Balls & Strikes: the Anteaters, Jered Weaver, A-Rod & More
Major League Baseball beat reporter Mychael Urban is a portly red-headed man who once insinuated that I was a groupie. Yes, men, ALL women interested in baseball are groupies (please note heavy sarcasm). While Urban is no good to the dignity of female fans everywhere, he is, however, an excellent reporter.
To get to the point of the column, there’s way too much in the baseball world to be covered in 25 inches. Thus, we are resorting to a style of column-writing that Urban trademarked, ‘Good for ball, bad for ball.’
We’ll add a twist, of course: Balls & strikes. Take it from the perspective of the pitcher: ‘balls’ is anything bad for baseball, while ‘strikes’ is anything good.
Let’s start in our own back yard: Baseball America’s feature on UCI Baseball titled ‘Commanding Respect.’
Strikes. It’s accurate, you see. Arizona didn’t respect us until Brett Smith showed them how he commands four (pitches that is). Baylor didn’t respect us until Erik Johnson RBI’d his way through the sweep. Long Beach State didn’t respect us until they saw what our mean 6-1 lefty Glenn Swanson could do to them.
And certainly, nobody respected that we only wanted to play eight innings of baseball until they met Blair Erickson (and his two friends, nasty and nastier).
We started the season as underdogs and we’re proving to be anything but.
Large contingency of Long Beach State press whining
Balls. Every Long Beach reporter cried their way through the following Monday coverage after our two-game series with the Dirtbags, weeping, ‘They didn’t face Jered Weaver,’ or ‘Our non-starters were playing that second game.’
There’s no whining in baseball, guys. The then seventh-ranked team came into our house and committed five errors in two games. Makes one wonder if the reason that Weaver strives to strike everyone out has something to do with the team defense. And one more thing: Your so-called non-starters scored more runs in their Sunday game than your starters did in the Saturday game.
Balls & strikes. Strikes because he’s garnering attention for West Coast NCAA Baseball.
Balls because we have to face him eventually.
Smith, Swanson, Chris Nicoll, Steven Schroer and Michael Koehler
Strikes. Smith, Swanson and Nicoll have one loss between the three of them and they combine for 120 strikeouts in 102.4 innings.
Schroer and Koehler serve as solid relief guys. Not something revealed in the stats, but both are successful at keeping inherited runners from scoring.
Strikes (and strikeouts). Why does Erickson get mentioned solitarily? Erickson boasts 11 saves for the Anteaters. To my research, he leads the nation in saves. On top of that, he’s a freshman with the mound presence of a rabid pit bull.
Strikes. The numbers from this year so far: .276 team batting average, 128 RBIs, 17 home runs, 145 runs. The numbers from the entire last season: .253 batting average, 202 RBIs, 15 homeruns and 225 runs scored. Let’s take a moment to welcome back R.J. Brown, Matt Anderson, Jaime Martinez and Erik Johnson.
Moving on to the wider world of baseball: Alex Rodriguez in pinstripes
Balls. With a WP, BB and HBP on the side, A-Rod in New York is George Steinbrenner’s way of robbing taste from cheesecake. Yes, George, please take ALL the fun of baseball away from me. Somebody call and remind him that it is a GAME. You’re not supposed to know automatically who’s going to win