Nevada baseball season really getting started
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .
The Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team clinching the Mountain West regular season title is all well and good. It’s certainly nothing you want to take off your hook and toss back into the lake. But it’s also nothing that warrants a parade down Virginia Street. You could argue this has been the worst baseball season in the 16-year history of the conference. Just two teams (Nevada, San Diego State) were more than a game over .500 going into Thursday and there were even two teams (UNLV, San Jose State) lower in the league standings than perennial doormat Air Force. But give the Pack credit for doing what they were supposed to do. They won a mediocre-to-bad league. But now is when the season really gets interesting.
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This Wolf Pack baseball team has loftier goals than just winning Mountain West titles. This team has a chance to transform Wolf Pack sports all together. The 2004 men’s basketball team who went to the Sweet 16 and the 2010 football team who went 13-1 and was ranked 11th in the nation were the two best teams in school history. But if this Pack baseball team wins a Regional and a Super Regional and goes to Omaha for the College World Series, well, Trent Johnson’s hoops team and Chris Ault’s football team are going to have to take a backseat to Jay Johnson’s baseball team. This Pack baseball team is on the verge of breaking down the barriers and eliminating the excuses for Wolf Pack sports from here on out.
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There’s no question this is a good Wolf Pack baseball team. It has won 38-of-50 games and is among the best hitting teams in the nation. It leads the nation in runs scored and is in the top 10 in homers, on base percentage, slugging and batting average. But what does it all mean when it comes to winning a regional? Good question. The Pack has gotten fat against a weak schedule and has been almost unbeatable (21-3) at home, playing in altitude against a ton of bad teams. That formula worked from 1994-2000 in the regular season but it never worked in the regionals, when you have to beat good-to-great teams on the road at sea level. We’ll find out if this year will be different.
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If you’re thinking about creating the Wolf Pack’s Mount Rushmore on the slopes of Mount Rose someday, you better consider adding the likeness of Ramon Sessions. The former Wolf Pack point guard has always been overlooked throughout his amazing career, first at Nevada and now through eight seasons in the NBA. But all Sessions has ever done is perform when called upon. He was the glue that kept those great Pack teams (2005-07) together. And now he’s doing the same for the Washington Wizards, his sixth NBA team. Sessions scored his playoff career high of 21 points on Tuesday when starter John Wall was out with an injured hand. If you’re wondering why the Pack basketball team hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament the past eight years, it’s because it hasn’t had a true point guard like Sessions.
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Does anybody care Tom Brady and the New England Patriots played around with the air pressure in some footballs? Of course not. But the NFL, and some idiot media members, are going to act like it matters. Yes, more than half the league’s players are on performance enhancing drugs, retired players in the 50s are committing suicide and there always seems to be a handful of players in jail or sitting in front of a judge and lawyers for one reason or another. That is no big deal in the NFL. It’s just business as usual. But if you let the air out of a football, well, that’s when the league really gets upset. If you think this tarnishes the legacy of Brady, well, put away your Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw jerseys and forget it. Nobody is taking away Brady’s Super Bowl rings. Nobody is going to take away his super model wife because a few footballs had a little less air.
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The San Francisco 49ers had a draft that could get a lot of people fired within the next two years. Arik Armstead is a project. Nobody ever heard of Jaquiski Tartt until the 49ers took him in the second round. And if you have Vernon Davis why do you draft two tight ends? Do you really ever have to draft a punter? The 49ers’ most valuable and important commodity is quarterback Colin Kaepernick and, well, the 49ers didn’t get Kaepernick any presents in this draft. They might have taken steps to make sure Kaepernick is wearing another uniform in a couple years.
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The 49ers also wasted a great opportunity by not signing Wolf Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo to a free agent contract. Kaepernick and Fajardo, the two greatest quarterbacks in the history of the pistol offense, would have been great together. Fajardo, instead, is going to the Oakland Raiders, a team that has only seen a pistol in the stands at the Oakland Coliseum.
Fajardo and Kaepernick could have helped each other and taken the pistol to the next level.
The offense wouldn’t have had to change a bit if Kaepernick ever needed a breather. The 49ers, though, signed South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson as a free agent and have Blaine Gabbert as the No. 2 behind Kaepernick. Go figure.