Kentucky baseball surprising

It's good to see some spreading of the championship wealth in the SEC. Kentucky's surprising baseball team is an example. Now we are hoping for a different name to come out on top in the SEC Tournament. "Ole Miss" has a nice ring to it.

I'm the kind of guy who likes to see championships passed around. Share and share alike is my motto — even if most of the SEC doesn't necessarily agree with that philosophy.

In pro sports, for example, I think the Yankees have won more than their fair share and if they don't pick up another ribbon to hang from the Yankee Stadium flag pole until 2050 that's alright with me.

The streak in recent years when New England took home NFL's Super Bowl like you and I would collect pizzas ended only because I was pulling so hard for someone else to win one. Yea Pittsburgh.

The Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan's day and the L.A. Lakers behind Shaq and Kobe got to the point where they were absolutely boring. Mismatches always are.

And if there is one thing we have going in the SEC of which I'm a critic, it is that a 12-team league should be stronger top to bottom rather than the top 2, 3 or 4.

The dynasty of basketball's Kentucky Wildcats is a perfectly good example. For many years it was UK and the nine dwarfs and after Arkansas and South Carolina joined it was UK and the 11 dwarfs except for the Razorbacks in their early years of membership. That's what made the accomplishments of the 2006 Florida Gators so sweet. Somebody else accomplished something.

In football the haves and the have-nots are as obvious as the proverbial sore thumb. LSU, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida are the haves. Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Kentucky have been the have nots. Some Ole Miss fans still feel as if they are in the first group but they're not. They have not won a conference football championship since 1963, 43 dreary years ago. That's impossible to translate as an even playing field.

There have been close-and-almost moments for the Rebels, MSU and the Hogs, but titles are the bottom line and there have been very few between those three. USC, Vandy and Kentucky haven't even been that close.

While I believe things are looking up for the Ole Miss gridders, until they actually capture a championship we can't call ourselves a "have."

This line of thought - hoping for more spreading of the wealth - took hold when I realized Kentucky won a division baseball title this year for the first time since 1976 and the Cats are only one win away from their first SEC baseball championship in school history. Considering that the SEC was born in 1933 that's one long stretch as the king of the also-rans. Can you say Chicago Cubs?

At the same time, the Florida Gators who were whooping and hollering in April as the best in basketball's land, are now facing reality as one of the two worst baseball teams in the conference. The other? Auburn, which just a year ago was also celebrating a league title with an undefeated football team.

The Wildcats have been a shocker. They have won eight straight games, 15 of their last 16 and 12 of their last 13 conference games. Lay a hand on that bunch and you'll hear a sizzling sound. They are that hot.

Their victim this past weekend was Mississippi State, a team which started out with a win streak comparable to what UK is enjoying now and then cooled to below .500 baseball. The one thing I don't understand is the attendance in Lexington. With accomplishments such as listed above you would expect more than 1,812 to attend a home series with a visitor as attractive as the Bulldogs.

Kentucky doesn't have the spotlight all to themselves. Georgia, which was limping at 24-16 won their 11th straight in their three game sweep against Auburn taking them to 35-16. It was the first time Georgia had swept Auburn in the Tigers home lair since 1987. What a series the Bulldog-Wildcat match up should be this coming weekend.

South Carolina desperately needed a win against Tennessee to break a five game losing streak and they got it. A mark of 34-18, 14-13 in the SEC should come close to getting the Gamecocks in the conference tournament and probably in the NCAA as well. It was an impressive win for several reasons. One was the margin, 9-2, and the other was the fact that every USC player had at least one hit.

After getting humbled Friday night by the 10th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks, the Rebels buckled down and played 18 innings of good baseball on Saturday and Sunday to win their series and keep a lot of their hopes and aspirations alive. Hats off to them for snapping a four-game conference losing streak and not letting it finish their season. If they play ball the rest of the way like they did Saturday and Sunday, the Rebs can beat anyone.

So going into the final weekend Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Ole Miss have clinched berths in the eight-team conference championship. One more win for South Carolina should give them tournament play. Vanderbilt is the opponent and it is hard to imagine the Commodores sweeping the Gamecocks.

Ole Miss earned its tournament spot with its first walk-off win of the season for the Rebels yesterday. It couldn't have come at a better time. Two out of three against Mississippi State this coming weekend could give them the host spot for a regional tournament as well.

So Kentucky will likely win the SEC East and the overall SEC championship and Alabama, two games out front, is the favorite to win the SEC West.

But wouldn't it be nice if someone else won the SEC Tournament? Wouldn't it be nice to spread the trophy distribution a little more?

Could it be the Rebels? That's not a far-fetched thought.

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