Baseball Cards Return Friday

Forecasters are calling for snow in Louisville. So the ground may be white Friday, with temperatures hovering in the 25- to 30-degree range. Welcome to Jim Patterson Stadium for opening day of the 2008 college baseball season.

Nobody expects good weather, it’s always bad in Februar1757451y. The Cards play on field turf so the game will go on unless it’s raining, sleeting or heavily snowing. Be surprised if a capacity crowd is not on hand for the opening game of a three-game series against Cleveland State.

The Baseball Card took local fans on quite a ride last season, all the way to the Final Four and the College World Series. Get wrapped up in your old Liberty Bowl stuff if necessary. Cold weather should not be a factor in the decision.

This season also marks the 100th anniversary of University of Louisville baseball. A special logo has been created to commemorate the fete, featuring John Heldman, who coached for 28 seasons, and former Cardinal standouts Jim LaFountain and Trystan Magnuson.

Be there. Opening pitch is 2 p. m.

* * *

Friday is also a huge day for women’s athletics on Belknap Campus.

The softball team (4-4) also plays its first home games this Friday — a doubleheader, taking on Northern Illinois at 2 p. m. and Nebraska at 4 p. m.

The lacrosse team opens a new chapter in U of L athletics when the Cards play their first official game in the school’s history. They will be squaring off against Bryant University of Rhode Island at 1 p.m. at the new lacrosse field.

First News First: Steve & Casey Engaged

Our son Steve, whose first outfit was a University of Louisville gown, just proposed to his charming girlfriend Casey on a dinner cruise at Land Between the Lakes. She said “Yes,” and they are engaged. Congratulations to a couple of wonderful people. Our thanks and prayers for what promises to be a great journey.

Kids

ACC Game on South Florida Turf

Some hurt feelings and red faces at the University of South Florida today.

City officials in Tampa, which happens to be the location of USF, have negotiated for the rights to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s championship game in 2008 and 2009 on dates that will deprive the Bulls of home games at Raymond James Stadium.

In addition to causing USF and the Big East to lose face, Tampa will host the ACC title game on Dec. 6 and again in 2009, and those dates preclude USF from playing home football games in the final week of the regular season. USF lost an opportunity to play a Thursday night ESPN game against Rutgers that week as a result of the contract signed by the ACC.

A USF Sports Blog quoted Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio following a meeting today between USF and Tampa Sports Authority officials:

“We are accepting of the ’08 and ’09 schedule with the ACC football tournament [game] and recognize that that is something we will go with because that is the arrangement. Our real emphasis today has been on long term and how the University of South Florida’s football program fits into the priorities of this community. It is a large priority of this community, and I think that was accepted by everybody in this room.

Surely a lot of people at USF were not clued into the negotiations and some city officials had a lot of explaining to do. During the meeting at her office today, Iorio also instructed city officials not to pursue the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game beyond 2009, leaving the calendar open for the Bulls to play a home game the first weekend in December.

Pitino Returns To Perturbed Providence

Providence College, a place full of happy memories for Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, is not Happy Valley these days. They held special ceremonies honoring Pitino on his last visit. Some Friar fans this time want to unceremoniously dump Tim Welch, the current PC coach.

Welch has been backed into a corner by the fans and local media, as well as the Providence administration. Welch’s pre-game introduction is usually accompanied by boos and calls for his job. His contract extension is very much in doubt.

Welch has coached his team to two NCAA tournaments and made three NIT appearances in nine years. However, his current team is struggling with a 13-11 won-lost record and 4-8 conference mark. Providence Journal sportswriter Bill Reynolds recently observed:

Booing Welsh became the new parlor game late last year when his name was announced before games, a smattering of discontent. Saturday night it bordered on becoming ugly. So what is going on here? I suspect it’s several things.

At the most obvious, it’s the fact that the Friars are not as good as the fans want them to be. The basketball world has changed. Not only is the Big East a monster of a league that takes few prisoners, it’s a league with an unofficial tier system. The top teams are trying to get to the Final Four and win the national championship. The Friars are trying to get to the NCAA Tournament once every three or four years and save the coach’s job.

Despite the won-lost record, the Friars have been impressive at times, posting wins over UConn and Arkansas. They are led by Jeff Xavier, a 6-1 point guard, averaging 12 points per game and hitting 37% of his three-point shots.

Saturday’s game has been declared a “black out” game, with fans being encouraged to wear black clothing — not good symbolism for their current coach.

Hearts for the Cards

Valentine’s Day, let’s show some appreciation, with special tokens for University of Louisville folks who enrich our lives:

Brian Brohm — A commitment to honor the No. 12 jersey during this year’s opening football game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Harry Douglas — First round draft pick by the Chicago Bears.chocs

Rick Pitino — An exclusive contract for American Express basketball commercials, relieving fans of Krzyzewski overexposure.

Steve Kragthorpe — Three baseball player signees who are good at catching fly balls, as well as deflecting or intercepting long passes.

Tom Jurich — A national championship trophy in something to go with his Athletic Director of the Year award.

Dan McDonnell — Unseasonably warm weather for the early months of the college baseball season and many capacity crowds.

Angel McCoughtry — A heart-shaped box of Godiva for making it fun to watch women’s basketball.

David Padgett — Big East Player of the Year recognition for his contributions while overcoming significant injury.

Terrence Williams — A special place in the new downtown arena for one of his priceless quotes, along with a large graphic of him kissing the Freedom Hall court.

Bobby Petrino — A shipment of some of the dirty laundry he left in his dash from U of L to Atlanta and Fayetteville.

* * *

Moving On UpPomeroy has the Cards ranked No. 7 in his latest power ratings. Slow down, man.