Sunday, April 29, 2007

That's that.

A loss in Game One doomed any shot the Crimson had, although Brown took the one game they needed to sew things up in Providence as well. Harvard's season will end with its non-league game against Northeastern on Tuesday.

Congratulations to Brown and Penn (Princeton nearly came all the way back to force a divisional playoff only to falter in 12 innings at Cornell). This is the first time in quite a few years that the Ivy League championship series will happen with neither Harvard or Princeton involved, but it's arguably overdue. Brown has fielded too many fierce lineups over the years not to break through at some point.

It's worth realizing now that we came within a hair's breadth of repeating as division champions despite huge losses in last year's seniors. That's a testament to the coaching staff and to the team leadership, particularly the seniors and Brendan Byrne. He'll be missed next year. Jake Bruton had a breakout season. Jay Brown should be commended for his body of work over the length of his career at Harvard (and what will Harvard baseball be without at least one Jason Brown on the roster?). Drew Casey, as much as I've lamented his bat here, proved to be one of the more potent bats in the games that counted. A hearty thanks and farewell to Justin Roth and Jake Levine as well.

What's left going forward? Arguably the best rotation in the Ivy League in 2008, for starters, with Haviland, Perlman and Unger back for more. Boomer Eadington and Adam Cole would seem to have an interesting offseason ahead of them, and an interesting battle come next fall and spring. Matt Vance has become an even more complete package--speed, power, versatility. Steffan Wilson will presumably be back, Matt Rogers took a big step, Tom Stack-Babich bounced back in a big way, Jeff Stoekel turned out to be a fine starter, and hopefully an Andrew Prince without hamstring trouble will be a very effective heart-of-the-order presence.

More on this later. There will be more posts in the days and weeks to come, and then at some point I'll sit down and figure out what to do next year.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

An awful break

We are officially in trouble.

After Max Perlman predictably shuts down the Big Green in game one, Brad Unger can't follow up after a line drive caroms off his right (pitching) shoulder two outs into the first. Just terrible, terrible luck.

Although he battled characteristically, Unger could never really sette in after that and gave up eight runs. Harvard rallied late but couldn't make up the deficit. Meanwhile, Brown swept Yale today in New Haven. Harvard would need to sweep Dartmouth at home tomorrow (very possible) and have Yale sweep Brown in Providence tomorrow (highly unlikely) in order to extend the Ivy League season.

Feel free to add commentary.

I should also note that Dartmouth's radio broadcast proved enjoyable, with a play-by-play guy who was particularly solid compared to what we're used to out of WDRC.

Friday, April 27, 2007

It's time to think some happy thoughts

Happy thoughts like... one commenter pointed out, Boomer Eadington's tremendous relief appearance back in the spring break trip, one I overlooked (although it has been a while)...

...Adam Cole and the what could be...

...the ridiculousness that is Matt Vance...

...Ryan Lavarnway and Marc Sawyer...

...the fact that we've got arguably three of the top six starting pitchers in the league going this weekend against a team that, to date, hasn't hit much...

...I'm excited. As you undoubtedly know, you can get your live stats here. We also expect Dartmouth College Radio to cover the games--and historically, their radio station is an absolute joke. Makes the HRB guys sound like Vin Scully.

Anyway: Enjoy, and go Harvard. More reading material here and here.

Brown has its eyes on the prize. Penn is achingly close to its first division title in a long while, but can only watch.

Rotation Madness

That's a bit strong. But something strange is going on here. In an earlier post I laid out what I thought was a pretty logical way for the rotation to unfold this season--a rested Max Perlman Saturday, Brad Unger Saturday afternoon, Shawn Haviland Sunday and Boomer Eadington for as long as you can ride him in the second game.

Not so, says Joe Walsh:
While the Harvard skipper normally sends out freshman Max Perlman and junior Brad Unger on Saturdays, followed by rookie Eric Eadington and junior Shawn Haviland on Sundays, Walsh expects to mix it up this weekend due to the significance of this particular series.

He plans to use Eadington out of the bullpen Saturday and possibly even Sunday and then plug someone else in as a starter alongside Haviland for the second twinbill.

“We’ve got our backs against the wall and we’ve got to win a title,” Walsh said. “We’re going to play every game like it’s our last.”

The most viable candidate as an alternative starter is sophomore Adam Cole, last season’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
So what's this about? My theory is that this has a lot more to do with the pen than Eadington. I think the rough outings by Jake Bruton and Cole lately have eroded Walsh's confidence in the bullpen, and he wants someone like Eadington available as another option.
If this is the reasoning behind this move, and who knows, it's the sort of thing that the commenters will have a field day over. We haven't seen much of Boomer in the pen at all, and none at all in meaningful games. Moreover, it leaves someone like Cole to start what could be a season-deciding game, days after he got shelled by Yale in his first Ivy League start all season. The Adam Cole of 2006 would be a welcome for starter, as would the Cole of recent bullpen outings. But at this point, do you know which Cole you're going to get? Harvard is, of course, saying all the right things:
While Cole was shelled for seven runs in just 2/3 of an inning in his start in Harvard’s 13-0 loss to Yale on Wednesday, he has been near-dominant out of the bullpen, including three shutout relief innings last weekend versus the Bears.

“I really hope he can just clear his mind [of Wednesday’s game],” Haviland said. “Everyone has those bad ones from time to time.”

Walsh expressed confidence in giving Cole another shot at starting. “He’s the kind of kid who can bounce back,” Walsh said. “Would I go back to him? Absolutely.”
What if he doesn't? Whom does he go to other than Cole? Presumably Eadington if he hasn't been used at all (possible against the Dartmouth lineup and with Haviland, Unger and Perlman throwing the first three). And if not? Dan Zailskas? Max Warren?

Stay tuned...

A Word About Photos

I just realized I'd gone the season without yet crediting or thanking Jim Meehan, father of Taylor, from whom we get many of our fine photographs, and Kurt Svoboda, Harvard's tremendous SID, from whom we get quite a few others and is one of the best in the business. Thanks very, very much to both of you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

So Now Then

One game back of Brown going into four this weekend with Dartmouth.

Brown plays Yale, a decent but underachieving team that needs to sweep Dartmouth to have a chance at the division championship.

Harvard plays Dartmouth, a bad team with no hope of winning the division, but a proud program that always makes these games difficult for its archrival, no matter how insignificant they may be.

Harvard presumably throws a fully-rested Perlman (my information is that he's fine, but was just unable to throw on 3 days) and Brad Unger in Hanover Saturday. Presumably, you throw Shawn Haviland in the early game Sunday, lest you risk saving him for a meaningless game. And then it's young Boomer Eadington to start a nine-inning game that could mean everything for this team, on a team with all kinds of bullpen question marks right now.

I still like Harvard's chances. Just take care of business.

Who was out there for the Yale games? Hit the comments.

Yale Games

Because the below post is comment-deficient somehow, here's a new one for the Yale games. Harvard won Game One behind ace Shawn Haviland's one-hit shutout, his finest performance of the year, 2-0. But Adam Cole, a surprise starter in Game Two, lost control after that and Harvard trails 6-0 with Jake Bruton on in relief.

Joe Walsh, All Class

I already mentioned the peculiar Beanpot fate of UMass, an apparent innocent victim of the Ivy League's decision to reschedule the Yale doubleheader on the day of the Beanpot. Well, cry for them no more:
While head coach Joe Walsh will usually opt for playing two games instead of one on any given day, this is one instance where that is not the case. Playing the Bulldogs on Wednesday means that Harvard will have to forgo its place in the annual Beanpot at Fenway Park.

Unable to play in the event, a disappointed Walsh prepared his team for a pivotal series against the Bulldogs instead. But he also did something out of the norm, setting in motion a plan that would allow Massachusetts its rightful place in the renowned ballpark. Walsh spent most of his Tuesday on the phone with the Red Sox organization, UMass and Holy Cross, proposing that the Crusaders be allowed to take Harvard’s place for the game.
How about that? Good job here by Coach Walsh, and good job by the Red Sox for allowing this to happen. Now we can only hope that whatever residual anger Harvard feels for missing the Beanpot, it takes out on Yale baseball on Wednesday.

Update: Jon Lehman of the Crimson savages Yale in this column.
Update 2: Joe Walsh is straight-up mad at Yale:
"We appreciated the fact that we're guests over there [Fenway]," said Walsh. "It's an honor to play over there.

"The Yale coach [John Stuper], he got to play in The Show, he was in the big leagues. I hope he hasn't forgotten what it means to the kids.

"That's not just a big league park -- that's Fenway."

Update 3: The comments on this post seem to have vanished in my updating: Sorry about this. There were two, generally expressing approval of what Walsh did. I'll try to figure out how to re-activate the comments here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dartmouth remains meaningful.

Harvard split its series with Brown this weekend, meaning at the very least that the Dartmouth series next weekend will be meaningful. The Ivy League has moved the makeup games from a week ago to Wednesday instead of Tuesday--more on that in a second--but regardless of what Brown does at Dartmouth and Harvard does against Yale at home, there will be meaningful Rolfe Division baseball next weekend. No matter how bad their team is this season, get ready for more of the brilliant young members of the Loudmouth Brigade.

This weekend saw another winning Max Perlman start, a costly and rare bad outing by Jake Bruton, another stout effort by Brad Unger (125 pitches), more Matt Vance power (the team's leader in slugging percentage) and more good stuff from Adam Cole, setup man. But anyone can read a boxscore. Were you there? Tell us what you saw in the comments.

Meanwhile, the Ivy League's decision to move the makeup games to Wednesday has cost Harvard a trip to Fenway Park to play UMass in the Beanpot consolation game. I wonder why the league made the switch--did someone lobby for to push so that the teams could have Saturday's starters able to go against league opposition on three days rest? [Update: Yep, it was Yale.] Does this mean we'll have Perlman and Haviland on Wednesday--if so, I imagine we'd flip the rotation next weekend and have Boomer and Unger Saturday and Perlman and Haviland on three days once again on Sunday. Or, Max Warren gets involved. I can imagine most coaches wanting to avoid getting to their fifth or sixth starters at this point in the season--especially Brown, whom I suspect doesn't have anyone quite as steady as Warren waiting in the wings.
Still, Fenway day has always been one of my favorite days of the year as a follower of Crimson baseball, and it's too bad the players don't get to experience it this year (they've already lost out on a first-round game due to Fenway's increasing reluctance to make the park available for the Beanpot at all). Although I've gotta say, as unfortunate as this is for Harvard, it's gotta be even worse for UMass.
Finally, a hearty congratulations to Joe Walsh for winning his 500th career game. More on this in a future post.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Brown Games

Live audio for the first game, and live stats for both, available here.

Max Perlman Facts

Max Perlman threw 20 straight strikes against Yale.

Max Perlman was named Ivy League Pitcher and Rookie of the Week.

Max Perlman got some play from Baseball America in its weekend preview.

Max Perlman's calendar goes straight from March 31 to April 2; no one fools Max Perlman.

Got more Max Perlman facts? Hit the comments.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Good hitting meets good pitching

Those of you who answered the poll in the upper right corner of this page: The answer turned out to be Brown. Just ask Dartmouth.

Still, you have to like where Harvard's pitching is going into the weekend, with Shawn Haviland returning to his dominant form of late, Max Perlman teaming with him to form the most lights-out Saturday doubleheader combo since Ben Crockett and Marc Hordon prior to Hordon's labrum injury in 2002 and Brad Unger and Boomer Eadington looking strong in their last starts against Cornell. Brown's rotation isn't quite as deep behind Jeff Dietz.

Anyway, should be an interesting matchup. Feel free to comment on the pivotal (and potentially warm!) weekend ahead in the comments. Or, today's Beanpot loss, in which, notably, Andrew Prince returned to action and Adam Cole threw a clean inning.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wet and Cole

Beanpot Thursday... Maybe. Postponed Holy Cross game? Postponed again. Makeup with Yale? Scheduled for Tuesday...

Meanwhile, the Crimson ran an interesting story today about Adam Cole, the onetime ace-in-waiting who simply couldn't throw a strike this season, and his recent positive steps in relief.
With Harvard up, 6-2, with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and the bases full of Tigers, Walsh took the ball away from sophomore Ryan Watson, and sent Cole to the mound to exorcise his control demons in a situation where control was of the utmost importance.

The move seemed questionable at first, after Cole walked the first batter he faced to bring the score to 6-3. But the second-year fireballer’s next trio of pitches erased any doubt. Power-hitting Princeton catcher Jack Murphy stepped up to the plate, and Cole reared back and retired Murphy on three consecutive strikes to begin his transformation into a closer.

“Things just weren’t the same as last year,” Cole says. “After Coach put me in to get the save I got a lot of confidence back in my head.”

Now, almost two weeks later, Cole has emerged as a force out of the bullpen, and an important piece in a Harvard pitching staff that leads the Ivies with a 3.99 combined ERA.
"Force" might be pushing it at this stage, but the signs are certainly encouraging. I wish they'd asked him a bit about what he felt was at the root of his control problems this year, but I'm glad to hear he's coming around. Not that Harvard's floundered without him.
“You can’t say enough about [Perlman and Eadington],” Cole says. “We had expectations when they came in but I think they’ve surpassed those.”

But with Cole back to form, one might think that he would be clamoring to get his rotation spot back. On the contrary, he seems to relish his new role and the pressure that comes with it, as well as the opportunity to throw his best stuff on every pitch.

“It’s exciting coming in when the game is on the line,” Cole says. “You’ve got to hold that lead. Not having to hold back and being able to pump hard strikes is really a relief to me.”
Just the same, I can't help but think that if we wind up playing four against Brown Saturday and Sunday and two more against Yale on Tuesday, Adam Cole would start one of those Yale games. I don't know who Yale's fifth and sixth starters would be, but I'd happily take that matchup.

Monday, April 16, 2007

So, about this rain...

Beanpot's been moved to Wednesday. Yale may be as late as next Monday, creating a three-day, six-game weekend. Stay tuned...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Today's Games

...have been postponed, according to the online schedule (and common sense). I'm not sure whether they'll be able to get them in for Monday, since it's still supposed to rain that morning and this storm sounds vicious enough to do a number on the field.

A Word on Comments

Hey all,

So I just checked in on the Princeton comments thread, and I figured it might be good to post about comments generally.

The point of comments is to allow a place for viewpoints better placed than my own (i.e., people who actually get to see most of the games) and broaden the overall discussion by creating a forum for people who similarly care about this program. As a big fan of the marketplace of ideas and someone who isn't a big fan of, say, fascism, I'm not one to delete comments willy nilly. I've done it a couple of times here when the comments clearly added nothing to the discussion and were aimed at hurting people. Short of that, I'm inclined to lay off.

That said, as my seventh grade teacher used to tell me, "Mr. Bell, this isn't a democracy." The tone of some of the Princeton comments concerns me, and I'm not going to put up with comments that are clearly made without the requisite underlying respect for the student athletes and their coaches. Write with that respect, and write accurately. You can question individual coaching decisions--who hasn't?--but please, do so guided by that underlying respect. Questioning the players' and coaches' desire to win is a below the belt hit that we don't have to tolerate here.

I think I might have a bit more to say about the specific Princeton thread issues in the comments, but I think this is worth putting out there for now.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Harvard sweeps Yale: Open thread

Perlman and Haviland shut down the Bulldogs. Were you there? Add some color in the comments.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Midweek Notes

* Harvard beat URI today, and freshman Dan Zailskas had a nice start. Matt Vance homered. They've asked him to do different things this season--hitting lower in a less powerful order, playing third (saw him make two incredible plays there at Columbia). His numbers won't be what they were last year, but he may be the most important player on this team.
* Brad Unger is the new captain... of Harvard Harvard basketball, which has been in a news a bit lately.
* After yesterday's makeup doubleheaders, Brown and Harvard are tied atop the division lead, two games ahead of Yale. The (other) Bulldogs come to town this weekend. I will not be there, but I pray that someone brings a video camera. Yale Coach John Stuper goes nuts every once in a while out there, and the last time he hit Cambridge, he got tossed from a game and threw the single most spectacular on-field tantrum I've seen in person, leaving destruction in his wake. I'd love to see something like that up on Youtube.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Harvard Sweeps Cornell

Read all about it. The boxscore makes it sound like Boomer Eadington was much more in control this week, and Tom Stack-Babich continues to crank out hits. Got observations? Comment away.

Meanwhile: It's not too early to look up at the standings. Interestingly, the perenially surperior Rolfe Division has gone only 12-16 against the Gehrig Division this year (with makeup doubleheaders still to play tomorrow at Brown and Yale), thanks largely to stumbles out of the Ivy gate by Dartmouth and Yale.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Princeton Open Thread

It's the home opener today, so I figure some people at the games will have observations. Drop them in the comments section.

Friday, April 06, 2007


According to Kaplan, the Tigers are especially looking forward to facing the Crimson, given the teams' recent history.

"We're definitely excited to go back to Harvard," Kaplan said. "Harvard is usually a pretty good team, and I'm sure that beating them at their place last year for the Ivy League championship is going to give them some motivation to beat us. They were pretty confident they were going to beat us, and we actually destroyed them. Ever since last year it's kind of gotten personal between the two of us."

Sophomore pitcher Brad Gemberling likes his team's chances.

"I think we're the most talented team in the Ivy League," Gemberling said. "We took care of Harvard last year — we took them down hard in the Ivy League championship. I think we stack up against anyone."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More SoBB AV Club: Brad Unger

Brad Unger really settled down in the third inning of Sunday's second game. Here is that inning.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Harvard Splits With Columbia

Read all about it. Some thoughts...

* People Who Impressed Me:
1. Brad Unger, who undoubtedly deserves to be starting. A hard-luck loser today, Unger struggled early but settled in and consistently threw strikes. I'll put some video footage of him up later in the week if I get time.
2. Jake Bruton. He'd been having a solid spring, but I hadn't put a lot into that until getting to see why today. I'll put up some footage of him as well, but Jake has some zip on his fastball I don't remember being there, and was incredibly efficient (including a six or seven pitch inning).
3. Tom Stack-Babich, who homered early in the second game and seems over his difficult first season.

* Eric Eadington: In a Sons of Bart Brush multimedia first, here is Boomer Eadington's first-ever inning of Ivy League baseball, a 1-2-3 start against the Lions. Great mound presence, good fastball, and a curve that made some hitters straight up look silly at some points (I may post a couple more of the more interesting swings from later in the game).

Unfortunately, things went a bit downhill from here, and Boomer never looked comfortable again. He was wilder even than the boxscore indicates, and seemed vulnerable to aggressive baserunning (the "ba-a-a-ack!" calls--accurate ones--came quite a bit earlier on pickoffs than one would like). That said, it was freezing, and he's from California.

* Andrew Prince, who just looks like a kid who's going to hit a lot of home runs, has hamstring issues that kept him out of action this weekend. Hopefully they won't nag for too long.

* Assistant Coach Gary Donovan was tossed for arguing early in the second game, and Head Coach Joe Walsh followed after protesting the ejection. I won't describe what happened immediately after that, but let's just say that as a fan of the late 90s-early 2000s Mets, it warmed my heart.

* I'd never been to a game at Columbia, but it is immediately my favorite road ballpark, as it is easily the worst. The field hangs on the small patch on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Harlem River and is a victim of both the river's constraints and those of the football field adjacent to it. Deep center is about 300 feet--tops, there is almost no foul territory on either line, you can homer into the river, and every game features a continuous cacophany of Metro North trains running on the other side of the river between Grand Central and points north punctuated by the occasional loud boat running alongside. It is absolutely charming.