It’s a really bad movie, and I love bad movies. I was an original Mystery Science Theater 3000 watcher, coming home late on Saturday night and turning on WGNT (now the CW or whatever) and watching Mike and the gang make fun of hilariously bad flix. Well, this one is worse than that. I speak of course of Minority Report, a movie that was so overhyped with Tom Cruise right before the meltdown and a plot that bordered on the absurd. Not to get into the future-psychic crime solving theme (BTW Trivia: most of it shot in Gloucester and Irvington, VA), but one line always stood out to me. “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
In no way, shape, or form do I credit those writers for coming up with this line. It is actually credited to [flips to Wikipedia] Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutch theologian who lived around 1500. The way I view this quote is “all things equal, the slightest advantage would give you the greatest edge.” And now it’s relevance to UVa sports.
This weekend, Virginia will host another Charlottesville Regional for the NCAA Baseball Tournament. The Hoos have a lofty #3 National Seed, second highest ever, only outdone in 2011 by the #1 Seed UVa garnered. The Cavaliers will host Arkansas, Liberty, and Bucknell, and will open their tilt against the Bison on Friday at 2pm. And while Virginia should be able to advance out of this region, there is some cause for concern.
The one advantage Virginia has had all season has been pitching. UVa (7th in the NCAA in ERA) has generally, and decisively, had the upper hand in all of their matchups and have been more than comfortable in low scoring affairs, as they were trying to scrap out runs. But with Arkansas (15th), Liberty (14th), and, I’ll even go there, South Carolina (8th) possibly looming in the Super Regionals, the Road to Omaha will be laid by the team that can push runs across the plate.
Unfortunately, scoring is something that the Hoos have not done well in this season. And while I point this out, I can hear the collective groan come out of most of my readers at this point, as I am sure to continue to drive this point in the ground. A 5 second search of the Virginia archives shows that this is the lowest run output Wahoo team in the last 5 years, and it’s not even close. This years 308 total runs in 57 games and .277 BA is downright low. The next lowest would be in 2012, but the Hoos scored 409 runs in 59 games while batting .296, a respectable number. That’s about 2 runs a game difference.
Yes, I will point out that Virginia’s pitching (2.36 team ERA) has been spectacular and the Hoos are on pace to finish with the 4th best team ERA in school history and will challenge the 2011 record of “Best Staff” under Brian O’Connor, but that team at least had some hitting backup. While you can argue the merits of Liberty’s schedule relative to their ERA, you can’t touch what Arkansas and SC have done in the loaded SEC. And when you finish 1-2 in pitching in that league, you have to take notice.
So what does Virginia have to do? Hit. Any one that is going to come out of this Regional and Super Regional will have to score runs. And since all those games will be in the ‘spacious’ confines of Davenport Field, putting the ball into play multiple times per inning will be the key. Look for Waddell or Lewicki to get the start on Friday with Kirby/Waddell going in game 2 and being at home, should not be an issue. If the staff can keep teams under 3 runs a game, they should not have a problem winning games. If the Hoos get into a shootout or fall behind too early, and it is be difficult to see this UVa team has the advantage in either of those scenarios. But at the end of the day, and even though they have 2 SEC teams in their way, this is a strong matchup for the Hoos and one they can take advantage of.