Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Harvard baseball updates

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Life has been very busy here, despite (or perhaps because of) the end of school.

News and Notes:

* As an alert commenter noted, Morgan Brown was named academic All-Ivy for the spring. Meanwhile, Steffan Wilson and Josh Klimkiewicz started and played all of the New England College Baseball All-Star Game at Fenway, which turned out to be a low scoring affair.

* Some nice news from the quasi-alumni ranks: Zak Farkes has been called up to high A ball following extended spring training. He replaces Ian Bladergroen, whom some of you may remember from the Red Sox-Mets trade that also involved Doug Mientkiewicz. Best of luck to Zak this year.

* Meanwhile, 3B Trey Hendricks '04 is batting .263 with a team-leading 33 RBI and 6 homers for the South Bend Silver Hawks, with a bases-clearing go-ahead double in his last game. And Ben Crockett is putting up some nice numbers in the Atlantic League.
* Finally, Friends of Harvard Baseball has sent out the names of the members of the Harvard Baseball Class of 2010:

Ian Bollinger – RHP – Issaquah, WA / Lakeside H.S.
Eric Eadington – LHP – Corona Del Mar, CA / Corona Del Mar H.S.
Max Perlman – RHP – Longwood, FL / Lake Brantley H.S.
Andrew Prince – C / 1B – Oakland, CA / Bishop O’Dowd H.S.
Ben Rabinowitz – OF / LHP – Brookville, NY / Jericho H.S.
Chris Rouches – OF – Peoria, AZ / Cactus H.S.
Jon Strangio – RHP – Rockville Center, NY / South Side H.S.
Dan Zailskas – INF – Marshfield, MA – Milton Academy

We will eventually do a little bit of posting on each of these guys. If you've got information about them that we wouldn't find during our customary cursory Google search and would like to send it our way, please do so. We'll start with a bit of information on Dan Zailskas.

Zailskas did a Q & A with the Boston Globe that FOHB sent out and I will duplicate in part here:
Many high school athletes have to decide between playing baseball or football in college. Milton Academy senior Dan Zailskas not only had to make that tough decision, he had to decide whether to play at Stanford or Harvard. The righthander is 5-0 this season and has an ERA of 1.06. A two-time ISL All-Star in baseball, he was also the Mustangs' quarterback and tonight he'll be honored as one of 22 EMass scholar-athletes at the annual National Football Foundation dinner. The team captain discusses hard choices, being bilingual, and what Major League Baseball should do about Barry Bonds in this week's Q&A.


What football skill helps you the most in baseball?
Probably focus because you have to be very focused at quarterback. It's the same thing when I am at the plate or on the mound.

Do you brush back hitters? Does it get you in trouble sometimes?
Yeah, you have to take command of the inside of the plate. Sometimes my coach doesn't like it. He's had to restrain me from doing it sometimes. But it's just part of the game.

Your coach says you could play Division 1A football if you wanted. Why aren't you playing football in college?
I want to just focus on baseball and see how far I can go. I'm probably a little more talented at baseball.

What do you think your chances are of being drafted by a Major League Baseball team?
Not this year, because I committed to a Northeast college. But hopefully if I improve, I would be able to.


Why did you pick Harvard over Stanford?
It's closer to home. There is probably a better chance for playing time. They have connections to the Cape league which is hopefully in the cards later down the line.

Is Milton Academy a cliquey school?
I'd say to some degree, not any more than any other school though.

You've taken four years of AP Spanish, do you think it's important to be bilingual?
Yeah, absolutely. Especially with the statistics coming out nowadays that Spanish will be the most spoken language in the US in a couple of years. I think 40 percent of the people in California speak Spanish. It couldn't hurt [to speak it.]


What is the most annoying commercial on TV?
The Burger King ones with the guys dressed up as cheeseburgers.

If you could see a sequel made about one of your favorite movies, what would it be?
I'd say "Goodfellas." I don't think it would work, but it would be nice if they did.

Should Major League Baseball celebrate Barry Bonds passing Babe Ruth in home runs?
No. I have no respect for Barry Bonds. Absolutely none.
I already like him, except that I rather enjoy those Burger King commercials. Anyway, the article notes his football days, which were the subject of an earlier article in the Globe. Three things here: 1. his dad, Dan Sr., is a member of the BC Hall of Fame, having starred on an Eagles team that went to the College World Series in '67. Zailskas Sr. eventually signed with the Phillies. And 2: The last time we lured a multi-sport star of this caliber to O'Donnell, he was pretty talented. And 3. It's interesting that the Harvard release listed Zailskas as an infielder.

All right, that's it for now. I may have something else to say mid next week. Again, if you're interested in contributing to this thing next year, let us know.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

More accolades for Wilson, Klim

Steffan Wilson (3B) and Josh Klimkiewicz (1B) were both named Second Team All-New England today.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Good luck, seniors.

Just before signing off from the last Red Sox broadcast of the season, which comes in varying degrees of heartbreak depending on the year, longtime play-by-play announcer--and frequent Harvard football pressbox visitor--Joe Castiglione reads a famous passage from the sport's most literary commissioner ever, Bart Giamatti. It goes like this:

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone."

This was, for a long time, the best baseball valediction I had heard. Until about five years ago, when another baseball buddha saluted the abrupt end of a college season and the players he would lose to graduation. It seems to fit all the more each year.

Good luck, 2006 seniors:

When you see a group of guys like this go out the door, it’s tough.

What a lot of people here at Harvard don’t understand is, if you come to a doubleheader on a Saturday, the game doesn’t just start at 12 or one o’clock.

Our guys are out there putting the tarp on the field, taking the tarp off thefield, raking the grounds at nine, hitting at ten, playing at 12, busting their hump until five or six o’clock and then hopping on a bus, driving four hours somewhere to do it all again the next day.

Then you come back on Sunday night and you got things to do. You’re working at three or four o’clock in the morning doing your studying. And then you come out the next day, and I’m in your face? Telling you to hustle? Telling you ‘let’s get a little running in’?

[At the baseball games], you get some administrators, you get someparents, you get some kids from the other team.

But I’ll say this about the baseball team. You go to a basketball game, they’re there. You go to a hockey game, they’re there. You go to a football game, they’re there. And they can tell you what the score of the water polo game was last night.

So I don’t think I’m just losing some good guys. I think the school’s losing some good people.

You want to keep working for kids like that. You want to be around guys like that.

Sometime when your schooling’s over, when your education’s over, you’ll look back and you say, ‘Hey, I did this with these guys.’

Those are the best memories of your schooling-making friends, meeting kids, representing your school. It’s not all about wins and losses. There’ll be plenty of time to be pushing pencils in concrete caves.

I’m hoping this is the best education these kids get-the friends that they’re with, getting out there and competing, and learning how to get through, day in and day out.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Uncle Bart Wants You!

The 2006 season has ended, but the site lives on. Next year, Martin will be in New York working full time, and Brian could be pretty much anywhere after he helps the good guys take back the Senate. Faiz, wherever he is, will be working as well. This means that we won't have anyone on the ground here in Cambridge, and that my job likely will prevent me from posting as often as I am used to doing. Although we ourselves will do what we can to keep the site going, it would be huge to have someone here in Cambridge to help out as a third full editor.

Are you going to be in Cambridge next year? Are you a fan of Harvard baseball and this site? Are you one of our more faithful commenters? Are you someone who thinks SoBB would be vastly better if the writers did a few things differently? We'd love to hear from candidates for a spot as one of the lead writers here. Drop us a line at bartbrush [at) gmail dot com, let us know who you are and what you'd be interested in, and we'll talk. As any of us can tell you, no special web experience is necessary.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Cap'n Was Here (In Class)

Congratulations to Morgan Brown, an ESPN The Magazine District 1 All-Academic First Team Selection. Rock in the infield, Rockefeller off it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Haviland named Pitcher of the Year, Yale's Sawyer Edges Klim for POY

Congratulations to Shawn Haviland, the Ivy League Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore. Haviland beat out the only other real contender, Dartmouth's Josh Faiola, in a vote that became pretty clear on Harvard-Dartmouth weekend. Meanwhile, the other half of the Saturday starting duo, Adam Cole, was named Co-Rookie of the Year along with Brown's Stephen Daniels.

Yale first baseman Josh Sawyer took Player of the Year despite our statistical analysis that suggested Josh Klimkiewicz may have been the better pick. One can only wonder what would've happened had Josh been healthy for the Brown series with three more games' worth of at-bats. It is worth noting that the coaches, presumably recognizing the absurdity of putting Klim on the second team, simply elected to name two First Team first basemen and go without a Second Team guy. Although POY sort of makes 1 and 1A clear, I tip my cap to the coaches for realizing that both players had first-team seasons (not unlike when the coaches fudged things and named John Birtwell '01 a first team reliever, despite relatively few relief appearances, when it was clear he was a third worthy First Team starter).

For a second straight year, Steffan Wilson was a unanimous First Team choice at the hot corner. Morgan Brown joins him at short and the league's terror on the basepaths, Matt Vance, joins him as an outfielder alongside Dartmouth's Bashelor and Brown's Christian. The Vance inclusion is a nice surprise, considering that Cornell's Brian Kaufman, who arguably had the best numbers against Ivy League competition of the field, only made the Second Team. Lance Salsgiver, who was blazing hot in the early weeks of the season but cooled down the stretch, was also named to the Second Team.

No honorable mention picks for Harvard. The only other player I'd have really pulled for HM was Javy Castellanos, but in a league of very deep pitching, it would've been a tall order.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Seniors: One For The Road

From left: Chris Mackey, Lance Salsgiver, Morgan Brown, Josh Klimkiewicz, Matt Brunnig, Javier Castellanos, Mike Dukovich.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The End

The season has ended. Harvard lost the second game 8-2 and the Ivy League Championship series, 2-0. Congratulations to Princeton, league champion and winner of an NCAA regional berth.

Adam Cole mixed fastball and slider brilliantly for five innings, but unraveled some in the 6th after a hit batsman and two errors, including a ball he threw high past first. Ultimately, Princeton got seven runs out of that inning. Staehly threw very well for Princeton, and Walz, given a big lead, did the only thing he had to do: throw strikes.

After the game, Javier Castellanos knelt down on one knee in front of the dugout next to Matt Brunnig, himself stooped low and looking wistfully at the field. They exchanged words for a while, staring out in the direction of the first base line, until they eventually got up and headed to the rest of their lives. No idea what they said. I found it poignant anyway.

I thank Joe Walsh, his assistants and most of all, the players for their time and effort, the seniors in particular, and for putting up with a semi-informed but enthusiastic fan with a laptop. I thank the parents of the team for their warmth, Mr. Jim Meehan in particular for his wonderful photos and Hurricane McNeeley and Friends of Harvard Baseball for their food. I thank Brian Fallon for his incredible work on the site, and everyone else who participated or helped (Faiz, Alex, Sky, Lande). I'm a bit numb, knowing that I've seen my last Harvard baseball game as a student, and I'll probably have more to say about that tomorrow. Meanwhile, we'll have more to talk about later on next week, including hopefully a silver lining or two when they announce league awards.

Harvard loses Game One

Shawn Haviland's fastball got hit hard pretty consistently in the early innings. He seemed to be leaving it up quite a bit, and only several innings in did he really settle down. He'll have many more great starts, but this was an unfortunate time for his most troublesome start in the Ivy season.

Game Two starts in minutes. I'm headed back out there with an umbrella and a jacket, as the temperature's dropped about 15 degrees and it looks like rain. Here's hoping none of that gets to young Adam Cole. Today, Adam Cole, you become a man...

Ready to rumble...

It's 65 degrees, Friends of Harvard Baseball promises BBQ and we're two games away from a repeat Ivy championship. Let's get ready to rumble...

* Live Gametracker will absolutely, positively work today.

* Assuming WHRB is out there, the broadcast likely will be available here.

I'll be at the games and won't have an update for you until day's end. Go Harvard.

Friday, May 05, 2006

One More Day...

Well, we still don't have awards to tell you about, but here is Julie Fogarty's preview in The Crimson. Yes, Shawn Haviland's Ivy League ERA is 0.73.
UPDATE: Supplement your pre-game reading with this very good official Harvard preview by Kurt Swoboda and this pretty-good-once-you-get-past-the-lede preview in the Daily Princetonian. Scott Bradley says this is a different team than Harvard faced early on, and I believe it. I just don't think that necessarily makes them quite as good as the Crimson on a day when Harvard is hitting at all.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Tune-Up Platter

Jonathan Lehman has a recap of yesterday's comeback win downtown. Princeton, for its part, was sloppy in a loss to Rider. Interesting read: From a couple days ago, this piece about pitching in the Prince, which in addition to being unusual and informative (if poorly titled), offers this amusing nugget:
With many different pitches in their repertoire, Tiger pitchers favor certain pitches in certain situations.

"My favorite and most-used pitch is my sinker," said one pitcher, who was granted anonymity due to concerns that he would give opposing batters an advantage in the upcoming Ivy League Championship Series by revealing specific details about his pitch selection. "It is designed to generate more ground balls, which lowers my pitch count and allows me to stay in games longer. It also increases the likelihood of double plays."

"I use a slider in most 3-2 counts or counts when I really need a strikeout," the pitcher continued. "I am very accurate with it and can throw it for a strike when needed. It's also useful because many hitters will be thrown off by a 3-2 slider as most expect a fastball in such a count."
I love it. The pitcher's protection program. Ooh! Ooh! Who could it be? Here's the ultimate test of how hardcore our regular commenters are. Is it Stiller? Walz? Staehly possibly? Some anonymous reliever who will be of little consequence this weekend anyway?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Another Big Ninth: Harvard Rallies to beat Northeastern

7-5 comeback win includes an inside-the-park home run by Steffan Wilson.

Live NE Stats

Here. Things haven't gone as swimmingly for Hampton Foushee this time. Also, we've got a Morgan Brown article from a recent Manchester Union-Leader, and more of Frank Herrmann's minor league diary in the Crimson.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Klim for All-Ivy: More Evidence

A breakdown of the Ivy season stats uncovers more evidence for why the Crimson's reigning Athlete of the Week not only deserves First Team honors at first base, but also should be the favorite for Player of the Year (POY).

For starters, here are the top POY candidates' numbers in Red Rolfe Division play ONLY. This is where it counted the most (click for an enlarged view):

In the league's toughest division, Klim has arguably the best overall numbers. Others (Sawyer, Bashelor) kept pace or slightly edged him in some of the raw-number categories (H, RBI, TB), but they played three more games than Klimkiewicz. Adjusted for games played, Klimkiewicz would be the leader in nearly every category across the board. Plus, even with the missed games, Klimkiewicz sits at the top of the group in average, HR, and walks, and his separation from the rest of the field in the OPS category is pretty significant.

Also noteworthy, with regard to the POY chase: Look at how Kaufman's stats wilt compared to the padded largesse of his overall league stats. If you needed proof that his stats were grossly inflated by the awful pitching staffs of Penn and Columbia, there it is. In fact, when you line up the list's Rolfe numbers alongside their overall league stats, most every player's production value declines sharply. (Christian in particular is made to look rather ordinary.) Only Deitz and Klimkiewicz see their OPS totals RISE when you zero in on their intra-division stats. In the games that mattered most, against the league's best pitching, Klimkiewicz was one of just two players who not only matched his usual production, he bettered it.

Also on the topic of clutchness, here are a couple more feathers in Klim's cap:

He's SECOND among top POY contenders in go-ahead or game-tying RBI (Ivy only):
Deitz - 8
Kaufman - 6
Bashelor - 6
Christian - 5
Sawyer - 5
Wilson - 4
Tews - 4

And he's FIRST in game-winning RBI (Ivy only)
Bashelor - 3
Wilson - 1
Kaufman - 1
Deitz - 1
Tews - 1
Christian - 1
Sawyer - 1

And lastly, if you need any more evidence of who the most feared hitter in the league was this season, consider that in Ivy play, Klimkiewicz drew four intentional walks. That's most among the POY contenders. Sawyer, meanwhile, didn't scare opposing managers into a single one. Just as interstingly, of Klim's four free passes, three came against Yale. Add in the three other walks Klim drew in that series that might as well have also been intentional, and John Stuper pitched around Klimkiewicz a ridiculous six times in four games! There's no way Stuper can make a case for his player over Klim during this week's coaches' conference call with a straight face.

Bottom line: Had Klim not missed the three games against Brown, and making the modest assumption that his production in those three games at all would have resembled what he showed during the rest of the league season, the decision over First Team honors at first base wouldn't even be worth a debate. Player of the Year would be less an open question, as well. Sawyer is a tremendous player, but if Klim--the top performer on the league's top team--doesn't get the nod, the league coaches will essentially be punishing him for getting injured.

Northeastern Game Postponed

Rescheduled for Wednesday.

Judge Klim's league stats for yourself

SoBB brings you what the Ivy office doesn't: league-only stats from the 20-game conference season. Below are the Ivy-only stats for our top three contenders for First Team All-Ivy honors at first base. (Click the graphic for a larger view. Category leaders are highlighted in gold.)

It does seem to be a very close contest between Klim and Sawyer. No one had more overall hits than Sawyer in 2006, but Klimkiewicz's runs total and power numbers (HR, RBI, slugging) are ahead of Sawyer's, despite missing three games in the Brown series.

Also for your consideration, here is how Klim (and Steffan Wilson) stack up against, in our view, their main competition for Ivy Player of the Year. Keep in mind that players like Tews and Dietz also pitch. (Again, click the graphic for a larger view. Note that category-leading totals among the contenders are highlighted in gold, second-highest totals are highlighted in silver, third-highest in bronze.)

Brian Kaufman looks pretty good here, but--as the Lesser Division's lone rep for our purposes--there's a caveat that should go with his numbers. No disrespect to him, but he fared a heck of a lot better against Gehrig Division pitching than he did against the Red Rolfe teams. Twelve of his 28 Ivy hits, three of his six homers, and 18 of his 29 RBI came in the Big Red's four-game series with Penn, the league's worst pitching team.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Klim Factor

Alex McPhillips dedicates his notebook to some awards campaigning:
“I absolutely love having him in the lineup,” said senior starting pitcher Matt Brunnig. “He’s in the three-to-five hole, and every time he’s up, there’s people on base. Having his bat there makes all the difference in the world.”

Klimkiewicz has never been named to the Ivy League’s first or second team. The senior may soon cash in on the league’s most prestigious honor—its Player of the Year award—with his well-timed terror campaign against Dartmouth pitching.

In ten plate appearances over two games yesterday, Klimkiewicz reached base eight times, drove in four runs­—he finished with 41 RBI, the most in the league—scored five times, and hit one high, arching home run onto the street beyond the left field foul pole. He went 4-for-5 in the second game with two hit-by-pitches. The home run, his seventh of the season, came in the sixth.
Whether the coaches listen to Alex is an open question. Well, it's not, they won't, but whether the result matches with his desire is an open question. Paul Christian and others loom as potential candidates--as does Steffan Wilson. And my sense of the postseason awards has always been that the coaches conference and haggle over this stuff, so Klim's candidacy may wind up going as far as Joe Walsh wants to take it (especially since he arguably has more than one deserving candidate. I wish that the League would post separate stats for league games only online, as it once did. This would make this a useful exercise. I'm not about to disaggregate Brian Tews' league numbers from his non-league numbers on my own.
Then there's this about Matt Brunnig's power display:
His second two-bagger hit the base of Dartmouth’s deep centerfield fence, approximately 400 feet from home plate.

“That was pretty well hit,” Walsh said. “It might have been the only ball that [Big Green centerfielder Will Bashelor] didn’t come close to and that [right fielder Damon Wright] didn’t come close to.”

“[If] those two guys don’t get to a ball,” Walsh added, “that thing’s gotta be hit.”

Brunnig gave the credit for his newfound power to a fortuitous recent purchase: a set of contact lenses, which he had never before used.

“It’s definitely helped,” he said. “I’m definitely a lot more comfortable at the plate. I thought my eyes were fine before…[but] I picked up off-speed pitches a lot faster.”
Contact lenses! A ridiculous story gets even better. How 'bout we get him Lasik surgery Wednesday and bat him fifth Saturday?

Jon Lehman's recap features this line about the breakout inning:
“That’s the kind of team we’ve had most of the season,” Klimkiewicz said. “We play our best when we’re pushed up against the wall, it seems. I think a lot of other teams would crumble and throw the game away, but we came in the dugout and said ‘We’re going to score at least four runs this inning.”