East: Historic start is just the beginning for LSU

Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU -- LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri argues a call with an umpire after Florida scored a run in the top of the third inning Thursday, May 2, 2013. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU -- LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri argues a call with an umpire after Florida scored a run in the top of the third inning Thursday, May 2, 2013.

Keeping score during LSU baseball games this season has turned into a multi-tasking proposition.

It’s not enough to grab a roster and scorecard and track the play-by-play. It has become necessary to have a record book handy to put into context the accomplishments of this team.

The Tigers’ record of 43-6 is the best of any LSU team through 49 games.

Their 19-5 Southeastern Conference record — good for a pretty comfortable 3½-game lead over Arkansas atop the West division — matches the best of any Tigers team.

If they were to win two of three games in their remaining series at Texas A&M and at home against Ole Miss — a lower success rate than they’ve had to date — they would finish 23-7, the best SEC regular-season record in school history.

They’re in position to repeat as SEC West champions, though a second straight overall title is seeming less and less likely as Vanderbilt authors a record book-rewriting season of its own.

It’s not just the team accomplishments that require continual peeks into the record book. Players are doing things that demand historic perspective, too.

Sophomore right-hander Aaron Nola has thrown four straight complete games, which hadn’t been done in 20 years. During that streak, he has thrown two shutouts, making him the first LSU pitcher to have multiple shutouts in a season since 2005. His record, ERA and strikeout total will require monitoring.

Shortstop Alex Bregman’s play has invited comparisons to the most accomplished freshmen in school history, not to mention the most accomplished players of any class.

But …

Despite these noteworthy accomplishments, what happens before June means only so much.

Remember Sam Perkins?

When the Los Angeles Lakers earned a trip to the 1991 NBA Finals, Perkins was dancing and celebrating the team’s conference championship in the locker room.

A first-year Laker, Perkins understandably was thrilled with his unprecedented success after six seasons with the Dallas Mavericks.

But ...

“Sam,” admonished teammate Magic Johnson, a holder of five championship rings, “we don’t celebrate conference championships around here.”

Similarly, the LSU baseball team reserves any significant celebration for its seventh College World Series title.

Coach Paul Mainieri has said the Tigers have put themselves in position to cap a regular season “for the ages.” But, he added, when the SEC tournament concludes at the end of this month, LSU “will tie a ribbon around it and put it on a shelf” because ultimately what happens in June is what defines teams in this program.

If the Tigers aren’t dog-piling and hoisting a trophy at the CWS at the end of June, this season will be a disappointment. And if they are, these other accomplishments will fade quickly.

In the meantime, though, this pre-June stuff has been about as good as it gets.