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Are the Diamond Dogs Running On Empty?

It’s not that I’m looking past this afternoon’s game against Jacksonville State, particularly after what happened last week, but I’m thinking about this weekend’s series with Florida, in light of this assessment by Quinton McDawg:

Given the performances turned in when the Dawgs have played top teams, one would have to agree that Georgia is a good team. But, you can also conclude that we make too many mistakes to win a championship, conference or otherwise. The lower part of our order is unreliable. We walk too many batters. We strike out too much. Our defense is average to below average. Despite these flaws, we've been leading the SEC most of the year. You just wonder how much longer that can last.

Quinton’s view, however, appears positively sanguine when compared to the position taken by College Buddy:

Is the glass half empty?

Okay, maybe I’m being too negative, but I am very frustrated with UGA’s apparent inability to win the "big" series. I need not mention last years College World Series finals, right? And this year, Georgia has gone 1-2 each against ‘Bama, LSU, and Ole Miss, the recognized higher echelon conference teams on their schedule thus far. While these teams have all beat up on each other pretty good, none of the others has a losing record against all three, and LSU actually has a winning record against UGA, ’Bama, and Ole Miss (2-1 each). And after going 24-3, the ’Dawgs have gone 9-8 in their last seventeen games (7-5 in the conference) and managed to post losses to Winthrop, Georgia Tech, and Jacksonville State. Anybody else feel like that’s just a little sub-par?

Is it fair to say the Diamond Dogs are faltering, or are the Classic City Canines just running up against tougher competition? Are they starting to show signs of fatigue due to the uniform start date? If so, will they get their second wind before arriving in the house of horrors that Hoover has been for the Red and Black?

I don’t have much room to quarrel with Quinton and College Buddy; the data they quote are undeniable, and it is disconcerting to note that the Classic City Canines are 5-5 in their last ten outings, which gives them the same record over that span as Tennessee. The Volunteers are in sole possession of last place in the East, are tied for last place in the league, and are eight games behind Georgia.

Here, for whatever they might be worth, are a few encouraging facts to be borne in mind:

  • At 14-7 in S.E.C. play, the Diamond Dogs are in first place in the division and are tied for the league lead.

  • At 33-11 overall, the Red and Black have the best record in the conference.

  • Georgia has played 15 games against top 25 opponents. Florida has played the same number of games against ranked teams and South Carolina has played one more. The Gamecocks are 6-10 against the top 25, the Gators are 6-9, and the Bulldogs are 9-6.

  • Finally, the Classic City Canines’ 13-5 road record is the best mark posted by an S.E.C. team in away games, a la Mark Richt.

Undoubtedly, recent weeks have been disappointing in many respects and the No. 1 ranking Georgia has carried for part of the baseball season presently appears as undeserved as that same poll position was for the Bulldog football team last fall. The Diamond Dogs’ 6-0 record against division foes will receive by far its toughest test starting Friday night.

Baseball is a humbling game, much more so than the other major sports. It is the sport in which a major league player who fails to get a hit in 60 per cent of his at-bats over the course of a 162-game season is guaranteed of a place in Cooperstown by virtue of his being a great hitter. On the diamond, as on the gridiron, there ain’t nothing wrong with being a Georgia Bulldog that beating the Florida Gators can’t fix.

Let’s see where we are on Sunday evening. If we lose two out of three to the Orange and Blue, then, yeah, I’m going to be ticked. I’m willing to be patient through this weekend, though, as fan interest is peaking and, if recent history is any indication, the Red and Black will get it turned around when the chips are down.

Go ‘Dawgs!