icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Columbia-Penn Baseball Rivalry Resumes + More Thoughts on MLB So Far

“History never repeats itself exactly,” noted American historian Charles A. Beard once opined. Don’t tell that to fans of Ivy League baseball.

As the final weekend of the regular season nears, the Penn Quakers and the Columbia Lions are tied with stellar records of 14-2 atop the Gehrig Division. Just like last year. And this Saturday and Sunday, they will meet four times to determine who will qualify to meet Dartmouth, the perennial Rolfe Division winner, in a best-of-three championship series the following weekend. The survivor gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament beginning at the end of May.

And just like last year, it may take an extra winner-take-all game to decide the Penn-Columbia winner. Both teams feature plenty of hitting and solid pitching.

Penn features six regulars hitting over .300 with Matt McKinnon an all-Philadelphia area selection. Starter Mike Reitcheck also made the all-Philly team and the Quakers also possess lefty Ronnie Glenn who was effective last year against the Lions.

Columbia has some thunderous left-handed sluggers in seniors Gus Craig, Joe Falcone - the Iraqi-Afghan war veteran, the oldest player in Division I who blasted three home runs last weekend in the four game sweep of Cornell - and Dave Vandercook. Another lefty powerful slick-fielding first baseman, junior Nick McGuire, bats eighth in this lineup.
Last year's Ivy League batting champion Will Savage may bat seventh ahead of McGuire.

After a slow start in tough non-league games, Columbia pitching has come around led by junior righthanders George Thanopoulos and Kevin Roy. Ivy League rules mandate that the first game of each doubleheader is seven innings followed by a regular nine-inning nightcap. So it is imperative that a strong pitcher starts the first game and goes as deep as he can.

There is no attendance charge for Ivy League regular season games though there is usually a nominal charge for the championship series. Though the sound of the aluminum bat does make many a baseball purist cringe, I have become a big fan of the college game. Without interminable TV commercials between half-innings, the games move swiftly and the curious fan will be surprised at the crispness and near-professionalism of the players.

Adding spice to the Columbia-Penn rivalry is the alternation of home fields: The Saturday doubleheader will be played at Columbia’s Satow Stadium – located behind the football field up the hill off 218th Street west of Broadway - and the Sunday twinbill moves to Meiklejohn Stadium on the edge of the Penn campus near the Schuylkill River.
Batter up on both days will be 1pm.

I journeyed to Citi Field on Sunday April 19 for the Matt Harvey show. Unbeknownst to the ticket buyers, the Mets star young right-hander reported in sick early in the day, but after missing more than a year for Tommy John surgery he was not going to miss a precious start.

He pitched six very efficient innings and the Mets batters helped out with a seven-run fourth inning. But trying to save the overworked bullpen, Mets manager Terry Collins let Harvey start the seventh inning. He quickly gave up three hits and a run and then disaster struck (though the Mets held on to win the game, 7-6).

First, lefty reliever Jerry Blevins got struck by a line drive on his pitching arm. He will be in a splint for six weeks and no one can accurately predict how soon he will come back. Even worse, in the bottom of the seventh inning, rapidly improving Mets catcher Travis D’Arnaud got hit on the wrist by Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos. He suffered a fracture and will be out indefinitely.

The Mets have still won eight in a row and have come from behind in many of those wins, always a good sign for a potentially contending team. They have another promising young catcher Kevin Plawecki ready to replace D’Arnaud for the near future, and with solid starters like Harvey, Jacob DeGrom and perhaps Jon Niese too, there might be regular nights and days of fun and hope in Queens this year after a long dry spell.

However, there is always something to criticize about these Mets.
(1) The elevators from the upper decks run very sporadically after the games (unlike at Yankee Stadium). And believe it or not, the one escalator I found was running up and not down at the end of the game.

(2) Their half-inning contests for fans on the big video screen need work. The most embarrassing was a hula hoop twisting "competition" between Mets center fielder Juan Lagares, recorded on video, and a not particularly athletic woman who had trouble even getting the hoop on her body let alone spinning it. Where do these ideas come from?!

Meanwhile, injuries have struck my Orioles, too. Their fine second baseman from Curacao Jonathan Schoop (pronounced “Scope”) suffered partially torn knee ligaments in a collision with Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli on Friday night at Fenway.

The early diagnosis is that Schoop might not need surgery and he is already starting rehabilitation at the Orioles fine all-year facility in Sarasota. We fans can only hope that he won’t be out for most of the season. When Schoop’s teammate Manny Machado hurt his knee last year, they also said he might not need surgery. But he did for the second time in two years. And Manny's off to a slow start with the bat and there are troubling signs that he may be taking his offensive problems out to the field which is an absolute no-no.

Schoop’s stumbling over the base leads me to pose a serious question: Is there any reason to still require the bases being attached firmly to the ground? Wouldn’t softer pads serve the same purpose? They are used in many amateur games.

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

YIBF (Yours In Baseball Forever), Teny Ymota (The Earl of NY, Your Man On The Aisle)
Be the first to comment