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Off The Top Of My Head: What I Hope For In ’19

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Johnny Rosenblatt is my father. Annie Savoy is my mother. And I’m their bastard son.

Oh man, is it already 2019? You kiddin’ me? What happened to the rest of the two-thousand-teens? So that means, Cal State Fullerton’s first national championship happened 40 years ago. It means Wichita State’s decade of dominance culminated in a national title 30 years ago. It means that Kyle Peterson pitched for Stanford 25 years ago. It means that the 64-team NCAA Tournament field is now 20 years old. It means Paul Mainieri’s national championship came 10 years ago. It means this is year number nine for use of TD Ameritrade Park. And I am still shocked the corporate name of that joint hasn’t changed yet. 

This is also the 20th year anniversary of the first time I ever wrote college baseball articles and got paid for it. Yes, in 1999 when I was sitting at my desk at the advertising agency I worked for and was tooling around the still-young internet looking for college baseball articles. I found very little. It was terrible. 

So I decided to do something about it. If you guys ever wanna know how I got started in this college baseball writing racket 20 years ago, here is the Reader’s Digest version… 

After a weekend of games early in the 1999 season, I wrote a summary of the weekend which included splitting up the country in four sections; East, South, Midwest and West, and giving each section a “Team of the Week,” an “Honorable Mention” and a “Week to Forget” for the teams that had a crappy week. (Yes, that means I had a version of the Ouch List even way back then.). 

I would also add a little “Notes” section to each as well, giving some pub to as many programs as I could before I would fall asleep on Sunday nights. I would wrap up my writing and the first time I did one I sent it out to about 10 or 12 outlets, via email. There were two outlets that came back and said “Yeah, you know we don’t have any college baseball coverage. We could use something like this.” and they were something called FansOnly.com and the well-known USAToday.com. 

That’s a wide disparity isn’t it? One very well known. One not known at all. And yes, only one of those outlets are still around as you could guess. But FansOnly.com has to be given credit because they turned into CollegeSports.com and then into CSTV.com, which was the best outlet for college baseball (both net and television) at the time in the days before ESPN got more involved in our sport.

Oh, and what did I get paid? FansOnly had me write for free at first, but then gave me $30 per article after a few weeks of good click numbers. USAToday gave me $50 each week. Yeah I know, that pales in comparison to the multi-millions I make now from my college baseball writing. Given that I have a Lear Jet to get around the country now and all. 

Also, FansOnly and USAToday had no idea I wrote the same exact article for both outlets. Through all three years of doing this, they never caught on. 

In honor of this 20th season of “professional” baseball writing, here is my preseason Hope List for the 2019 campaign.

– I am looking forward to the first pitch of the season and the last pitch of the season for wildly varying reasons.
But really, that first pitch can’t get here soon enough. C’mon! Eight months is long enough.

– I hope to see Mike Martin winning the national title in late-June. 
Screw objectivity. I am personally cheering for the old maestro to finally raise up the trophy in his 40th year. In fact, I’m going to buy a Florida State No. 1 jersey when I’m in Tallahassee this season. 

– I hope UNC-Wilmington’s Mark Scalf reaches Omaha in his last season.
The 29-year head coach of the Seahawks has scuffled long enough in mid-major ranks and deserves a great send off before his retirement.

– I hope to see a walk-up song featuring The Ramones. 
Just once. Let some 18-to-22 year old ballplayer appreciate great old school punk. 

– I hope to see a hit batsman actually rush the mound.
I know its very much against the rules but in all my years of watching college baseball I’ve never seen this happen.

– I hope to see an umpire NOT jog out between the pitcher and the hitter after a plunking. Just once.
After a hit-batsman every college umpire I’ve ever seen runs out to get between the two even though nothing ever happens. 

– I hope to see a game played under formal protest that actually gets reversed. 
Another thing I’ve never seen in my years following the sport. Or in ANY sport for that matter.

– I hope I get to throw out the first pitch at a game this season. 
Any takers? Bottle of whiskey to whoever takes the bait. And I won’t pull a “50 Cent”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83FHj53QBHY

– I hope to see more button-up, vest-style jerseys. 
This is always the best look in baseball uniforms. Including pin stripes. Done.

– I hope “Sweet Caroline” is banned from all ballpark speaker systems. 
Okay, I know it won’t be, but any song about a creepy old guy with a fascination for a 13-year old girl is just so… ew. (Yes, that’s what the song is about in case you didn’t know.).

– I hope the 20-second pitch clock starts to become wildly popular.
… and that includes when there are runners on base. Screw it. We need to speed games up immediately. Most importantly, ESPN… cut down on the number of commercials during the post-season. That’s what adds the most amount of time to games on those boiling 90-plus degree days. 

– I hope to see an inside the park home run.
I actually don’t think I’ve ever seen one in person. (Where is Chris Burke when we need him?)

– I hope to find a roster in all the games I go to where I DON’T see an Austin or a Justin on it.
Just something I noticed about every roster I saw last season.

– I hope I can get a beer at every game I go to this season. 
Face it administrators, if you want to entice moms and dads to bring the family out for a ball game, you better offer beer and wine. Three hours of a game is hard to get through without the good stuff. Okay, okay, make sure the women’s bathroom is clean too. No mom out there is going to go to baseball games with a gross bathroom. (You listening Long Beach State?)

– I hope the special council in April approves the paid position of a third assistant coach.
And in doing so, I hope the Big 10 follows suit and doesn’t vote against it, as the straw poll of Big 10 Athletic Directors did this past week. Freakin’ jerks.

– Speaking of proposals, I hope the NCAA finally reconsiders the name “Super Regionals.”
It’s just bad. You know it. I know it. It is an embarrassment to the sport. 

– I hope I get a ton of chances to “jinx” a no-hitter by posting it on twitter in the middle of a game I’m at.
… because there is no such thing as a jinx. Or karma. Or mojo. Or voodoo. Or curses. Or superstition. Or black magic. Etc.

– I hope umpires call the high strike more often. 
Once again, the strike zone isn’t from the ankles to just below the knee. It’s from mid-shin to just above the belt line. Done. 

– I hope to get to some new stadiums in the coming years.
… starting with the new Dudy Noble at Mississippi State this year. That place is going to be epic. Well, except for the Left Field Lounge. It’s gone now, right? Tsk, tsk, if so.

– I hope we get more Regionals like Minneapolis, Conway and DeLand once again this year.
I like when the Regionals go off the beaten path a little. The NCAA Selection Committee did a lot of that in the early days of the field of 64, but not as much recently. Hopefully a new set of mid-majors can host Regionals this year. 

– I hope I never have to heckle an outfielder for losing a pop fly in the sun while his sunglasses rest on top of the bill of his hat.
… but if that happens, I WILL heckle him. With zero remorse.

– I hope this season is good to you guys. 
Okay StitchHeads, get out there and enjoy the 2019 season. Go to a game this weekend. And if you live in the North, take a flight to Florida, Texas, Arizona or California. Lots of good games this opening weekend. 

G’night.

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