About this time last year, I asked then-first-year Texas Tech baseball coach Tim Tadlock if playing at a high level and playing winning baseball were one in the same.
I’m not sure, at that point, if either of us knew the answer simply because we hadn’t seen much of either to that point. But we agreed that you can’t play winning baseball without playing at a high level.
Going into the finals break in 2013 the Red Raiders were 23-27 and 7-14 in Big 12 play.
Counting this week, just six weekends remain in the college baseball regular season for 2014.
So you know what that means, right?
Yep, time to start those regional projections.
And for the first time in 10 years, the Red Raiders are solidly in the two media organizations doing projections.
Throughout the first third of the season, as the Texas Tech baseball team got off to one of its best starts in more than a decade, one question kept coming.
Is that start for real?
Honestly, I wasn't for sure, and I wasn't ready to say it was for real because of one simple reason.
I'd seen these kinds of starts before. Spending 17 seasons covering one team, you're bound to. I've also seen these starts not last.
This weekend at Rip Griffin Park was a lesson in Perception vs. Reality for the Texas Tech baseball team.
By dropping a home series, the Red Raiders (22-9, 4-5 in Big 12 Conference) lost the advantage they’d gained from the previous week in winning a road series at TCU. Tech did the same thing last year, beating UT 2-1 in Austin then dropping two of three the next weekend at West Virginia.
Ask any rabid Texas Tech baseball fan if they would have taken the results of this past weekend in Houston — and I did ask a couple of them that I know — and the overwhelming majority would likely have said yes.
Given the Red Raiders’ struggles over the last 20 years against Rice, most would trade losing to Sam Houston and Houston to beat the Owls, which Tech did, 2-1, on Sunday, to go 1-2 at the Houston College Classic and break a 15-game losing streak to Rice.
Brett Bell, who played for Texas Tech in 2013 but who was not on the opening-day roster for the Red Raiders in 2014, was arrested late Friday night on three drug-related charges.
Bell, 21, was arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (between 4-400 grams) and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Tech spokesman Blayne Beal said that Bell had been suspended indefinitely before the season, and his name is not on the Tech roster nor was he included in the 2014 media guide.
Texas Tech junior shortstop Tim Proudfoot is out indefinitely with an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder suffered in practice this week.
Tech officials said the coaching staff is optimistic about his return this season but do not have a timetable set for any return at this point.
Proudfoot reportedly suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch in the shoulder.
In his career, which spans two full seasons and four games, Proudfoot has started in 110 of the 111 games in which he has played, including 52 of 53 games last season.
Every season, after every opening weekend, there are three kinds of reactions from college baseball fan bases across the country:
1. Well, we're a good team and we showed it.
2. Uh, oh. It's going to be a long season.
3. Hey, we may actually be better than most predicitions.
Red Raider fans have had plenty of Nos. 1 and 2. But for the first time in maybe a decade, legitimately, Tech fans might be able to confidently and loudly proclaim No. 3.
Saturday marked the first preseaon scrimmage of the 2014 spring season for the Texas Tech baseball team.
It was a cool, noon scrimmage so the team could break and get to the men's and women's basketball games later that afternoon. The scrimamge went eight innings with eight pitchers throwing two innings each.
Here are some highlights:
So, it's January 23, basketball season is hitting the home stretch on the high school level and is deep into Big 12 play on the college side, and a cold blast of air is sweeping through the South Plains.
Yep, you guessed it, time for baseball.