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    March 18, 2010

    It must have something to do with the rock fights my brothers and I had in our backyard when we were kids. We played Wiffle Ball most days of the summer before our adolescence, and most of the games ended prematurely. Quite regularly, my younger brother, Robby (now the head baseball coach at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas) and I would start a fight that would send the neighborhood kids running for cover, and thereby end a perfectly good game. Robby was always on the team opposite me. Most often, he was losing those games, so he was usually the instigator. Yet, I wasn't above heaving a bat or metal gardening rake at his torso as he would throw the first rock or crabapple in the direction of my cranium. To this day, we both hate to lose more than we love to win. I wonder if getting pinged in the dome with rocks after a win might have something to do with that.

    I would have gladly traded a knot on my head for a win last Saturday. The pain of losing two games to two different opponents in a span of seven hours was excruciating. We couldn't get much of anything going against Tennessee and their potential first-rounder, Bryan Morgado in the first game Saturday, but had the tying run at the plate in the ninth after George hit a double and Mike Olt homered over the leftfield wall. We came out on the losing side of a 3-2 score in a well-played game with not enough quality at-bats from the Huskies.

    With about a half hour to regroup and change uniforms (always a good idea after a loss), we had to deal with a hot Marshall club. The Thundering Herd packed their bats for the trip to Knoxville. They blew out Ohio State earlier in the day, 18-1, and still had enough knocks left in the metal clubs to score eleven more against us. Both teams played a sloppy, error-filled contest, and while both of us were bloodied, the Herd emerged victorious, sending us to our bus (which we couldn't find at 10:30 pm).

     

     

    After the twenty-minute trip back to the hotel, we were greeted by a half-dozen police cars blocking our entry to the Hilton. Apparently, a fight broke out at a debutante ball that required arrests and an ambulance (I'm not kidding). Anyway, our heads hit the pillow around 11:30, which was essentially 12:30 am Sunday morning due to the clocks moving one hour ahead with the arrival of Daylight Savings Time.

    So, I suppose the pain was worsened by an early wake-up call to play the 17th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes on Monday morning with first pitch scheduled for 10 am. Matt Barnes pitched a great game into the seventh, before giving way to Scott "6 to 3" Oberg. Scotty plays a coach-pleasing Name that Tune-type of game on the mound. Instead of naming a tune in __ notes, Scott pitches as if he's telling the hitter, "I bet I can get you to ground out in three pitches or less." Kevin Vance closed the door in the ninth, and we finished the weekend on a high note with a 5-4 win on getaway day. We had plenty of time to make the 3 ½ hour drive to Atlanta for our 9:30 pm flight home. Thank goodness we did, since our driver had to make a detour first to the bus yard and then to his house for his forgotten driver's license. That's kind of like me heading to home plate for the ground rules and leaving the lineup card at the hotel, right?

    I should have enjoyed the drive and flight with our first win over a nationally-ranked opponent this season, but I quickly began surfing the internet for information about Boston College. The dinner in Hartsfield-Jackson Airport certainly tasted better than it would have after a loss, but in less than 48 hours, the Eagles were coming to Storrs, and in addition to BC slugger Mickey Wiswall's bat, I was worried about the tarp blowing off in the rainstorm as well as the saturation of the outfield as we touched down at Bradley at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

    Monday was spent worrying more about our lack of information on BC starting right-hander, Dane Clemens, trying to pull the partially-blown-off tarp back on, and making sure our guys made it to their morning classes. A few grade reports made some one-on-one meetings necessary, and with Brooke in D.C. for a conference (she was at Bradley two hours after I arrived home), I left campus early to pick up the kids, make dinner, and get baths done after some of the guys took advantage of an optional afternoon lift.

    We beat the Eagles 8-4 on Tuesday behind good offensive output, and some nice outings by Michael Zaccardo, Dan Feehan, and Nick Ahmed. We'll now have a lift and two practices to prepare for a much-improved Sacred Heart team in a three-game series this weekend.

    Jimmy Connors said, "I hate to lose more than I love to win." Don't get me wrong, I love to win, but there's no time to love it during a season. Fortunately, there's also not much time to sulk after a loss (as Matt Barnes showed us all on Sunday). When my father would catch us scanning the Journal Inquirer after we had a 2-hit day, he'd say, "Just remember that today's newspaper is tomorrow's toilet paper." I didn't really understand that then, and I wouldn't want to be at his next colonoscopy, but I get it now. If we focus too much on the past, win or lose, we lose sight of the present.

    In college baseball, we play four, five, and sometimes six games in a week (we have six games in six days beginning Friday). If we lose sight of the present, and either bask in the glory of a win, or hang our heads low after a loss, we just might not be ready for the next opponent, or the next rock that might be heading in our direction. We always need to be ready to duck. Robby developed his arm well as a youngster in our backyard, and my perspective is proof that he was rather accurate with it too.

    - JFP

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