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McCollum's Column: Southland baseball, the NBA and a special Dickey-Stephens game

Posted: May 1, 2014 - 7:00pm

As we hop into another Toad Suck Daze weekend, here’s hopping around for a variety of “David’s Appetizers,” assorted musings and observations on the sports scene:

 

SOUTHLAND BASEBALL

The University of Central Arkansas will host the Southland Conference baseball tournament in three weeks.

Seeding is really irrelevant.

The University of Central Arkansas, which enters a crucial series this week tied with Oral Roberts for eighth place, has some work to do just to gain the eight-team field.

Here are the conference and overall records of the top baseball teams in the Southland Conference:

Nicholls, 15-6, 25-21; Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 14-7, 25-21; Sam Houston State, 13-8, 31-14; Northwestern State, 13-8, 25-20; McNeese State, 13-8, 24-21; Lamar, 12-9, 27-18; Southeastern Louisiana, 12-9, 27-19; UCA, 10-11, 22-19; Oral Roberts, 10-11, 23-21.

Every team is capable beat anyone else. There will be no real favorite.

Although most of these have come in mid-week games when frontline pitchers are not normally used, SLC teams have victories over the following teams, with highly respected baseball programs, from major conferences: Alabama, Memphis, Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Baylor and Rice.

The league is both blessed and cursed by parity.

The Southland teams are good enough to get two bids to the NCAA tournament. But because of the carnage among each other, the tournament champion will likely get the only bid.

Last year, UCA just made the tournament as the No. 8 seed and went on to the finals of the NCAA regional at Starkville, Miss.

 

THE CLIPPERS OWNER

Donald Sterling, maybe the world’s most famous slumlord and bigot right now, doesn’t deserve a big heading.

He’s not only a bigot but he’s crazy.

For years, he’s been a blot on the NBA, the sport most populated by African-American athletes, but his antics were ignored by former commissioner David Stern.

Now, the Los Angeles Clippers has suddenly become one of the most sought-after franchises in professional sports with a who’s who of celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Magic Johnson and Floyd Mayweather, rumored set to bid if the owners vote to force Sterling to sell.

It seems a done deal. There’s not only the moral philosophical case but the economic issues. If Sterling is not removed, corporate sponsors (a key to any such business nowadays) will abandon the NBA ship posthaste. The NBA will face a possible revolt by the players and the public.

 

THE GRIZZLIES- THUNDER SERIES

The first-round series is one of the greatest in NBA history, championship worthy. Four of the five games have gone into overtime.

The Thunder may have the best overall talent. But the Grizzlies know how to grind and find a way to win.

 

A DIAMOND IDEA IN THE ROUGH

Vilonia and Mayflower have two of the best high school baseball teams in the area, both representing a feel-good respite in the face of tragedy in the two Faulkner County times.

Tuesday, both will play a baseball game at the Arkansas Travelers’ Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock. Admission is free but donations will be taken and all proceeds from concessions will go toward storm relief efforts.

The ballgame should be worth watching. More important, it is certainly worth buying a hot dog or two, some peanuts and a soft drink.

It’s a great way for the Arkansas Travelers to not only give the high school players a chance to play in a Minor League Park but to do something tangible for their community.

(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)

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