Paul Mainieiri learned about the cancellation of the college baseball season live on TV, doing an interview with Paul Finebaum. He was shocked, and stunned, "I thought he was joking," he said, "I did."
The weeks following haven't been much easier.
A somber Mainieri spoke for nearly 45-minutes on Thursday. He struggled to remember a time when he wasn't on a baseball field in April. He could only compare the crisis to post-Hurricane Katrina. But often Mainieri returned to the notion that caronavirus pandemic is bigger than baseball.
Tuesday the NCAA passed an extra year of eligibility for all spring athletes. A team like Louisiana baseball welcomes the news as a second chance a good year, but the news may impact a program like LSU less. That's, at least, Mainieri's expectation. The Tigers rostered just two seniors, Aaron George and Matthew Beck. And the handful of juniors and draft eligible sophomores may very well still walk away if their named is called.
Mainieri doesn't feel the shortened season will hurt the draft status of guys like Daniel Cabrera, or Cole Henry who will both likely be picked whether or not MLB holds a five round draft, or a ten round on. Both players were off to fast starts, Cabrera hitting .345, while Henry has posted a 1.89 ERA in four starts.
But there is one theory that both players own more leverage heading into the draft. Underclassmen can get drafted three or in Henry's case four times before graduating college. Does the threat of return, a hold out for money, benefit LSU or its players. Mainieri doesn't think it's so black and white.
"Your threat to go back to school after your second junior year is just not that valid because of your age," he said. "If you talk to anybody in professional baseball, they will say they have more leverage because they can go back to school, but they're a year older. I always wondered why professional baseball looks at a guy who is 22 and thinks he's an old man, but a 21-year-old is a young man."