Tag Archives: Baseball

screen-shot-2018-03-07-at-10-58-29-am

Louisville Hosts Red-White Baseball Scrimmage

Photos by Christian Watson

Feb. 9

The University of Louisville baseball team opened its final

weekend of preseason work with a Red-White scrimmage

Feb. at Jim Patterson Stadium. Gates opened at 1 p.m. for

batting practice and admission was free for the scrimmage.

Louisville opened the 2018 season on Feb. 16 at against

Richmond in the first of three games at the Charleston Crab

House Challenge in Charleston, South Carolina. The Cardinals

also played The Citadel on Feb. 17 and George Mason on

Feb. 18. The 2018 home-opener at Jim Patterson Stadium

occurred Feb. 21 against Eastern Kentucky.

Fans can follow Louisville baseball on Twitter (@

UofLBaseball) and on Facebook (@ulbaseball).

Louisville Baseball’s Success Was Perfect Timing

screen-shot-2017-07-05-at-11-58-21-pmThe boys of summer were at it again in June.

University of Louisville baseball was once again a College World Series participant. And they were the lipstick on the pig.

Let me explain.

For the fourth time in school history and third time in five years the Cardinals have made it to the promised land of college baseball — Omaha, Nebraska.

But this time, it’s while the UofL athletics program, and the university as a whole, has been under the most scrutiny they have ever been in.

FIRST, LETS TALK ABOUT THE PIG 

It’s been a tough month for the pig. University of Louisville Athletics. I hate to be so broad, but such is the tumult with the program as a whole — not on the field or the court, but off.

Where would you like to begin? The men’s basketball sex scandal is never any fun to talk about for anyone, but with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions levying down their final penalties on the basketball program last month, perhaps that’s a good place to start.

It’s the death penalty, retroactive to 2010 through 2014. Barring a successful appeal (good luck!) by UofL, the 2013 National Championship banner is coming down.

This perhaps begins the tying of a bow on a package that surfaced back in August 2015, when UofL brass first learned of Katina Powell. The now-infamous escort claimed that she and other escorts were paid thousands of dollars by former staff member Andre McGee in exchange for dancing and having sex with Cardinal players and recruits for a span of over four years.

With the NCAA releasing its penalties in June, the wounds of that scandal not only reopened. They became bigger.

Combine that with the University of Louisville Foundation’s forensic audit that was made public on June 9.

Of the 135 pages of financial information, 11 of them have to do directly with athletics. Included in the findings are the President’s Office buying up over $800,000 worth of football and men’s basketball tickets through University of Louisville Foundation funds and selling them off, except no one knows where the money went or to whom the tickets went.

Also among the numerous items the audit discovered, the Foundation also funded the compensation of many names (at least last names) known to many fans in the region. Athletics Director Tom Jurich, along with Jurich’s son, Mark, and former men’s basketball coach Denny Crum have received approximately $4.9 million in compensation from 2010 to 2016.

Tom Jurich, a man whom you cannot tell the story of the successful rise of Cardinal Athletics without, was paid over $5.3 million in total in 2016. That’s astronomical for an A.D., but I’m not even mad at that. Get yours, Tom. Get yours.

The big problem I got with it, and with a lot of what’s going on between the athletics department and the UofL Foundation, is that you’re using Foundation funds to help cover a lot of financial deficits, some of them unnecessary.

Oh, and according to emails revealed in the audit, you’re trying to cover it up. That’s never a good look.

According to the Foundation website, “The Foundation’s vision is to make the University of Louisville a premier metropolitan research university recognized for advancing the intellectual, social and economic development of our community and its citizens while placing the University among the top tier of similar universities in the nation.”

Nowhere on the website could I find anything that says the Foundation’s vision is to compensate people in athletics or to buy tickets and then sell them off to unknown people without any receipt.

It’s all money that could’ve helped research a cure for a disease or (gasp) eliminate the need for the mandatory Student Athletics Fee that the Athletics Association receives from every student.

Fans may not care much about all of these parts of the pig. In fact, I can hear some fans now saying “Who cares about any of this. Just win games.” Those fans care less about the university than they claim. Embarrassment outside of the games be damned, right? Fair enough.

But for the rest of us…

HERE COMES THE LIPSTICK 

So, let’s leave it at this: there has been bad news-aplenty on campus.

Meanwhile Louisville baseball coach Dan McDonnell, on top of giving the Cardinal fans quite the “offseason” bridge between the Kentucky Derby and college football season, is the biggest thing to happen to baseball in this metro area since the Louisville Slugger Factory planted the “World’s Largest Bat” out in front of their place.

Forget the result of the Cardinals’ trip to Omaha.

What matters more is that when you can separate yourself from “College Sports, Inc.” and the money and corruption surrounding college athletics all over the country, you can see someone like McDonnell and his team.

When you go out to Jim Patterson Stadium, you can watch a kid from Pennsylvania (home of the Little League World Series) light up both the scoreboard and his teammate’s catcher’s mitt in Brendan McKay. He was named Collegiate Baseball’s Player of the Year this season, and you wouldn’t even know it. He’s got a humility to him that’s near non-existent to many when they’re showered with those sorts of accolades.

Or you can take in another home run from Jeffersonville’s own Drew Ellis, whose energy reverberates the same as when he was 10 years old lighting up the George Rogers Clark ballparks.

Louisville’s baseball team reminds you that they’re kids that love a game. That reminder is fleeting in college athletics these days.

The Louisville Cardinals baseball team were a glowing representative for a university that desperately needed it. Perfect timing. Kudos on an outstanding year.

I mean this in the most sincere way possible: they were a damn fine lipstick for the pig.

Want to find Zach on Twitter? Just follow @BigEZ. 


 

batsfeature

Louisville Bats vs. Toledo Mud Hens

screen-shot-2017-07-05-at-11-49-23-pmBats beat Mud Hens in June 10 home game


LOUISVILLE
The Louisville Bats earned their fifth series win of 2017 with a 5-4 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens June 10 at Louisville Slugger Field.

The Bats will play at home July 4-9 and July 17-23. For more information, go to www.LouisvilleBats.com.

 

Scenes from the Louisville Bats vs Toledo Mud Hens on Saturday, June 10.  Bats ball boy, Matthew Clemmons, brings the game balls to the home plate umpire.

Scenes from the Louisville Bats vs Toledo Mud Hens on Saturday, June 10.  Buddy Bat, the team's popular mascot, gets the attention of little leaguers.

fitfeature

Oh, How We Have Fallen

screen-shot-2017-07-05-at-11-19-13-pmEditor’s Note: Normally, Kristin Kleinert and her husband Adam pen this column together. This time, Adam is sharing an experience involving Tim Tebow that he had with one of his four children. 

As a parent, you’re always glad when your offspring show enthusiasm for role models of whom you personally approve. That’s why I recently found myself excited while making a quick day trip with my son, Eli, to see Tim Tebow play minor league baseball in Lexington, Ky. We’ve been fans of Tebow for years, and when we saw that he’d be playing nearby, my twelve-year-old and I jumped at the chance to attend.

I envisioned the day ahead of us: watching a great athlete engaging in one of our favorite sports. We’d be able to talk about Tebow’s personal grace, his strength of character, his sincere effort as a sportsman. However, a different life lesson presented itself that afternoon. fit1

We were settled in our seats when the players began to emerge from centerfield, heading to the dugouts with their bats, helmets and gloves in tow. Tebow strolled out with his teammates and I noticed right away: He looked tired. This was not the energetic, upbeat guy we are used to seeing on television. It seemed strange not to see him smile as we’ve seen so many times before. Nonetheless, Eli was in awe.

As soon as Tebow reached the left field sideline, he began signing paraphernalia for eagerly awaiting “fans”. Soon, he was grabbed by staff who ushered him over to begin pregame warm-ups. Some of the waiting fans took such displeasure at this they yelled angrily for Tebow to return and continue signing. As soon as throwing and stretching were complete, he walked back to the spot where he’d stood before and began where he left off. Still no Tebow smile, however, just a very tired baseball player.

A few minutes passed, and he came to my own son. Eli leaned down and said something to his hero as he signed his glove, but I was a couple of rows back and could not hear the exchange. Tebow looked up, grinned and replied, then reached for the next item being thrust at him and went on signing in the same manner as before.

When Eli got back to our seats, I asked him what he had said to Mr. Tebow. “I just said “Thank you, sir. Have a great game today!” he replied. “And then Tim said ‘Thanks, Bud!”

I didn’t think too much about it at the time as it didn’t seem overly prolific to me.

Eli and I were fortunate enough to watch Tebow play a double header that day as his team, the Columbia Fireflies, took on the Lexington Legends. Every free moment – and I mean EVERY free moment – he took up his post, signing autographs, making sure no one was skipped, no one was left out. Even after the games, he came back out and continued to sign. Sadly, though, his trademark smiles were very few and far between. And then it dawned on me: He only smiled when he talked, even briefly, with a fan. It seemed it was almost a relief when they weren’t asking him for something and wanted just to engage. Like eli had.

I began to realize that just about everyone at the park (and let’s be honest, we were all there to see him) wanted a little piece of Tim Tebow.

Now, I know it’s easy to say, “Well, he knew what he was signing up for when he agreed to play.” Let me be the first to say I don’t know anyone who would intentionally sign up for exactly that. He was constantly being asked – and often demanded of – to pose for a picture, promote a ministry or fulfill a laundry list of other requests even after he spent every possible second signing autographs for those same folks.

As I watched all this play out, I noticed a little girl who hadn’t gotten her ball signed when the escorts began to pull Tebow away for another game. He reached out and gestured for her to toss him the ball, obviously willing to sign one last autograph as he hurried away. Within seconds of the girl’s toss to him, five or six other balls were pitched at Tebow by middle-aged men who weren’t even sitting together. (These balls were handed politely back to their owners – unsigned – by security guards.) Tebow finished his signature for the little girl and wearily headed to his next obligation.

GRABBING A PIECE OF SOMETHING ADMIRABLE DOES NOT, IN TURN, MAKE US ADMIRABLE.

The realizations kept coming at this point: 140+ games! How could anyone enjoy doing this for 140+ games?

And then I became fully aware: We were all there to see Tim Tebow. We like who he is. Each of us were inspired by him in some way at least enough to show up that day. But were we exhibiting the same behaviors we came to admire?

Through all the trials of that day (he played hard but did not have his best performance ever) he worked diligently to be Tim Tebow. He exhibited grace and respect, which sadly was not the case for many of the “fans” in attendance. One would think that folks who look up to a man of character would exhibit some of their own.

As I drove home that night, I began to think maybe the people who treated Tebow in such a demanding manner are simply a product of our culture – a culture that incessantly asks “What can YOU do for ME?”

It seems people are most concerned with what they are getting out of an experience rather than the well-being of those involved. Sadly, many members of the crowd that afternoon were not attentive to how they could be more like Tim Tebow himself; rather, they were wrapped up in what Tebow could do for them to make their own life a little more fulfilled. As a result, it was NO WONDER Tebow looked so tired. I’m sure the man was exhausted by it all. He is, after all, only human. I think we forget that about our heroes sometimes.

As Eli and I finished our trip, we talked (a talk I would have with our other three children a bit later that night). We spoke about the crowd’s general behavior toward Tebow. We discussed how his “fans” had treated him as if he were a circus monkey. We talked about the fact that no matter how nice or giving a person is, everyone has a breaking point.

Overall, we did, indeed, discuss the grace and character surrounding Tim Tebow. But the life lesson learned was not about how to emulate the character of our heroes. Rather, we discovered this realization: Grabbing a piece of something admirable does not, in turn, make us admirable. The grace we seek lies within our own actions.


Don’t forget to visit www. ExtolSports.com to check out the FamFitter newsletter. This e-post section is your quick link to great recipes, family tips and fun exercise ideas you can use to make your own family fitter. 


 

baseballfeature

Baseball and Hot Dogs: The Perfect Doubleheader

screen-shot-2017-07-05-at-10-49-07-pmWell, it’s hot, humid and the air is overbearingly thick. That can only mean one thing: July in the Ohio Valley.

Typically, during this month when we look for the nearest pool, shade or simply stay inside our comfy air conditioned residence, I believe I have a much better idea to make July bearable, if not downright enjoyable: Louisville Bats baseball games and eating the perfect hot dog while watching the nine-inning summertime tradition.

Since 1982 Louisville has traditionally had one of the top attendance-drawing minor league teams in the country. They are also one of the highest earners for minor league merchandise sales. Last year, the Bats averaged 7,127 in attendance and had a total of more than half a million fans with 506,030 for the year. This tradition of top attendance and merchandise sales does not happen without having something for everyone when they come to Louisville Slugger Field.

There are activities and a playground area for the kids. There is a pitching machine for those who want to see if they can still bring the heat. A picnic area is only part of a continuous concourse around the field, which includes an outfield seating berm with grass, all of which provide an unobstructed view of the action on the field. There are numerous concession stands and restrooms, plus several retail shops with direct access to and from the concourse, so you can make your purchase and get back out to watch game quickly. Of course, a trip to a Bats game would not be complete without the antics and amusement Billy Bat, Louisville’s colorful mascot, provides at every home game.

Here, you can get your favorite soft drink, soft pretzels or a double-stacked fried bologna sandwich (tell me that doesn’t sound good even to you gym rats out there). There is even a sandwich station behind home plate that carries healthier options like paninis, wraps and subs.

Still, in my opinion, you can’t properly enjoy a summer night watching baseball unless you order a hot dog. Nothing goes better with baseball than a well-dressed dog.

Very few things are as pure America as a kid eating a hot dog, watching his or her favorite team, sitting patiently hoping to catch a foul ball with the glove they brought to the game.

screen-shot-2017-07-05-at-10-49-43-pm

But once you order a hot dog, the hard part begins. What to put on the dog? The possibilities are endless. If it can fit in or on the bun, then it can be done. Chili, Fritos, chips, melted nacho cheese, pickle relish, diced onion… Man, I’m getting hungry. The point is, you can dress your dog to match your personality.

Maybe you like it plain, dog and bun only. Joey Chestnut, eight-time Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating champion, seems to like his plain. He once ate 70 dogs in 10 minutes to win the annual Fourth of July competitive eating contest. (This is not how I would recommend eating hot dogs. Although he makes a reported annual income of around $200K a year with contest winnings, sponsorships and public appearances, the danger of eating so much so fast are pretty obvious.)

I recently went to a Bats game and asked a couple of vendors what the most popular way to top your dog seemed to be. Although the vendors offer a long line of toppings at their booth, the consensus was a simple combination of ketchup, mustard and relish. If you’re a chili pepper maniac like myself, whatever you decide to use has to involve jalapeño or even serrano peppers. Yes, bring the heat!

If you ask someone from up north, they will probably say the only way to eat a hot dog is to “drag it through the garden.” If this sounds dirty or gritty, let me explain. Dragging it through the garden means the dog is placed on a poppy seed bun with yellow mustard, diced white onions, neon pickle relish, sport peppers, tomatoes, kosher dill pickle spear and finally some celery salt. NO KETCHUP.

However you enjoy eating your hot dog, the atmosphere that Slugger Field provides is second to none. Even if you’re not a big baseball fan, I challenge you to attend at least one game and not come away thinking how wonderful it was to see the smiles on the faces of people of all ages as they laughed, ate, drank and enjoyed a true slice of Americana. Go see the Bats, order a hot dog and let me know how you topped it by sending an email to me at extol@extolmag.com. I double-dog dare you.

bb4

Play Ball!

A look at the upcoming UofL Cardinals Baseball Season

Story By Jim Biery | Photos courtesy University of Louisville Sports Information

University of Louisville Cardinals baseball is just around the corner. Now that all the holiday activities and office parties have ended, and you are left wondering why your Secret Santa bought you that gym membership, it is only natural to begin thinking about and looking forward to the sunshine, warm breezes and blue skies of spring. Nothing signals the oncoming season like the distinct ping sound of an aluminum bat or the smack of a catcher’s mitt cradling a 95-mph fastball. Fortunately, for those of you who suffer from seasonal depression, the cure could be the start of the 2017 baseball season.

The Cardinals will once again be a team to watch, as they have become a perennial powerhouse. They are one of six ACC teams ranked in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s preseason top 20 teams, more than any other conference. Among the six teams in the rankings, the Cardinals will play three during the regular season: Florida State is ranked ninth, Clemson is 12th and the Cavaliers of Virginia are ranked 16th.

The first (away) game of the season is Feb. 17 with Alabama State as the opponent. First home game is Feb. 22, and the first ACC matchup is March 10 against Pittsburgh.

The key to another run at the College World Series will depend on several key returning players. Pitching again looks to be a primary ingredient in the recipe for success. Brendan McKay, a two-way player, leads this group. As the number one starter last year, he won 12 games batting .333 avg., with six home runs as the clean-up hitter while basically being a DH. Another 12-game winner was Kade McClure, who had 77 strikeouts in just 78 innings. Add lefthander Adam Wolf, who had a team best 1.38 ERA as a true freshman, along with Shane Hummel’s 1.99 ERA, and it is clear why so many Cardinal fans can’t wait for the first pitch of the new season.

Of course, the best pitching requires run support. As mentioned, McKay is an offensive weapon in addition to being a terrific pitcher. Add Shortstop Devin Hairston who batted .361, and bring back speedy OF Colin Lyman’s .301 avg. and nine stolen bases, along with 18 stolen bases by Logan Taylor and manufacturing runs – a calling card for a Dan McDonald-coached team – will provide a very exciting style of baseball to watch.

The Cardinal’s style of baseball has been extremely effective under the direction of McDonald. In 10 years as head coach, he has compiled an incredible record of 456-191 with a .704 winning percentage. In those 10 years, the Cardinals have participated in nine NCAA Regionals, six Super Regionals and reached the College World Series in 2007, 2013 and 2014.

McDonald also was named ACC coach of the year in 2015 and 2016, as well as being named 2007 National Coach of The Year. A truly remarkable run that doesn’t look to end anytime soon.

So, hang in there, Cardinal fans. The cold weather, grey skies and what seems like an endless battle with the flu will all come to an end. Soon, you will be able to come out from under the multiple layers of clothes, put on your sunglasses and baseball caps and watch the Cardinals play at Jim Patterson Stadium, a stadium that has hosted five NCAA Regionals and three Super Regionals, while being considered by many as one of the top facilities in the nation. Consider the fact that the Cardinals have won more than 75 percent of their home games, and you can almost feel yourself getting warmer – can’t you?

bb1

KADE MCCLURE 12 WINS 77 K/78 INN

bb2

SHANE HUMMEL 1.99 ERA

bb3

BRENDAN MCKAY 12 WINS .333 BA