* The major story: Sophomore ace Max Perlman will not throw a pitch for Harvard this season, for reasons that may or may not become more widely known. I don't believe the Crimson has published anything on this subject yet, but presumably, they soon will. Obviously, this is crippling. With Perlman and Shawn Haviland, you've got arguably two of the best three starters in the Ivies pitching half your league games. Now? All three spots after Haviland are question marks. Is Unger a No. 2 in this league? Can Adam Cole recover from his lost 2007? Can Boomer Eadington throw strikes consistently? Is there an unlikely freshman savior? This could be a long season.
* Offensively, the Crimson has the versatile Matt Vance, the heretofore untapped power potential of Andrew Prince, last year's breakout star Jeff Stoeckel and... well, Steffan Wilson will be missed. Can Tom Stack-Babich take another step? Is this Matt Rogers' breakout season?
* With this schedule, will the Crimson win a single game before April?
* And then there's Harvard Boys. Recent alum John and 70s grad Rick write a co-memoir of sorts about their experiences in minor league ball. Both in the book and in promotional appearances, the Wolffs take a few shots at the current Harvard coaching staff.
Wolff’s apparent frustration with the Harvard coaching staff surfaces as another of the book’s motifs. During his entire collegiate career, according to the Crimson record books, he totaled just 17 official at-bats.
“I just never really felt like I got a shot to show what I could do here with the coaching staff,” John says. “In the long run, it might have ended up helping my career because I had to work that much harder at my game to prove them wrong. It sucked to go through—it was very frustrating, a tough time mentally for me to stay positive.”
The elder Wolff is less forgiving in his assessment.
“The Harvard baseball program is not very good, and the coaching’s not very good,” Rick says. “And everybody knows it. It’s not a secret.”
Although I like the younger Wolff quite a bit and enjoy Papa Wolff's work on WFAN in New York, count me among those willing to listen to Joe Walsh on this one:
“John left the program not in a way that I felt was positive,” says Joe Walsh, the Crimson’s head coach. “A kid who goes [1-for-9] and gets drafted, there’s usually some other reasons than in [those nine at-bats] he looked pretty good, like a major leaguer.”
Walsh says he does not think the local scout for the White Sox even knew John.
“Sometimes you get drafted by people from other areas, in other ways,” he says.
Both father and son insist John did not profit from his bloodlines. Rick was a Detroit Tigers farmhand and later a psychologist in the Cleveland Indians organization. He has written a number of books on sports psychology and remains involved with baseball as a member of the front office of the Stamford Robins of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, the team that John played for during the summer of 2005. Rick’s father, John’s grandfather, is the Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Wolff, the longtime voice of the Washington Senators and the first man to do play-by-play for the championships in all four major sports.
“The name recognition is something I’ve always wondered about,” John says. “It’s something that I obviously live with and something that I’m sensitive to because it’s always been a part of who I am. I would like to think that it had nothing to do with it—I’d like to think that my talent speaks for itself.”
Respectfully, I'm not sure what John did either at Harvard OR in summer ball OR elsewhere that would suggest that he deserved a draft pick where the likes of Zak Farkes, Schuyler Mann and Frank Herrmann were overlooked. But then, I may be astonishingly ignorant on this count. Wouldn't be the first time.
So all of this is on the table. Discuss, and stay tuned. Maybe we'll put up another post once the media coverage starts.