Sideline View by Dale McKee
The big sporting news in the Magnolia State this week was the return of the winningest coach in Southeastern Conference history as Ron Polk was hired by Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen to be his special assistant. Polk was the head baseball coach at MSU for 29 years during two different stints. He took six Bulldogs teams to the College World Series during his Starkville career. Polk has been a volunteer assistant baseball coach at UAB for the past dozen seasons and has coached college baseball for 54 years.
Mississippians in MLB Draft
The Major League baseball draft will take place on June 10 and 11 but will be only five rounds instead of the 40 rounds as in the past. Each MLB team will save roughly $30 million with the five-round format. MSU could have three underclassmen players in Justin Foscue, Jordan Westburg and J.T. Ginn being selected in this year’s draft. Ole Miss, who finished the season with the nation’s longest winning streak, at 16 and in reach of the school record of 17, may have to part with left hand hitting shortstop Anthony Servideo and power hitting third baseball Tyler Kennan, both juniors. Three high school players in DeSoto Central’s first baseman Blaze Jordan, Biloxi’s Cole Keith and Columbia Academy’s Slade Wilks could also be called.
July 4 Weekend for MLB
Speaking of the possible 2020 Major League baseball schedule, it may start without fans in the stands. Each team would play 82 games against opponents in its own divisions. The schedule would also have the America League East vs. National East teams, AL Central vs. NL Central and Al West vs. NL West. The postseason will be expanded from 10 to 14 teams. The rosters could be up to 50 players with only a certain number active for each game. MLB says they could lose $640,000 from each game without fans attending.
Hey, that is a lot of habits to break all at once.
To deal with COVID-19, the players will not take showers at the ballparks but will come to the games in their uniforms and will not eat in restaurants on road trips. There will be no exchanging lineups cards by managers, no high-fives, no fist bumps, no batboys or batgirls, no mascots. Batting gloves will be mandatory. One good piece of news is that the National League will add the DH to their lineup. Other rules include mandatory masks for batting practice pitchers, no touching of faces to give signs and no licking of the fingers.
High School Sports
The Mississippi High School Activities Association will have a meeting this Thursday, May 21, to see if June 1 is still the start up date for high school summer workouts. Louisiana has a June 8 date, but we all know these dates are not set in stone. School districts have been following the lead of the Governor as far as when to start sports up again.
One of the first female sportscasters Phyllis George died this week. The Denton, Texas, native was named the 1971 Miss America. She teamed up with Brent Musburger, Irv Cross and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder on CBS’s NFL Today in 1975.
Prep Star college head coach
Former Jackson Murrah Parade All-American Mo Williams was named the head basketball coach at Alabama State. Williams played two years at the University of Alabama and was named the SEC Freshman of the Year and led the Crimson Tide to the 2002 SEC regular season title. He played 14 years in the NBA and in his second stint with Cleveland won a World Championship in 2015. Mo was also an NBA All-Star during the 2008-09 season with Cleveland.
Dale is a Waynesboro resident who has been writing sports in Mississippi since 1973.