Baseball is a slow sport, always has been, with long, drawn out games.
The baseball park is a good place to relax without an interest in the outcome of the game. Like going to a Louisville Bats game, I couldn’t care less about who wins or loses at Slugger Field. Those games are simply an escape from the frantic pace of life. Great food, good people watching. The outcome of the game usually meaningless.
It’s a totally different atmosphere at Jim Patterson Field, however. The home team is wearing University of Louisville uniforms, adding a sense of urgency at every game. We identify closely with the players and the familiar faces in the crowd. Almost every game is at least three hours long, others much longer.
The slow pace of the games only adds to the tension, with lots of drama seemingly hanging on so many Louisville at-bats and opposing hitters. If UofL wins, every minute was worth it. Lose and it’s a downer, wasted investment in effort, emotion and drama.
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A month ago Kyle Funkhouser was cruising along with a 6-2 won-lost record. He has won only one game in May, however, and now stands at 7-5. The 6-foot-3 junior, eligible for the Major League Baseball draft in three weeks, has seen his earned run average almost double from 1.94 last season to 3.29 through his last game. He has a 6.67 ERA in his last five starts vs. ACC teams, three of which were UofL losses.
It has become painful, irritating and frustrating to witness the rapid decline in effectiveness, with Funkhouser struggling to find the strike zone in the early innings, giving up too many runs against good teams. He gets better as the game goes on, but by then it is too late for UofL to recover.
Despite Funkhouser’s problems, Coach Dan McDonnell has shown no inclination toward changing his starting pitcher rotation. Difficult situation for the coach with a player who had won 18 games against four losses coming into the season. The best outcome would be to see McDonnell rewarded for his loyalty. The other outcome not so pleasant.
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Sebastian Stiefelmeyer’s bid to become the top male tennis player came to an end Friday when he lost to Columbia University’s Winston Lin, 7-5 and 6-4 in the NCAA’s Sweet 16 in Waco, Texas.
Stiefelmeyer was 43-7 in singles competition overall and 10-2 against Atlantic Coast Conference foes.