Good news: coupled with a 3-1 victory in Gainesville earlier in the month, Florida’s 4-1 win over FSU in Jacksonville gave the Gators the season series over their in-state rival.
Bad news: that wasn’t the main storyline from last night.
I’m sure we all know about the “brawl” that went down last night between Florida and FSU. If you’ve watched Sportscenter, checked twitter, or read other Gator sports sites in the 18 hours since the fight broke out, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Jameis Winston getting punched in the face, or, more accurately, NOT getting punched in the face. Thanks to a friendly FSU fan who was in attendance, we got that whole debate cleared up:
@allkindsweather Jameis was not punched. No one was. I was there and kept my eye on my qb. He trotted out and stayed toward the back of it.
— Cory (@iamcoryho) March 26, 2014
But it’s a shame, really, that Florida beating FSU in baseball was not the main storyline, because it takes away from the importance of the win, which I will get to shortly. The fact that the #1 team in the country has now lost twice to their biggest rival (a rivalry which also happens to be among the most intense in the country in the NCAA’s breadwinner sport, football) is certainly worthy of a mention on SportsCenter, especially if the ESPN family of networks is willing to televise every single NCAA Tournament Game, most of the conference tournaments and an increasing amount of regular season contests. I’m not the first to say this; surely some of you have read this take from Alligator Army stating the exact same thing.
It’s a shame that Justin Shafer’s four innings of shutout ball in his first start will not be what this game is remembered for. It’s a shame that Florida’s pitchers will not be recognized for holding the #1 team in the country to a paltry two runs in 18 innings of baseball. And while the fight, combined with the status of Jameis Winston undoubtedly helped bring some publicity to the result, it’s a damned shame that Florida fans don’t get to taunt FSU fans with headlines reading “Gators upset #1 FSU.” Well, that’s what this article is for.
But I’m willing to bet that the fight will not be the lasting memory of this game. Sure, people will remember this game initially for the fight, but once all the “FSU’S HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER WAS INVOLVED IN A BASEBALL FIGHT” tabloids die down, the implications of this game will become much clearer to Gator fans. Basically, it’s going to mean something entirely different in a few months when this team is looking for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
This is a Gator baseball team that so far, has been good, but not great. They’ve lost a series to Texas A&M, another to Miami, and lost twice to Illinois. Their record is 16-9, which isn’t fantastic, but it’s certainly on pace to be better than last year’s 29-28. I have higher hopes for this team, though, like hosting a regional, and that’s where things are going to get competitive. While there’s a long way to go, this team has done pieces of what they’re supposed to do to get one… none bigger than their two wins over the Noles.
Beating the #1 team in the country not once, but twice, is a great stat to have on your resume. Of course, with the length of the baseball season, that’s about the size of a sandwich to a man starving in the desert, but it certainly helps the cause, and the Selection Committee will be sure to remember that when it comes time to select the field.
Then there are the bragging rights that come with this win. FSU has lost five games on the season, and has lost just one series. Two of those games and that one series came at the hands of their hated rivals to the Southeast, and damn it if I- and other Gator fans- will not seize the opportunity to rub it in FSU fans’ faces, and also how Florida has taken the best of three series in not just baseball, but in big three sports (football, basketball and baseball) and finally, my new favorite stat: their star QB is now 3-4 against the Florida Gators.
Get ready for the “Let’s play football” responses, and it’s really OK with me- FSU can beat Florida by three touchdowns in Tallahassee, (and if I’m being honest, probably will), but with the 34-22 lead Florida holds in that sport, I’ll take the wins in the other two sports. Remember, Florida is the #EverythingSchool, and the various Gator sports teams are proving it with each win over their Nole opponents.
So that’s what this game should be remembered for. That’s why this game should be making waves in the college sports world. Because from a program wide perspective, Florida does own FSU right now. Dominance does not last forever, as Gator fans can attest to with their six game winning streak over FSU in football now a distant memory, so enjoy it while it lasts. Do not let this stupid brawl that wasn’t even a brawl deter you from feeling the joy of being the big brother in the state of Florida.