Monday, January 29, 2007

Baseball America Picks Harvard

The leading baseball authority and the only objective entity to bang out such predictions has Harvard beating Princeton in a rematch of last year's stunning sweep (or, put differently, a rematch of almost every Ivy League Championship Series of the past ten years). For a second straight year, Baseball America has named Steffan Wilson the preseason player of the year. lists Shawn Haviland and Matt Vance as preseason all-conference picks, which I take to mean that someone other than Haviland was named preseason pitcher of the year--I imagine it would have to be Christian Staehley, who burst onto the scene by taking a no-hitter into the 8th against Arkansas in the NCAAs last year. When last we saw Staehley, he pitched the Tigers past Harvard in the league clincher.

I wouldn't bet against the nastiness that is defending Ivy Pitcher of the Year Shawn Haviland taking some motivation from this.

Meanwhile, Vance is a logical pick to represent the Crimson in the outfield again after terrorizing the league at the plate and on the basepaths last year; the big question is whether Matt Rogers can take the next step and join him in giving Harvard a uniquely terrifying one-two speed combo again.

I'll post more on the all-conference selections once I get a hold of them.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nice Brendan Byrne feature...

...up on about the glorious throwback-ness of Brendan Byrne, two-sport athlete:
Regardless of the outcome of the baseball season, Walsh is certain his captain will infuse the team with his signature confidence and work ethic, which he credits Byrne’s upbringing for.

“He might have come out of Milton Academy,” says Walsh. “But I know he has some Dorchester in him. If the team takes on his personality this year, you won’t find a happier guy than me.”

I've always liked Byrne, who had an underrated knack for getting the big hit with men on base when healthy.
Meanwhile, the Crimson's other impact two-sport guy, Brad Unger, is averaging 15 minutes a game for the basketball team and was Harvard's COOP Athlete of the Week for December 11.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

More blasts from the past: An old rival on Brian Ralph and Crimson clutch

While Princeton has arguably been best known for its pitchers over the years, between Chris Young and Ross Ohlendorf and Thomas Pauly, Brown has produced a number of the best hitters in the league over the past few years (I still shutter to think of what this guy used to do to against the Crimson, for example). Brown had quite a few of the elite mashers. Todd Iarussi was one of them, a two-time All-Ivy outfielder who is the Ivy League's all-time leader in career doubles. Todd wrote in to SoBB recently:

I played at Brown from 1998-2001 and was talking about a Sox article that mentioned Princeton alum and current Sox employee Mike Hazen, who I'm sure you remember. I told my friend a story about how my freshman year Hazen preserved a win against us by making a catch crashing into the centerfield
fence at our place, slicing his leg open on the play. He was helped from the field, didn't start Game Two, then came in to pinch hit later in the game and hit a monster home run, limping around the bases while the bench was goading him on to do give the Kirk Gibson fist pump.

Anyway, so my friend asks who the best player I played against in the league was, and I didn't hesitate for a second in saying that it was Brian Ralph. He was without a doubt the best small guy I have ever seen on a field (one of the best players I’ve seen in general), and I am still firmly convinced that he could have helped a major league team win ballgames. I searched Google to provide my friend a stat or two on him, and it lead me to this blog, where something similar about Brian was mentioned in the Bart interview.

The most clutch player I played against? It kills me to say it, but it would have to be Faiz. He should run a clinic on the art of hitting soft game winning liners into short center. I must have said "take a full swing, you little bastard" to myself countless times in the outfield when he would start fouling balls off with cuts that made you wonder if cricket was actually his first sport, but you certainly can't argue with the results.
It got so bad at one point that I pleaded with Coach Drabinski to employ a Faiz shift that would place our right fielder directly behind second, shifting the centerfielder over to right center to form a triangle in the outfield. In fact, when David Ortiz fisted the game winning single to center in Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS, my dad yelled "he Faized it!" He can't seem to let it go either.



Couple thoughts: First, huge thanks to Todd for writing in. There's lots to be said here about class and the greatness of the league, and I won't get into it all here. And there's lots to be said about why stories like this are why so many of us love baseball, but I won't get into all that here, either. I will say that this is much appreciated, and I'm glad Todd wrote in.
Then there's the fact that description of Faiz's swing might be the most enjoyable writing we've had on the site to date.
Finally, I'm glad to know I wasn't the only person out there who, in the midst of bedlam, thought back to a couple memorable moments in Allston.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

When Harvard Faced Ross Ohlendorf in the Ivy Championship

The most prominent Ivy baseball alum in the news lately has been Ross Ohlendorf. Here with thoughts on Ohlendorf is our own Faiz Shakir '02:

Former Princeton hurler Ross Ohlendorf's name has been in the news of late because he was a key part of a blockbuster trade between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks that sent LHP Randy Johnson back to team he helped lead to a world championship in 2001. Ohlendorf, along with fellow minor league pitcher Steven Jackson, infielder Alberto Gonzalez, and Diamondbacks reliever Luis Vizcaino, were shipped to the Yankees.

Ohlendorf has enjoyed a very promising young career in the professional ranks, having been named to Midwest League all-star team in 2005. Clearly, Ohlendorf has developed and progressed as a pitcher a great deal since my teammates and I faced the freshman ace in Game 1 of the 2002 Ivy League Championship.

Ohlendorf came into the game with a 6-2 record, and with a reputation as a hard-throwing big right-hander. For those of us who had faced Chris Young, Ohlendorf seemed to be the second coming. 6'-4”, 200+ lbs, Ohlendorf was a big presence on the mound. While he threw hard, he didn't rely on his overpowering stuff. Rather, he pitched a great deal to spots (specifically, throwing low and away a gret deal) and he accompanied the fastball with a hard slider that seemed to be his strikeout pitch.

Our senior right-hander Justin Nyweide outbattled Ohlendorf on that Saturday – Nyweide went all nine, striking out 14 and winning 5-1. What I remember most is that the Princeton defense let down Ohlendorf on that day. Early in the game, Ian Wallace and I laid down back to back sacrifice bunts that were misfielded by the Princeton third baseman, loading the bases for Trey Hendricks to drive in the first (and game-winning) runs. Ohlendorf left after 5 innings, striking out 6. He certainly left his mark as someone who was going to have a bright future, but for a freshman pitching in his first Ivy Championship game, it seemed his nerves may have gotten the best of him. Certainly, in the time that has passed since, Ohlendorf used those experiences to develop maturity and poise on the mound and seems not too far away from one day pitching Yankee Stadium.

Congratulations and best of luck to Ross.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Harvard Stadium is beautiful and historic. One thing it isn't is partially covered by a dome.
It was supposed to be by now. Back in the fall, Joe Walsh spoke excitedly about the prospect of the Harvard athletic department's dome project being ready to house offseason workouts for other teams, including the Crimson. This photo was taken yesterday (thanks, PST). No dome.
What's the holdup? The Crimson hasn't reported on the delay, to my knowledge. Anyone got a clue? Let us know in the comments.
Also, I'm hearing local rumors that among next year's recruits is a lefty from my alma mater. This is awesome.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year from Sons of Bart Brush

Happy 2007, gang. With another baseball season drawing near, I wanted to post to say a couple of quick things.
First: There will be Sons of Bart Brush content this season. How much of it will be from me, I can't say. I'm working (a lot) and in New York now, and I've always done the lion's share of the posting around here, so the frequency of posts might not be what it once was. But my hope is to offset this in a number of ways.
1. Open threads. I'm going to put up an open thread for every home game, and it'll be its own self-contained forum where people who were actually there can comment on the games.
2. Pictures. Last year, we got an incredible boost from Mr. Meehan's pictures. I invite anyone who's got snapshots of game action to e-mail them to us. Don't be shy; Gmail can handle it. Case in point: The above shot from Harvard baseball's fall banquet, sent to us anonymously.
3. Got a digital video camera? Got footage? I'll probably have the Columbia games covered, but as for everybody else: Get to know Youtube now, and send me links to your clips. If I'd owned a videocamera last year, this alone would've made the site ten times better. We'll see if someone out there can bail me out this time.
More posts to come. Thanks for a great 2006. Looking forward to another one.