Sorry, I realize there is snow pelting half the country right now and the D1 season doesn’t start for another two weeks, but I couldn’t help but get my fix today. No. 3-ranked UC San Diego and No. 18-ranked Western Oregon played a D2 game down in San Diego under sunny skies and cool low-60s temps. What was I gonna do, watch all that crappy five-hour Super Bowl preview stuff? Nah.
I was hoping to go to a Point Loma Nazarene game, with its amazing view of the Pacific Ocean beyond the outfield fence, but the NAIA-based Sea Lions weren’t playing this weekend. So I opted for the Division II game at Triton Field to supply me with my baseball fix instead. Turned out to be a pretty good way to pass the time before the Super Bowl.
Western Oregon – 100 000 120 – 4 5 1
U.C. San Diego – 000 030 002 – 5 11 2
WP- Guido Knudson (1-0)
LP- Cam Nobles (0-1)
Talk about a bummer… the Tritons ended up getting the winning run in the bottom of the 9th, when Western Oregon reliever Brad Carter beaned Robert Sedin in the head with the bases loaded. Thunk! End of game. UCSD wins 5-4.
Not exactly the kind of finish you want to see in your first game of the season.
But at least it was good to see a back-and-forth game that went down to the last pitch between two of the better teams in the Division II classification, so I’m not gonna hassle it.
The Tritons seemed to have taken the game by the pitchfork when Kyle Saul, a 5’10″ power-stump, cranked a three-run bomb in the bottom of the 5th inning that put the Tritons up by a 3-1 count. (And at the time, I also thought this was going to be a 7-inning game, since today was to be a double-header. Turned out I was mistaken.)
A couple innings later, and the lead still in hand, UCSD turned to Guido the Killer Ace. That is, their All American closer Guido Knudson, who inherited a 3-2 lead and men on 1st and 3rd. Unfortunately, the normally steady Guido soon threw an errant pickoff throw to first, that allowed Grant Glover to score from third. Then, a wild pitch to the backstop allowed the tying run to score in the form of Daniel Dillard. The Tritons found themselves behind once again, 4-3.
UCSD won the second game of the twin-bill, 6-1, with the help of Daniel Simmons’ complete-game 5-hitter.
Coupled with Friday’s 4-1 win over WUO, this makes the Tritons 3-0 vs. the Wolves, exacting some revenge for last year’s 3-1 series loss on the first full weekend of play last season. That came when UCSD was ranked 2nd in the country too.
Two players on today’s rosters have already won Division I national championship rings. For UCSD, pinch hitter Nick Hom came to the dish in the 8th inning. He had previously won a title as a reserve with Fresno State. On the other side of the field, WOU Friday ace Blake Kleitzman, was a frosh at Oregon State when the Beavs won the 2007 title.
There were also a handful of other former D-1 transfers that ended up on these two rosters.
* Today’s starting pitcher was Matt Rossman, who transfered from UC Riverside.
* 2B Grant Bauer is a transfer from UC Davis.
* Logan Lotti, who got an RBI double, is a transfer from Oregon State as well.
* LF Andrew Irvine is a transfer from LMU.
* 1B Joe Pratt is another Oregon State transfer.
MY HALL OF FAME BALLOT.
It’s that time of year again. Time to take a few hours and figure out who I want to nominate in the college baseball Hall of Fame voting. College Baseball Foundation Executive Director Mike Gustafson sends every member of the voting committee a lengthy set of bios on all 61 coaches and players that are up for eligibility. And to be honest, I find voting to be nearly an impossible task. Given the legendary players and coaches that you have to choose from, you are supposed to vote for at least one in each of the following categories:
* Vintage, pre-1947
* Small School (NAIA, , Divison II and III, J.C.)
So, thanklessly, arguably and after much consternation, here are the players and coaches I put down on my ballot for this year (going from most deserving…):
1- John Winkin, coach of Maine/Husson College
This is the third straight year I have voted for the legendary Black Bear coach. As I’ve stated before, anybody who can lead a team from Maine to the CWS six times (and have two 3rd-place finishes) is a miracle worker to me.
2- Mickey Sullivan, coach and player at Baylor
You’re talking about a guy that hit .519 in 1954 as part of a two-time All American college career, who then went on to coach the Bears to a pair of CWS appearances in the 70s. That was probably the best player/coach combo on the entire list.
3- Danny Goodwin, Southern.
He did what no other player in the history of baseball has ever, or will ever do: he was drafted as the 1st overall draft pick on two different occasions in the same calendar year. (They have since gotten rid of the 2nd yearly draft). Goodwin was a career .394 hitter as a Jaguar.
4- William C. Matthews, Harvard 1903-05
According to the release, Matthews was the “Jackie Robinson” of his time and hit .333, .343 and .400 as the best infielder in the history of Harvard baseball. And of course, because of the rules against blacks in professional baseball, he never played in the MLB.
5- Oddibe McDowell, Arizona State 1983-84
In two years at ASU, he led the Devils to Omaha both years and also had a .402-23-74 season in ’84, while also going 36-of-39 in stolen bases and earning 66 walks.
6- Lloyd Simmons, coach Seminole (Oklahoma) J.C.
This guy was a solid no-brainer for me, standing as the winningest head coach in junior college baseball history. He had 1,643 wins in 25 seasons and 13 JC CWS appearances.
7- Ralph Garr, Grambling 1965-67
It’s hard to judge some of the historically black college players, considering the competition wasn’t usually that great. But Garr led the country with a .582 average and 51 runs scored. He also had just two errors as a second baseman, which is the most impressive stat of all, regardless of who hits the ball toward you.
8- Al Holland, North Carolina A&T pitcher, 1972-75
Like Garr above, it’s difficult to qualify a player like this, but his 30-5, 0.68 (yes, re-read that stat again, 0.68) numbers were pretty jaw-dropping. He also had over 100 Ks each of his four years, including a career-high 143 Ks in his frosh season.
9- Rich Wortham, Texas pitcher, 1973-76
The second-winningest pitcher in college baseball history, Wortham also had 12 career shutouts and 481 strikeouts in his career. Won the national title with a four-hitter vs. South Carolina in ’75.
10- Charles Teague, 2B Wake Forest, 1947-50.
As you can tell from some of the players and coaches above, I like talents that reach nearly unreachable milestones. Teague fits that bill with his being one of only six players to ever be named a three-time All American.
I only filled out 10 spots on my ballot, instead of the maximum of 14. I did this just to make sure I thought long and hard about my choices and only gave nods to the ones that were most-deserved. So, here are some of the players/coaches I had a tough time leaving off my list:
- Dudy Noble, Mississippi State
A legendary coach and Athletic Director, who is also the namesake of MSU baseball field.
- Ray Fisher, coach Michigan
Had just two losing seasons in 32 years skippering the Maize and Blue.
- Art Mazmanian, All American at USC, J.C. coach
I actually had him on my ballot last season, but took him off for 2010. But did have 29 winning seasons out of 31 at Mt. San Antonio J.C.
- Alan Bannister, Arizona State.
A two-time All American for the Sun Devils.
- Mike Fiore, Miami
Set 12 school records in offense, including hits (341), doubles (63) and RBI (235). What might’ve put the screws to his chances for me is that he actually went on to work for pro agent Scott Boras. That’s just so, ewwwww!
- Terry Francona, Arizona
Hard to leave this guy off as well, of course, especially after leading the Pac 10 two different years in hits, RBI and doubles and hitting .458 in the CWS.
- Dave Madagan, Alabama.
Unbelievable season in 1983, hitting a slack-jaw inducing .525 and smacking in 95 RBI, while walking 34 times as well. This dude was just Mr. Smooth, that’s all.
- Frank Viola, St. John’s
Went 26-2 in his career as a Redman (as they were known then), including a 10-0 mark in his final season, to go along with a shocking 0.87 ERA. He led SJU to Omaha in 1980 as well.
- B.J. Surhoff, North Carolina.
I’ll make up for not voting him in this year, by promising to vote in Dustin Ackley as soon as he comes eligible.
- Eddy Furniss, LSU.
Loved his power numbers and career SEC records, just couldn’t pull the trigger here.
- Mike Smith, Indiana.
He was the only player in college baseball history that won the triple crown.
MORE COVERAGE FOR COLLEGE BASEBALL.
As you guys know, I’ve complained many times over the shrinking coverage of college baseball the last few years, since some of our web-based brethren have deep-sixed their sites due to money or time. But one thing I have found to be mildly encouraging is the number of mentions that I have actually seen in some pre-season pro baseball magazines. Two in particular come to mind. Athlon’s has dedicated a full two-page spread – which is mostly just a quick-cap of the Top 25 and some big name players. I looked in the credits as much as I could to find out who wrote the short capsules on each team, but I never found anyone named.
The other publication that has given our sport some cred is in the Sporting News’ pre-season publication. In there, a full two-page feature on the demise of Rosenblatt was in it, as well as an All American team and a short write-up on the Top 25 teams.
In the Sporting News edition, I saw that Scott Rabalais was the author of the Rosenblatt feature. He is a sports writer for the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper and, of course, a long time scribe for LSU baseball. I’m not real wild about a local ink-slinger given the assignment of writing a national magazine feature of the Top 25 teams (at least I think he was the author of that as well), but I did like that the first person he mentions in his review of Rosenblatt is Omaha World Herald writer Steven Pivovar – who has written about college baseball since the early 80s. The much-respected Pivovar would be my first source to contact on the subject of the old stadium as well.
SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS.
Since the game is usually secondary to the much-ballyhooed commercials that run during it, here is my Top Five and Bottom Five of Super Bowl spots during the 2010 big game.
1- Snickers. “Pick Up Football Game”
The Betty White “that’s not what your girlfriend said” comment got good guffaws from the group of people I was watching it with. Then, when Abe Vigoda made his cameo at the end of the spot, that put thais one over the top.
2- Doritos. “Dog Collar”
A dog that turns the trick of a bark/shock collar on his human master? That’s gold. It was awesome to see the dog continue to bark in order to shock his owner out of a bag of Doritos. Spot-on man. I mean, spot-on Fido.
3- Coke. “Simpsons”
Obviously, the ad agency allowed Matt Groening and his staff to come up with the idea, since it didn’t totally resemble the usual advertising schlock… except when Milhouse runs into the Coke logo at the end and apologizes. THAT sounds like something that was demanded by the client.
4- Volkswagen. “Slug Bug”
People doing the old Slug Bug game to the new VWs… not bad. Having Stevie Wonder figure out a red VW just went by… solid ending.
5- Bud Light “Book Club”
It’s always good to see guys sabotage a girls institution that is filled with silly reverence. This one does it quite well. “Do you like ‘Little Women’?”, “Yeah, I’m not too picky.” (Great ending)
1- Sketchers “Shape Up shoe”
Come on Sketchers… it’s a Super Bowl spot. Use SOME creativity. Especially if you’re gonna run that crappy spot twice.
2- Hyundai “Brett Favre, 2020 MVP”
Talk about non-sequitor. What did Brett Favre winning the 2020 MVP award have to do with a Hyundai car?
3- Bud Light “Electronic-augmented Singing Voice”
Just reminds us all how over-produced a lot of R&B music tends to be. Having the T-Pain cameo in it at the end merely affirms that no-talent people need engineers and producers to help them sound good. (or bad).
4- Denny’s “Screaming chickens”
Three spots chock full of chickens freaking out over the free eggs that will be given away on Tuesday isn’t very appetizing when these chickens are screaming throughout.
5- CareerBuilder.com “Casual Friday”
Actually, this was a slightly comical spot, but seeing ordinary schmoes like this in their underwear reminds us how bad 90% of people look without their clothes on. That’s just a visual we didn’t need to be reminded of.
A FEW MORE NOTES:
WORST RECOLLECTION COMMERCIAL: The Super Bowl Shuffle.
Good idea that harkens back to that awful Bears of ’85 Super Bowl video, but to be honest, when the spot ended, I had no idea what product it was for. Do you?
BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS COMMERCIAL: Cars.com “Timothy Richmond”
They ran a similar “confidence” spot last year, but this one involved a young man that saves a cheerleading squad from a killer tornado. And that tornado looked pretty damn real too, with the lifting bus and flying debris. Nice work special effects artist.
THE ‘YOU KNOW THERE ARE TOO MANY LAWYERS IN THE WORLD’ AWARD: Bridgestone Tires.
When a commercial shows three guys with a Killer Whale in the bed of their truck driving down a pier at the beach and there’s a small bit of type at the bottom of the screen that says “Do Not Attempt”… we have too many lawsuits in this world. We REALLY need that legal line at the bottom? It should say “Feel free to attempt this stunt. The over-populated world needs stupid people to die more often.”
A LOT OF MONEY TO BURN.
As you saw, Bud Light and Doritos did their usual job of over-saturating the commercial airwaves during the most expensive advertising buy in history. But there were also a number of surprising mutli-spot advertisers like Hyundai, GoDaddy.com, Carfax.com, Skechers and Denny’s. And have I mentioned how sick I was of those damn screaming chicken commercials?
FIVE THINGS WE CAN DO WITHOUT:
1- Rodents. Too many squirrels, beavers, etc.
2- Talking babies. (Soooo five years ago)
3- The tired GoDaddy teases. (Okay ad creatives, we know Danica is hot)
4- Ads that make beer seem more important that anything in the world. (Time for a new strategy guys)
5- People in their underwear. (We got that back-to-back tonight with CareerBuilder.com followed immediately by the Dockers “We Wear No Pants” guys)
THE HALFTIME SHOW.
Is it any shock that the Super Bowl was televised by CBS this year and the feature band that has the theme music for all three of its CSI shows was chosen to be the Halftime entertainment? Nah. Not at all.
But obviously, since they have more talent than God, I do dig The Who. And for a mid-60s crooner, I’m gonna hand it to Roger Daltrey for still being able to belt out the tunes with some wicked pipes. And of course, Townsend, belly protruding and all, still played some windmill-heavy guitar too. Not bad. I just wonder if CBS realizes half their audience doesn’t know who The Who is?