David Price couldn’t resist showing a little school spirit.
The Blue Jays ace had just pitched seven shutout innings to win at Yankee Stadium in early August, boosted by Justin Smoak’s grand slam.
A half-hour later, while Smoak talked softly in the middle of the clubhouse about his big shot, Price sneaked up behind him.
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”S-E-C! S-E-C!” Price hollered.
Waving toward Toronto teammate Josh Donaldson, the lefty from Vanderbilt let loose one more time. ”S-E-C!”
Donaldson, from Auburn, and Smoak, from South Carolina, could only shake their heads and smile.
So on a fall Saturday featuring big games at Dodger Stadium and Busch Stadium, as well as Tallahassee, Tuscaloosa and South Bend, what conference is going Hog wild in the baseball playoffs?
Who is the biggest Dawg when it comes to bragging rights?
Led by former Arkansas lefty Dallas Keuchel, it is indeed the Southeastern Conference. The SEC had 22 players on the 10 teams that reached the postseason, STATS said. The Pac-12 was next with 12.
A look at where the Carolina blue, burnt orange and rainbow colors might be flying this weekend:
LOVE THAT TIGER: Auburn (Donaldson), LSU (Will Harris) and Clemson (Tony Sipp) call themselves Tigers. But what school with that same nickname all by itself put as many players into the postseason as those big three combined? Let’s hear it for Princeton! Rangers reliever Ross Ohlendorf, teammate Will Venable and Royals pitcher Chris Young each went there.
PRETTY BLUE: North Carolina sent four guys to the playoffs, more than anyone else. Too bad for the former Tar Heels, most of those stays didn’t last long this October. Andrew Miller, Dustin Ackley and Adam Warren made early exits when the Yankees were eliminated in the AL wild-card game. Mets ace Matt Harvey is still around.
CLOSE TO HOME: The Pac-12’s distinguished dozen include Lucas Duda, Michael Conforto and Eric Goeddel of the Mets and Andre Ethier and Chase Utley of the Dodgers. They’re all playing in familiar territory during their National League Division Series matchup in L.A.
LONG WAY AWAY: Cardinals teammates Kolten Wong and Greg Garcia traveled quite a distance to get this far. They played together for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
THE LINEUP: The ACC was third with nine (based on where players last spent their college days), followed by the Big 12 (including Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, TCU) and the Big West (Toronto shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Long Beach State) with seven each. The Big Ten (Cubs rookie slugger Kyle Schwarber, Indiana) had six.
SMALL SCHOOL, BIG HITTERS: Chipola College in the Florida panhandle isn’t going to the Orange Bowl this season or contending with the Seminoles, Gators or Hurricanes on the football field. But Chipola is big in baseball, as evidenced by two former campus teammates – Toronto stars Jose Bautista and Russell Martin.
TALK THE TALK: Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright is from Georgia. He didn’t go to college there, but referred to recent SEC history in looking ahead to the postseason.
”I read an article about the Alabama Crimson Tide last week and Nick Saban is great at this. He was playing my Georgia Bulldogs, so it pains me to tell you this because they whupped us. He was saying guys just need to focus on their roles, focus on their jobs and don’t get caught up in the hoopla. That’s what we’re going to do. That’s what we’re going to worry about,” he said.