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Let's Go Lions and Other Northeastern Teams in The Big Baseball Dance

I admit to a bias towards northeastern teams who play baseball in the direst of weather unlike the warm weather schools. But since baseball is a game of character as well as talent and technique, don't count out the northeastern teams when they hit their groove at tournament time.

For the second season in a row, Columbia earned a third seed in the Miami regional where they will face #2 East Carolina on Friday May 29 at 1p. ESPN3, available on your computers, will cover all regional games, and ESPNU will have look-ins at
most games.

Host Miami plays Florida International in the Fri night game. It is a double elimination tournament so it behooves teams to win the first game and go into a winner’s bracket.

Other assignments for northeastern teams are St. John’s taking on Oklahoma at the Sooners stadium in Norman, TCU taking on Sacred Heart, one of the few teams in the field with a losing record but does have Bobby Valentine as the school athletic director, and in the same regional, Stony Brook, which made the College World Series in 2012, plays always tough NC State.

It would be a major upset if any of these schools advanced to the super-regionals in the first weekend of June but in college baseball late May and early June are what dreams are made of. And three cheers to those who are still playing meaningful baseball at this time of year.

Meanwhile on the major league scene, Memorial Day has come and gone and there is little form taking shape in most of the races, especially in the American League where a once-dominant division could now be called the AL Least. My Orioles are still under .500 but before games of May 27th they were even in the All-Important-Loss-Column.

That is no longer true. The Orangemen of Baltimore are pretty punchless these days and just lost at home to surprising Houston 4-1 while the Yankees routed the Royals for the second day in a row after losing 10 of 11 games. It is going to be that kind of year, folks, so as the late Mets announcer Bob Murphy said wisely at the end of a close individual game, “Fasten your seat belts.”

As someone who loves it when people come through the farm system, I am heartened by rookie Oriole pitchers who recently made their MLB debuts: Mike Wright from East Carolina U – the same team Columbia will tangle with on Friday – has not allowed a run in his first two impressive starts.

And Oliver Drake has also given them a big boost in bullpen. A former 43rd round draft pick out of the U.S. Naval Academy, Oliver did not graduate from Annapolis because he wanted to pursue his baseball career immediately. He suffered through a shoulder operation and periods when he wasn’t even on the 40-man roster but now he has arrived and hopefully will stay.

When the Oriole bats will awake is now the big question and as the old saying goes, “That’s why they play the games.”

That’s all for now - Always remember: Take it easy but take it!
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