MSU Mailbag — Feb. 21, 2019

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I was surprised by how much love there was for my Twitter thread of Mississippi State baseball players and their walkup/warmup music, so why wouldn’t we start there?

Hello, Cody Perkins (@cody17perkins) — Who has the best walkout song one week into the season? Who had the best ever?

This being my third year on the beat, I’m far under qualified to answer the greatest ever debate, but I can dive into recent history with the best of them.

My passion for the fantastic saxophone riff in Elijah MacNamee’s walkup is well-established, so I don’t have to wax poetic about that. Thus, I think my answer is Gunner Halter: Grillz by Nelly. Y’all gotta remember, I’m 26 years old, I grew up around the turn of the millennium. Hearing that song was the best kind of a throwback, and I love Gunner for bringing that song back into my existence with each AB.

Close runners-up include Marshall Gilbert (the epic drum riff from Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight) and Cole Gordon (Immigrant Song/Led Zeppelin.

From @dalemo830 — Are you disappointed MacNamee is sticking with alternating walkout songs instead of permanent sax?

At first I was, no doubt. But upon realizing the song he chose, I grew to be OK with it. I think it’s the meaning/pun involved that makes it acceptable. If he were to simply take away from sax playings just to play another good song, I might be disappointed, but come on, it’s Return of the Mac as Mac returns to the plate. I can live with that.

We’ve got a few more baseball questions, so let’s hit all of them at once, shall we? @lpchowdog saw something on Six Pack Speak about how balls just go deeper with the new Left Field Lofts and he was hoping I can add to the debate.

To be honest, LPchowdog, it’s a little too early to tell. I need more data.

Think of all the factors going into this. Temperature can play a particularly big factor here. Alignment, too: it’s easy to see how alignment can change depth. Plus, this early into the new stadium’s life, there just hasn’t been enough action in left field. I think we need more data to really study this thing.

Does nine months sound like a fair timeline?

Hello, New Dude (@CP_2) — What do you think about the HR light show?

I don’t mind it. I’m sure it irks the baseball traditionalist crowd out there, but that’s not me. Here’s why: I like baseball, and I want it to continue being played generations from now.

Any activity in society has to adapt to continue being played. Imagine if football never left the leather helmets: the deaths in the sport would’ve taken off, probably sometime in the 50s or 60s, and the game probably would’ve never reached the 90s as people realized it’s too deadly to continue on. Baseball has had to adapt countless times over the years, from the live ball era to ball park adaptations to financial structures and more. Sometimes those adaptations feel strange at the time, but the game would not continue on in future generations without them.

If light shows after home runs and a little more freedom for celebration as a whole is what it takes to reinvigorate youth in baseball again, then I’m cool with it.

And of course, always the most pressing question around the Bulldog baseball team. It comes from @MSULewis — Will State host a baseball regional?

This weekend will be a solid measuring stick, if Mother Nature allows those games to happen. But I will say this: I find a few things about this crop of newcomers pretty convenient.

I made this point on the episode of Dogpile, Matt Wyatt and I’s new baseball podcast, that we recorded earlier this morning, so find that in your platform of choice for the full description of it all. The short version is this team needed a second baseman, a few DH options, bullpen arms and more options at catcher and the newcomers have filled all voids. A team with no holes has a really good chance of getting through the SEC well enough to host a regional, and there is at least a chance that this team can live up to that. Now we wait for the season to tell us one way or the other.

Ok, so we have a serious and intriguing women’s basketball question before a pair of nonsense questions to end it. Rob Montgomery, @10RobertWilliam, asks: What’s the simplest answer to explain why there has been so much parity at the top of women’s hoops?

Elite players feel like they can compete for championships somewhere other than UConn and Tennessee. It took a while to prove that, but now it’s been proven, and thus the talent distribution is more wide.

Take a look at the sport between 1995-2010, 16 years. UConn and Tennessee won 12 of those 16 titles. Four more times one of those two schools was the runner-up — and all four times it was Tennessee losing to UConn in the national title game. If you’re an elite prospect in women’s basketball for that long period of time, and competing for championships is a top priority (as it is for many), why would you seriously entertain anyone other than UConn or Tennessee?

Since then, good coaches have built strong programs elsewhere and taken that monopoly apart (even with UConn winning four title in a row from ’13 to ’16). Baylor got going under Kim Mulkey; Vic Schaefer helped win a title at Texas A&M and now has Mississippi State at a similar level. We’re even seeing different programs in there now: Syracuse, Louisville, Stanford, they’ve all gotten to the highest level of the sport at times in recent history.

It was more difficult to bring down a top team then because they had 90 percent of the top talent. That percentage has slid down now to the point that, in a given year, the top 10 prospects might spread themselves over six or seven schools, maybe more, as opposed to concentrating as many as possible within three or four. The same is even more true in the second tier of talent, and that’s why top teams fall more often these days: it’s infinitely more likely for them to face teams with an at least comparable talent level than it was even 10 years ago.

(rap horn) NONSENSE TIME. @sbcmortgageman — If you could pick any number between 1 and say, 69, which number would you choose?

What a nice range of numbers that is. Random selection is such a beautiful thing sometimes, isn’t it?

My answer is 32, because at the time of this publication, that’s the number of guaranteed opportunities remaining to step inside that unbelievable baseball stadium known as the new Dudy Noble Field. (I know that’s not the answer you’re hoping for but I also know you’ll like the thought behind it. See? Got ya.)

And finally, from @BearionLedger — Ever thought of starting a newspaper? P.S. I want my own column.

I have my own newspaper, sir. It’s called the Hudson Report here on mattwyattmedia.com. It’s a digital newspaper that publishes randomly. The delivery people hate this system, but at least they’re all allowed to make side hustles as Uber drivers.

While I mull over your pitch of a column on this fine home for journalism, allow me to write a headline for this Mailbag and check it twice.