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Archive for April, 2011

Complacency at the Bird Cage

If you look at the end result of our weekend series against Wagner College, you will see LIU won two games and a split for the series. That is not good enough in our minds to get to the NEC Conference Tournament at the end of May.

Our players believe they missed on an opportunity to win a series this past weekend. At the end of the day, a split is not the worst thing in the world, however winning a series 3 games to 1 gives you the tie breaker with a team. In Conference play, tie breaker advantages are huge. The good thing about this year’s team is, they were not happy with a split, they wanted the win.

Matt McCormick and Brad Reimer did a great job of keeping us in the two games we won (both in walk off fashion). Those are the types of efforts we need from our starters week in, week out. McCormick gave us a complete game with 3 ER in a 5-4 win and Brad Reimer after giving up a leadoff home run, got 23 outs without allowing another run. Brad went a total of 7 2/3 and only allowed 4 hits and 1 run. Our closer Evan Zerff picked up the win in relief.

Tuesday we play a very good Manhattan College team in non conference play, then it’s on the road to FDU this weekend for a four game series in NEC Play.

This week of practice for us is important, we need to fix what went wrong this past weekend and get back to playing solid baseball. FDU on paper may look like a struggling team but they are a dangerous offensive club and have played alot of tight ball games. It won’t be an easy series and our guys are looking forward to the challenge of getting on the road again and being tested.

I have a quote at my desk, it reads; “Do not let complacency settle in, it ruins greatness.” That is our goal for this week, shed the complacency that settled in this past weekend. Our coaching staff knows our club and we believe they will bounce right back.

Back to the Great Outdoors (Hopefully)

It has been a couple of weeks since my last blog post, and that is because it has been a couple weeks since our last game. The team returned home from Florida to piles of snow and unplayable fields.

We went back to practicing in the Concordia Dome and our indoor “Pole Barn” facility. Pitchers have gotten plenty of work in facing our hitters, and we have spent countless hours working on ground balls and PFP’s (Pitcher fielding practice).

The Golden Bears were all set to get back outside against in-conference foe Southwest Minnesota State last week in Marshall, Minn. Due to unplayable conditions the games were then moved to a turf field at Minnetonka High School. But another snow storm in the twin cities area led to yet another schedule change. The games were then set to be played on Monday and Tuesday in Sioux City, Iowa, but a snowstorm in the Sioux City area eventually doomed the series, and the games were cancelled with us never leaving campus.

Barnes Field on March 30th

This put us back inside for another week of practice, but the temperatures in St. Paul started to rise. We spent Wednesday working to clear snow off the field in preparation for our upcoming home opener Wednesday, March 6 against Minnesota State, Mankato. The pictures show the field covered in snow, but through hard work by the coaches and players we managed to clear the field. As of this afternoon there was only a little bit of snow left in front of the first base dugout.

We are now scheduled to play our first games in Minnesota against Hamline University tomorrow night at 5:30 p.m. at Veterans Field at Minnetonka High School. We are hoping the weather cooperates and we are able to get the games in under the lights. Our weekend starters should split the Sunday double header to prepare for next week’s conference weekend series against Bemidji State.

Head coach Lunch McKenzie using a blow torch on the ice

Assuming the weather holds on all week we should host Minnesota State, Mankato for the 2011 home opener at 1:30 p.m. next Wednesday. With that double header being a mid-week game, I could potentially get a start, but who knows how the weather will hold up, and how the pitching rotation will play out. I, and the rest of the pitching staff, have to stay ready to get out there and throw strikes at any time.

The weather of the upper Midwest is always tough on the college baseball season, but it appears if spring is starting to move into Minnesota, and we should start getting our games in.

After the Hamline games tomorrow, we will have all conference games the rest of the way to decide who goes to the NSIC tournament and also the NCAA regional. Even without having played since Florida, we moved up to 8th in the latest NCBWA Central regional poll.

Hopefully the next blog will be filled with game highlights!

-Go Golden Bears-

Otters Enjoy Bye Week

Just past the halfway point of our season, the bye week could not have come at a better time. The players have midterms coming up and some of them are a little banged up, so the week off allows them to catch up on school work and get healthy. With the April 13th signing period opening up, the coaches are hot and heavy on the recruiting trail. I have been in Southern California all week recruiting, while Coach White has been all over Northern California and will join me down here this weekend. CSUMB is extremely committed to our recruiting schedule, as they are giving us some vast resources to take these trips to ensure we are bringing in elite student-athletes to help us win a National Championship.

The break could not have come at a better time because the weather has been amazing. The players have been able to enjoy a lot of beach time on their off days and it has given us all some time to decompress from the heavy rain we were experiencing. We can only hope it’s all behind us and it’s all baseball from here on out.

The boys return to light practice today and tomorrow, before we start preparation for next weekend’s series versus Cal State L.A. We will leave on Thursday afternoon for the L.A. series that will begin on Friday night at 6:00pm. The Otters return home the following weekend to take on Cal State East Bay on Friday the 15th. Make sure to check www.otterathletics.com to watch the Live Stats and keep track of your Otters on the road.

Sacrificial Hits

Two months ago Wake Forest Coach Tom Walter made national news when he generously donated a kidney to freshman Demon Deacon outfielder Kevin Jordan. It was a move of incredible generosity and compassion too infrequently heard of in today’s world. However with the advent of social media and Twitterization of news, the story of Walter’s incredible kindness disappeared from the headlines as quickly as it came. As courageous as Walter’s decision was, it couldn’t hold a candle to stories of escaped cobras running amuck, violent loving warlocks bangin’ seven gram rocks or an auto-tuned teenager looking forward to the weekend (Partyin’, partyin’, yeah!).

While the nation moved on to the next news story, Walter did not. Sure he did a great thing by helping one of his student-athletes, but there were still three dozen players on the Deacon roster that he hadn’t made that extra effort for. If Walter preached that the Wake Forest baseball team was like a family in which members supported for each other, how could Walter rest until he personally reached out and made a personal sacrifice for every player on the team? The answer was that he couldn’t. Faster than the new college baseball pitch clocks, Walter quickly dedicated himself to helping each of his players just as he did Jordan.

Not wanting to play favorites, Walter started with the first player on roster alphabetically, senior left handed hurler, Ruppert Amerson. Amerson’s fastball had steadily improved during his time on campus, but he had seemingly hit a ceiling with his velocity. His breaking ball was good, but not great, and an extra bump in MPH on his fastball would elevate both pitches to the next level. While most coaches would simply spend some extra time working on mechanics or foster a new strength program, Walter again went the extra mile to help his player. Walter had his own ulnar collateral ligament removed and exchanged with Amerson. While it’s still too early to tell if the procedure was a success, Amerson appears to finally have that extra zip needed and is looking to be an integral part of the Wake Forest staff once the team enters the heart of ACC play.

Walter’s generosity was still just getting started. Next on his list was redshirt sophomore catcher Trevor “Banjo” Blakely. Blakely had all the tools to be a top college catcher, but seemed to lack the confidence needed to be an everyday player. Walter learned that the babyfaced backstop felt that his youthful appearance was holding him back as a player as he didn’t have confidence. For Walter the decision was simple. Walter underwent a skin graft to transplant some of his thick tuffs of back hair onto Blakely’s chest. The results were almost instantaneous. Armed with self-assurance and his new rugged machismo, Blakely has been one of the breakout players on the club, leading the team in extra base hits, on base percentage and has also thrown out 60% of would be base stealers.

Finding a way to help the Decs’ cleanup hitter, junior right fielder Carney Gladden was one of Walter’s toughest tasks. A long time gym rat and exercise junkie, Gladden was a physical specimen who had been putting up numbers just as impressive as his Adonis physique. Nonetheless, Walter found a way to sacrifice himself to help him. Gladden had been consistently arriving a practice late. Walter eventually learned that Gladden’s constant tardiness was due to problems with his car, a broken down, rusted out 1996 Chevy Impala, that he couldn’t afford to have fixed. Walter immediately got on the phone and within the week he was headed to South Africa to have a lung removed in a makeshift operating room and sold on the black market. Walter took the proceeds from the operation and purchased a new electric smart car for his star slugger which also saved him gas money. Ever generous, Walter also brought vuvuzelas back for everyone else on the team with some of the extra money and the clubs breaks them out whenever they’re in need of a rally.

The stories of Walter’s munificence are nearly limitless. In addition of the aforementioned procedures, he has had three meters of small intestine removed, donated sixteen teeth, four ribs, 1/5 of his skull, a knee and both of his testicles all in altruistic measures for his team. Following the team’s weekend series at Florida State, Walter is having some of his fat injected into homely looking third baseman Jarrod Warbitron’s lips in hopes that the sophomore’s appearance will take a turn for the better and he’ll have better luck getting to third base off the field as well.

Like Darth Vader, Walter’s more machine now than man, and due to the constant trips to the operating and recovery room, he must sleep in special hyperbaric meditation chamber to prevent infection. The pressurized life-support environment not only allows Walter’s body to recuperate, but also provides him the ideal office space to work on lineups, recruit future Deacon players and determine which remaining organs he can live without.

While little of the physical flesh of the man Walter once was remains, his dedication to helping his players has not faltered. Much of the world has already forgotten about his good deed and remains oblivious to the extent of the kindness. College baseball may never measure up to college football and basketball in popularity, but no coach from those sports will ever measure up to the man Walter is – especially with the extra eighteen inches added to his height due to his exoskeleton which keeps his remaining organs in place.

Sacrificial Hits

Two months ago Wake Forest Coach Tom Walter made national news when he generously donated a kidney to freshman Demon Deacon outfielder Kevin Jordan.  It was a move of incredible generosity and compassion too infrequently heard of in today’s world.  However with the advent of social media and Twitterization of news, the story of Walter’s incredible kindness disappeared from the headlines as quickly as it came.  As courageous as Walter’s decision was, it couldn’t hold a candle to stories of escaped cobras running amuck, violent loving warlocks bangin’ seven gram rocks or an auto-tuned teenager looking forward to the weekend (Partyin’, partyin’, yeah!).

While the nation moved on to the next news story, Walter did not.  Sure he did a great thing by helping one of his student-athletes, but there were still three dozen players on the Deacon roster that he hadn’t made that extra effort for.  If Walter preached that the Wake Forest baseball team was like a family in which members supported for each other, how could Walter rest until he personally reached out and made a personal sacrifice for every player on the team?  The answer was that he couldn’t.  Faster than the new college baseball pitch clocks, Walter quickly dedicated himself to helping each of his players just as he did Jordan.

Not wanting to play favorites, Walter started with the first player on roster alphabetically, senior left handed hurler, Ruppert Amerson.  Amerson’s fastball had steadily improved during his time on campus, but he had seemingly hit a ceiling with his velocity.  His breaking ball was good, but not great, and an extra bump in MPH on his fastball would elevate both pitches to the next level. While most coaches would simply spend some extra time working on mechanics or foster a new strength program, Walter again went the extra mile to help his player.  Walter had his own ulnar collateral ligament removed and exchanged with Amerson.  While it’s still too early to tell if the procedure was a success, Amerson appears to finally have that extra zip needed and is looking to be an integral part  of the Wake Forest staff once the team enters the heart of ACC play.

Walter’s generosity was still just getting started.  Next on his list was redshirt sophomore catcher Trevor “Banjo” Blakely.  Blakely had all the tools to be a top college catcher, but seemed to lack the confidence needed to be an everyday player.  Walter learned that the babyfaced backstop felt that his youthful appearance was holding him back as a player as he didn’t have confidence.  For Walter the decision was simple.  Walter underwent a skin graft to transplant some of his thick tuffs of back hair onto Blakely’s chest.  The results were almost instantaneous. Armed with self-assurance and his new rugged machismo, Blakely has been one of the breakout players on the club, leading the team in extra base hits, on base percentage and has also thrown out 60% of would be base stealers.

Finding a way to help the Decs’ cleanup hitter, junior right fielder Carney Gladden was one of Walter’s toughest tasks.  A long time gym rat and exercise junkie, Gladden was a physical specimen who had been putting up numbers just as impressive as his Adonis physique.  Nonetheless, Walter found a way to sacrifice himself to help him.  Gladden had been consistently arriving a practice late.  Walter eventually learned that Gladden’s constant tardiness was due to problems with his car, a broken down, rusted out 1996 Chevy Impala, that he couldn’t afford to have fixed.  Walter immediately got on the phone and within the week he was headed to South Africa to have a lung removed in a makeshift operating room and sold on the black market.  Walter took the proceeds from the operation and purchased a new electric smart car for his star slugger which also saved him gas money.  Ever generous, Walter also brought vuvuzelas back for everyone else on the team with some of the extra money and the clubs breaks them out whenever they’re in need of a rally.

The stories of Walter’s munificence are nearly limitless.  In addition of the aforementioned procedures, he has had three meters of small intestine removed, donated sixteen teeth, four ribs, 1/5 of his skull, a knee and both of his testicles all in altruistic measures for his team.  Following the team’s weekend series at Florida State, Walter is having some of his fat injected into homely looking third baseman Jarrod Warbitron’s lips in hopes that the sophomore’s appearance will take a turn for the better and he’ll have better luck getting to third base off the field as well.

Like Darth Vader, Walter’s more machine now than man, and due to the constant trips to the operating and recovery room, he must sleep in special hyperbaric meditation chamber to prevent infection. The pressurized life-support environment not only allows Walter’s body to recuperate, but also provides him the ideal office space to work on lineups, recruit future Deacon players and determine which remaining organs he can live without.

While little of the physical flesh of the man Walter once was remains, his dedication to helping his players has not faltered.  Much of the world has already forgotten about his good deed and remains oblivious to the extent of the kindness.  College baseball may never measure up to college football and basketball in popularity, but no coach from those sports will ever measure up to the man Walter is – especially with the extra eighteen inches added to his height due to his exoskeleton which keeps his remaining organs in place.

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