Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Two quick notes.

One: Journalism major / little brother Andy Wade's going to start 'contributing' (, seriously) a lot more, especially when I depart for Europe in a few weeks. By then the plan is to have all you guys hooked, at which point Andy will be free to write about whatever he wants. But if that doesn't work, I'll remind him to write about baseball too. But honestly, he's a better, funnier writer than I am, so this is good news.

Two: I was deleting all my old papers from college when I found this little essay from my favorite class ever, Baseball in American Life. Enjoy.

"On June 8, 1996, Warren Morris becomes a collegiate legend, hitting “the most dramatic homer in the history of the College World Series.” (Associated Press) Morris’ two-run blast with two outs in the bottom of the ninth – his first homer of the season – gave the LSU Tigers the NCAA Championship over the University of Miami. He was named a preseason All-American, but missed forty games after breaking his right hand in April – he returned to the lineup just before regionals.
At the beginning of the 1999 season, Warren Morris, in his first year in the big leagues, is named the starting second baseman for the perennially disappointing Pittsburgh Pirates. At the end of the 1999 season, Warren Morris has just completed one of the more remarkable rookie years in recent memory. His numbers:
147 511 65 147 15 73 .360 .427 .288
“Possessing impressive patience and control in the batter's box, Morris always appears to control the strike zone well. Equipped with a short line-drive stroke, he has good gap power, and should eventually reach the 20 home run plateau. Morris has the make of .300 hitter, with good power potential, and is expected to improve on his stellar 1999 season.” (STATS, Inc.)

On May 17, 2001, Warren Morris is a twenty-seven year old second baseman for the Nashville Sounds. After an unexpectedly disappointing 2000, he has been optioned to Nashville to try to recover his lost swing. However, it is not easy to make it back to the major leagues. On this night, Morris (initially batting .301) appears to be pressing a little too hard:
1st at-bat: 1st inning, Tike Redman on 3rd, 1 out. With a runner in scoring position, Morris is expected to drive in the run, with a grounder to the right side, a sacrifice fly, or a base hit. Instead, he fouls out to the third baseman on a 1-2 count.
2nd at-bat: 4th inning, 0 on, 0 out. Morris (now batting .298) flies out to shallow center on a 2-2 count. Morris, a speedy runner who has been known to beat out infield hits, has hit two weak pop flies.
3rd at-bat: 7th inning, 0 on, 0 out. Morris (now batting .295) strikes out looking on a 3-2 count. He trudges slowly back to the dugout, showing no emotion.
4th at-bat: 9th inning, 0 on, 1 out. Morris (now batting .292) reaches on a weakly hit infield single to the pitcher on a 1-0 count. He moves to second base on a single. With his team down by two runs, the next hitter (the tying run) grounds out to 2nd base, ending the game.
Morris’ story, like baseball (and life), is full of highs and lows. At twenty-one, you’re a College World Series hero; three years later you have a spectacular rookie year; two years later you’ve been demoted to the minors. Perhaps this is one of the enduring characteristics of baseball – the fact that is so damn hard to consistently succeed. I think that we all can relate to that." 5/14/01

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