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On The Mark: “I’m Back For More”

Back on the stool

“Afternoon Everybody!” 

“Norrrrrrm.” 

“How about a beer?” 

“Well, I am going to need something to kill some time before my second beer. How about a first one?” 

So, here I am. Back in the old ballyard writing a story to kill time before I write a story.

It was only 18 months of exile. When I left before it was supposed to be forever. But like a bikini-clad Salma Hayek, college baseball wooed and pursued and now here we are picking out forever diamonds and filling out the registry at Belk (I understand candlesticks make a nice gift). We’re back together again and wondering why we ever split.

In the time away, college baseball was never far from my thoughts. You don’t pour yourself into something for that long and just drop it like trigonometry. I did see Vanderbilt won the College World Series, A.J. Reed hit an astounding 23 home runs, and heard Babe Ruth incarnate couldn’t have a multi-homer day in TD Ameritrade Park. So, I kept up. But after all those years at SEBaseball.com, it was nice to have a few more BBQs, beach trips, and get a chance to check out the other side’s green grass. But in the end being a part of the team D1Baseball has put together was a strong pull. The opportunity to work with people like Kendall, Aaron, Kyle, Eric, Jeremy, and Cynthia who have dedicated so much time and effort to publicizing and advocating for our sport was a tremendous draw. How could I say no?

Now I’m Norm bursting through the bar door at Cheers, and it is so nice to be warmly welcomed back into your college baseball lives. The folks at D1 trust me with some space each week to tell stories. Here’s what you can expect to see on content items with my byline this spring:

We are going to have fun. Jokes will be told. Some of them will be funny. There will be content here that won’t be found elsewhere. Most of it will involve college baseball.

There will be lots of analysis. Trends, cause-and-effect, and altered expectations will be prevalent. If you see game stories with play-by-play it is because I am bound and gagged in a trunk and someone has assumed my identity. There is a place for game stories but not here.

You will not like everything you read. Eventually, you’ll resent that my participle was dangling or the wrong team was picked to win. Keep in mind the folks at D1 attended the secret meeting earlier this month, where it was decided that we were all biased against your team. Copious notes were taken. Biased takes were practiced and perfected. Be prepared.

 

Cliff Clavin’s Theory of Beer

“A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. When the herd is hunted, the slow and weak at the back are killed first. The speed and health of the herd keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. 

“In the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as its slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. Naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. 

“In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.” 

My stories may seem more insightful if you have imbibed, inhaled, or ran 10 miles.

A confidante who knew this D1 move was coming asked an interesting question the other day, “So what did you miss during your time away from college baseball?”

It was as if he asked, “why do crawfish taste so good”? That is a question easier to ask than answer.

I missed refreshing the D1Baseball.com scoreboard 80 times per day. Who is with me here? How many of you lived with six gametracker windows, two sidearm stats, and a scoreboard message board running before D1 made that unnecessary by doing it for you? Then we got spoiled by hitting refresh every 30 seconds to see if Savannah State got that 3rd runner home in the fourth inning. Now, wait until you see the snazzy website scoreboard this season. That is enough reason to visit the site by itself. Instead of scores and standings, this thing will be a one-stop shop for all of your college baseball needs.

I missed spending a warm day on a college campus. I missed walking to the ballpark with rays slipping through an oak-lined row with bats pinging in the distance. I don’t want to get all ‘bro-country’ on you but a cold drink on a sunny day after a few months of windshield scraping is croon worthy. I’ll be in Baton Rouge opening weekend. Please let there be sun. And crawfish.

I missed Regional Bracketology. For way more years than I can believe, my Aprils and Mays were stocked with RPI, SOS, records vs. RPI tiers, and other minutiae that we baseball geeks immerse ourselves in. Ultra interesting, vital pieces of info like Youngstown State won four games in the Horizon Tournament after winning just six conference games all season. And that they were one of six teams to win their tournament and automatic bid with a losing conference record. If you can name the other five you are a hopeless seam-head … and we can probably be friends.

I missed the unique aspects of college baseball. Despite what we hear, there is more to our sport than over-bunting and high pitch counts. How about two-way players, double-elimination tournaments, round robin weekends, and a sun delay in Winthrop? How about The Animals belting out “Oh Canada” or any one of their diamond hymns? Speaking of missing things, I miss the Animals Zookeeper Drew Hankin who left us too soon. Those connections inside the sport just add to the fun. We all have our ballpark buddies like the guy who sits in the 30-degree temps with a glove on one hand and a scorecard in the other or the couple who come to the game and spend most of it arguing. Or the wannabe heckler who just doesn’t quite have the whole ‘please be clever’ thing figured out. These are our people – sometimes begrudgingly.

Most of all I missed the stories. Find the untold or under-told and develop it to the point where there is a connection with the reader. Our sport has many interesting characters and plots and the guys here will do their best to bring them to you. So here it is, for better or for worse, and I can’t wait to sit down on the stool next to you folks and share some stories.

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