GET IT TRENDING!
Yes, I'm alive. I'm sure both of you were worried. Keeping up with the blog became difficult to do and last season, for a number of reasons, was my least engaging year of baseball ever. It was the first time in 20 years I didn't attend a major league game (the weather didn't help) and I old caught a few college contests.
But who cares? I may be back but so are the Dirtbags!
I first tweeted the above hashtag last June, shortly after the Gainesville Regional loss to Charleston. The defeat still stings, but it was a huge moment for the program. After Dirtbag greats like Brennan Metzger and Matt Duffy went their whole careers without a shot at the regionals, the program ended a five-year postseason drought, finished just four wins shy of Omaha (think about that!) and sent the Killer P's (Ino Patron and Richard Prigatano) among other true Dirtbags out on a high note. The Bags are back, and it's only the beginning.
I'm slowly shifting back into baseball mode, so I don't have much analysis to offer on the newcomers, other than their JuCo stats or draft position out of high school. The experts seem to think we're too young and our pitching too unproven, but on paper, hell if it doesn't look like a good squad to me. Garret Hampson looks like the next valedictorian of Shortstop U.; my fellow Cougar Zack Domingues seems primed to be a solid table-setter; the outfield is exceptionally athletic and well suited for big Blair Field; and I've maintained since his freshman year that Eric Hutting would be an All-Big West catcher before he's done.
The pitching is a bit unproven at the D1 level, but as usual Troy Buckley pretty well raided the JuCo ranks to fill in the holes. It'll be fun to see what Kyle Friedrichs can do in a starting role (is it me or does it seem like he's been with the program for like, 12 years?). I love the addition of pitching coach Mike Steele; allowing Coach Buckley to have a more broad focus should only help (Jesse Zepeda is terrific at developing hitters but I've become infamous for my dislike of our, at times, bunt-heavy offense - good luck this weekend, coach).
My "coverage" (if you can call it that) will consist mainly of tweets moving forward, which is just as well because it's time for me to shut up and let Buck's boys do their thing.
Also, is Ryan Struffing still alive?