The refrain changed a fair bit over the last few weeks.
After Florida beat Florida State 3-1 in Gainesville to kick off the two teams' midweek "series" of three single games, I heard from fans of the losing side that Florida's inconsistent and young baseball team got lucky and would just fall again in the next two games of the series. After Florida's 4-1 win over the 'Noles in a "brawl"-marred game in Jacksonville, I heard that Florida got lucky, and that the 'Noles were still No. 1.
After Tuesday night's decisive 8-0 win for the Gators over the 'Noles in Tallahassee — on April 8, a day that Florida State fans and other assorted trolls tried to turn into "Florida Gators Day" as a way of "honoring" Florida's 4-8 football season in 20131 — I've heard that FSU is still No. 1, but I've heard a lot more references to Georgia Southern.
All that means is that Florida just "swept" the nation's "best" college baseball team — and that FSU fans have good reason to be upset about their team's showing.
Once again, Florida State's bats were quiet against the Gators' pitching in a midweek clash, except the 'Noles were closer to silent at the plate on Tuesday night: Danny Young earned the win with five scoreless innings of work, and he, Justin Shafer, Bobby Poyner, Aaron Rhodes, and Karsten Whitson combined to scatter four hits in Florida's first shutout against FSU since 1994, and the Gators' first in Tallahassee since 1989.
The potent 'Noles — who, entering Tuesday, ranked No. 8 nationally in on base percentage, No. 9 in runs, No. 20 in slugging percentage, and No. 52 in batting average — have managed just two runs over their three games against the Gators, both coming on solo home runs by Jose Brizuela, who was also the only 'Nole to record a hit in all three games. Seminoles hitters not named Brizuela are a combined 14-for-85 (.165) against Florida in 2014, with one extra-base hit, a double by D.J. Stewart in Jacksonville; Florida State left an incredible 27 runners on base over the three games.
And while some of that is probably FSU merely playing below its lofty standards, Florida pitchers have been dominant over the three games:
#Gators pitching in three midweek games this year against FSU: 3-0, 0.67 ERA. 27 IP, 19 H, 2 ER, 13 BB, 23 K.— Cody Jones (@CJonesScout) April 9, 2014
#Gators LHP Danny Young against FSU in three appearances this year: 11.2 IP, 10 H, 0 R, 6 BB, 11 K.— Cody Jones (@CJonesScout) April 9, 2014
And that's all happened without ace freshman Logan Shore, who owns Florida's best ERA at 1.15, ever appearing on the mound against Florida State.
But the really troublesome thing for FSU — which is more encouraging for Florida, if we can agree that sporting contests featuring FSU are not merely about Florida State alone — is how Florida has been able to make runs happen against the 'Noles.
The Gators' bats haven't been consistently excellent all year, but Florida has come alive against FSU's Peter Miller and other pitchers, producing at least six hits and at least eight base-runners in all three contests. The runs came in slightly different ways: After adding a solo Josh Tobias homer to what was mostly a smallball triumph in Gainesville without much help from the 'Noles, Florida hewed even more closely to that smallball blueprint in Jacksonville, but Tuesday night's blowout featured a three-run blast from Casey Turgeon, batting leadoff, an RBI double from John Sternagel, batting ninth, and three unearned runs.
Florida has played better over the course of the "series"; Florida State played worse and worse. The latter was really something of an accomplishment, given that the 'Noles never led at any point in the three games, and trailed after 21 of the 27 innings.
With the win, Florida recorded its second season sweep of Florida State in the last three years, moved to 21-12 on the season, and improved its record against the 'Noles to 8-4 over the teams' last 12 meetings2. With the game, Florida's strength of schedule, frequently among the best in college baseball in recent years, moved to No. 1 nationally.
And with the "sweep," Florida now boasts "sweeps" of LSU and Florida State, both top-10 teams at the time of Florida's broomings.
And yet the college baseball story with national importance on Wednesday came from a video of Jameis Winston — who went 0-2 with two walks and a base reached on an error as a batter, and was one of two Florida State pitchers (of seven who played) to not allow a run to the Gators on Tuesday, in a loss that dropped his career record against Florida across all sports to 3-5 — horsing around and recreating his national championship-winning touchdown pass during a rain delay in a game that happened over the weekend.
That's understandable: I know, as you probably do, that football is the tail that wags the dog in college sports, and that Winston's profile, which also made the "brawl" between the Gators and 'Noles national news, is the only reason college baseball's gotten any national attention at all.
It's also amusing. The reaction to a Florida State loss from ESPN is just slightly different from the reflexive "But, but, but, football" one that FSU fans have used to taunt Florida after their top-ranked baseball team's three losses.
You have a good memory, 'Noles. I'm proud of you.
Now please shut up.
After all, why brag about an undefeated season Florida can't match in its history when you can laugh at Florida not being good enough in a diminished state to beat Georgia Southern? Platonic success matters a lot less to some than measuring up to superiors, I guess.
This, of course, means that Florida State's record against Florida over those last 12 games is 4-8 — which matches the FSU men's basketball team's 4-8 mark against Florida over its last 12 meetings with the Gators. Additionally, I think "Four and eight" rhymes better with "Flaw-duh State" than "It's great to be a four-and-eight-er" does with "It's great! To be! A FLOR-I-DA GA-TOR!"
But what do I know?