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Dinner's in the oven -- eggplant parmigiana, in a terrific marinara sauce with capers, kalamata olives and fresh basil -- and Yanks-Sox is on the tube, which means it's bloggin' time.
I spent the weekend in Omaha, Neb., covering the College World Series, which is a fairly plum assignment: The crowds are gaga, the players are enthusiastic and generally excited about the coverage, the games I watched were nail biters -- scintillating, even when they were sloppy -- and Omaha's eponymous steaks are worth the airfare. Cal State-Fullerton won the title, thanks largely to three superb pitching performances by Jason Windsor, its senior right-hander, who logged the following aggregate line:
Windsor was deservedly the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, but a full appreciation of his contribution requires another number: 322.
That's how many pitches Windsor threw over the three games:
June 19: 9 1P, 145 pitches June 24: 3 IP, 48 pitches June 27: 9 IP, 129 pitches
Nor was this an aberration. Consider this group of starts Windsor made in early June during the NCAA Regional and Super Regional (the earlier playoff rounds):
June 4: 9 IP, 121 pitches June 6: 6 IP, 64 pitches June 12: 8 IP, 108 pitches
That's 293 pitches over nine days. (Keep in mind that the typical major league starting pitcher makes three appearances over 11 days and probably throws around 300 pitches.)
Now, I'm not a pitching coach, and George Horton, Fullerton's coach, and Dave Serrano, his pitching coach, strike me as intelligent men who care about the welfare of their players, on and off the field. But Windsor's workload has been Herculean, especially given that in March, he suffered from a right shoulder "impingement," as he called it, that limited his ability to work. But Windsor is a gamer, and with his team's season on the line, he was going to suck up those pitch counts -- Fullerton's bullpen was a weak spot all season -- and like it.
More and more data suggests high pitch counts, in individual games and over a series of starts, lead to decreased effectiveness and increased risk of injury. Every pitcher is different, and Windsor may turn out to handle the use, but his CWS title may come at the high price of his long-term health. ...
Preparing to report a story for Sports Illustrated on San Francisco Giants right-hander Jason Schmidt, who has been absolutely lights-out this year, I dialed up two of Schmidt's games -- one-hitters versus the Cubs in May and the Red Sox in June -- on MLB.TV. I detest shilling, advertising, etc., but I have to give props where deserved: For $59.95 (the cost of a season subscription) you can, from your DSL/cable/broadband-enabled computer, watch live games every day, as well as archived television broadcasts of any MLB game.
This is a ridiculously good deal, one which emphasizes how far ahead of the other pro leagues MLB is in terms of multimedia. Missed Randy Johnson's perfect game? Four mouse clicks, and you're in. Alex Cora's 18-pitch at-bat versus Matt Clement? Done. MLB.TV also offers condensed games -- little eight-minute packets that boil off the hemming, hawing and pitching changes -- as well as highlight reels. With the right software, you can burn games to a DVD. Think about it, completists: an entire season, preserved digitally for posterity, for less than what I lost this weekend at the $5 craps table at Harrah's in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Well, the parmigiana's done, and the bottle of red has been uncorked ... which means my time's up. See you soon.