The Back Nine comes at you after a pretty sweet weekend weather-wise in our village and some good family time. I almost felt fully retired.
10. I’m sure many of you are eager to get to Thursday night to see where Kyle Pitts is drafted and certainly to see if he is the highest tight end ever taken in the NFL Draft. One thing to remember is that if he is fourth or sixth or tenth, it will have nothing to do with how he plays at the next level. I am going to miss watching him play in the Swamp, but having him in the league along with Kadarius Toney and Kyle Trask and so many other Gators may force me to buy the NFL Ticket. The three years of Dan Mullen have had more players that were a joy to watch than the previous eight years combined. Mullen’s teams have had some deflating losses (uh-oh, I feel a ranking coming on), but they have been fun. I think people forget that they were begging for fun when he was hired.
11. So, here they are, the losses of Dan Mullen in the order I would put them in terms of pain and suffering (I know, they were just football games):
1. Georgia 2019.
2. LSU 2020
3. Kentucky 2018.
4. Texas A&M 2020.
5. Missouri 2018.
6. Oklahoma 2020.
7. LSU 2018.
8. Georgia 2018.
9. Alabama 2020.
Feel free to disagree. And don’t fret. I have a feeling his 10 best wins will pop up soon on The Book of Lists I do for Gators Wire.
12. I know that there was this thought that Florida would go to Auburn and sweep an Auburn team that has only two conference wins heading into the series, but taking two of three kept the Gators in the race for the SEC East and set up a great series that was already much anticipated this weekend against Vanderbilt. Florida is two games back and it is still a difficult team to get a handle on pitching wise, but road wins are very valuable no matter who you are playing. Let’s face it – the Gators will likely be a regional host and then travel for the Super regional. It’s close to being set in stone.
13. And likewise, the softball team was supposed to sweep against South Carolina, but lost the first game of the series and the Gamecocks celebrated like they had just won a trip to Oklahoma City. Stuff happens in a long season and UF righted the ship to win the last two games. And Arkansas, which was running away with the conference title, lost two to Missouri at home and the mighty Gators are right there with a chance to win the SEC.
14. I remember the old days when we would talk about how Florida needed some more competition in volleyball to sharpen its edge. And now, the SEC has its first national champ in the sport and it’s not Florida. Congrats to Kentucky, which is having a phenomenal sports year.
15. I first heard that Kim Mulkey might leave Baylor – where she won three national titles and will go into the Hall of Fame this summer – for LSU last week. I was stunned. But then I remembered what Carol Ross told me when she came out of retirement to coach at Ole Miss. “Sometimes, momma calls and you have to answer,” she said. So, I get it. But it just made everybody’s job more difficult in the SEC.
16. I didn’t like Trevor Bauer after he dominated Florida in Omaha or when the Braves couldn’t hit him to save their lives in the playoffs or when Atlanta couldn’t sign him. But I like Trevor Bauer today after when he said Saturday. As the story goes, he was pitching with one eye closed in spring training against the Padres. When Fernando Tatis Jr. blasted a pair of homers off the Dodgers pitcher Saturday, he rounded the bases with one eye closed and his teammates also mocked Bauer. Wow, someone is getting plunked. But not so fast my friend. Here’s what Bauer said after the game – “I like it. I think that pitchers who have that done to them and react by throwing at people or getting upset and hitting people or whatever — I think it’s pretty soft. If you give up a homer, the guy should celebrate it. It’s hard to hit in the big league … I think it’s important that the game moves in that direction, and we stop throwing at people because they celebrated having some success on the field.” Amen to that.
17. This week’s “Florida Four” involves the SEC Championship Games. Florida has won seven of them and in four of those wins the Gators scored in all four quarters. But not in the other three. There’s a tidbit for you. They did not score in the third quarter of the 1994 game (in fact they were leaking oil on offense badly), the fourth quarter of the 2000 game and the third quarter of the 2008 game. But, of course, they found a way to win those games as well as the four where they scored in every quarter.
18. Please, don’t get upset, but I have decided to return to the old days with my Playlists. The point of these was to introduce the peeps to some newer music or simply songs that had been out there a while, but I just discovered. All I ask is that you give one a listen and I will always have an oldie for the stubborn.
* “Andromeda” by Weyes Blood.
* “Whistle for the Choir” by The Fratellis.
* That should tide you over and there is also this for an old one – “Over My Head” by Fleetwood Mac.
My daughter Jennifer takes full responsibility for this playlist.