The Life Of Brian
Brian Prawitz has been with Brooke Communications since 2002. You can hear Brian on the Morning Report on KQEN and on The Score as the voice of Roseburg football and basketball. In 2009 he was hired by the Oregon Sports Network to announce Oregon Duck baseball with Jerry Allen.
Congratulations to the Oregon State Beaver baseball team in their convincing wins over the Oregon Ducks at PK Park over the weekend.
When Michael Conforto put a flat spot on one side of a Jake Reed pitch for a grand slam in the second inning Sunday, it was clear the game was over.
I should have left then.
Actually, just changing seats would have been enough.
I went to the game with some friends from Roseburg. A few of them are life long Beaver fans. We found a table on the third base line, down by the wall near the OSU dugout (their choice, not mine).
By the sixth inning I could feel my forehead burning, but I couldn't tell if it was from the way the game was going, the sun, or my proximity to the OSU bats.
A few hours after getting home, I realized just how burned I was.
Here. This is how badly burned I am.
This selfie doesn't do justice to the shade of red I have attained.
I can see in the dark.
I can guide Santa's sleigh.
I can fry an egg on my forehead. (Enter gratuitous 'Ducks have egg-on-face' joke here.)
It looks like I feel asleep in a tanning bed. Or passed out at the pool. It will be awhile before anyone takes me seriously at the radio station.
The thing that ticks me off the most is that I didn't even think about sunscreen. I didn' t have a hat and I didn't think about moving to the other side of the ballpark. Dumb.
However, a clear analogy comes from my crimson grin.
In a way, the result of yesterday's game shows on my face like it does the Ducks. Those losses were tough to take and definitely left a mark. I coulda fought better and now I have to pay.
In time, my mug will heal and the lesson has been learned. The Ducks can say the same thing too. My hope now is that the next place I have to worry about avoiding a sunburn will be Omaha, Nebraska.
Where I might get to sit with those same fans again.
I was hoping it would come to this.
Early this baseball season, people were talking about how good both Oregon State and Oregon would be in 2013.
While looking at the hot starts for both the Ducks and Beavers, fans would cast one eye on the schedule and see the series between the teams May 17-19 at PK Park. The question that usually went unspoken was...would a Pac-12 Championship be on the line? Could both teams make the World Series?
Until now, those thoughts were followed by a lot of eye blinking and cobweb-clearing head shakes.
The question can be asked now.
The answer is "yes" to both questions.
But, believe it or not, there is actually more on the line than the league title.
Both Oregon schools are just about guaranteed to host NCAA Regionals in two weeks and both teams have a shot at receiving a national seed from the NCAA.
If one team sweeps (and the home team has swept the last three Civil War series) it may knock the loser out of contention for one of the top eight positions in the bracket.
Imagine for a moment if Eugene and Corvallis both hosted Super Regionals.
It could happen. No head shaking required.
But first, the Civil War sends two such equally balanced teams against one another that it is impossible to predict the winner.
If someone claims one team has an advantage over the other…they are just trying to sound smart.
Those of us of average intelligence look at the Ducks and Beavers and have to admit that neither team has a distinct advantage.
You might give the Beavers the edge in starting pitching (a team ERA of 2.06 is second in the nation while Oregon is second in the Pac-12 at 2.58), but Oregon's bullpen is slightly better (24 saves vs 17 with Jimmy Sherfy now up to 19).
Oregon's defense has been better this season (41 errors to 57) but OSU has turned 51 double plays to Oregon's 39.
OSU catchers have allowed a league low 19 stolen bases to the Ducks 29, but Oregon has only 7 passed balls to the Beavers 14.
Power numbers? Ironically, Oregon has more home runs (21 to 18). However, OSU has a better batting average (.286 to .264), slugging percentage (.379 to .366) and on base percentage (.379 to .352) and in turn, has scored more runs (282 to 269).
Inside game? Both are terrific with small ball. Coaching? You could give Pat Casey the edge based on two World Series titles to George Horton's one, but they are both on the verge of college baseball geniuses.
This series will come down to something amazing, thrilling and probably clutch. We will see moments we won't forget and experience a roller-coaster weekend that will be terrific for baseball in our state.
Best of all…the Beavers and Ducks could play again in about a month with much, much more on the line.
The OSAA baseball and softball playoffs are nearly upon us.
In addition to the exciting races for league titles, dozens more teams are fighting to make the post-season.
One thing that makes this part of the season so much fun is when a mediocre team develops into a state contender right before your eyes.
History is punctuated with teams that had to scramble to make the playoffs only to find themselves in a dog pile after winning it all.
Something about baseball and softball lends itself to late season runs.
I love the psychology behind those miraculous, mysterious, glorious streaks.
Sometimes it takes one guy or girl getting healthy at the right time. Once in a while the spark comes from someone getting ridiculously hot. It doesn't have to be a regular starter or even an all-star, either.
I have talked to players who were on teams that made miracle runs.
I have asked them, "What was the moment when things changed?"
Often, they will talk about a moment when their season appeared to be over, only to see someone do something unexpected that keyed a rally, a win and new confidence.
Once in a while, the key moment can come in a players-only meeting or from a rousing speech from a coach.
I have seen teams endure some terrible tragedy only to unify and focus the grief into an unstoppable desire to win.
I happen to think it comes down to trust.
Teams that completely trust one another believe their teammates will do something spectacular in a key moment. After a mistake, those teams forgive their teammates instead of grumbling or blaming them. Besides, they believe they will overcome any bad luck the game throws their way.
I would rather be the galvanized, focused team than the talented, undefeated favorite in the playoffs.
That's why I don't buy the cliché 'winning develops chemistry'.
Winning can bring a team together, develop confidence and swagger but until that team faces season-ending adversity, they may not have what it takes to win it all.
Another phenomenon that develops at this time of the year is the bandwagon.
Everyone in town becomes the biggest fan once the team has gotten hot.
Relatively few people were paying attention when the team experienced 'the moment' where the rally began.
I have said many times over the years that fans should be careful bailing on a team that appears to have no chance or gets down 0-2 in a series or 5-0 in the first inning.
If you give up hope on a team that suddenly figures it out and rallies to greatness, you shouldn't be at the wheel of the rooter bus.
The adversity intensifies the joy when you win.
The fear that it could be over can become the fire that keys the glory.
Your favorite team might be the next to take a trophy no one else thinks is within reach.
May you be watching when the spark is fired, no matter its source.
Yes. It's that good.
A couple years ago I was on the road with Oregon baseball on the same weekend as the NFL Draft. That Thursday night, instead of going with the team to practice, I locked my door, grabbed my laptop, and hunkered down to watch the draft.
At that point, I knew I liked Twitter and decided to open TweetDeck to keep track of everything that was going on.
It was like having an extra set of eyes in my head. Except the other set of eyes was in New York. Behind the scenes. Five minutes in the future.
Adam Schefter was announcing the picks a few moments ahead of Commissioner Roger Goodell. Other well respected sports analysts were offering their opinions. Fans were reacting with their emotions and a kind of 'predict the pick' thing developed among the sports people I follow and the whole thing was fascinating.
That combination changed the way I watched the draft last year and it has changed the way I watch sports.
For the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Civil War, and Super Bowl, I had the game on the tv and Twitter on my mobile device.
I am pretty sure it annoys the people I am watching the game with and I know it annoys my friends on Facebook because for four hours I fill their timeline with posts because I linked my accounts.
If you don't know much about Twitter - ignore the name and sign up for an account. Then, this weekend, keep one eye of the tv and one eye on what everyone else is saying.
(NOTE: No matter what Commish Goodell tells the media, Twitter will still be as compelling as ever. His attempt to contain the medium is evidence of just how game-changing it really is.)
My Top 5 suggested sports follows for first time Twitter users:
@NotBillWalton: Hilarious sacrastic insight into the world of sports.
@DPShow: posts from the best sports talk show in radio, the Dan Patrick Show.
@GeorgeSchroeder: Former Register Guard sports columnist, now with USA Today
@TonyDungy: wisdom from the world of sports and life
Your favorite team, television show, athlete, or media outlet has a Twitter feed by now, too. Find them, follow them, and watch what happens when you instantly witness how people you respect react to the same thing you are watching.
It will soon make you profess the greatedness of Twitter, like I do.
The Oregon Duck baseball team is as hot as it could be heading into the biggest two week span of the season.
With UCLA and Stanford coming to PK Park this weekend and next, the Ducks can make it a two horse race for the title with OSU if they can take the next two series.
Is that a big if? It might be. UCLA and Stanford are two of the traditional powerhouses in the Pac-12. They are loaded with players who know that two wins over the Ducks in Eugene would register as 'big wins' for their programs in the eyes of the NCAA selection committee. They also know that a deep run in the post-season can start mid-way through the Pac-12 season, which is right where we are.
Despite all the Ducks have accomplished, they haven't won anything yet. Everyone on the team knows that. So far, Oregon has established itself as a contender for the Pac-12 title and hosting a regional in June. From here on out, Oregon will get the very best effort out of everyone they play.
And, it is a long loooong way to the finish line.
There are still 24 games to go. Oregon has five Pac-12 series left (including Oregon State May 17-19 in Eugene), a non-conference roadie to Ohio State and Tuesday/Wednesday series with Gonzaga, Seattle U, Portland, and the Beavers.
Plenty of places to stub a toe and lose momentum.
If you are a fan, rooting for Oregon to close out the regular season with the program's first Pac-12 title, here are the things you can count on:
Coach Horton - You always look to your leader to guide you through choppy seas. Coach Horton is a calming influence on everyone in the program. He has been though the battles and knows a few things about pushing the right buttons at the right time.
Improving Offense - Led by Scott Heineman's electric bat and Ryon Healy's consistent power, the Ducks are carrying a slugging percentage of .422 and a stout .383 OBP against the mighty Pac-12. Overall this season Oregon has a .377 SLG and a .356 OBP. All of those numbers are 2K13-esque compared to the traditional “get-em-on-move-em-over-get-em-in” Hortonball we have grown accustomed to at PK Park.
Oregon is hitting .308 in conference play compared to .268 overall this season. Impressive, considering the competition is theoretically better in the Pac-12. The scouting is better, for sure. Yet, four players (Scott Heineman, Mitchell Tolman, Ryon Healy, and Brett Thomas) are hitting well over .300 and two hitters (Josh Graham and Tyler Baumgartner) are in the .290s.
Steady Starting Pitching - The offensive burst comes at a perfect time because the starting pitching hasn't been as pitch perfect as it has been at times in the past. Tommy Thorpe has moved to the front of the rotation to give Jake Reed a bit of a break from the glaring lights of Friday night. The move worked well at Cal, with Oregon posting its first Pac-12 road sweep. Like the batting average, the team ERA has also risen within league play, from 2.93 to 3.33. Trust me when I say that ANY coach in the country would give his left um….fielder for a team ERA around 3.00 in a conference like the Pac-12.
Spectacular Pen - The starters have great confidence going into any game right now because of how well the hitters are doing, but the bullpen is as good as any in the country. Jimmy Sherfy (2-0, 1.07 ERA 12 saves) is living up to the pre-season hype. Freshman lefty Garrett Cleavinger (2-0, 1.61 ERA, 2 saves in 21 appearances) is impersonating Tommy Thorpe’s freshman season and Jeff Gold (3-0, 1.74 28 Ks in 31 IP) is quietly having an incredible season. Darrell Hunter has been very reliable. It means the Duck starters have 7 inning games – and with the way the offense is going – they often have the lead when they leave the game.
Defense - The Ducks have the best defense in America. Wow, I had to read that twice just to enjoy the moment. It's true. Just 16 errors all season leaves the Ducks with a .988 fielding percentage. Give big credit to Ryon Healy’s play at first base in addition to the spectacular JJ Altobelli and impressive play by Mitchell Tolman, Aaron Payne, and a few amazing plays late in games from Kevin Minjares.
The Whole Package – Early in the season the question was the offense. Now that the Ducks are cooking, the only place on the field with less than an A is the starting pitching (!?). As hard as that is to believe, I’d say Thorpe, Irvin, Reed, and Gold are still for a B+ right now. This deep into the Pac-12 season that is a terrific grade.
If everything stays in place like this, the Ducks will be in shape to reap the rewards they have been working toward. Of course, it's baseball and things can change in one swing.
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Tags : Topics : SportsSocial : SportsLocations : Oregon, Portland, SeattlePeople : Brett Thomas, Darrell Hunter, Garrett Cleavinger, Horton, Irvin, Jake Reed, Jeff Gold, Jimmy Sherfy, Josh Graham, Kevin Minjares, Mitchell Tolman, Ryon Healy, Scott Heineman, Tommy Thorpe, Tyler Baumgartner
I am not going to tell you how to feel about what happened at the Boston Marathon Monday. That's what people use Facebook for.
I am not going to tell you that the horror thousands of people experienced at the scene 'puts everything in perspective' for sports fans who think a clutch base hit or a big catch equals heroic action.
I think it's silly to publicly abuse the person who set the bombs and it's pointless to rant about the reasons why the world seems to be spinning crazily toward chaos.
You can either choose to focus on all of that in an attempt to play psychologist for yourself or others, or look at all the ways good people are responding to the tragedy.
From the emergency responders who ran straight toward the bomb site seconds after the explosion to the marathon runners who didn't stop until they reached the hospital in order to donate blood, there are many reminders of just how selfless we can be in the face of terror.
In fact, the actions of the suspect in this incident are overwhelmed by the thousands of actions of people who had a choice and chose selflessness, courage, and heroism as their legacy for that moment.
When they were running into the fray, none of the things that divide us mattered.
Those emergency responders and civilians didn't ask the victims who they voted for, where they went to church, or what gender their spouse happened to be. It didn't matter. None of it did.
I sure hope I never have to see anything like that first hand, but I also hope that if I am ever given the choice of running toward those in need or away from them I make the same decision those people did.
It's the actions of the people who put the victims first and their own safety second who make me proud.
I snuck a day off on Friday in order to take my youngest daughter camping. Despite grandiose dreams of a weekend in Bandon with the whole family, work schedules and timing trimmed the excursion to about 48 hours at Whistler's Bend.
The battle cry was "Taming Whistler's Bend' since the last time we were there, things turned out less than successful. (See previous blog post "Father's Day Fiasco" from June of 2011 for the sordid details.)
This time, we were just about the only people on the south side of the campground. It only took one U-turn and no near misses with yurts for us to get set up this time. Thursday night we enjoyed BBQ chicken and a close call with three bold deer, who let us know we had parked in their back yard.
Friday morning, my daughter and I tried geocaching. I had read about the challenge of finding hidden locations using GPS coordinates, but never found the time to try it out.
With our dog Lucy tugging us along the well worn trails of the Whistler's Bend Disc Golf Course, Raegan and I stumbled around until we mastered the app on my phone (we weren't quite roughing it). Our first ever geocache was at the base of a steep hill along the riverbank in a place we would never have gone to on our own.
The originator of this cache camouflaged it smartly and put it just high enough on the bank that it hadn't been swept away by high river levels. Inside, we found a notebook and the trinkets left by other people who have found the same cache.
We wrote in the book, including the date, logged the same information in the app on my phone, slapped a high five, and took off in search of a second cache in the campground.
We hiked to the top of a hill overlooking the huge bend in the North Umpqua, found pretty flowers we had never seen before, guessed at the animals that left their footprints on the ground or scratches on the madrone trees.
We whistled back at the osprey overhead and wondered what kind of animals made the holes we found in the ground.
We followed deer trails straight up the hillside and found a few strands of wiry hair that had gotten snagged on low hanging branches. An adventure taken just minutes from home, courtesy of the combination of technology and nature.
On the way home, we stopped twice to locate more geocaches (a motorist stopped once to ask if we were lost) and noted the ones we passed, filing them away in our memories for the next time we drive up Highway 138. Geocaches are hidden almost everywhere. Our app reveals caches in our neighborhood, in Stewart Park, at UCC and at Jo Lane, to name a very few.
I have a hunch that from now on anywhere we go, you will probably see me and at least one daughter weaving back and forth, in search of another seemingly invisible find.
We won't be lost, though you could say we will be in another world.
The Oregon Ducks beat Oregon State in baseball last night in Corvallis.
It has been two years since anyone could write that lead line. Aaron Payne shot a line drive to right field to score two runs in the top of the ninth helping the Ducks win 6-3. Granted, the pitching wasn't as good as it could be, but neither team wanted to lose that game.
As I was hoping, Brandon Jackson faced Josh Graham in the game Tuesday. It was in the 8th inning. Jackson got his former Indians and Doc Stewarts teammate to ground out to short. I got teased for putting such emphasis on the moment, but here's the deal: If they were teammates from Grants Pass, North Medford, Ashland or Klamath Falls I would have pointed it out and been excited for the players and their high schools. But these two kids (along with Jared Priestley) have been key contributors to the success of the Indians and Doc Stewarts. I watched them from the time they were sophomores. I saw them win an American Legion state title and play in the World Series. I am really proud of both of those guys and for Jared, and Cameron Newell (at Santa Barbara), Boone and Johnny Farrington (at Biola) and all the other guys who played for those teams.
I have said for a long time that I cannot wait until an Oregon kid is the outstanding star on the Oregon baseball team. If that kid happens to be from Roseburg, you can expect the rest of the world to know about it (at least those listening to the Duck broadcasts).
State Senator Jeff Kruse may have solved the problem facing Roseburg and the other Oregon school districts being punished for having Native American nicknames. Kruse is working to make it acceptable for teams to use the name like Indians, Braves and Warriors if the local tribe that could be offended approves. The idea by Kruse is to go after the 'discrimination' definition. He thinks there is enough support in the legislature to get his bill (SB 215) approved. The question is: will the Governor sign it? We may find out in the next two weeks.
The Duck baseball team visits Corvallis this afternoon for a non-conference mid-season meeting. That means a couple of things on the field and one big thing off the field for me: a road trip with Jerry Allen.
Jerry and I don't make road trips together. One of us gets to fly with the team and do all three games in a given series.
The only exceptions have been in 2010 when we both went to the Norwalk, CT Regional and road trips to and from Corvallis.
Jerry always drives. He prefers to take Highway 99 into Corvallis. Its a beautiful, peaceful drive and the two of us chat about all manner of things.
I have to say that everything you have heard about Jerry being a nice guy and a great human being is all true.
He has been a mentor, coach, psychologist and all-around big brother to me in the five years we have been doing these games.
What makes it even better is this: he doesn’t have to be that nice to me. Imagine having to share a position like he has with a punk like me.
One of the first things I told Jerry when we met as co-workers was that I felt like I was dating his daughter.
Jerry has watched the Oregon program grow from what it was in the 80s to the thrill ride it is now. Think about all the horrible seasons he has endured. Now, in the Golden Age of Oregon Athletics, Jerry is the like the Emperor of a kingdom rivaling any in the country.
Here I come, getting to enjoy all the benefits of that success without having to pay the price of admission like he has.
It would have been easy for him to make me ‘pay my dues’ before letting me relax. Instead, Jerry has encouraged me and helped me get comfortable. Now, things are great between us, which makes trips to Corvallis a lot of fun.
One thing Jerry insists on is hitting the local DQ for a Blizzard after the game. I love Blizzards, but they haven’t tasted as good as they could on the return trip to Eugene.
Nine out of the ten trips to Corvallis have left us driving home after a loss, Blizzards and all.
Today’s game will be the first of five meetings between the teams. The Pac-12 series will be played at PK Park at the end of the regular season.
One possible matchup for Roseburg people to keep an ear out for today: the potential of Brandon Jackson on the hill for Beavers against Oregon catcher Josh Graham at the plate.
Graham has come on lately, going 9 for his last 24 (.375) with a home run and seven RBI.
Jackson has made 11 appearances out of the bullpen and is 4-0 with 1 save and a 2.33 ERA.
My Weekend Recap:
I had a rare weekend at home since Jerry Allen went on the road trip with Oregon baseball.
Not only was the baseball team out of town, so was my immediate family. I had a quiet, successful weekend at home.
I had a rare Friday night to spend as I wanted and Saturday evening, sat with my feet up to watch the Final Four. I thought Wichita State was going to pull that one out, even as I expected Louisville to rally like they did. Michigan was simply unstoppable against Syracuse.
Everyone who had Louisville and Michigan in the final, raise your hand. Thats what I thought. Dick Vitale is the only 'expert' I have found that had Michigan in the Final Four. Of course, no one had Wichita State.
I got the bathroom project done, complete with the shower curtain, pictures, hooks and new garbage can. When the girls made it home, they were so excited it made me realize just how little we all get out for actual entertainment.
Here are the before and after pics.
It will be a busy week for me. Oregon at OSU Tuesday, Oregon at Cal this weekend and the normal schedule of school, work, kids and home. I think this is what they call ‘living the dream’.