After using one of their nine lives, the LSU baseball team returns to the field tonight at 6 p.m. for round 2 with North Carolina.

The Heels took down LSU in the opening game of the CWS for both teams, but none of that means anything in tonight’s elimination game.

LSU is expected to hand the ball to lefthander Blake Martin, but it is still unannounced. The Tar Heels are also unannounced on their starter at this time, but their have a plethora of options to choose from with the deepest pitching staff in the country.

For LSU to have a better result this time around against the Heels, the Tigers have to do the following things.

1. Control the top of UNC’s batting order- North Carolina’s 1-3 hitters went 7-14 in the first meeting. That average has to be pushed from .500 to around .300 for LSU to have any chance at all.

2. Team hitting- in the first meeting, leadoff hitter Michael Hollander accounted for three hits, including a homer. LSU’s other eight starters had just five hits combined. That has to change for LSU in the second go-round.

3. Better at “little things”- In the first game, LSU gave up four unearned runs against the Heels. In a four-run loss, you do the math. In LSU’s second CWS game, base running mistakes nearly cost LSU a chance at advancing. Bet your bottom buck LSU coach Paul Mainieri will fix these things in time for tonight’s game.

Much more on this contest tomorrow as we will either celebrate LSU’s win and look ahead to Fresno or mourn LSU’s loss and recap the season.
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The golf world was dealt a near fatal blow yesterday when Tiger Woods announced he will have surgery to repair a torn ACL and a hairline fracture in his fibula and will miss the rest of the 2008 season.

Woods tore his ACL nearly 11 months ago and has played through the injury since last year’s British Open. He fractured his fibula while preparing to come back to the tour following his initial knee surgery in April and was told by doctors to not play in the US Open.

This revelation makes Tiger’s performance now the No. 1 most heroic performance upon injured athletes of all-time. Woods won the world’s hardest tournament through excruciating pain while also having little to no practice time after two months off the tour.

Anyone who was not convinced before as to his dominance on tour has to be sold now.

For the rest of the season, golf will be a major wash. Ratings will plummet and fans just frankly won’t be as interested. The big winners in all of this are guys like Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and other solid players who always seemed to take the back seat to Tiger in the big stages. With the big cat off the prowl, Mickelson will comfortably slide into the position of the world’s best player, but I also think the above mentioned players will be far more comfortable chasing down Phil than they would be chasing down Tiger.

All-in-all, if you’re a golf fan like myself, the rest of the season will be fun in that a lot of new names will flourish. If you’re a fan only when Tiger is playing, like most, then you’ll be zoned out until next March, most likely.

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Yesterday, I began my top 10 list of greatest athletes of all-time. Today we move forward. Without further adieu, the No. 9 greatest athlete of all-time.

No. 9: Lance Armstrong:

Armstrong took over the cycling world at age 21 and won the 1993 World Cycling Championship. At that point, everyone “knew,” he was destined for a string of Tour de France wins, but no one had any idea of what the journey would force Armstrong to do to get there.

In 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which eventually spread into his brain and lungs. But Armstrong fought through his diagnosis and returned to the bike better than ever, winning the Tour de France from 1999-2005 with most victories being in utmost dominating fashion.

Armstrong also lands on this list for what he has done for cancer survivors following his recovery. The “Livestrong” Foundation has donated millions to cancer research and Armstrong’s accomplishments on and off the track have made him an inspiration to millions while also making him my No. 9 greatest athlete of all-time.

Why he could be higher:
1. His dominance over his sport. Armstrong’s seven Tour wins were a trademark for dominance with the final couple of days of most tours serving as a joy ride.

Why he could be lower:
1. Black cloud of steroids. No wrong doing has ever been found, but Armstrong’s name comes up in a lot of discussion from his peers in his sport. Is he a cheater? For the time being, we don’t know, but we may never know for sure.
2. No one really cares about cycling. Sure, we all know Armstrong, but can anyone else name me 3 other cyclists? Lance is hurt by the popularity of his own sport.

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Football season is here! Thursday’s here will be dedicated to football from now on. Today, I will begin my extensive football preview with a rundown of LSU’s quarterbacks. Next Thursday will be running backs and so on down the depth chart as the Thursday’s go by.

LSU Quarterback Preview:

Quarterbacks, ah, quarterbacks. The guys that fans never like, coaches can not survive without and the guys who get all the girls. LSU has had its share of dominant ones from Tommy Hodson to JaMarcus Russell, but this year’s batch will be a little different. With dismissal of junior Ryan Perrilloux, LSU’s quarterbacks have a combined 4 snaps experience. But the quarterback position is still filled with talent and if LSU coach Les Miles can push the right buttons, the mad-hatter can look for yet another 10-win season.

#12 Jarrett Lee 6-2 190 lb freshman

Lee comes to LSU with the pedigree of a thoroughbred champion race horse, but his success is still uncertain until he steps between the hashes and shows what he’s got in the “heart” department. In practice, Lee is the clear No. 1 guy for LSU and has an array of throws with his text-book left-handed passing style. But the young Lee often struggles with putting the proper touch on his passes as well as with reading coverage, leaving his spot in the starting lineup in question going into the fall.

#14 Andrew Hatch 6-3 214 lb junior

Hatch is LSU’s flavor of the week. Harvard kid turned LSU bench warmer, turned LSU starter? As far fetched as this fairy tale seems, it could be reality for the Nevada native as his toughness has earned major points with the LSU coaching staff. Hatch is a poor man’s Tim Tebow in that he is more of a dual threat than Lee is. But Hatch is not the pure quarterback that Lee is, leaving his position in question against the pure-passing Lee.

Jordan Jefferson 6-4 210 lb freshman
Jefferson is the future at LSU. With a 6’4 frame, the big hurler has room to grow inside his own frame, leaving many to think the Destrehan product can be a “JaMarcus in the Making” in his time in Baton Rouge. Some mechanical flaws do exist and in a perfect world, Miles would want Jefferson to spend the season learning. But make no bones about it, this kid can ball and will be a force at LSU.

Next Thursday, we will break down the LSU backfield.
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Headlines:

Yanks win 6th straight– Someone break up the Yanks. They seem to be playing big-time ball right now. If they can get by the next 6 weeks without Wang, look out for this team later in the season, especially if Joba works out in the rotation.

Fielder owes $400,000 in unpaid taxes– It’s a little early for these types of problems, eh, Prince?

Stanford eliminates top-seeded Miami 8-3 – The ACC is very quickly becoming the PAC 10 of college baseball. They haven’t won the national title in a dog’s day and each year, you hear the same thing: “This is our year, blah, blah, blah.” But each year, it’s the same, disappointing ending. If North Carolina loses tomorrow, all three ACC teams will be sent packing.

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