Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC? An MLB rookie retiring? And a college football coach on life support?
Your Thursday afternoon edition of "Five things to know before 5 AM" is live
A lot of varied topics on today’s Snippets, with more questions than answers in the wide world of sports. Two legendary universities are possibly moving conferences? The April 2021 MLB rookie of the month retiring? And, one of the top college football coaches of all-time diagnosed with a terminal illness? We need more answers, as I talk about these issues, as well as a recap of yesterday’s NHL expansion draft that occurred last night.
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1) Oklahoma and Texas… to the SEC?
So… this news came out of nowhere yesterday afternoon - two of the most storied college football programs in the southwest in the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas - had preliminary talks with the South-Eastern Conference (SEC) to merge their school sports with that historic conference, and that an announcement could come in a matter of weeks.
This joint transfer would change the college sports landscape (and particularly the college football landscape) completely, as these two teams (currently Big 12 members) were two of the eight founding members of the current Big 12 (now expanded to 10 teams), and two of the more dominant teams of the Big 12. In terms of all college sports, these two universities rank first (Texas, with 59 Big 12 titles) and third (Oklahoma, with 38) since the inaugural year in 1996. The potential loss of these two universities would leave a gigantic crater for the rest of the Big 12, as both Texas and Oklahoma literally bring the Big 12 relevancy; without them, , it would be like having no fireworks on the 4th of July or no turkey on Thanksgiving.
As for a possible SEC transfer and what it would mean? The conference would then be loaded with talent, with the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma and Texas. And, only two of these teams can reach the SEC Championship game.
We will all have to wait and see, but we have an interesting development on our hands in the coming weeks.
2) Yermin Mercedes… retiring?
Add this headline to another story no one saw coming. Yermin Mercedes, the rookie designated hitter for the Chicago White Sox who was crowned April’s Rookie of the Month after a 0.415 batting average (!) and an out-of-this-world 1.113 OPS (remember, an above-average OPS is 0.800 or better), suddenly, out-of-the-blue decided to retire, according to his Instagram post last night.
“The Yerminator”, as crowned by the White Sox faithful, actually had a terrible subsequent May, with a terrible 0.196 batting average and two home runs in 47 games. As a result, he was demoted to a Triple-A Charlotte Knights on June 2nd. And, then we have this ‘retirement’. The White Sox organization saw this post (of course), and were caught off-guard with this news and have made no official news regarding his ‘retirement’.
More to come, of course, as this is a developing story, but I hope the best for Mercedes.
3) The Tigers…. have won six straight games?
Who would have thought that the hottest team in baseball is a team that is currently 46-51 and was among one of the bottom-dwelling teams over the past half-decade? Well, it’s the Detroit Tigers, as they are currently 6-0 since the All-Star Break, and have since swept the Minnesota Twins and are currently going for the four-game weekday series sweep against the Texas Rangers. The Tigers have done this with their hot bats (former Baltimore Orioles’ second baseman Jonathan Schoop has been the team’s best player and is on a current 11-game hitting streak and rookie outfielder Akil Baddoo has had a hit in seven of his last nine games, including four multi-hit games in that span), and their pitching as allowed a minuscule 1.2 runs/game during this six-game winning streak.
4) Who did the Kraken draft?
The much-ballyhooed NHL expansion draft took place yesterday. And like I said in yesterday’s Snippets, we knew of the results as the news trickled in after the 10 AM deadline, but the roster was unveiled pick-by-pick in a TV event last night. And there were many surprises. The expansion team in the Seattle Kraken opted not for the big names and veterans with high salaries - like Montreal Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price, Carolina Hurricanes’ defenseman Dougie Hamilton and Philadelphia Flyers’ forward James van Riemsdyk. Instead, they went for cheaper and younger options across the board, as you can see above. In terms of notable players that they did select, that would include Calgary Flames’ captain Mark Giordano, New York Islanders’ winger Jordan Eberle and Washington Capitals’ goaltender Vitek Vanecek.
The loss of Vanecek is huge for the Capitals, as they now have to find a new goaltender to back up now-third year Ilya Samsonov. The team, nor I, expect the veteran New York Rangers’ legendary goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to return to the Caps after he had off-season heart surgery.
5) Bobby Bowden… the former famed Florida State football coach (1976-2009), on life support with terminal illness
Speaking of sports icons and health issues, the former Florida State Seminoles head coach and second-winningest college football head coach of all time Bobby Bowden has been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition in a statement released yesterday. He is currently 91 years old (and the father of former Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden), and led Florida State to two national championships (1993 and 1999), 12 total Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC) titles and a top-5 team for 14 consecutive seasons since the team joined the conference back in 1991.
I hope for the best for the Bowden family in these sad, somber moments right now.
We are done with another edition of my Snippets on this July Thursday afternoon. So, until next time, signing off.