Catching Up With UConn Baseball
A weekly blog from
the University of Connecticut Baseball team
Entry #3: Monday, Feb. 25, 2008
The Longest Day
“Yeah, sure, I’d be happy to do a blog for our website, if
you think it will be good for our fans. It’ll be fun.”
Those were my words to our Athletic Communications contact,
Kristen Altieri, a few weeks ago. We were just getting practice underway and it
seemed like a way to make the season come faster. The first two actually were
fun to do. This one will be as much fun as watching the post-Oscars coverage
this week as my wife commandeers the remote control. Then again, listening to
Joan Rivers talk about beaded bodices can’t be as bad as reliving the start of
our season, can it?
We are 0-3. And the stat sheet doesn’t lie. We drove in
three runs in three games and our starting pitching averaged four innings
pitched this weekend in Florida. We competed okay in our first two contests and
had chances to win against No. 6 Missouri and Stetson on Friday and Saturday.
On Sunday, I woke, got my run in and felt good about our
chances to close out the weekend on a high note with a “W”. I packed my bag and
prepared for battle while watching the classic D-Day movie, “The Longest Day”.
As we checked out of the Holiday Inn and headed to Stetson’s beautiful ballpark,
little did I know how ironic it would be that I chose that flick. After an 11-1
drubbing at the hands of an impressive Michigan State lineup, our day was plenty
There were some positives, though. The showers at the
ballpark didn’t run out of hot water and our bus driver, T.W., got us from the
park to the Orlando airport without getting lost. My credit card wasn’t denied
and we were able to pay for all the rooms.
Our director of baseball operations, Ryan Marcoux, managed
to get the meals, laundry and logistics done without any hiccups. And, aside
from a scary few minutes with our leftfielder Pete Fatse colliding with our
centerfielder, Harold Brantley, nobody was hurt – except maybe for our pride.
Back in my high school days at East Catholic, my old coach,
my dad, would huddle the team before games and say, “Let’s all pray that
everyone gives 100 percent and nobody is injured.”
I still say the same one my dad offered before those high
school games in my head before we take the field. And, you know what, as bad as
we looked at times this weekend, my prayers were answered. I didn’t question
our effort. If anything, we may have pressed and tried too hard at times.
There wasn’t one guy in our dugout that gave less than 100 percent. With zero
injuries and everyone giving all they had, I suppose I should be thankful, and
down deep somewhere, beneath the embarrassed fog and nausea that accompany an
11-1 defeat on getaway day, I’m sure I am. That effort will pay off.
Now, our challenge is how to apply that effort to the task
of improving this week.
With an hour bus ride, a two hour wait for takeoff in the
Orlando Airport, a three hour flight and a one hour bus ride back from the
Providence Airport yesterday, the time for introspection was voluminous.
Initially, I tried to avoid that self-analysis by: 1. sleeping on the bus until
I continued to wake myself from a recurring nightmare in a cold sweat by asking
how many pitches another reliever needed to be ready. 2. soo-thing my wounds by
stuffing my face with a tryptophan/butterfat/sugar combination salve of
barbecued turkey leg, Ben & Jerry’s mint chocolate chunk waffle cone and sour
peach candy at our gate in the airport, and 3. doing some internet searching and
finding several other 0-3 teams in the country (misery loves company).
Of course, denial gives way to acceptance, and eventually,
with an uncommonly dry mouth somewhere over Georgia and between deliveries of
Wheat Thins, extra salty peanuts and when my meager four-ounce ginger ale
finally arrived, I snapped myself out of it, and began to plot a recovery.
First, I needed some perspective. So, without the internet on the flight, I
did some Penders intra-cranial searching and remembered that the last time we
won a BIG EAST championship, we began the season 0-3. Then, I thought about the
three games this weekend and realized we played good infield defense in each of
them (something we emphasized in the preseason). We got some quality relief
performances from John Folino, Erik Turgeon, Trent DeLazzer, Doug Jennings and
Maxx Catapano. We had leads in all three games against very well-coached and
talented teams. We played four and five rookies at a time throughout the
weekend. Several of our freshmen had our best at-bats, and we gave up runs in
just 7 of 25 innings pitched.
Finally, we formulated a plan for the week ahead. We will
focus on improving our offense (it will help to have all our position players
available for the first time this coming weekend) and will re-evaluate who are
our best three starting pitchers with our next auditions coming with three games
this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at UNC-Greensboro.
Yesterday is yesterday. The sun actually did come up this
morning, and we have a chance to get better again. We’ll do it despite the
unwelcome sight of snow blanketing Storrs, and we’ll do it because we have 53
more regular season games to show that we are a good team, and can accomplish
our goals. We’ll do it because, just like this blog, we promised we would.
There isn’t any time to feel sorry for ourselves. I’m going to go throw some
batting practice. Gotta sweat out last night’s therapy dinner and start to get
better. It’s going to be a long BP.
It wasn’t fun, but it’s done.
- Jim Penders