Aug. 26, 2003
Summer's Gone and the Time is Right...
I guess it is all part of getting older. The passing of summer seems swifter as each one comes and goes. It seems that there is never enough time to get everything done.
I'm sure that is the way our players and former players feel. It has been a great year for some of them. Danny Core, Chris Pillsbury, Matt Pali, Travis NeSmith, Mike Cox, and James Callahan all received their baptisms in professional baseball. For some, it was the first experience of playing for a losing team, others had to deal with waiting for their chance to break into the lineup. Whatever the case, that first year is a tough one. These guys have been playing or practicing since September of last year. Their bodies and minds are tired, but they are getting to do what all those Boynton Beach Little Leaguers hope someday to duplicate.
Our former players are all working hard to keep focused and either open the eyes of their organizations, or at least hang on for another year. Tim Harrikala was signed out of the Mexican League to AAA with the Orioles, Todd Moser has been in AA, where he taught Dontrelle Willis all he knows. Tommy Murphy is in the California League and having a solid year at the plate while awaiting the birth of his and Deborah's first child. LJ Biernbaum had a great first half in the Midwest League. He has tailed off a bit lately, but it's a long season. Dan Jackson struggled early in AA, but came back strong with a great second half. Some stiffness in his shoulder will probably be the only thing to prevent a September call up for Danny. Another anxious father to be, Nick Mattione has had a great season in AA. He and Jess should be proud parents shortly. Carmen Cali has pitched well right here in Jupiter. Unfortunately his team is terrible. Last season Carmen was part of a league championship. Jim Cooney has had a rollercoaster summer. Released by the Orioles, signed and then released by the Twins, signed by a Northern League team and the shuttled to a Frontier League team in Wisconsin, Jim is making $500 per month less than when the summer started, but he's still in the game. Mike Valdes spent his summer in the Northeast League at Elmira New York. Tim Burton was released by the Mariners and is pitching for Long Island in the Atlantic league. I wonder if he faced Ricky Henderson? Tommy MacLane is having a good year for Augusta. I wonder if he's improved his golf game there. Kevin Connacher is still at AAA with the Twins, and Tim McNab has 27 decisions for his team in the South Atlantic League. 27????? Zach Roper is leading his team in RBI's even though he is losing his batting average race with Tommy Murphy.
Our returning players played in the Cape Cod League, the Northwoods League, the Coastal Plains League, the Clark Griffith League, the Valley League, the New England Collegiate League, the New York Collegiate League, and the Cotton States League. Some geography lessons were learned as guys played in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York State, Wisconsin, Mississippi, and Minnesota!
So here we are. Back for another chapter in the life of Florida Atlantic baseball! What plot twists and mystery stars will emerge this season ? Will the new guys help fuel the fire that has burned so brightly for the last five years?
Think about these numbers for a minute:
Over the last five years Florida Atlantic has a won-loss record of 226-89.
Curious about some others?
Miami is 224-92
FIU is 206-108
UCF is 204-101
Stetson is 197-107
UF is 194-114
USF is 159-143
There is a challenge ready for all the guys who signed on to be part of the ride.
Sometimes when we all pray, it is natural to wonder if anyone is listening. Two weeks ago I got a phone call that proved a year's worth of prayers were heard. My son Jeff called to say he felt he needed to be in Florida. I am happy that he will be around me here, but that wasn't the purpose of my prayers. Jeff said that he just felt a number of things were pointing him to FAU. He's given up a lot to make this move, but I've never been prouder or more thankful. So for all of you out there who have doubts about praying... don't stop. God's listening. Maybe He's just got bad cell coverage. KC