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Baseball: Robichaux vows to stay out of UL player negotiations – The Deer Stand – Attendance Matters

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, June 9, 2014


UL head coach Tony Robichaux watches pitchers participating in bunt drills during team practice at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field in Lafayette, LA, Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Paul Kieu, The Advertiser(Photo: Paul Kieu, The Advertiser)

Seven of UL baseball coach Tony Robichaux’s Ragin’ Cajuns were selected in last week’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

The count includes two seniors, third baseman Ryan Leonards (by the Chicago White Sox in the 21st round of the 40-round draft) and relief pitcher Matt Plitt (by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 37th round).

But it also includes five juniors who must decide whether or not they’ll turn pro or return to UL for one last season: centerfielder Seth Harrison (San Francisco Giants, seventh round), left fielder Caleb Adams (Los Angeles Angels, 10th), second baseman Jace Conrad (Rays, 13th), pitcher Austin Robichaux (Angels, 18th) and pitcher Carson Baranik (Los Angeles Dodgers, 33rd).

Robichaux vows not to get in anyone’s way.

“They’ve got a three-percent chance (to make the majors),” he said. “We want to nurture that three-percent chance.

“(Former Cajuns and ex-MLB All-Star pitcher) B.J. (Ryan) (eventually) signed for $47 million with a $20 million signing bonus. If I had sat there when he was in my office recruiting him and gone, ‘Look, we’re not gonna do anything to help your pro career, because you’ve only got less than a three-percent chance to play, and you’re probably not guy’ – well, he’d be laughing at me today. Same with (current Milwaukee Brewers and ex-Cajuns catcher Jonathan) Lucroy.

“So what you have to be careful of is you can be talking to the three-percent guy,” Robichaux added. “You don’t know.”


In the case of his own son, Robichaux suggests it’s all Notre Dame High product Austin Robichaux’s call.

“My career is over. I wasn’t good enough,” the Cajun coach said before the draft. “He’s got a chance. So it’s his decision to do what he wants to do. It’s not mine. I’m not living through him.

“If he walked up to me tomorrow and said, ‘Dad, you know what I decided to do? I don’t want to play professional baseball,’ that would be fine. And I tell him all the time, ‘I love you as who you are, not as a baseball player, because at the end of the day God doesn’t care about what we do. He cares about who we are.’

“So it’s his decision. It’s their decision,” Robichaux added. “We leave them with the power to do it.”

After Austin Robichaux was drafted Saturday, Tony Rochichaux was sticking to his guns about the choice being his son’s.

“It was a proud moment,” the Cajun said post-draft. (But) it’s his gig.

“I give him plus and minus, and then he has to decide what he wants to do – because I don’t want to be, 20 years from now, in the backyard at a barbeque and my wife’s got to come break me and him up from fighting over regret, over, ‘He said, I said, I should have done this,’ and ‘He said, I said, he said, I said, he said.’ So I try to stay out of it.”


First the ESPN2 crew televising UL’s Super Regional series against Ole Miss made note of fans watching from lawn chairs on a home’s roof behind the outfield at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field, and mentioned how fans sitting on top of RVs looked like a little like the infield at a NASCAR race.

Then ESPN2 analyst Ben McDonald, the ex-LSU and former Major League pitcher, started discussing the TV booth from which he and play-by-play man Tom Hart were assigned to call games.

The rather primitive, makeshift booth constructed exclusively for 2014 postseason play amounts to la wooden, open-air box on the top level of The Tigue’s grandstands.

“Take a look at our TV booth if you want to see something a little different,” McDonald said during the broadcast of UL’s 9-5 win over Rebels on a hot, humid Saturday night. “Kind of outside. I didn’t know whether to grab my microphone or my hunting rifle.

“It was almost like a deer stand when I got in here,” McDonald added. “I feel like we’re hid in here, like I need binoculars.”

Not to watch the baseball, though.

“I’m looking at those pine trees out in the left field,” McDonald said. “I’m looking for a big buck walking around up here.”

The two didn’t stop their outdoorsy banter there.

“I thought it was fitting,” Hart said. “Pregame I was putting on my makeup (some male TV broadcasters do wear makeup) and you were painting your face too.”

“Yeah,” McDonald answered. “You were putting on makeup – and I was putting on camo face. Man, it makes me feel like October or something.”


During last weekend’s Lafayette Regional hosted by UL, attendance at all five Cajun games – though all sold out – was counted below The Tigue’s listed capacity of 3,755.

Yet during the regular season, Cajun crowds frequently exceeded capacity – including going over 4,000 10 times at the facility that opened in 1978.

How did it happen?

A few seats were lost to ESPN3 accommodations, including the broadcast booth McDonald likened to a deer stand. A few more were lost to overflow press seating.

But the biggest factor was that during the regular season the Cajuns could resell, and count, unused season tickets. During the postseason, though, tickets were scanned and counted only upon entrance into the stadium.

So how did the Cajuns draw an announced crowd of 4,278 in actual attendance for Saturday’s Ole Miss Super Regional series opener and 4,294 in Sunday’s Game 2? In that instance, UL officials cleared all hurdles in time to receive permission to exceed capacity by selling standing room-only tickets.