• LSUBEAT.com • Schedules • Depth Chart • Recruits • LSU in NFL • LSU Gear

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Is it the clean living?

HOOVER, Ala. - The LSU baseball team won its 17th game Wednesday and goes for win No. 18 tonight against Vanderbilt.

We have heard many of the possible reasons why the Tigers suddenly went from an 11th place team in the SEC to the hottest team in the nation with the nation's longest winning streak. Chemistry, better pitching, smarter playing, the team concept, timely hitting, confidence are all potential reasons as well as the lack of global warming.

They are very talented, but that injection was just before this season. It takes time even for No. 1 recruiting classes to mesh.

LSU coach Paul Mainieri thinks there is another reason - clean living. And he may have a point.

This LSU baseball team has set school records for grade point average over the last two semesters at 2.83 and for the last semester at 2.89. They have also turned in the most community service hours of any male team on campus over the last two semesters with 345. These were not court mandated community service hours either.

"I think that means a lot," Mainieri said. "There is a direct correlation on how guys perform off the field to how they perform on the field."

Now, winning coaches tend to think that everything they do justifies itself during periods of success. Obviously, winners are not always good people. Just look at some of the criminals and spies who have had success in the NFL. Chemistry also tends to be overrated. The great New York Yankees teams of the 1970s tended to hate one another. The coaching staff of the Alabama national championship team in 1992 did not get along famously. And some of Skip Bertman’s best baseball teams were not all model citizens and choir boys.

But you are what you believe in, and Mainieri’s way is working for him. Last year at this time he was being criticized for getting rid of some talented players who did not fit his mold. He's getting the last laugh. He's won everywhere he's been, and it’s hard to argue with 17-0 and a SEC West title after the last two LSU teams finished below .500 in the SEC.

“This year we were able to bring in some players that are high character kids,” he said. “And I’ve always believed that if you start off with high character kids that have some baseball talent that are willing to do things the right way that things will turn around and you can have success on the field.”

Mainieri believes the best managers surround themselves with good people.

“That’s what I’ve tried to do here,” he said. “All of a sudden you’ve got some well rounded kids that are about the right things and they define a team in an unselfish way. I just figured the success was inevitable.”


Post a Comment

<< Home