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Memorial Day Musings: Of Will Power and Lions To Dive Into Gator Waters

I couldn't quite believe that the winner of the Indianapolis 500 race on Memorial Day Sunday was Will Power. That name seemed more likely for a horse but indeed the winning race car driver was Will Power, an Australian. Congrats to him and to all the drivers who survived the marathon race without serious injury.

The seedings are out for the NCAA baseball tournament that will climax with the College World Series in Omaha June 16-27. Ivy League champion Columbia will face the number one national seed the University of Florida Gators in Gainesville at noon Friday June 1.

Columbia opened the 2017 season by being swept by Florida so this matchup allows for a long shot at revenge in the double-elimination regional. Columbia earned the right to make the tourney for the fourth time in six years by winning two exciting games last week at defending champion Yale's historic Yale Field in New Haven.

Columbia's 4-0 win on Tuesday May 22 occurred on the 37th anniversary of the classic Ron Darling-Frank Viola tournament duel that Roger Angell immortalized in "The Web of the Game" in the New Yorker magazine (and later included in his anthology "Late Innings".)

Darling actually attended Tuesday's game but his presence could not induce offense from Yale bats. The following day, the Elis scored only one run in the deciding 2-1 game that went 15 innings. I feel very happy for two Columbia senior pitchers: Harrison Egly who won the 4-0 game and Ty Wiest who not only threw the last two innings in that victory but hurled 6 innings of one-hit relief in the deciding 2-1 game.

The other seven national seeds in the tournament are Stanford, Oregon State, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, Florida State and Georgia. But here's a good luck wish to Army who will tangle with North Carolina State on Friday at 7p and the University of Hartford who at the same time will go up against Stetson in Deland, Florida.

That's all for now - always remember: Take it easy but take it!  Read More 
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"Do You Believe in Miracles?" Columbia Baseball Fans Do

Broadcaster Al Michaels became famous for his “miracle” question after the American hockey team upset the Soviet team at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY.

Well, on a smaller but equally intense scale, Columbia baseball got a miraculous present late Monday afternoon May 14 when Harvard came back from a 17-9 6th inning deficit to eliminate Dartmouth from the Ivy League race, 18-17. Second baseman Matt Rothenberg's second home run of the game capped the comeback in the bottom of the eight.

The combined 35 runs of the Big Green and the Crimson combined were the most in this rivalry since the first game they played in 1869, a 38-0 rout by Harvard.

I cannot say enough for Harvard’s integrity in playing the last two games with intensity once they had been eliminated themselves from the race when Dartmouth won the first game on Sunday.

Harvard actually finished tied with Columbia for second place with a 13-8 record - their best season since 2005 - but Columbia beat Harvard in the regular season three-game series. Dartmouth finished 12-8-1, its 11-inning tie with Penn not replayed. It was another break for Columbia that lost the regular season series to Dartmouth.

Because of the incessant wet weather in the Northeast, the Lions’s championship series against first place/defending champion Yale won’t start until Tues May 22 at noon with a doubleheader at historic Yale Field in New Haven. If the teams split, the title will be decided on Wed May 23 in a single game starting at 1p.

The winner will be the first entrant into this year’s NCAA baseball tournament that ends with the College World Series in Omaha in mid-June. Though Yale’s pitching has been more consistent throughout the season than Columbia’s, I think there should be some great competitive baseball on display next week.

Though I definitely have a dog in this fight - I should say a lion - I do believe Columbia has a fighting chance to win its fourth league crown in the last six years. Even if it may have to play without its injured senior leader second baseman Randell Kanemaru.

Pulling for Columbia has certainly helped sustain my rooting chops because the return of the Woerioles has been painful to watch. But it’s not only Baltimore that is enduring deep, seemingly endless losing this season.

The American League is also home to the struggling Kansas City Royals, the Chicago White Sox and the Texas Rangers while the Cincinnati Reds are mired in the NL Central basement. None of them have realistic hopes of even getting back to .500.

On the positive side, I find it very nice to see the rebuilding Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies atop the NL East leader boards.

The Phillies have a couple of great reclamation stories. Center fielder Odubel Herrera was picked out of the Rule 5 draft of six year minor league veterans a few years ago and now he is a spark plug atop the lineup.

Set-up man Luis Garcia was signed way back in 2004, didn’t reach the majors until 2012, and only last season did he find a home in Philadelphia. L. Garcia has stranded all 15 inherited runners he faced this season (after the Phillies 4-1 Wednesday May 16 whipping of the Orioles.)

That’s all for now. Always remember: Take it easy but take it.
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