Sideline View 02/20/20

By DALE MCKEE,

College baseball is back in Mississippi. The big three guys of Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Mississippi all had impressive starts to the college baseball year. Mississippi State, who has played in Omaha the last two years, swept Wright State in Starkville while USM did the same in Hattiesburg to Murray State. Ole Miss surprised the nation’s No. 1 team in Louisville as the Rebels won two of the three games. Ole Miss was picked sixth SEC West this year in the preseason polls, while MSU has been a top 10-ranked pre-season team by the media. USM was picked again to win Conference USA.

Say it isn’t so, Rob!

I know you have heard this statement at least once in your life. Leave it alone. Don’t do it. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred needs to rethink his terrible plan about adding four more teams to the MLB playoffs. When I started following baseball, only two teams played in the post-season. The American and National League champs met in the World Series. There were 10 teams in the American and National League and only those two teams played in the World Series. There wasn’t a championship series, a league division series or even a wild-card game. Ok, so we are up to 30 professional teams and now have 15 teams in each league. So would upping the playoff teams from ten to 14 and having the top teams choose their opponents to play be any fun? This is ridiculous, as we would be playing baseball from March to Thanksgiving. There has got to be a better way.

Hoop News

Mississippi State (16-9, 7-5) basketball had a seesaw week losing to Ole Miss early in the week but rebounding to edge Arkansas to keep their chances alive of making the NCAA baseball tournament. Ole Miss (13-12, 4-8) split their two games romping over MSU at home and then traveled to Lexington where they lost a nail biter in the final seconds to No. 12 Kentucky. The Bulldogs will play South Carolina and Texas A&M this week while the Rebels play Missouri and Alabama.

Southern Mississippi (9-18, 5-9) won two homes games over Florida Atlantic and Florida International this week. USM final four basketball games were announced on Sunday afternoon. The Golden Eagles, 11th in C-USA, will be the top seed in the third pod. They will host Middle Tennessee this Saturday before playing on the road at UTEP, at home against Rice and on the road again to end the regular season at Middle Tennessee.

The Lady Bulldogs (22-4, 10-2) were upset in Lexington by Kentucky, 73-62, in SEC play Sunday. MSU is still in second place and should be the second seed in the conference tournament that begins March 4.

Moss Point native Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns lost to Buddy Hield on the final shot of the NBA-All-Star 3-point contest. Booker is averaging 26.4 points per game in his fifth regular season for the Suns.

Football News

San Francisco 49ers defensive back Tarvarius Moore had time earlier last week to return to his hometown of Quitman. Moore, who was an electrifying quarterback in high school, took time to visit his favorite city and was able to give back.

The New Orleans Saints' biggest question is who will be the quarterback in 2020. Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater and Tayson Hill are not under contract for next year. The Saints are the No. 2 scoring offense in the NFL over the past five seasons. Hopefully, the Saintly bunch will get a signature from Brees real soon. 

The greatest clown

I am saddened to report the loss of Dixie National Rodeo clown Lecile Harris. The 83-year-old performed at this year’s rodeo in Jackson, where he has been a fixture for several generations of Mississippians. He brought so much laughter to so many. Harris will be missed.

Dale is a Waynesboro native who has been writing sports in Mississippi since 1973.