Welcome back to my blog. We returned from our first week of play at Clearwater, Fla., and were welcomed back to Pittsburgh with roughly 10 inches of snow immediately after our arrival. Unfortunately, we are supposed to open the new Petersen Sports Complex this weekend with a three-game series against IPFW. An optimist would suggest that all it will take to make this possible is a couple of warm days (and when I say warm I mean over 40 degrees) and all of the snow will melt off of the turf. Realistically however, there’s a better chance of me going to see Justin Bieber’s new movie “Never Say Never.” Don’t get me wrong, I think the kid’s an innovator, but I don’t get how he could have a movie documenting his life at 16 years old.
But I digress. This weekend delivered a series of compounding challenges that the mighty PITT Panthers had to come. First of all, we ran out of sun tan lotion, resulting in some serious sun burn for a majority of the players. Luckily, the tans are starting to set in. If anyone on campus is unsure of who plays on the baseball team, just go outside into the frozen tundra and look for guys with awkward farmers tans. As far as the games went, the Big East/Big Ten challenge confirmed the competiveness between the two conferences. Despite the fact that we escaped with a 2-1 record, compiling wins over Illinois (10-6) and Iowa (3-2 in 12 innings), while losing on Sunday to Purdue (5-3), each game could have gone either way. It was arguably the best opening weekend I’ve had as a PITT Panther not only because of the quality teams, but also the minimal mistakes and competitive climate every team brought to the table. Especially since our Saturday night game was at the Phillies’ spring training complex, Brighthouse Field (home of the Big East playoffs), the environment eerily felt like a playoff atmosphere.
Congratulations to senior Phil “The Bill” Konieczny for winning the “John C. Schultz Memorial Salt Truck Award” for the first week. Although slightly biased, Phil wins the award for not sticking to the infield/outfield routine that he and I have had for years. Due to some sort of salty situation, Phil refused to go “down low” with his high five after our pregame infield/outfield. As a result, I was left in a crouched position while sticking my hand out, looking like I had no friends. With the award, future plans for Phil include disproving Einstein’s theory of relativity, and ending world hunger (he is a 4.0 student in computer engineering, which is nationally ranked at PITT).
With that, I have a few shout-outs:
1. Freshman Brad Johnson for the establishment of his self-created “Johnson Nation.” We are all lucky to be a part of it. There’s not much else I can really say.
2. Second shout-out goes to David Chester for not only his 3-5 performance in game one against Illinois in which the Gentle Giant grinded out a triple, but for the radio announcer’s description of him during game two against Iowa. He described David as “an eighteen year-old playing against kindergarteners.” The announcer also thought that it looked like Chester was swinging a toothpick, which came under controversy after sports science revealed that a toothpick would be illegal to use in games since they have more “pop” than the new metal bats.
3. Third shout-out goes to redshirt sophomore closer and road roommate Ray Black. He ended up getting the win in game two, but no one really cares about that. Sure, he was sporting a 96 MPH fastball that night, fearlessly firing the ball past every batter he faced. However, he horrified the defense when he stepped into the on deck circle to hit. He didn’t even need to swing. Luckily, for the sake of our team dignity and his own personal safety, Coach Jordano made the correct call and pinch hit for him.
4. Lastly, a shout-out and thanks to the worker at the first game who used a hammer and WD-40 to remove a bat weight that was stuck on my bat. I’m not really sure how I would have hit with the weight still on it. Product promotion isn’t really my thing, but boy does WD-40 work wonders.