Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Back up and running was down for a bit this morning so I have some catching up to do.

First, I'm liking Javy Vazquez. The Yanks made a nice trade to pluck him, a young hard-throwing pitcher, from the Expos and install him as a cornerstone of the Yankee future (immediately extending him contractually for four years). He's only 27 (Curt Schilling is 38) and is among the league leaders in lowest opponents' batting average and lowest ratio (hits + walks / IP). Yesterday, he tamed the Colorado Rockies -- a team with many good lefty hitters.

Second, congratulations to the Virginia Cavaliers baseball team. Virginia baseball has routinely been among the ACC's bottom-dwellers and had only one (I think) NCAA playoff appearance between 1987-2003. The ACC itself has many top baseball programs, Ga. Tech, FSU, UNC, Clemson, NC State and occasionally Wake Forest or Maryland will pop in with a good year. This season, the Cavs went 44-15 (tying the school record for wins) and 18-6 in the ACC under first-year coach Brian O'Connor, swept Ga. Tech in Atlanta (that accounted for 3 of GT's 5 ACC losses) and landed a #1 seed in the NCAA Regionals.

Alas, they started poorly by losing to Princeton and its top starter Ross Ohlendorf (who is a legitimate MLB prospect) and had to hack their way through the loser's bracket of the double-elimination tournament. They came up short Sunday, losing to SEC power Vanderbilt. Nonetheless, a fine season and fine performance for a team that essentially plays like the 1985 Cardinals -- pitches well, hits decently well, runs a lot, has no power (around 30 HR in 59 games, with metal bats!).

I had the baseball beat in 1989 for the Cavalier Daily (the UVa student paper) and the games were like sandlot affairs -- a few bleachers, a couple of reporters in the press box, one hot dog truck -- and a mediocre team. Now they have a new ball-field that holds nearly 2500 and that filled up when FSU came to town earlier this year. Not bad for what has historically been the No. 5 or 6 sport at the school (football, men's hoops, women's hoops, soccer, lacrosse). Good luck with continuing the success!

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