February 23, 2019
Sports Column

Questions that may go unanswered

Just asking a question or two or three. …

. Just why are Husson College and Castleton State College of Vermont playing for the North Atlantic Conference baseball championship in Glens Falls, N.Y., this weekend?

Early rounds of the double-elimination NAC tournament were hosted by second-seeded Elms College in Chicopee, Mass., because top-ranked Castleton State did not have an adequate facility to host the event. The Spartans played 15 of their 22 post-spring trip games on the road, including eight of 10 conference contests.

Elms ultimately was eliminated from the four-team field, and when weather washed out Sunday’s championship round, it was rescheduled to this Saturday because of final exams at Husson and moved to the best field nearest Castleton.

Now, Castleton State had relinquished its home-field advantage during the early rounds of the tournament, so why suddenly give it back for a championship round the Spartans will host outside the geographic confines of a New England-based conference?

It’s kind of like playing the Maine high school basketball finals in Portsmouth, N.H.

A former minor league park, Glens Falls’ East Field undoubtedly is a fine place to host the game or games – Husson must win just once while Castleton State needs to defeat the Eagles twice Saturday to claim the conference crown and a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.

But there must be at least one other quality baseball field between Castleton, Vt., and Bangor, Maine, that could host the finals, too.

. What to do about Julio Lugo? The Boston Red Sox shortstop has a major league-leading 10 errors after his botched play Wednesday night that helped the Detroit Tigers hand Jonathan Papelbon his first blown save of the season.

Promising rookie Jed Lowrie is the replacement-in-waiting, but Lugo is in just the second year of a four-year, $36 million contract, so it’s likely Lowrie will be an understudy for the foreseeable future while Lugo continues his Edgar Renteria impersonation.

Impersonation, that is, except for the fact that the Red Sox ate multiple millions after deciding its one-year fling with Renteria in 2005 was going nowhere. Lucchino, Epstein et al won’t admit to such defeat again, especially with someone playing the same position.

So Lugo and his shaky defense are here to stay. As for Lowrie, he seems destined to return to Pawtucket in the short term, perhaps to become trade bait for a middle reliever later this season.

Why didn’t the Sox just keep Orlando Cabrera?

. When your preconference schedule generates zero wins and 28 losses, as was the case with the University of Maine softball team this spring, is that really the best possible preparation for the pivotal games ahead, or is it just allowing the team to become a little too familiar with defeat?

No doubt the 0-28 had much to do with the quality of the opposition – the Black Bears faced 10 teams headed for this year’s NCAA Regionals – and there’s something to be said about improving by playing better competition. But perhaps there’s also merit in scheduling at least a couple of winnable games during the preseason just to build morale.

Of course, the team bounced back somewhat from that early-season futility, finishing 10-11 in conference play and pounding out a school-record 39 home runs.

But ultimately the scheduling tactic didn’t pay off, as the Bears missed out on an America East playoff berth and now it’s wait until next year.



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