.

Tomorrow

Kirby Smart, Georgia, Jimbo Fisher, A&M, Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee and Matt Luke, Ole Miss

Bama Golf nails the All Star game, thoughts on MLB, college football and the Open Championship

One of my best friends and loyal blog commenter Bama Golf correctly predicted the 90th All Star game with the AL defeating the NL, 4-3. Excellent work Bama.

I incorrectly predicted the NL to win and they looked like they had life in the top of the 8th when the Mets' Pete Alonso drove in 2 runs with a single. But the AL pitcher got the next NL batter out and then the Yankees' Aroldis Champman came in for the 9th, and I knew my prediction was in serious jeopardy. Chapman was bringin it a hunge and he was impossible to hit.

But it was an awesome spectacle with Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, putting on a superb show with great music, super fans and a terrific stadium in Progressive Field. The AL has now won 7 in a row and 25 out of the last 30. The NL really needs to get it together. From 2003-2016, the league winner of the Midsummer Classic had home field advantage for the World Series, but Commissioner Rob Manfred and the players union changed it back for the 2017 season to the team with the best record for the regular season having the home field, which is the way to do it. Regular season accomplishments should be rewarded and the All Star game should be just a fun night for the fans and the players. Right now, the Dodgers have the best record in MLB with the Yankees, Astros, Twins and Braves in hot pursuit. Should be an awesome second half.

Next week I'll have SEC Media Days which gets football season started pretty much. Not too long before we'll be kicking it off Saturday, August 24th, week 0, with the Florida Gators taking on the Miami Hurricanes at 6 PM CT on ESPN. The game will be played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando so no real home field. Should be a solid matchup, close to spectacular.

Manny Diaz takes over at Miami and former Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos will call plays for the Canes as their offensive coordinator. Dan Mullen enters his second season at the helm of the Gators ready to take the next step and have the Gators playing in the SEC Championship game if they can navigate their schedule and defeat Georgia in Jacksonville at that Cocktail deal.

Then on Saturday, Aug. 31st, the Crimson Tide opens its season versus the Duke Blue Devils at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with a 2:30 PM CT kickoff. The game will be televised by ABC. That spring game for the Tide was beyond impressive, so this will be a juggernaut team once again. SEC Championship, Playoff and National championship right in the Crimson Tide's scope once again.

The Auburn Tigers have a tough opener squaring off with Oregon at AT&T Stadium in Arlington for a 6:30 PM CT kickoff on ABC. Want to hear Gus talk next week and check out more stuff on the Tigers before forming any opinions on the team. Joey Gatewood and Bo Nix will be battling it out for QB1 for the Tigers. Both are extremely talented and Auburn has a lot of talent on their roster. I'll let you know more about the Tigers in the next two weeks.

Should be a phenomenal week 1 in college football with some intriguing matchups and stirring action.

Also next week, the 148th Open Championship will commence on Thursday. The championship will be played at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. Interesting venue. They had a Ryder Cup there several years ago, and the competition will be fierce for this coveted major championship. Jon Rahm won the Irish Open last weekend, so he's a factor to me. The Scottish Open is this weekend with guys like Rory, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler playing, so that's a tournament to keep an eye on.

Will have a lot of product coming up next week. Thanks.

U.S, women's team wins 4th World Cup, Predictions for the Home Run Derby and the All Star game

Great victory for the U.S. yesterday over the Netherlands by a score of 2-0. Megan Rapinoe won the Golden Boot award for most goals and assists in the competition. She also won the Golden Ball Award as the World Cup’s best player. Rapinoe scored 6 goals for the tournament and converted a penalty kick goal in the second half yesterday to put the U.S. up 1-0. Rose Lavelle converted an even better goal later in the second half launching a left footed boot 20 feet for the clinching goal. It wasn’t the total clincher, but the way the U.S. was playing defense led by back Crystal Dunn, the lead looked insurmountable.

Not a big fan of Megan Rapinoe because of her anti-American comments and her decision not to acknowledge the national anthem. But the U.S, team as a whole seemed patriotic. The women are now pushing hard for equal pay with the men.

Trump was asked about it after the victory. He said it depends on the crowd draw the women are getting in their games as opposed to the men. The women win $250,000 for winning the World Cup while the men get over a million. So that should be more equitable. But I think Trump had a good initial answer though he backtracked a little at the end and said they should get equal pay.

If the women’s game keeps growing and draws the attendance figures that rival the men, they certainly deserve an increase in pay equal to the men. But it should depend on the economics of each game. Now, with this World Cup victory, the women’s game could take off and they would have a very strong argument. But it should depend on the interest and the attendance they get for and at their professional games. Certainly the women’s pay for winning the World Cup should be equal to the men. There was as much interest in the Women’s World Cup this year as there was in the Men’s World Cup last year, particularly in the U.S.

So the women have a very good point for the World Cup where they should be compensated equally. But as far as professional soccer goes, the economics of the women’s game versus the men’s game should be the main consideration in determining pay for each respective game. If the women’s game can draw crowds like the men’s game, pay should be commensurate with that and the women deserve just as much pay as the men. But it shouldn’t be determined by emotion, but rather by the economics of each sport.

Regardless, this was a highly impressive performance by the U.S, women’s team.


Home Run Derby winner

Progressive Field, Cleveland

Tonight, 7 PM CT ESPN

This will be electric with some of the best power hitters in the game. One half of the draw features Pete Alonso of the Mets, Carlos Santana of the Indians, Josh Bell of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Ronald Acuna Jr of the Braves., while the other half of the bracket features Matt Chapman of the Oakland A’s, Vladamir Guerrero Jr of the Toronto Blue Jays, Alex Bregman of the Astros and Joc Pederson of the Dodgers.

Winner

Josh Bell over Alex Bregman

I like Bell of the Pirates to win it. He’s hit 27 homers, which is tied for 4th in the National League behind Milwaukee’s Christine Yelich (31), and the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and the Mets’ Pete Alonso who are tied in second with 30 apiece. Bell is tied with Hunter Renfroe of the Padres for fourth. Bell leads the majors with 84 RBIs.

Alonso is also in the Derby. Mike Trout leads the American League with 28 homers. The Angels centerfielder is having another sensational season. He is not in the field. The second leading home run hitter in the American League is Edwin Encarnacion, so the NL is hitting it out more than the AL.

The winning prize is $1,000,000 so it’s a big deal to a lot of these guys who are on early contracts and many of them are making $550,000 a year. A lot of youthful guys in the field. There’s still room for veterans as Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Freddie Freeman, Justin Verlander and David Price would attest to. I don’t like that all the “experts” are saying it’s a young person’s game now. There are plenty of veterans excelling and you can tell by the list above that the best pitchers are veterans. So both the veterans and the young guys are achieving great things. No age group is doing markedly better than the other.

Like Bell to capture the HR Derby tonight (Photo TribLive.com) .

Like Bell to capture the HR Derby tonight (Photo TribLive.com) .

Prediction for the Mid Summer Classic

Progressive Field Cleveland, 34,000+

7 PM CT FOX, Joe Buck, Smoltzie on the call.

I like Bell, Bellinger and the National League to get the job done this year. There will be some balls flying out of Progressive Field, but I like this LA Dodgers team and their players who are representing the NL. I predicted the Dodgers as my World Series winner over the Astros before the season started. The Yankees are looking tough in the American League as are the Twins and Indians, so there is competition for the ‘Stros, and the Braves look strong in the National League and you can’t count out the Nationals, the Brewers or the Cubs. The NL Central is pretty compelling this season with all 5 teams within 5 1/2 games of each other. I like the Dodgers players, the Braves players and the NL All Stars to prevail tomorrow night in what should be a fascinating All Star game.

I’ve got Cody Bellinger as the MVP.

National League 6, American League 5

Cody Bellinger and the “Senior Circuit” take the All Star game tomorrow night in Cleveland (Photo Dodgers Nation).

Cody Bellinger and the “Senior Circuit” take the All Star game tomorrow night in Cleveland (Photo Dodgers Nation).







Dans goes off, Sonny, David, Tyler superb, further thoughts on our terrific 2019 team

Young man, you had a night! Dansby Swanson was 3 for 5 last night against the Philadelphia Phillies with 2 homers, a double and 5 Ribeyes in a 12-6 Atlanta Braves victory.

With his team down 4-0 in the bottom of the 1st, the Braves shortstop launched one 404 feet over the right central field wall for a solo shot to get his team going. The Braves caught up to the Phillies and held a 9-6 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. During the comeback rally, Dans also doubled in the left field corner to knock in another run. The Braves had a 9-4 lead, but the Phillies made it interesting at 9-6 in the bottom of the 8th.

With one out and 2 runners on, the great Swanson crushed another ball over the left central field wall 391 feet to put the lead in comfortable shape at 12-6. The Braves got’em out in the 9th and moved to 52-36 on the season and in first place of the NL East by 6 games.

Dansby is now hitting .274, really getting that average up, he’s a .300 major league hitter to me the way he could hit at VU, and he now has 17 home runs and 57 Ribeyes. At this pace, Dans could hit 35 homers and drive in 110. It’s phenomenal what the great one is doing. Braves at home tonight versus the Marlins at Sun Trust Park. This is a loveable team. Everything about them is fun to watch. They’re becoming a serious factor to make a deep October run. Dans is a big part of it. Very proud of the man.

Sonny Gray pitched a spectacular game Wednesday Night in the Cincinnati Reds 3-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. Sonny went 8 gave up just 4 hits, 0 runs with 1 walk and 12 K’s. Sonny threw 111 pitches with 76 for strikes against 35 balls, more than a 2:1 strike to ball ratio which is a baseline for winning games. Sonny was awesome hitting 93,94,95 and his breaking ball was very strong. He threw some good cutters as well. Sonny now 5-5 on the season with a 3.59 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP, solid, 33 walks and 103 strikeouts. The Reds have just been a Fountain of Resurgence for Sonny. His pitching coach, Derek Johnson, was his pitching coach at Vanderbilt. And Coach Johnson is outstanding. Sonny is really in a good place. His team is pretty good too. The Reds, which took 3 of 4 from the NL Central leading Brewers, are 41-44 and just 4 games back of the Brewers and the Cubs in the NL Central. This team is making some noise. Derek Johnson has made a major impact on the pitching staff. The Reds can really pitch. Coach Johnson is a phenomenally talented coach. I could see him becoming a big league manager one day. It’s really working well for Sonny.

Tyler Beede pitched spectacularly well for the San Francisco Giants in their 10-4 victory at San Diego Tuesday Night. Tyler went 7, gave up just 4 hits, 1 run with 0 walks and 4 K’s. Tyler threw 100 pitches with 63 for strikes against 37 balls. He was hitting 95 routinely and didn’t walk anyone, which is huge for Tyler. Tyler and Sonny remind me of each other. They both have awesome stuff, and if they’ve got their control down during a game, they are tough. Tyler moved to 2-3 on the season with a 5.64 ERA, but 2 of his last 4 starts have been tremendous. Against the Dodgers on June 17th, Tyler went 6, gave up 3 hits, 1 run, with 5 walks and 7 K’s. But his control has been much better lately. Like where Tyler is trending and the Giants are playing better.

David Price had another outstanding night for the Red Sox, which are not playing their best baseball right now and trail the Yankees by 8 or 9 games in the AL East. But David keeps delivering. He just needs some help from the rest of the pitching staff. In a 10-6 victory @ Toronto Tuesday Night, Dave went 6, gave up 4 hits, 2 runs with 4 walks and 7 K’s. A lot more walks than David normally gives up, but he really settled down after some early trouble and helped pitch his team to victory. David is now 6-2 with a 3.33 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, 19 walks and 89 strikeouts. He’s been phenomenal for his team.

Mike Yaz and Bryan Reynolds are doing great things for the SF Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates respectively, and Mike Minor didn’t have his best outing on Monday, but he’s been spectacular this season. Walker Buehler got roughed up a little bit in Colorado, but that’s Colorado, a mile above sea level where a pop up to left becomes a homer. Walker did some good things in the game though. Trust the man completely. Tony Kemp still a key substitute for the Astros and Curt Casali playing a lot of catcher for the Reds. Curt doing a good job. Would like to see his bat get going some more though.

Our National Champions

A lot of fans and pundits have commented that this 2019 team is the best team we’ve ever had. By the results, SEC Regular season champions, SEC Tournament champions, Regional, Super Regional champions, 13 players drafted by MLB, and finishing the job and winning the national championship, this team makes a pretty strong case that it is and was the best team we’ve ever had. But I like what Corbs said at the Awards ceremony last Friday at McGugin. Corbs said that 2003, the first year we made it to the SEC Tourney in a while, led to 2005, our first super regional. 2005 led to the signing of David Price, a game changer for our program, and that led to 2007, where we won the SEC regular season and tournament titles with Price, Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty. Price was the first overall player selected in the MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays and I’d say he’s had a phenomenal big league career with more to come. He’s given so much back to Vanderbilt financially and emotionally. He’s been a stellar representative of the program.

2007 led to 2010, another super regional. 2010 led to 2011 our first trip to the CWS. 2011 led to 2013 when we finished 26-3 in the SEC and made another Super Regional. 2013 led to 2014, and our first national title. In 2015 we got there again only to lose heartbreakingly to Virginia, which we had defeated the year before for the national title. 2015-16 with Ethan Paul, Stephen Scott, Julian Infante, a number one recruiting class, had the devastating tragedy of losing the great Donny Everett. Despite the tragic and heartbreaking loss of a beloved teammate, Ethan, Stephen, Julian, Walker Grisanti and Patrick Raby hung in there, and with help from JJ Bleday, Austin Martin, Kumar Rocker, Tyler Brown, Mason Hickman, Pat DeMarco, Philip Clarke, Harrison Ray, Ty Duvall etc. this 2019 team put together one of the finest seasons in college baseball history. It was clearly a historically great team. So that’s my opinion. This may have well been the best team we’ve ever had and measuring them by their achievements, you’d have to say that. But so many great players and great teams led to this season. What a a run Tim Corbin has put together at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt baseball is the premiere program in the country, and it’s kind of by a fairly wide margin. Corbs has Austin, Kumar, Tyler, Mason, Harrison, the talented Ethan Smith and some good young talent returning next season, so we’ve got another shot at being really special. What an extraordinary coach and what extraordinary players we have had and have. It’s quite a ride we’re on and extraordinarily satisfying. This is something we can hang onto for a while. Forever actually. And our program is going to keep producing sensational results the way Corbs recruits and coaches. He’s got the No.1 class for 2019. If we can keep most of them from the Major Leagues, the freshman have until the first day of classes in August to decide if they want to sign a contract or play at Vanderbilt, then we’ll have an influx of more superb material setting us up for a tremendous 2020 season. We should have very strong pitching next season, and if some of the younger guys, who have elite talent, can play well, we’ve got a chance to be exceptional. Can’t wait for next season, but going to enjoy this one some more. Just deep satisfaction and contentment right now.

I’ll have some football stuff next week and more MLB guys stuff. Coach Mason is recruiting well for 2020 and we’ve got some graduate transfers who are going to be very good players for us this season. I’ll talk more about the team next week along with the 2019 freshman class along with the transfers and the guys in the 2020 class.

Have an awesome weekend.

Predictions for the 133rd Championships at Wimbledon

All England Courts, London

Defending champion Men: Novak Djokovic

Defending champion women: Angelique Kerber

ESPN coverage started today and lasts through the men’s final on July 14th

Women’s Final: Saturday, July 13th 7 AM CT ESPN

Men’s Final, Sunday, July 14th, 8 AM CT,ESPN

Winners

Men

I’ll take Rafa in the semis over Roger and Djoker over Kevin Anderson. I’ll take Rafa over Djoker as the superb Spaniard captures his 19th major. He has 1 Australian Open title in 2009, 2 Wimbledons (2008, 2010) 3 U.S. Opens (‘10, ‘13, ‘17) and 12 French Open championships. He’s hot right now and he carries that all the way to the championship on Sunday, July 14th. With the victory, Rafa will move 1 major championship behind Roger Federer who has 20, the most of all time.

Nadal over Djoker 6-4, 5-7, 7-5, 6-7, 6-3

Women

I’m real bullish on 23 year old Aussie Ashleigh Barty. She just won the French and her court demeanor and mental toughness are spectacular.

I like Barty to capture her second major and set herself up for a very bright future in the game.

Ashleigh Barty over Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-2

What a group of young men, all of them are champions

SEC regular season champions, SEC Tournament champions, 59-12, most wins in SEC history. Regional champs, Super Regional champs. 13 players drafted by MLB, tied for an SEC record. Then, after all of those amazing achievements, the team went on to deliver a National Championship to Vanderbilt. Does it get any better than that? Kumar Rocker, Tyler Brown, Mason Hickman, JJ Bleday, Austin Martin, Philip Clarke, Harrison Ray, Pat DeMarco, Stephen Scott, Ethan Paul, Drake Fellows, Ty Duvall, Julian Infante. Everybody. The whole team. Every single one of them. And of course the architect and father of Vanderbilt baseball, the great Tim Corbin. What a man.

Well done young men. Well done as always Corbs. Well done Coach Scott Brown and Coach Mike Baxter. The whole staff. You make everybody proud. It's great to be a Commodore. Sure going to enjoy this for a while. Donny is looking down and he's proud.

Go Vandy! Anchor Down!

The CWS National Championship Series, preview

No.2 Vanderbilt vs Unranked Michigan

Records, VU (57-11), Michigan (49-20)

Vanderbilt defeated Lousiville 3-0, Miss. State 6-3, and Louisville 3-2 to get here

Michigan defeated Texas Tech 5-3, Florida State 2-0, and Texas Tech 15-3 to get here.

Coaches:

Vanderbilt: Tim Corbin 57 years old, born in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. 733-352-1 overall (67%), in 17 seasons. 4 SEC regular season championships (2007, 2011, 2013, 2019), 2 SEC Tournament titles (2007, 2019), 4 CWS appearances. 2014 National Championship.

Michigan Erik Bakich, 41 years old, born in San Jose, California. Played at San Jose CC and East Carolina (1997-2000). 10 seasons as head coach, 3 at Maryland, 7 at Michigan. Record 258-160. 101-64 Big Ten.

Games 1, 2, and 3 (if necessary) 6 PM CT on ESPN. Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez and Kyle Peterson on the call. Kris Budden on the field.

Starting pitchers tonight:

VU, Junior RHP Drake Fellows (13-1, 3.97, 111 innings, 43 walks, 126 strikeouts, 9 home runs given up, opponents average .245)

MU: Junior L:HP Tommy Henry (11-5, 3.27 ERA, 115.2 innings pitched, 25 walks, 127 strikeouts, 11 home runs, opponents average .221).

Tuesday Night for us:

Freshman RHP Kumar Rocker (11-5, 3.38 ERA, 93.1 innings, 19 walks, 103 K’s, 2 home runs, batting average, .240).

Possible MU starter, Sophomore RHP Jeff Criswell (7-1, 2.60, 100.1 innings, 47 walks, 105 strikeouts, 6 homers, .220)

Probable for us Wednesday (If necessary)

Sophomore RHP Mason Hickman (8-0, 2.08, 90.2 innings, 25 walks, 119 K’s, 7 homers, .183 average against).

Michigan to be determined

Leading hitters for VU

3B Austin Martin, .406, 10 homers, 45 RBIs, 19 doubles, 4 triples, .629 slugging %, 18-of-23 stolen bases.

RF JJ Bleday, .354, 26 homers, 70 RBIs, 14 doubles, 1 triple, .711 slugging %. MIke Trout has a .680 slugging percentage and he’s the best player in baseball.

LF Stephen Scott, .331, 14 homers, 59 RBIs, 20, doubles, 1 triple, .595 slugging %

SS Ethan Paul, .316, 9 homers, 72 RBIs, 23 doubles, 1 triple, ..506 slugging %, 11 of 13 SBs


Michigan

RF Jordan Brewer .329 12 homers, 57 RBIs, 19 doubles, .564 slugging %, 25 of 29 SBs.

DH Jordan Nwogu, .326, 12 homers, 46 RBIs, 14 doubles, 4 triples, .569 slugging, 16 of 18 SBs.

1B Jimmy Kerr, .278 14 homers, 62 RBIs, 15 doubles, .510 slugging.

Closers

VU RHP, Tyler Brown, 3-1, 2.31 ERA, 17 saves, 111 innings pitched, 8 walks, 63 K’s. 1 home run, ..198 average against.

Michigan: Willie Weiss, 2-2, 3.08, 9 saves though he hasn’t been used in CWS.

VU ERA team, 3.74, Michigan 3.40

Team batting averages, VU .314, Michigan .281

Fielding, VU, .981, MU, 974

We have the advantage in hitting, fielding and starting pitching, we have a slight edge though the guy tonight, Tommy Henry, is outstanding, so we’ll need to work the count and really bare down at the plate and knock in runners in scoring position. Our Achilles Heel has been our middle relief. Zach King, Hugh Fisher, Patrick Raby and A.J. Franklin all need to get better. Jake Eder had a rough 7th against Louisville, but pitched well in the 8th. I kind of trust him. I do trust Ethan Smith, and I’d like to see us give Jackson Gillis and Chance Huff a shot. The first 4 I mentioned scare me due to their control problems. I’d like us, if we need to, to use these latter 4 pitchers in middle relief when necessary, Eder, Smith, Gillis and Huff.

Going to be a phenomenal series with 2 storied universities and 2 outstanding baseball programs led by superstar coaches. If we can get to Tyler Brown with a lead late, I feel pretty good about our chances both tonight, tomorrow night and, if necessary, Wednesday Night. Let’s get this one tonight and take it from there.







Kumar, Stephen Scott among others lead Commodores to victory over State

Kumar Rocker went 6 innings, gave up just 5 hits, 1 run, with 1 walk and 6 strikeouts and Stephen Scott crushed 2 homers to lead the No.2 Commodores to a 6-3 victory over No.3 Mississippi State Bulldogs at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

We moved to 56-11 on the season and now play Friday Night at 6 on ESPN against the winner of the Miss State-Louisville game tomorrow. The weather could be a question mark the next couple of days so hopefully we can play as scheduled.

Kumar was brilliant and moved to 11-5 and has a 3.38 ERA. Tyler Brown came on in relief of Patrick Raby in the bottom of the 7th and was just as brilliant giving up just 1 hit, 0 runs with 0 walks and 2 K's. Tyler earned his 16th save of the season. If there's a better closer in college baseball I haven't seen him. Tyler's the best.

Stephen Scott clubbed 2 home runs, he now has 14 on the season. He hit a solo shot and a 3 run shot, and JJ Bleday had 3 hits including a key RBI double driving Austin Martin home from first to put us up 2-0 before Stephen unloaded for his 3 run shot.

Harrison Ray played spectacular defense at second base. He snared a line drive headed into right field late in the game, turned a super double play with Ethan Paul and executed the first out of the 9th on a super stop to the right of him on a ground ball throwing out the speedy Jake Mangum.

It was a terrific performance by the team. We still need to do a little better with runners in scoring position and particularly with our middle relief, but overall, solid effort by the team.

Woodland does it for Amy at the 119th U.S. Open

Gary Woodland put on a historic performance at the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in winning his first major championship in beyond impressive fashion.

Gary’s been through a lot with him and his wife losing one of their twins 18 months ago when they were expecting and the twins were born prematurely. They lost a daughter during childbirthwhich was devastating, but had a son. Their son is healthy now which is awesome, but the loss of their daughter is still a difficult chapter in their lives. They are expecting twin daughters in August and while the loss of his daughter will always be remembered sadly, Gary Woodland has won the United States Open for her and his present and upcoming, expanding family. It’s an amazing story.

There’s also another powerful story in the great Woodland’s life. And that is Amy Bockerstette.

Gary met Amy, who has Down’s Syndrome, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and they played together. They formed a bond that will last forever. Amy had a 16 foot putt on the 18th which she sank. It was a powerful., moving moment. She and Woodland embraced emotionally. She’s special and so is Gary Woodland.

Gary shot 13 under par to defeat the great Brooks Koepka, who was gunning for his 5th major championship in 9 attempts, an incredible feat, at the Open and played superb golf as well. Brooks finished -10. Brooks was down 2 shots on 18 and crushed his drive. He had 237 yards in on the par 5 for his second shot. Brooks said afterwards to Joel Klatt of FOX that he was between a 3 iron and a 4 iron. He knew he couldn’t get the 4 iron there, so he pulled out his 3 iron and attempted to hit it high and land it soft. He hit it perfectly, but the ball landed on the green and rolled to the back into the rough. From there, Koepka could not get up and down for birdie and Woodland still had a 2 shot lead.

Right before that on 17, Woodland faced a long what looked like putt on the difficult par 3 17th, that was over fringe and rough on the large, kidney shaped 17th green. He elected to pull out his 64 degree wedge and chip it over the rough. It was about a 90 foot chip. He executed the shot perfectly with the ball rolling 2 feet from the hole. It was a magical shot, one of many Woodland executed throughout the Open. Woodland rolled it in for par, and for good measure, he birdied 18 from 20 feet. There was the chip in par Saturday on the par 4 13th , that was historically good. There was the phenomenal 3 wood on Sunday on the par 5 14th, where Woodland had 257 to clear the trap. Woodland was going to be aggressive, he was there to win, and cleared the trap in front of the green and the landed the ball 25 feet for eagle and 2 putted for birdie to give himself a then 2 shot lead. Just shot after shot, key putt after key putt, the great 35 year old from Topeka, Kansas by way of the Washburn University (Topeka) and the University of Kansas was not going to be denied.

Gary Woodland is now a major champion on quite possibly golf’s biggest stage. And he did it for Amy, he did it for his wife, Gabby. He did it for his deceased daughter, his 18 month old son and his new twin daughters coming in August.

Not a more deserving guy than the great Gary Woodland. The FOX broadcast of the Open was flawless. Joe, Paul, Brad and crew were phenomenal. FOX has now got coverage of the U.S. Open down to a science. The uninterrupted coverage in the final hour and really a lot of uninterrupted coverage throughout the Open was spectacular. Congratulations to FOX Sports and Joe Buck, Paul Azinger, Brad Faxon and all the FOX golf commentating team on their superb work on the 199th U.S. Open. They have the contract through 2026 and I’m very much looking forward to their broadcast of the 120th Open from famed Winged Foot in New York next year .

Gary Woodland is a champion and there should be more majors to come for the talented, high character gentleman from Kansas. He earned every bit of the 119th U.S. Open championship. He left no doubts on the course that he was the best player in the world at the Open. And there was so much more to the Gary Woodland story than just winning this epic major. He’s a happy guy right now and I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Gary Woodland.

Baseball versus Mississippi State preview, ML:B guys playing spectacularly well

****Please disregard anything about the game taking place tonight. It’s tomorrow at 1:07 PM CT on ESPN****

After a very well played 3-1 victory over Louisville Sunday in which our stellar sophomore third baseman Austin Martin hit two homers, which gives him 4 in his last 2 games, he homered twice against Duke in game 3 of the Super Regional, and a terrific pitching performance by Drake Fellows and Tyler Brown, we square off with a familiar foe in our second hurdle in the College World Series. Our 55-11, No. 2 ranked Commodores square off with No.3 Mississippi State (52-13), which is coming off a wild 5-4 victory over Auburn on Sunday Night. State was down to their last 3 outs in the bottom of the 9th with a 4-1 deficit, but scored 4 times and got a gift from Auburn third baseman Edouard Julien who committed a throwing error on what would have been the third out, and allowed the Bulldogs to come all the way back and capture the game.

Due to inclement weather today the game will be broadcast by ESPN tomorrow, Wednesday, at 1:07 PM CT. Auburn and Louisville will finish up their game which is in the top of the 5th with Louisville leading 4-1, tonight at 9 CT on ESPN. Karl Ravech, Eduardo Pe’rez and KP, Kyle Peterson, on the call. Kris Budden will report from the field. Kyle is a top 4 commentator in sports along with Jay Bilas in college basketball, Herbie in college football, and Cris Collinsworth on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Really like KP’s commentary. He’s spectacular. You will enjoy the game with Kyle’s commentary, particularly if we come out on top

Kumar Rocker, coming off a no hit, 2 walk 19 strikeout performance in one of the most historic performances in college baseball history, will be on the hill for us. Kumar has been spectacular lately, not only the Duke game, but the entire last 2 months of the season. He is 10-5 with a 3.50 ERA, with just 18 walks and 97 K’s. There is a different kind of pressure in Omaha. Michigan’s pitcher, junior Tommy Henry, who pitched a complete game, 3 hit shutout with 0 walks and 10 K’s in a 2-0 Wolverines’ victory over Florida State, said he was extremely nervous when he took the mound. There will be adrenaline running in Kumar and some nerves, but he’s such a competitor and a big game pitcher already. I trust him tomorrow. Kumar will face senior Peyton Plumlee, a right hander, who is 7-4 with a 3.67 ERA, with 27 walks and 63 K’s. Plumlee’s last outing was an 8-1 Super regional victory over Stanford in Starkville in which he pitched 6.2 innings, gave up 2 hits, 1 run, with 1 walk and 6 K’s.

But I believe our guys will be ready to respond.

Austin Martin is now hitting .411 with 10 homers and 45 Ribeyes. His slugging percentage is .641, second only to JJ Bleday’s .715, which are both spectacular numbers. Anything over a .500 slugging in the major leagues is considered outstanding, so what Austin and JJ have done is sensational.

Hopeful that Kumar can duplicate his effort from the Duke game, but if he runs into trouble, our middle relief needs to be good to get it to Tyler Brown in the 8th or the 9th. Jake Eder, Zach King, Ethan Smith, Hugh Fisher, A.J. Franklin, Jackson Gillis and Chance Huff need to all be ready. But if Kumar can give us another spectacular performance, that would be the best of all worlds.

Will keep you informed on this tremendously important game tomorrow.

MLBers

Tyler Beede

Tyler pitched terrifically last night in leading his San Francisco Giants to a 3-2 victory over the 48-25 Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine in LA. Against one of the top lineups in major league baseball, Tyler pitched 6, gave up only 3 hits, 1 run with 5 walks and 7 K’s. Would like to see those base on balls number go down, but he battled and pitched a brilliant game. I watched the first 2 innings before hitting the sack, and Tyler was hitting 95-96 with his fastball, his breaking ball was superb, and his changeup was solid. Just an awesome performance from Tyler, a key piece in our 2014 national championship team. It’s been a struggle for Tyler in the big leagues and he’s gone down to triple A quite a bit due to control issues. But he’s battled and last night’s performance against a stellar lineup can only give him a ton of confidence heading into his next start Saturday at Arizona. Tyler was a first round draft pick by the Toronto Blue Jays coming out of high school in Massachusetts, but turned down their contract offer to come to Nashville. That’s character and maturity. Tyler’s a total class act and I’m really pulling for him to keep excelling. Last night had to be a big boost to his confidence. He’s got tremendous talent, so it’s just continue to tap into that talent going forward. Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who’s won 3 world series in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and is retiring after this season, said Tyler will keep getting better and better. He said this last night after the game. Bochy believes in him. The Giants moved to 31-39, and they are getting better and better. They’ll probably need to get the first or second wild card because the Dodgers are going to be close to impossible to catch.

Yaz

Mike Yastrzemski is making his mark for the SF Giants as well. Yaz has been playing pretty regularly in left field and is hitting .250 with 2 homers and 7 RBIs. Mike made a spectacular, game saving catch in the bottom of the 9th Saturday Night to preserve an 8-7 Giants victory over the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers (40-32). Yaz has always been an exceptional player with great defensive skills, good hitting and super speed, so it’s awesome to see the 28 year old catch on with the Giants.

Mike certainly has great talent in his genes. His grandfather, Carl Yastrzemski, was a 1989 Hall of Fame inductee after having a spectacular career with the Boston Red Sox from 1961-83. Grandfather Yaz was one of the greatest players of all time. The great Yaz hit ,.285 for his career with 452 homers and 1,844 RBIs. He was an 18 time All Star, AL MVP in 1967, Triple Crown winner in 1967, leading the majors in homers, RBIs and batting average, which is almost impossible to do, he was a 7 time Gold Glove left fielder and was a 3 time AL batting champion in 1963, ‘67 and ‘68. One of the greatest memories from my youth was watching the 1975 World Series when Yaz’s Red Sox played the great Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds. That may have been the greatest collection of players to ever play in a World Series. In game 4, a phenomenal game, with Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and the awesome Reds holding a 2-1 lead in the series, the 2 teams put on an all time classic game at Fenway. It went into extra innings. My father made me go to bed since it was a school night. But I turned on my clock radio and listened to the extra innings. The great catcher for the BoSox, Carlton Fisk, with the score tied in the bottom of the 11th, hit a deep drive to left field but it was uncertain whether the ball would stay fair. Fisk was throwing his arms to the right begging the ball to stay fair. It did and the Red Sox won one of the most spectacular games in World Series history. The great Reds team went on to win it in 6 games, but it was such a memorable game with supreme effort from so may players. I’ll never forget it.

Yaz was a legend. Hoping Mike continues that historic legacy in his big league career.

Dansby

Dansby Swanson is playing stellar shortstop for a phenomenal Atlanta Braves baseball team. Dans and the Braves took 2 out of 3 from the Phillies this past weekend at SunTrust Park, defeating Bryce Harper and the Phils, 15-1 on Sunday. Last night, the red hot Braves defeated the Mets 12-3. Dans is now hitting .261, so I’d like to see that average continue to climb and Dans to become a .300 hitter going forward. But he’s an incredibly hard worker and such a high character guy, and will do everything possible to do that. He’s been a stellar player for the Braves this season. Freddie Freeman (.313), Ronald Acuna Jr. (.301) and second baseman Ozzie Alhies (.286) are all on fire. Freddie, at 29, is the leader for this talented, youthful team that’s sprinkled in with some talented veterans. Freddie’s a surefire All Star this year. Freddie has hit 19 homers and driven in 52 runs. He’s been spectacular. Albies was 3 for 4 last night with a homer and 4 RBIs. He has 11 homers on the season. Acuna Jr. launched his 17th homer of the season last night and has driven in 49. And the great veteran Brian McCann has been on fire lately as well. Brian is hitting .303 He hit his 7th homer of the season and his 28th and 29th RBIs. McCann has been splitting catching duties with Tyler Flowers and they are a potent combination as Flowers is having a solid year as well. The 35 year old McCann left the Braves for a while but he’s back where he belongs and says this Braves team reminds him of the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros team that he was on. He thinks this team is that good and getting better and better. The Braves are now 43-30 and lead the NL East by 3 games over the Phillies (39-37). If the pitching can hold up, the Braves can find themselves playing very deeply into October. Certainly a World Series contender. Glad Dans is part of this special team.

Bryan Reynolds

Bryan has pretty much become the every day left fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates because he is performing spectacularly well. Bryan is hitting .361 with 5 homers and 23 RBIs. He also has 15 doubles and 2 triples. Bryan will be a key piece for the Pirates going forward as they try to rebuild their team into a contender for the World Series in the future. The Pirates aren’t bad at 32-39. They’re only 7 1/2 games back of the Brewers in the NL Central with a ton of baseball left. Bryan is a pivotal player for them. Bryan was another member of our 2014 national championship team.

Sonny

Sonny Gray had an excellent outing for the Cincinnati Reds Sunday in an 11-3 victory over the Texas Rangers. Sonny pitched 5, gave up 5 hits, 3 runs, with 1 walk and 8 K’s. The Rangers are a good hitting team and unfortunately teed off on David Price last Thursday Night, so that was good stuff from Sonny. Sonny is now 3-5 with a 3.77 ERA with 27 walks and 79 K’s. Like Tyler, if Sonny can keep his control under control, he’s a fantastic pitcher. He’s got former Vanderbilt pitching coach Derek Johnson as his pitching coach for the Reds, so that’s awesome for Sonny. Johnson coached Sonny at Vanderbilt. Just really happy for Sonny that he’s out of the media zoo in New York and somewhere where he can be himself and be the pitcher he’s capable of being. He’s doing well for the 32-38 Reds, which are much improved from last season.

Curt Casali

Curt is hitting .288 for the Reds with 4 homers and 18 RBIs in a backup catching role. Curt is doing very well every time his number is called and the guy ahead of him is hitting barely above .200 so maybe Curt will keep getting more opportunities. Curt is an excellent defensive catcher as well.

Tony Kemp

Tony is starting at second base for the Astros and hitting .226 with 5 homers and 14 RBIs. Jose Altuve is supposed to come off the injured list tomorrow, so Altuve will probably get the start Wednesday. But Tony is a valuable player to the Astros and I know manager A.J, Hinch will use him quite often in the outfield and when Altuve needs a break. Tony is a superb defensive player. The Astros are playing exceptional baseball once again despite a slew of injuries to position players. They are 48-25 and lead the AL West by 8 1/2 games.

Mike Minor

Mike got another victory on Saturday, 4-3 decision over the Reds in Cincinnati. Mike pitched 6.1 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 runs, with 4 walks and 6 K’s. He gave up a couple of homers, so he needs to be a little more accurate next time and keep it in the park, but he’s having a super year. Mike is 6-4 with a 2.63 ERA with 32 walks and 99 strikeouts. The Rangers may be the surprise team in the Major Leagues this year as they are 38-33 and, as of right now, are the second wild card team in the American League. They’re doing an excellent job out there in Arlington.

David Price

David had a rough outing against the Rangers last Thursday. In just 1.1 innings, he gave up 5 hits and 6 earned runs. Not a David Price like performance because he’s been exceptional for the Red Sox this season. David is 4-2 with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning, good number). He’s walked only 15 and struck out 71. He is so accurate. The Red Sox are heating up now at 40-34 as they’ve won 6 in a row, They are just 5 1/2 games back of the Yankees in the AL East. and David is on the mound tonight @ the Minnesota Twins, which has the best record in baseball at 47-24. So big start for Dave tonight.

Walker

Now last but certainly not least, far from it, Walker Buehler has been phenomenal this season for the LA Dodgers. Walker is 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA and a mind blowing 0.92 WHIP,. That WHIP is hat’s Hall of Fame stuff. Walker has walked only 13 and struck out 84. He’s hitting 97, 98, 99 regularly this season. His arm is powerful and he’s a phenomenal competitor. In Walk’s last outing versus the Cubs, a tough 2-1 loss, Walker pitched 7, gave up only 2 hits with 0 walks and 6 K’s. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen lost it in the top of the 9th giving up 2 runs. So Walker is in extremely good shape. He could be a starter for the National League in the All Star game. He’s got my vote. He’s tremendous.

Next pitching assignments

David Price tonight @ the Twins, 7:10 CT

Mike Minor, Thursday versus the Cleveland Indians @ home, 1:05 PM CT

Walker Buehler, Thursday Night 9:10 CT versus Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. Should be a classic at Dodger Stadium.

Sonny Gray Friday 7:10 PM CT @Milwaukee

Tyler Beede Saturday @Arizona, 9 PM CT ESPN+

****Louisville and Auburn are in a weather delay that’s been going on for 2 hours or so it seems like with Louisville leading 4-1 in the top of the 5th. A lot of game left there, so hopeful our game will start tonight close to time and we can play ball.****

Tomorrow

Will keep you informed on any developments for our baseball team entering the 1:07 PM CT first pitch versus Mississippi State. Once again, ESPN will televise and it can be seen on the ESPN App as well on your phone or ipad or the Watch ESPN website on the computer.

Football commits for 2020 and our 2019 team under DMase. are coming tomorrow as well Coach Mason, now in his 6th season, is doing stellar work on the recruiting trail for 2020 and I like the transfers and the freshmen he’s brought in to play for us this coming season along with 3 returning superstar upperclassmen in tailback Ke’Shawn Vaughn, wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb and tight end Jared Pinkney. Need to get exceptional play from Deuce Wallace or Riley Neal, whoever steps up in August at quarterback. If we can get excellent play from one or both of them, we’re loaded offensively, and I’m excited about what we have on defense. Will have more on Coach Mason and the football program tomorrow.

Also, a Stack/men’s basketball report. Stack has us prepped for a very competitive year in 2019-20. Our goal is to always go to the NCAA Tournament and excel there, and that won’t change next year with some good solid veterans and exciting new players coming into the program. Stack is also burning up the recruiting trail for 2020 with a lot of big name recruits interested in our program. Will let you know about Stack and the bball team tomorrow as well.

Our Vanderbilt Commodores begin their trek in Omaha

The first step in our CWS journey at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha is versus Louisville (49-16) at 1 PM CT Sunday on ESPN.

Our team, after a historically great performance from Kumar Rocker last Saturday Night in which he threw a complete game no hitter with 2 walks and 19 strikeouts, came back on Sunday and hit 5 home runs in a 13-2 Super Regional series clinching victory over a scrappy Duke team.

Austin Martin hit a pair of homers, and Pat DeMarco, Julian Infante and Stephen Scott also went yard. It was a fantastic performance at the plate for our electrically potent offense. We didn't hit our best the first 2 games of the series, but Kumar bailed us out Saturday Night, and we were ready to hit on Sunday.

We are now 54-11. Drake Fellows (12-1, 4.15 ERA, 104 innings pitched, 42 walks, 120 K's) will get the start for us versus the Cardinals, and I'm speculating that the Cardinals will throw left hander Reid Detmers, who's put up some impressive numbers this season. The sophomore is 12-4 with a 2.85 ERA, with 27 walks and 162 K's in 107 innings pitched. So quite a formidable task.

We defeated Louisville in May at Louisville, 6-2, but we'll have our work cut out for us on Sunday. Louisiville had a super season though and finished No.6 in the country. They are 49-16 and coming off a sweep of East Carolina in the Super Regional. Detmers pitched last Friday Night in a 14-1 Cardinals victory and went 7, gave up 5 hits, 1 run with 2 walks and 6 K’s.

Gotta pitch well, defend pretty much flawlessly, and hit in crucial spots, with men on. We need to get men on first. Need Austin to lead the way and JJ, Ethan, Stephen and Philip, all our RBI guys, to come through. A long ball or 2 or 3 would be tremendous. Our whole lineup with Pat DeMarco, Harrison Ray, Ty Duvall and Julian Infante, who was tremendous against Duke, is capable of doing damage. We face a tough left hander, so we’ll have to bare down against him.

The winner of our game vs Louisville will play the winner of the Auburn (38-26) -Mississippi State (51-13) game on Tuesday at 6 PM CT on ESPN.

So exciting times for our baseball team and the Vanderbilt brethren.

As Coach Mason says, and he now has 8 impressive commits for the 2020 recruiting class with very possibly more to follow this weekend in what could be an outstanding class which I'll talk about Monday along with baseball, "God bless and Let's Ride." 

The 119th Open

119th U.S. Open

Pebble Beach Golf Links, 7,075 yards, par 71

2 time Defending champion, Brooks Koepka, Won at Erin Hills (Wisconsin) in 2017 and at Shinnecock Hills in 2018.

2019 Masters Champion, Tiger Woods

2019 PGA Champion, Koepka

Weather, Really nice, 72 Thursday, 74 Friday, 67 Saturday, 68 Sunday. No rain expected. Winds 9-15 Thursday, 8-13 Friday, 8-12 Saturday, 6-8 Sunday.

TV: Thursday-Friday, 11:30 AM-6:30 PM CT, Fox Sports 1, 6:30-9:30 PM CT FOX. Saturday, 11 AM-9 PM CT, FOX. Sunday, 1-9 PM CT, FOX

Key holes

No.7, 109 yards, par 3

Depending on the wind, this can be anywhere from a sand wedge to a 6 iron, though maybe in the case of Koepka and Dustin Johnson, an 8 or 9 iron when everybody else is hitting a 6 iron. The small green is guarded by 6 bunkers, large and small, with the most hazardous obstacle the ocean to the right and behind the green. One of the most classic major championship par 3’s in golf history.

No. 8, 428 yards, par 4

This is Pebble’s version of Amen corner, 8,9 and 10. On 8, the tee shot is usually a 3 wood or hybrid for the longer hitters to a fairway that runs out to a cliff going straight into the ocean at 275 yards. The approach is a challenging one, over the ocean to a small green that slopes severely from back to front. There are 2 bunkers in back of the green if a player overcooks it, and a bunker short of the green assuming the shot clears the ocean.

No.9 526 yards, par 4

Wind is a big factor on this hole, a very long par 4. The Pacific runs along the entire right side of the hole. The best drive sets the player up for a mid iron to the green. If wind is blowing left to right that could spell trouble for players who cut it. But all of them know how to draw it too, but a major challenge with the wind nonetheless. The second shot is usually off a sidehill lie adding to the difficulty of the shot. There is a gully and 2 bunkers short and to the left. They could come into play if the wind is in the player’s face or they hit their drives into the rough off the tee. This is a U.S. Open so the rough will be up, around 3 inches in spots. One of the Golf Channel commentators, I believe it was Brandel Chamblee, said the players will struggle if they’re on the sides of the greens because it is really thick, and sticky in the rough and chipping could be a nightmare off the green. So hitting the green is at a premium at Pebble Beach.

No.10, 495 yards, par 4

The ocean again runs along the entire right side of this hole and the fairway slopes severely towards the Pacific. The green is another small green at Pebble. The greens on Pebble average 3,500 square feet. At Bethpage Black for the PGA Championship, they averaged 5,500 square feet. There is a steep drop off to the beach on the right and bunkers catching anything long and left. The green slopes severely towards the ocean. These are Poa annua greens which are tricky to read, and can be slower, though with the drier conditions this week, they could be quicker, stimping about 11 1/2-12.

No.17, 208 yards, par 3

This historic hole is where Jack Nicklaus hit the pin with a 1 iron that led to his victory at the 1972 Open, and where Tom Watson chipped in for birdie in 1982 to win that Open over Nicklaus. It typically plays right into the Pacific wind to an hourglass green protected by a massive bunker in the front and smaller bunkers over the green. Key hole on Sunday if you want to win it all.

No. 18, 543 yards, par 5

A picturesque closing hole. The Pacific runs down the entire left side of the hole. If the competitor pulls his drive or has too much draw on the ball, “Foget about it. “ A birdie is challenging as the competitor needs to hit the middle of the fairway clear of the 2 trees right in the center. If the player is right on his second shot there is a tree overhanging in front of the green that is troublesome. There is also a deep bunker on the right side that is also a problem with a bad approach. The green is tricky with slope and not that wide. Depending on how tough the USGA has the course set up, a par might win it for the 119th champion.

Winner

I was thinking Jordan Spieth earlier this week, even coming into today. Spieth has been trending well lately, but listening to him in an interview, he’s too uptight right now. He’s his own worst enemy on the golf course, he’s too negative. Just has a poor attitude right now. I’m not taking him anymore. I don’t see Dustin winning, though he’ll be in contention. Can’t seem to close deals at majors. Rickie Fowler, that would be a negative. Bryson DeChambeau has a shot.

But what tilted the winner for me was what I heard on Live From the U.S. Open on the Golf Channel last night. Rory was the first one complaining about the U.S. Open the past several years, then Tiger was whining about it and Mickelson was the worst. He said the USGA has messed it up all 29 years he’s played, unless it rains. He said they’ll do it again. Cry me a river, Mickelson, Tiger and Rory. You have a privilege that not too many people have and that’s doing something you really enjoy and getting paid a lot of money to do it if you’re successful. Nobody wants to hear that complaining. Mickelson has no room to complain after last year’s total lack of competitive spirit and totally low classed move when he hit a ball that he putted that was still rolling down the hill of the green at Shinnecock in the Open. Then he told the media and people watching, “If you don’t like it, tough it out.” The media and viewers weren’t the problem, it was the little whiner Mickelson, who couldn’t keep his composure enough to play within the rules. I’ve changed my opinion of him completely since then. Not a big fan of the crier. He’s kind of like Urban Meyer really. Just a whiner. He won’t win.

My pick sealed it when he responded to their whining this way. He said,

“Everybody has to play the same course. Everybody needs to hit fairways and greens, If you put it in the fairway and hit greens there’s no reason to complain. Obviously, they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do. Nobody wants to hear excuses.”

Give me a 3 peat

Brooks Koepka

Photo, Golf Digest

Photo, Golf Digest

Vanderbilt Baseball, Football, Brandt Sneds, MLB draftees and award finalists unplugged

Game today at 5 PM CT vs Duke in the Super Regional. RHP Drake Fellows on the hill for us. Drake is 12-0 (wow) with a 3.87 ERA and he's been exceptional recently. Just a warrior for us. Drake will be opposed by Duke RHP Ben Gross (7-4, 4.09). ESPN2 will televise. Weather looks iffy in Nashville right now, so not positive game will start on time, but hopefully we can get it in tonight and have success. Saturday's game will be at 8 PM CT and televised by ESPNU. Kumar will be on the hill for us. Kumar is 9-5 with a 3.91, and, like Drake, has been spectacular. Kumar will square off with Duke RHP Bryce Jarvis (5-1, 4.06). Sunday's game is scheduled for a 2 PM CT start with pitchers to be determined. For us it'll be Mason or Rabes. Hoping it's Mason. Really trust Hick.

Brandt Sneds shot a 60 today at the RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Hamilton, Ontario, the eastern part of Canada. Brandt blistered the course with 8 birdies and an eagle. It was phenomenal. Brandt started on the back and shot 31, then added a cool 29 on the front for a 10 under par 60 round. The par on the course is 70. Brandt had the lead at -11, but is now a shot back of Scott Brown who is at -12 through 17. I picked Brandt to win the tournament on my all sports blog, so pumped for Brandt and the prediction. Brandt won this tournament in 2013 when it was played at Glen Abbey Golf Club, but according to a friend of mine who is Canadian, this course is much better and one of the top 5 courses in Canada. Just had a really good feeling about Brandt coming in. Hoping he can pull this off and have a ton of momentum heading into next week's 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach where he won the AT&T Pebble Beach pro am twice in 2013 and 2015. Loving this from Brandt. Will keep you posted.

Coach Mason got a huge commit from 85 3 star outside linebacker Griffin Lampton. Griffin is 6'4", 220 and posted 14 sacks his junior year for Palm Beach Central High School. Watched Griffin's film. He's impressive. Just a dominating force rushing the passer and very good in stopping the run on the perimeter. Saw several tackles for loss too. Griffin will be playing his senior season at the great St. Thomas Aquinas School in Fort Lauderdale, FL. That school produces studs and that's exactly what Griffin is.

Griffin joins 88 3 star quarterback Ken Seals, a 6'3", 203 pound commit from Weatherford, Texas and a very impressive player. Also, 85 3 star wide receiver Logan Kyle from Memorial High School in Tomball, TX, and 84 3 star offensive tackle Bradley Ashmore (6'6", 280) from Neptune Beach, FL. Duncan U Fletcher High School, are in the fold.

All 4 are impressive players. I'm hearing we might be getting Malik Langham in the fold for the 2019 class. He is a 4 star defensive end from Alabama who signed with Florida but is getting out of the letter of intent and coming our way. He is asking for a waiver to play immediately. Coach Mason is really loading up the defensive line. Loving what DMase is doing. We're in the weight room, the freshman are on campus and working out, and football season sounds exciting.

Right now we've got a baseball series to think about. If you didn't know, JJ Bleday was drafted by the Marlins as the 4th overall pick, Drake went to the Padres in the 6th round, Philip Clarke was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 9th round, Ethan Paul went to the Pirates in the 9th, Stephen Scott was drafted by the Red Sox in the 10th round, Zach King went to Miami in the 13th round, Jackson Gillis was picked by the Brewers in the 13th round, Joe Gilbilot (16th, Rays), AJ Franklin (17th Kansas City), Patrick Raby (17th, Reds), Pat DeMarco (17th Yankees), Ty Duvall (25th, Oakland) and Julian Infante (36th, Miami) were all selected in the draft. That's exceptional. That ties an SEC record with 13 players picked in the MLB draft. We join the 2016 Texas A&M team and the 2018 Kentucky team with the most SEC players ever selected in a single year. Says a lot about Tim Corbin's recruiting and our players' character and hard work.

Tyler Brown has been nominated for the Stopper of the Year award given out by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Tyler is one of 6 finalists. The winner will be announced Saturday, June 15th at a news conference at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha at 10 AM CT, the day the CWS starts. 

JJ Bleday, who is already one of 4 finalists for the Golden Spikes Award for the best player in the country, has been named as one of 5 finalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, which is also voted on by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. JJ is one of 5 finalists. The award is for character, leadership, desire and competitiveness. That winner will be also announced Saturday, June 15th at 10 AM CT at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

The Golden Spikes winner will be announced around that time as well.

Big weekend. Great stuff from Brandt and DMase and awesome stuff from our draftees and Tyler and JJ. 

Will have much more tomorrow including reports on our major leaguers and of course a recap of tonight's game.

The 151st Belmont Stakes preview and prediction RBC Canadian Open prediction

The 151st Belmont Stakes commences at 5:48 PM CT on Saturday with NBC televising. The weather looks perfect, high 77 and sunny.

Here are the post positions, horses, trainers, jockeys and odds. 10 horses are entered for the 1 3/4 mile race.

  1. Joevia, trainer, Greg Sacco, jockey, Jose’Lezcano, 30-1

  2. Everfast, trainer, Dale Romans, Jockey, Luis Saez, 12-1

  3. Master Fencer, trainer, Koichi Tsunoda, Jockey, Julien Laparoux, 8-1

  4. Tax, Trainer, Danny Gargan, Jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr., 15-1

  5. Bourbon War, Trainer Mark Henning, Jockey, Mike Smith, 12-1

  6. Spinoff, Trainer, Todd Pletcher, Jockey, Javier Castellano, 15-1

  7. Sir Winston, Trainer, Mark Casse, Jockey, Jose Rosario, 12-1

  8. Intrepid Heart, Trainer, Todd Pletcher, Jockey, John Velazquez, 10-1

  9. War of Will, Trainer, Mark Casse, Jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, 2-1

  10. Tacitus, Trainer, Bill Mott, Jockey, Jose Ortiz, 9-5

Prediction

I’m going to take the horse that finished 3rd in the Derby. With the reading I’ve done on the horse and just looking at the horse, this horse is built for the 1 3/4 mile distance. He won the Tampa Bay Derby, and the Wood Memorial. The jockey on board him, Jose Ortiz, won the Belmont 2 years ago (2017) on Tapwrit. I’m taking Ortiz, trainer Bill Mott and:

Tacitus

Like Tacitus to take the third jewel in the Triple Crown (Photo, Kentucky Derby).        Prediction for the RBC Canadian      I’m going to take the 38 year old from Nashville this week. He won this event in 2013, and I like him this year after he shot 67, 68 and 69 the last 3 days at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth 2 weeks ago. He has also won the AT&T Pebble Beach (2013 and 2015) where the 119th U.S. Open will be played next week.      Give me      Sneds

Like Tacitus to take the third jewel in the Triple Crown (Photo, Kentucky Derby).

Prediction for the RBC Canadian

I’m going to take the 38 year old from Nashville this week. He won this event in 2013, and I like him this year after he shot 67, 68 and 69 the last 3 days at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth 2 weeks ago. He has also won the AT&T Pebble Beach (2013 and 2015) where the 119th U.S. Open will be played next week.

Give me

Sneds

Like Brandt Snedeker at the RBC (Photo, PGA Championship).

Like Brandt Snedeker at the RBC (Photo, PGA Championship).