College baseball is back – I repeat, college baseball is BACK! This weekend was opening weekend for college teams around the country with dreams of making it to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Or, in LSU’s case, returning to Omaha. Last year, the Tigers made it all the way to the Championship game, coming in second to the Florida Gators. This weekend, they looked to open their season proving that they deserved the preseason #9 ranking and a chance to make it back to where they were last year!
A lot of people don’t like watching baseball on TV because it moves slow. I’m definitely not one of those people – at least when it comes to college baseball. In general, I’m just more of a fan of college sports over professional. I’ll watch college baseball all day on TV (especially if it’s Tech Baseball, who, I might add… are ranked #3 in the country and swept their season opener). In my last summer course in college I opted to watch the NCAA Tournament instead of (attempting to) listening to my economics professor. Hey… class interfered with regionals. Which is probably why I got a C in the class. But I prefer to blame it on the fact that economics just does NOT click in my mind. I’m more of a science and algebra person.
So the Fighting Tigers opened up their season against the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame usually has a solid baseball team. They’re a very prominent school with prominent athletic programs so they never have any issues putting together great teams. They proved that this weekend taking the series opener from LSU 2-1.
For those who might not know exactly what that means, I’ll break it down for you. Unlike football, baseball plays three games over a weekend (called a “series”). Usually they’re Friday-Saturday-Sunday. If LSU wins all three games, it’s called a “sweep.” In the case of this weekend LSU won Friday night and Notre Dame won Saturday. So today, the series was split 1-1. Unfortunately Notre Dame came out swinging for the fences today and pulled off the win and claiming the series 2-1. Baseball teams also have either mid-week series, which are Tuesday-Wednesday, or mid-week games, which are just a single game during the week. These are usually smaller teams. If I remember correctly, this week’s mid-week game is against New Orleans. It’s just one game versus two. Those are mainly scheduled to pad your season record a little. They’re not always easy though. This year, Texas Tech is traveling to Kentucky for a series, and is also taking on Louisville in a mid-week series. Both of those schools have great baseball programs (but we can take ’em, no worries!)
LSU Baseball is a really storied program with 6 National Championships and even more College World Series appearances – most recently last year. I’ve been to The Box before back in college but this was my first game as a true member of the Tiger family. I did a little exploring around the stadium this weekend so I could share it with y’all who have never been before! And a few behind-the-scenes places that most people never get to see!
Friday night was cloudy and rainy. Luckily the rain held out for the game at least, but it still made for a muggy evening. I sat Saturday out to get some work done and catch the Texas Tech Basketball game on TV. Today was PERFECT baseball weather! Partly cloudy and 70 degrees. Nice breeze, beautiful in the shade. Ah, it was awesome!
For those of you who don’t know, LSU Baseball home is Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Or, as we call it, The Box!
LSU has an absolutely gorgeous stadium! It really is one of the best college stadiums I’ve been in. It’s very well put together with a lot of cool features. On the ground level, they have a Champions Club for special guests (which was too crowded to get a good picture of) and the LSU Baseball Offices on the first base line. They also have a LSU Baseball Museum on the third base line, which I actually didn’t know existed until Sunday!
Our press box is right behind home plate and is really set up well. Very spread out and organized. Sometimes I feel like press boxes get messy but LSU does a great job keeping things nice. It sits between the first base line suites and the third base line suites.
These are definitely the nicest suites I’ve seen in a college baseball stadium. Fully stocked with candy, popcorn, great food… comfy seating, granite counter tops, flat screen TVs… what I’d give to watch a baseball game in one of those!
I came early on Friday night for batting practice. That, and to get good parking. Parking for a baseball game here is insane. If you’ve ever had to fight college campus parking (like parking at the BA Building at Texas Tech after 11:00am)… multiply that by 5 and you have LSU Baseball parking!
Alex Lange and Jared Poche returned to throw out the first pitches for the game Friday night. I was lucky enough to get to see them in action last year here at The Box. My friend Paige brought me to a few baseball games before I even thought this was where my path would lead me. They were both two of the best pitchers in the country and are playing in the pros now.
Our tickets are behind the visitor’s dugout, so the cheers you hear are opposite of what you’d probably want. But it’s actually kind of cool to sit behind the visitors. You get to see what they do for their traditions and chants. We also sat next to the 2nd baseman’s mom who told us all about the team and her son. Personally I think that stuff is pretty cool to get to experience.
Notre Dame had two three-run homers. This was one of them. Obviously it wasn’t good for LSU, but you can’t knock what Notre Dame did this weekend. They played a hell of a series!
As for what a loss during their opening season means… I wouldn’t read too much into it. The team’s young, they lost a lot of starters. LSU always brings in top baseball talent.
Being that LSU is such a well-known baseball program across the country, it’s no surprise to anyone that they have some incredible facilities. There’s two Alex Box Stadiums – the new and the old. This is obviously the new Alex Box Stadium. This one opened in 2009 and LSU is now planning some really cool updates and renovations (not that they need them, but of course athletic facilities are a never-ending “keeping up with the Jones'”).
Inside the stadium, they have an entire history museum for LSU Baseball. If you ever get a chance to, I highly recommend just looking through it. If you can’t, I’ve got you covered!
The first shadow box you see is totally dedicated to the original Alex Box Stadium. This was one of the original seats inside the stadium, the home plate, and old LSU uniforms.
I’ll shuffle around a little bit. The next section that I really enjoyed getting to see up close were some of the LSU greats’ MLB uniforms – signed and all!
This little beauty right here is called the Golden Glove. It’s essentially the MVP award for the best college baseball player. This one, specifically, was awarded to DJ LeMahieu in 2014. BUT, not to take away from LSU baseball whatsoever, LSU also has a more recent Golden Glove Award recipient. AJ Andrews received the award in 2017 and became the first woman to receive the award. She played softball here at LSU. She’s a graduate assistant in my office now, and she’s just an absolutely awesome person! So it’s safe to say LSU is loaded on both the side of baseball and softball!
Here’s the extensive history of LSU Baseball’s success all in one shadow box! These are my favorites to look at whenever I’m around new facilities. Sometimes they have them in museums like this, but most of the time they have these sorts of things in the staff offices, which not everyone always gets to see.
And, of course, the man himself – Alex Box, and a little about him.
So right outside the museum, they have this real-life bengal tiger skull. While I think that’s pretty cool, someone definitely needs to clean the inside of this box… SO many cobwebs!
The last thing I get to show you is the LSU Baseball Operations offices! I poked around here during the Friday night game for a little, so it was pretty quiet. Problem is that all of their awards are in this long, narrow hallway, so it was hard to get good pictures of them. I’ll have to add some other pictures later on in the week – I was in a rush, so some of the pictures didn’t come out (again, no where near a professional photographer!)
So there ya have it! LSU Baseball is officially open for business and looking to make it to Omaha back-to-back years! For me, I’ll be doing a lot of traveling around over the next few months following the Tigers. In March, I’ll be following them to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (who are incredible at baseball, too). Then in April, I’ll head out to Oxford, Mississippi to fulfill my long dream of attending an Ole Miss Baseball game in the outfield. If you haven’t heard of it… watch it on TV. It’s crazy. And then lastly, I’ll be heading to Auburn, Alabama for the closing weekend of regular season.
Next up, though, are my Red Raiders taking on Kentucky in Lexington in a few weeks! I need a vacation, so that needs to hurry up already…