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.

1 comment:

dave said...
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