Field of Dreams: Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic

fodspring16This past year, the Astros Foundation and Shriners Hospitals for Children announced a multi-year naming rights agreement for their annual college baseball tournament, renaming it the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic. The tournament was held at the Astros’ Minute Maid Park in late February and was aired nationally on MLB Network. In addition to providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the players, each of the participating teams took time out of their busy schedules to serve: Continue reading

TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle on…

Finnegan Interview…the mental game

“We spend as much time, effort and resources in the mental game as any program in the country. There is no doubt that it has a positive effect on our players both while they are here and in their careers beyond TCU. To see Brandon exemplify all of that on a national stage helps justify with our players all that we do. Brandon is a living, breathing example of the fact that the only way you can control your performance is if you are in control of yourself.”

…Brandon Finnegan’s development as a strike-thrower

“Brandon had always been a guy in search of strikeouts, which led him to higher pitch counts and walk totals. One day in practice Coach Saarloos and I challenged him to just try and throw every single pitch for a strike and let the results take care of themselves. When he truly committed to that, he took an amazing jump in his performance.”

… ‘if the team goals are met, individual goals will be met too’

“That is a mantra in our program. We talk about being selfless on a daily basis for the good of the team. When everyone truly does that, it’s amazing how everyone’s individual goals get met…..when the team wins, we all win.”

Finnegan and again

finnegan coverThe baseball world got to know Brandon Finnegan after he put his name on the map in 2014, when the 21-year old heard his name called on June 5 after the Kansas City Royals selected him in the first round of the MLB draft. Two days later, Finnegan earned the win over Pepperdine in the opening game of the Fort Worth Super Regional best-of-three series that the Horned Frogs would ultimately win. Ten days after the Pepperdine performance, the Fort Worth native sailed through eight innings and allowed two runs (one earned) in a 15-inning loss to national runner-up Virginia that tied a record for the longest game in the history of the College World Series.

It was one of the better performances that college baseball saw in 2014, as Finnegan tallied a 9-3 record with a 2.04 ERA for TCU. In just over 105 innings pitched, he racked up 134 strikeouts, yielded just 79 hits and walked only 29.

And he wasn’t done.

Finnegan’s name came up again when he made a similar splash in the professional ranks. Just three months and one day after he was drafted and 81 days after his Frogs finale (after dominating the minor leagues in class A-advanced and AA to the tune of 27 innings pitched, 26 strikeouts, 20 hits, four walks and a 1.33 ERA), he was called up to the big leagues and would make his debut at Yankee Stadium, striking out two in two perfect innings. He and the rest of the Kansas City Royals caught fire down the stretch of the regular season and carried their momentum right into the playoffs. The 5-11 lefty threw two more perfect innings in a wild card-elimination game against Oakland that ended in a 12-inning, 9-8 Royals victory and began an eight-game winning streak that put K.C. in the World Series. After retiring the only two batters he faced in Game 3 of the Fall Classic, Finnegan became the first player in the history of baseball to have appeared in the College World Series and the MLB World Series in the same year. Continue reading

The art of the dogpile

Perhaps the greatest part of the baseball season are the midsummer months of June and July. School is out, youth leagues are rolling along, summer travel ball teams are gearing up and the Major League All-Star game in July. High school state tournaments and wrapping up and of course, Omaha’s College World Series takes center stage, as victorious teams engage in the greatest celebration in all of sports – the dogpile.

Dogpiles typically begin wherever the baseball is when last out is made, which is typically the pitcher’s mound or first base. However there are some exceptions, like when TCU celebrated a 2010 NCAA Super Regional win at the University of Texas’ Disch-Falk field by dogpiling on the Longhorn logo in center field (Texas returned to the College World Series the following year):

From there, the fracas ensues, typically lasting until the players at bottom begin fighting their way out because they can’t breathe. Continue reading