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Random Thoughts: Arkansas vs. Florida

With game over almost from the start, what observations made it bearable?
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HOOVER, Ala. — Welcome to another dose of random observations, a collection of all the thoughts that popped into my mind while taking in an early morning serving of Razorback baseball.

Braydon Webb-Florida

Shady from the start

The game started with controversy as Arkansas lead-off hitter Braydon Webb stepped out of the batter's box thinking he had a timeout while Florida's Nick Pogue threw a flat, hittable fastball right down the middle of the plate.

The umpire called strike three, sending Webb into a fit of rage.

Watching it live, it looked like Webb just stepped out while Pogue started his wind-up.

However, the replay clearly showed Webb calling time out before the pitch started, hesitating for a second, and then stepping out. 

Cayden Wallace then made it a point to shout a time out during his at-bat, making sure the entire stadium could easily hear the sass in his voice while leaving no doubt time had been called.

It was a moment that would have drawn past teams together in an "us against the entire SEC" seething anger that would lead to a stream of stick this in a sunlight deficient region innings resulting in a statement mercy rule game.

However, that's not how this team is built. These aren't killers. 

We finally saw in the sixth inning what was expected while things were still raw in the first couple of innings as Cayden Wallace and Michael Turner took out their frustration with back-to-back solo home runs after falling behind 5-0.

This team lost its edge back when it allowed a group of fair weather fans convince a Top 4 team that it wasn't worthy of their love because they were such a horrible team. They started believing keyboard warriors who probably couldn't hit a dart board with a baseball from 10 yards away instead of trusting in themselves and their coach.

They also lost their ability to have fun. Teams that realize they are playing a kids' game and have fun along the way are the ones that win.

Think back to the Major League World Series teams at Texas and Anaheim with their antlers and rally monkey respectively. Take a look at the Arkansas softball team always laughing, dancing, making crazy objects out of Powerade cups and wearing a rally squirrel on their head. 

Now think of the body language of this Arkansas team the past two weeks. They look miserable most of the time and they're so tight it looks like a fence post has been run up their backside to the top of their shoulders. 

The look on their faces is that of a man who works at a job that has beaten him down and he wants nothing more than to never report to work again, but has no choice. Arriving at the ballpark is work for these young men, which is not good at any level, much less during tournament play when fun should be easiest to come by.

This team doesn't have a talent problem. The difference between possibly winning a College World Series championship and going out in two games on the road in a regional is 100% mental.

Brady Tygart-LSU

Bad to worse

When a game turns south in a hurry, the goal is to get all players through safely and turn focus to the regionals, much like Mississippi State did last year. 

Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Brady Tygart, who had flashes of greatness throughout the season was not having his best outing, and it eventually became clear why. 

Tygart gave up a home run followed by a hit batter. He then attempted a pick at first base and nearly threw it into the stands. 

His day closed with a breaking ball that was so far off that it went way behind the batter, then took a hard break and hit him on the back right shoulder. As coaches came out to meet with Tygart, it looked like it might be an injury situation.

Fortunately for the Hogs, Tygart was battling dizziness and was light-headed. He should be available for the regionals.

There are people who think this much about sausage

Early in the game, there was a Johnsonville sausage commercial that reminded us there is someone in the world whose job it is to do nothing but think as deeply about sausage as a pastor should be thinking about the Lord on a daily basis.

The commercial pointed out that you can't have sausage without the USA. That's when the people at home start spelling sausage in their heads, and the ones who were born before spelling was removed as a subject in school realize the people at Johnsonville are right.

SaUSAge. The United States of America is right there in the name. 

Someone get me a grill. It's time to take advantage of the cool weather while honoring my country.

Not all commercials have so much thought

There is a car insurance commercial that has run throughout the tournament where a kid his a home run that presumably hit a car and broke the front glass of a car parked in the outfield.

However, the kid is being falsely blamed for the damage. The car is parked with its trunk and back glass facing the outfield fence. 

 The ball comes from in front of the car to break the glass, so it couldn't have come from the home run. What appears to have happened is the insurance spokesman snatched up the home run ball and threw it into the windshield of this poor person's car just to try to convince him/her of the need to buy his insurance.

If insurance sales don't work out, maybe this shady fellow could have a future as an SEC umpire.

The most unsacrificing sacrifice of all time

Apparently part of the condition of getting Jalen Battles to come back was that Van Horn had to give up his No. 2 jersey to the celebrated short stop. 

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The SEC announce crew tried to sell this as a heart-warming story of sacrifice, but even they couldn't hold this forced angle together for more than a few seconds. 

There is nothing more unconsequential in this world than the number a baseball coach wears on his uniform. The gift of a manger's number is on par with giving someone the leftover pizza crust on your plate after you've tapped out. 

It's still hard to understand why baseball coaches wear player uniforms.

Softball doesn't do it. Courtney Deifel isn't out there rocking skin-tight baseball pants while sprinting to home plate to high-five another home run hitter.

Jordyn Weiber isn't running around Barnhill Arena in a leotard and splashes of chalk powder. 

We'd see Sam Pittman in a different way if he had to strap on a set of lineman shoulder pads and a helmet while he worked the sidelines of Razorback Stadium. 

If Eric Musselman had to throw on a basketball jersey and shorts while scowling at referees in front of a packed crowd at Bud Walton he would look like a disgruntled four-year-old wearing his big brother's hand-me-downs. He'd never get another call again.

It's a tradition for the sake of tradition that needs to go away.

Connor Noland-UIC-1

Can Connor Noland still throw a football?

Seeing the shape Connor Noland has gotten himself into this year makes one wonder if he can still spin a football. 

He was once the future at quarterback for the Razorbacks, but he was smart enough to recognize that Chad Morris had a bag of nothing and opted to move permanently into baseball.

Unfortunately, prospect rankings show Razorbacks dropping like a rock, and Noland doesn't show up in the Top 400 rankings.

However, with Arkansas having such a need at quarterback for the upcoming season, maybe it's a good time to use that COVID year and see what might have been. 

Get that kid an NIL deal

There was a ball boy along the third baseline who demonstrated the highest of integrity. 

He promised a young man sitting nearby that he would get him a ball if the opportunity came. When a foul ball went to left field, he grabbed it up with a gaggle of young men trying to pressure him into give one of them the ball.

However, the ball boy stuck to his promise and gave it to the young man who had originally asked. When the grateful fan tried to slip the ball boy a bit of cash, he was shaken off.

There are a lot of people out there getting NIL deals who don't bring value equal to what they are being paid. This is a young man who would be worth every penny.

Yes Sir!

That rowdy group of foul ball chasers deep along the left field line did eventually get a shot at a collectable. 

When the young man who came away with it after beating out a large group charging down to the bottom of the hill, he shouted out "Yes sir!" as he held the ball high. 

He was immediately echoed by those around him with Sam Pittman's signature "Yes sir!" of their own.


HOGS FEED

HOGS ONE WIN OVER TEXAS AWAY FROM MAKING HISTORY

COUNTDOWN BEGINS TO ARKANSAS VS. CINCINATTI

WHEELS ON RAZORBACKS' WAGON IS WOBBLING AFTER OPENING SEC TOURNAMENT WITH LOSS TO ALABAMA

LANE KIFFIN IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT ABOUT NEW WORLD OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL MAY BE ON SLIPPERY SLOPE TO DRASTIC CHANGE IN ARKANSAS

IS GREG SANKEY, SEC, LOOKING BIGGER THAN ANY OF US WOULD GUESS?

HAVING ONE PERMANENT OPPONENT IN SEC MIGHT BE AWKWARD FOR HOGS

ESPN ANALYTICS SAYS HOGS NEXT TO LAST IN SEC WEST FOOTBALL RACE


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