By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
HOOVER, Ala. – The Deadline Monkey loves the SEC Tournament. I was reminded of this as I left the press box at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Mississippi State had just finished up a 17-inning game with Missouri in the first round, capping a very long day at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
And I was left to forage Hoover’s main drag for food. What I learned is that there are more cops loitering roadside in their cruisers than there are 24-hour fast-food joints in this town.
It’s been that kind of week for me and the other Mississippi State beat reporters. I haven’t eaten a breakfast here, unless you count Arby’s at 3 a.m. as breakfast.
As the No. 5 seed, MSU was placed in the late-game slot, and it stayed there the next two nights because it kept winning. That’s meant blown print deadlines for yours truly all week, including for Thursday night’s game against Texas A&M, which began at 8:45 p.m.
There are four games per day for the first three days of this event, with the first one starting at 9:30 a.m. Even with such an early start, that’s a lot of baseball to squeeze in, and four extra-inning games to this point haven’t helped.
That ties the tournament record; there were also four in 2004. The first one this year was the MSU-Missouri affair, which tied a tournament record, and there were two Thursday. Once that game reached the 12th inning, my boss, John L. Pitts, had to go to Plan B for the Wednesday sports section.
Fortunately, we have this thing called the Internet, which allowed me to stretch my fingers a bit for a 900-word online game story.
And honestly, once you know the Deadline Monkey – the mascot of time-pressured sports writers everywhere – has won, there’s a lot less pressure.
Of course, the toll this takes on me is nothing compared to what the players are going through. First off, there was that 17-inning game, and then the Bulldogs had to come back the next night to play a very good South Carolina team.
And they won. Which set up Thursday night’s showdown with Texas A&M, a game that ended well after our deadline.
Thankfully, there are only two games today, two tomorrow and one Sunday. Hopefully this means the Deadline Monkey has left the building.
Brad Locke (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at DJournal.com.