Baseball team takes conference by storm

By Patrick Murphy

After a so-so Spring Break trip, the Macalester baseball team has opened conference play on fire. With a combination of rock-solid pitching and timely hitting, the team (projected to finish eighth in the conference) has taken the MIAC by storm, going 5-1 in conference – placing them atop the MIAC standings. Facing the (formerly) top team in the conference, St. Olaf, at home this Tuesday, the Scots swept the (formerly) 16th-ranked team in the nation 8-3, 4-0. To get a little insight into their craft and the season thus far, I talked to outfielder Will Chen ’11, starting pitcher Eric Robinson ’11, second baseman Mitch Glasser ’12, catcher Garrett Salzman ’12, outfielder Graham Brown ’12, and catcher Robert Williams ’12. TMW: How would you describe your relationship with baseball? WC: It’s a hate-hate relationship. There is a whole lot of hate between everything involved with baseball. ER: We love each other, but more platonically than the David Melms and Taylor Swift sort of love. MG: I’d say I’ve been living with it for 21 years. Playing t-ball, going to White Sox games with my grandpa and Cubs games with my dad. I was even named after a Cubs pitcher, Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams. My dad still can’t believe I’m a Sox fan. GS: My relationship with baseball is one of love. During the season, we all eat and sleep baseball. It’s a game I’ve played for the past 16 years of my life and has certainly shaped who I am. GB: Baseball has a lot of down time. When action actually happens, it goes by so quick that all you can do is think about doing it again. RW: Just like my relationship with B.o.B baseball (Bob De Meulenaere ’11), love-hate. TMW: The great Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.” How do you personally manage to give 140% on a consistent basis? WC: I find that using teammates for the extra 40% is helpful. It’s all about teamwork. ER: I think I really try and stay focused on every game, whether I’m playing or not. Then, when I am in the game it’s easier to understand the situation and be better prepared mentally and physically for the task at hand. MG: It’s all about finding the flow and staying loose. You have to be having fun to stay focused for that long. Finding the right flavor of sunflower seeds is also essential. I go with Jim Beam BBQ. GS: I think I speak on behalf of the team on this one… Four ibuprofen before practice and four more after practice. GB: Ibuprofen, ibuprofen, ibuprofen. The lining of my stomach gives 140% on a consistent basis. RW: I dig deep and channel my inner hate towards the other team. TMW: With the combination of the Metrodome collapsing and the cruddy spring weather, it took forever to get the season started this year. How did you stay focused during the wait? WC: Steve Murray made sure we were in peak physical condition, and our coaches made sure we were well conditioned, even before we did conditioning. ER: I perfected the craft of making slushies, tea lattes, and iced tea at Aria Tea Bar for months on end. MG: Well for starters, we left-took a little trip out to Arizona for break, and when all the sun we tried to bring back got confiscated at airport security, we just did the best we could. Let me tell you, hitting squishy little-league balls into the rafters of the LC is more fun than you’d think. But we pray for sun daily. GS: Well, as much as I love spending three hours a night with indoor practice, it was tough to wait it out to play. We tried to spice things up with some indoor scrimmage type practices and we even brought in umpires a couple times for when our hitters faced our pitchers. GB: I am kind of used to it, being from Minnesota. I mostly dealt with Salzman whining about being back in California. RW: Strangled B.o.B (baseball) a lot. It helps to vent the frustration. TMW: What’s been the highlight of the season so far? WC: Our sweep of St. Olaf on Tuesday was by far the highlight. [said several hours before the St. Olaf series began] MG: Hmm, not totally sure. I haven’t been keeping track because I’m saving that for the last game of the season. GB: Sitting next to Roberto for the meal that gave him food poisoning, and the meal that he later puked up in the parking lot of IHOP. Then taking a picture of him puking and the day after when he was better again. Or, seeing Kyle White sign an autograph for a girl who thought he was Justin Bieber. RW: Sweeping the 16th-ranked team in the country. [Robert was “too busy” to respond until after the St. Olaf series] TMW: This is a younger team than in past years. How would you describe the team as a whole? WC: We are a bit younger than we have been in past years, but we have a lot of young guys stepping up and contributing. I think that we have a good team chemistry, which has allowed us to hate on teams properly. ER: There is good chemistry among the players with a solid mix of veteran leadership and youthful exuberance. There are a lot of young studs and old fogies in this eclectic grouping of baseball talent. MG: We’re definitely a young team, but we have a great mixture of senior leadership that gives us a nice chemistry. Pitching-wise, we have the Rottweiler and the Bulldog – Al (Ingram) ’11 and (Elliot) Yodh ’11 -, Grandpa E-Rob (Robinson), and Coop (Jack Cooper ’11), who is a first-team All-MIAC heckler. Then we have a great veteran presence in the outfield with Willy Chen and Bob D, or more appropriately, the odd couple. Our freshmen have been great additions to the squad, and it’s nice to have them come into a team that really needs them. And our sophomore class. Well, let’s just say if you put every MIAC baseball team’s sophomore class in a room, our five might just be the only ones out alive. We definitely have some youthful fight in us. TMW: With a handful of solid teams in the conference, what’s going to be the key for Mac to have a shot at the playoffs? WC: We have to show up ready to play for every doubleheader, and we are going to have to win some close games. And of course lots and lots of hate. GS: The key is going to be pitching and defense. With the new bats, it is a new game, and pitching will take you further than offense. We are going to jump on Alex Ingram’s back and let him carry us to the promised land. The big fella can flat out pitch and we are going to need him down the stretch. GB: Keep B.o.B. (baseball) screaming Katy Perry. Nothing gets me more focused than Bob shouting “Firework.” TMW: Why should people come out to support Mac baseball? WC: Nothing better than watching baseball on an amazing spring day. ER: Have you seen Chase Kahn’s butt? That thing is huge. Every girl and/or guy needs to catch a glimpse of that in baseball pants, maybe even grab a handful or two! MG: Have you ever seen Chase Kahn’s “badonk?” Have you seen it in baseball pants? Check and mate. I will see you at the next home game. GS: Our games are always in the afternoon, so people can enjoy the spring weather and soak up the sun. Plus, you get to see Chase Kahn running around in skintight pants. GB: Appreciating the great weather (sometimes) and the diversity in walk-up music. RW: Besides the good-looking guys in tight pants, hmmm [thinking, cringing]. Ron O’s monotone voice for the other team and Chen’s walk up song are great entertainment. Oh and we like to win at home. The team travels to beautiful Moorhead, Minnesota, on Saturday to face the Concordia Cobbers and returns home to face Hamline on Sunday at 3:00 PM.