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Why Do the Diamond Dogs Struggle in Midweek Games?

Yesterday, when Quinton McDawg called Bulldog Nation's attention to Georgia's win over Georgia State on Wednesday and what it means for Gordon Beckham's and the Diamond Dogs' prospects later in the year, a reasonable question was raised regarding Georgia's struggles in midweek games.

In response, a good point was made twice---namely, that you save your best pitchers for weekend conference games---but I believe there are two other reasons why the Red and Black have won every S.E.C. series so far this season while struggling with the Georgia States, East Tennessee States, and Winthrops on their schedule:

1. Lack of focus. It's tough for an athlete in any sport to be mentally and emotionally "up" for every game. This is especially true in a sport like baseball, where a team plays so many contests in a season and an individual non-conference game so seldom matters terribly much. Football players understandably have difficulty being at their best against Florida International as much as they are against Florida, and they play a twelve-game slate in front of many tens of thousands of fans even on a day with sparse attendance; imagine how much more tough a task that is for a baseball player who plays 55 games a season in a sport whose popularity at the college level is less than it ought to be (and whose popularity in Athens specifically is hamstrung by rather obvious disadvantages), and it's easy to see why Georgia committed half a dozen errors over the course of two out-of-conference contests this week after winning eight league outings in a row.

2. Fatigue. Connected with the foregoing reason is the fact that baseball teams play so many games and, this season, with the uniform start date producing a condensed schedule, the problem of getting worn out by so many games in so short a span is exacerbated. By the time they get to the end of the L.S.U. series on Sunday, the Diamond Dogs will have played five games a week for six straight weeks. That's a grind, by anyone's standards. Fortunately, things ease up a bit as the Red and Black head into S.E.C. tournament time---in terms of the number of games to be played, if not in terms of the quality of the opposition to be faced---but, right now, these players have every reason to be dog tired.

Besides, there is one thing we always need to bear in mind regarding the performance of athletes, particularly amateurs playing at the college level on scholarships that offer them less (often substantially less) than a full ride; namely, if your local newspaper printed a daily box score providing a detailed statistical exegesis of how you performed at work every weekday for a period of several weeks, how would you look to outsiders?

To be fair, the commenter who raised the question at the Georgia Sports Blog wasn't ripping on the Classic City Canines, he was just trying to find out the explanation for a phenomenon he had observed. I believe there are reasons, and they are good ones, and, at the end of the day, this team still has found ways to win, which very much is to the players' and the coaches' credit.

Go 'Dawgs!