Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Opening weekend losses, a Crimson tradition

With this my 5th year of emotional investment in Harvard Baseball, I can tell you that the beginning to this season is no different than any of the past four. In one respect, this is of course bad because the Crimson was handed 3 lopsided losses – not the most proud of traditions to establish. On the other hand, two of the last four Crimson squads went on to win the Ivy League with similar beginnings when pitted against ranked southern schools (i.e. Rice, Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas Tech).

That said, this year’s edition has nothing to worry about. After four years of being on the receiving end of a few blowout defeats, one learns how to recognize the positives regardless of score. So here’s my take on why dem good ol’ boys should keep their heads up, and also where they’ll need to improve to keep the Ivy Title at O’Donnell.

Swingin’ the shillaly:
The biggest challenge the Harvard team faces every season is adjusting to “real” baseball after being cooped up inside basketball and tennis courts through the Boston winter. This year’s edition came out swinging, as always. With 26 hits over their first 3 games against nationally ranked pitching, the Crimson will not have to worry about offensive output as they have not over the past few seasons. Klem, Steffan, and Lance will all have great years at the plate and it sounds like some newcomers will have impact years as well. Captain Mo will have a good solid year all-around, having already contributed a long ball to his versatile offerings.

The guys will have to concentrate on walking more, and striking out less, something I always sucked at, but hey it’s gotta be done. This will give Walsh more chances to run, run, run.

Pitching Whoa’s!
24 BB's, 7 HBP’s, and 6 WP’s. That’s a lot of poorly aimed pitches for three games. A tremendous amount really. There’s clearly a lot of rust on the rubber, and the pitching staff will have to turn it around pretty quickly to give the team a shot at winning. There’s just so much talent in the Crimson arms though. As a catcher, I know it. There is absolutely no reason that Bruton, Castellanos, that hippie Brunnig, and Haviland shouldn’t have great years. All of them need constant reminders that there is a defense working hard out there for them. Bruton will need movement on his fastball and be able to throw his sharp slider and yakker for strikes. Javy C just needs to concentrate on filling the zone with his hard fastball. No need to get pretty out there. Haviland will find his rhythm with time. And Brunnig, with the best tools of them all, just needs to breathe out of his eyelids, stay loose, and let it fly.

The bullpen will be led by Jason Brown. He needs to set the tone for other relievers like Duke and Taylor Meehan. The objective for them is to challenge hitters with a mix of pitches. Keep them off balance and swinging. All three have plenty of good pitches to work with, if only they throw strikes.

Harvard’s catchers will have to work to get the most out of this pitching staff. Big Casey is a hell of a catcher and strong-willed. He knows how to keep those idiot pitchers in line.

Equal Opportunity Line-ups:
Walsh has never had any qualms about getting freshman into the line-up to “see what they can do.” Though I know little about this freshman class, I do see that many of them are getting playing time and making the most of it. Cole was outstanding in his debut and this Rodgers character delivered a big hit. Strong contributions from a freshman class are important to the success of the team. It drives the older guys to work harder to keep their spots, and it gives the young guys a chance at game experience in their first year. If you look at the past couple of years, guys like Haviland, Wilson, Farkes, and Klem all made huge impacts in their first go-around. This year should be no different as the young bucks seem to be earning respect from Walsh already.

(And I say this lovingly…) Walsh’s Wild Hair:
The craziest decision that Walsh made in the opening weekend, the one that has left me scratching my head a few thousand miles away, was putting Brunnig in to pinch hit. Then again, it worked. Unless there was a typo in the media, Brunnig got and AB and a hit. I remember Brunnig always telling me and the other hitters how easy our job was (to our chagrin) but I guess he proved himself right. Still, I think he should get his goofy ass back on that mound and throw heat.


dave said...

This is the worst entry on this entire blog, if not in the history of blogs. It's annoying and self-serving. I hate how the author attempts to relive his glory days as if any cares. What's the point of adding this guy as an author if he's going to just state the obvious...it doesn't take an "insider" to tell you that Harvard is going to get swept by a top 25 team in it's opening weekend. Get a life.

Brian said...

Nah, I think this anonymous comment is what's weak. The post, I liked a lot.

Thanks for stepping up, Schuyler.

Pablo said...

So I've looked at Dave's post and decided that a) you did not actually read the post, or b) Schuyler Mann once stole your lunch money. Get a life, indeed.