12.Jun.2011 Two Points about the Baseball Season

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Today, many Beaver fans are reflecting on the season, saying things like, "It was a great ride, we exceeded expectations" and "we were picked 8th, so this is all icing on the cake."

While I do agree it was an enjoyable ride, these fans are missing two key points:

1. Expectations can change over the course of a season.

This is true of anything, not just sports. When a kid takes up guitar, do his parents proclaim, "He is the next Jimi Hendrix!"? Probably not. But maybe after hearing him play a bit, they realize the kid has talent. They may have had low expectations to begin with, but once talent was demonstrated their expectations were adjusted accordingly. This idea seems lost on many fans. They keep repeating the (flawed) idea that since expectations were low in February they should be equally low in June, and the baseball team was simply exceeding these static expectations. In reality, what happened is that collective expectations were raised as the team showed talent, won games, and earned reassessment. This is normal; trying to justify yesterday's elimination using arguments about pre-season expectations isn't.

2. Pundits are often wrong. They were wrong to pick us 8th. Beaver fans should laugh at how wrong the pundits were instead of using the pundits opinions as a gauge or justification of this season's success.

In closing, sure, it was a great year. Back in February, I thought the team would be good (somewhere around 4th in the Pac-10), but not good enough to host a regional or travel to a Super Regional. After the ASU sweep, I felt the chemistry was so good the team could win a National Championship. Once my expectations were that high, I began to nitpick every detail and saw flaws (like no #2 starter, slow/station to station offense, etc) and once again adjusted my opinion. It is okay to change opinions as you observe or receive more data. This is a point lost on many.

The Beavers season ended where I thought it would. I predicted a win in regional, and their being swept in the Super Regional. This wasn't rocket science. It was just a guy taking an objective, realistic view of the team and then determining the most probable outcome (i.e. sure, they could have won, but that scenario was less probable than losing).

Beaver fans need to understand that expectations change over time. Time can be a year, a decade, or in this case, a few months. If you look at it like this, the season ended exactly where it should have. In other words, the team met our adjusted expectations. It's probably the reason the realists (translation: people who read this blog) aren't heartbroken this morning. I just wish more fans were keen observers, as it would eliminate a lot of the excuses, blather, bickering, and vomit-inducing "feel good" reflections such as "it was a great ride, we exceeded expectations!"

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  • OStater says:
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    I was about to start writing on almost this exact topic and amazingly it was just created for me.

    A couple of things. Our Ath. Dept. is full of sh*t half the time. I woke up this morning to a newspaper that said a team that “far exceeded expectations” and I was thinking “not for me”. Onece they started off winning early games before the Pac-10 season started I was already felleing good about the team and expected a run much like we got. Maybe not a couple of the games in the middle or 2/3 of the way through the Pac-10 season when we got to #2, but something close and a little better end than we actually had. We ended badly and just hung on to our regional when we should have had a superregional with about 65% odds as we entered the USC series and then the Ducks.

    Our teams just are getting destroyed by the Ducks which sucks. In general though, I HATE WITH A PASSION how when we know we are developing as a strong baseball program with 2 national titles that we are going to say we “far exceeded expectations”. We obviously expect much too little of ourselves. Most teams that go that far build a tradition and expect to be in the hunt to get back there almost every year. Getting to a SuperRegional was probably what most of us thought was the odds on favorite about a few weeks into the season.

    To me this is just a reflection on BDC keeping the expectations low for almost every program so that runs of this sort can be seen as very special when they are more of just about what we expected after a nice start to the season. BDC is like Riley and maybe worse in that he just wants to ride out his contract for awhile and not have make many waves in his kiddie pool.

    Us being picked 8th in the conference is a slap in the face and goes to show that other Ath. Dept’s don’t think we maintain hogh enough expectations either and will take the opportunity to try to push our image lower if we won’t fight for ourselves.

    I for one though am sick and tired how we are told this is just the way it is at Oregon State. Yes, it takes effort but it is possible to become drastically better. Tom Osbourne took Nebraska in a small market and produced national champion calibre teams by building it right, raising expectations and outworking most through pure passion and desire for the university and community.

    BDC seems to just think it is easier to just be picked a little below middle of the conference so if we get upper half it is always an accomplishment. Well Pat Casey has produced a solid program so we should expect to be in the top 3 of conference most years as far as I am concerned. Even though alot of the season was great, the BEAVERS big problem is they rarely finish it off with the bigger deals. The back=to-back being the obvious exception. Riley though is the perfect example of this. Despite some decent stretches and getting in the mix he has very little at all to show for it by just making the Sun Bowl. Personally I think he needs to just sit down and realize that the fans need atleast a Holiday Bowl in the next couple years at an absolute minimum or we are going to be fed up. I don’t see that this year but maybe next year it is doable. My big problem though is I feel we could get strung along on quite a few more Kraft and Vegas Bowls with another Sun likely our crowning effort in the next 5 years. That is not good enough and I do not like imagining that. I want Holiday and Alamo Bowls and sometime in the next 5 or 6 years a BCS bowl again. I mean, how long are we supposed to wait? If we don’t raise the expectations how can we expect to get back to the BCS bowl we all want so bad sooner rather than later?

    I want BDC to push the image of the university forward more and tell all coaches that we have expectations of winning programs across the board. Coach Robinson in basketball also has to start producing or that seat is going to get hot.

    We are not a backwater that is lucky when we win. we can set our own expectations and care about how we handle ourselves and our own high expectations. We are just too passive as an institution and need to get more aggressive. The Pac-12 will have stiff competition so expectations CANNOT remain where they have been. We have to amp up expecations and get our fanbase highly motivated and interested so we can be at or near the top. We know it isn’t easy but I just can’t stand when it seems like some of these “leaders” just accept things and don’t push harder to raise the bar. We don’t get enough confidence out of too many of our leaders or press conferences where they talk about higher expectations. That’s what I keep wanting but am not getting.

    • osbeavs says:
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      You know that the entire conference bowl system has been restructured right? Sun Bowl is now #4, Holiday is #3, Kraft is probably not ever going to get filled. Also, bowl participation isn’t necessarly related to conference finish, just bowl eligibility.

    • JackBeav says:
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      FMO

    • JackBeav says:
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      wtf is the hang-up with Nikegon?

      Get over it.

      • StarcraftSquall says:
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        Yes, we need to stop worrying about what the Ducks are doing. It is a bit hard when the local news media, and close proximity to another fan base want to keep jamming it down our throats, though. I hear what you’re saying, but it’s easier said than done.

  • BeaverBeliever20 says:
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    To me they didn’t overachieve or exceed expectations at all, at least not my expectations. I said before the year they would battle UCLA for the conference crown and I felt they could make it to Omaha but I also felt that they would fall short in the supers. I’m not heart broken because they met my expectations and they had a really good year and the future is really bright. They will be better next year and if they don’t make it to Omaha next year then it will sting cause that should be the expectation, but I was okay with a super regional exit with this team.

    I’ve never liked the “they overachieved and played above their talent” thought process. This team had talent just some guys didn’t play as well they could have and probably should have. I will say it was a fun ride because this team had a great shot to win the conference crown and made it to the super regionals. It was fun to watch them and next year’s team should be even more enjoyable to watch.

    I wish the 2012 baseball season began already. I look forward to that sport more than any other.

  • osbeavs says:
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    Nice write-up. I agree wholly with the adjusting expectations peice. I drew solace last night from the relative positon of our program. Unlike our football and basketball teams, we have high expectations. It sure is nice to be able to realistically expect our baseball teams to compete for a title.

    In contrast, our upper limit goal for the football team right now is the Holiday/Alamo Bowl which will be even harder to acheive now that the conference bowls may select participants without regard to relative conference finish.

    Sure “hope” expectations are high next year.

  • joe says:
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    Look the Beavs did better than expectations. But what was fun was regardless of expectations they made a run. They were one of the final 16 teams and were eliminated by a much better team. Had they lost the regional I think many of us would be disappointed, despite “overachieving.” Vanderbilt played excellently and deserved to beat the Beavs, that is how sports go.

    • angry angry says:
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      The Beavs did better than pundits pre-season expectations. They did worse than most fans mid-season expectations. And they met most of our post-season expectations. Again, the point here is that expectations are not static and can/do change as the observer collects more data.

  • OStater says:
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    Sorry I rambled on so long. Its just that the we not only exceeded, but “far exceeded expectations” schtick is both very bothersome and tiresome. Most of me couldn’t believe I was reading that about a recent two time national champion but it is apparent that the Oregonian writers have been infected with this company line about OSU and go along with it. It spells out how the root of the problem of too low of expectations from our Athletic Department has our image as hopers and not expected winners as the prevailing culture.

    • osbeavs says:
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      I also think that the groanian is largely composed of Duck homers (same with 750 and 1080). They see the OSU program as the little sisters of the poor and anytime the team learns to spell their name it is an “overacheivement.” Of course, the groanian also fails to fact check, grammer check or even spell check their articles (including their print).

      • JackBeav says:
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        *grammar

        The lowest common denominator in the Pac 12 can’t afford to look down on anyone. One day our younger sister school to the south will be almost somewhat respectable as an academic institution.

        One day….

    • Quatre Quatre says:
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      You went full retard man. Never go full retard.

  • Orange Lantern says:
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    We exceeded expectations for a stretch but in the end we just matched or reached the expectations most of us true fans had. The end part is what matters most though. Vanderbilt is a great team but the Beavs should have been in Omaha if they just would have played OK to decent ball the final two series and held on to a 6-0 lead and swept Washington just before that. I think the number is just over 85% of teams that host a Super Regional move on to the CWS. We needed to host the Super Regional to have an overwhelming shot at being in the CWS again this year.

    • angry angry says:
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      But all those things you say they should have done are what makes a team flawed…the fact they didn’t do them was their flaw. Maybe they couldn’t (physically or mentally), but either way, that is a flaw. Fortitude is part of a team’s makeup.

      Based on what I saw, ending where they did was correct. They didn’t have a legit #2 starter (which killed them after Gaviglio lost game 1), it takes them 3 or 4 hits to score a runner, they don’t hit in the clutch, etc. These are all flaws that chemistry could not overcome.

  • mckalk mckalk says:
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    Maybe too harsh, but I felt like they did not compete very well after the Washington loss and kind of lucked into an easy Regional, Did anyone else have two 30 loss teams in their regional? I expected them to be a little more competitive with Vanderbilt, but they looked like a tired team at the end of along season who were exhausted by their thin margin of error in most games.

    • angry angry says:
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      Thumbed up…I think it’s a good/fair assessment.

      • G Joubert says:
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        They definitely peaked early, and seemed to fade down the stretch. I don’t understand why.

  • angry angry says:
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    Oops, just realized a terrible typo…I wrote “This idea seems lost on my fans.”…should have read “This idea seems lost on many fans.”

    My fans are smart! Was not digging at ya’ll (still in redneck mode from last night).

  • helmsley says:
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    You all have put together some interesting broad perspectives which are mostly and probably valid and appreciated.

    I wish to be specific. Two years ago I attended the OSU/Washington baseball game in Safeco field. Several seemingly knowledgeable OSU fans commented that a particular player , previously stellar, (I don’t remember who or what position – except it wasn’t a pitcher) was now in rather a bad, lengthy slump but that Pat Casey, never mind and no matter, would not take him out of the lineup, even temporarily.

    It is with great trepidation that I question a baseball legend but, returning to my harp string, it seems to me that Casey bases some of his lineup decisions on who is SUPPOSED to be better, not who’s doing the job. My cases in point are some of the pitching choices and keeping Susac in although, clearly, the team did better with Berberet.

    • BeaverBeliever20 says:
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      Yeah, I’ve made similar comments about Casey. He typically has two or three guys on the team that he labels as his favorites and will keep running them out there no matter how bad they’re playing. This year it was Ben Wetzler, and at times Garrett Nash. Last year it was Tyler Waldron and Keith Jennette. It happens every year, I’d like to see Pat Casey take a look at that and see if he can change it. Danny Hayes had a couple good games against ALR and Vandy in the postseason but only started 2 of 5 postseason games. Casey went too much with the matchups and not riding a hot hand when Hayes was started to swing it well.

      • angry angry says:
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        Tyler Smith had a ton of clutch hits, and then never played again. Same with Jared Norris. Once guys got healthy these two never saw the field. Chemistry plummeted around that time.

        Ps. Last year he fell in love with Michael Miller, too…the guy couldn’t even get a sacrifice down, but he continued to start. Lucky for Casey he coaches in Oregon and doesn’t have to answer those types of questions.

        • BeaverBeliever20 says:
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          Yeah, I was gonna throw Michael Miller in there but he didn’t start as many games last year as I thought. The first 2/3 of last year he was in love with Miller and ran him out there all the time even though he did very little right. At the end of the season he didn’t play much though.

          I expect Tyler Smith to be the starting 2B next year. He had a .221 average but hit about .300 in conference play. He just struggled at first but definitely got better. They missed him down the stretch this year. They needed a guy who can move runners along and be a selfless guy. Nobody was better with two outs. I’ve been unable to figure out why he stopped getting playing time. Guys were healthy yes, but he played a big role. Seemed Casey forgot who got them on a roll and just went with who he thought were the overall better players. Hopefully that doesn’t happen next season.

        • brownale9000 says:
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          I’m not sure I can agree with the assertion that those two players ‘never saw the field again.’ Norris started 24 of 27 conference games and played in a team high 57 games. Smith started 17 conference games and he played in 55 games. I think Pat Casey has earned the right to play the players he feels give the team the best chance to win, hasn’t he?

          I’d like to hear what you believe is the difference between your complaints about Mike Riley playing lesser talents like Keith Pankey and your complaints about Pat Casey putting in his best players in place of an inferior talent like Tyler Smith and Jarred Norris.

          And I’m not for a second saying that those players you mentioned suck or that they didn’t have some moments throughout the season…but Jake Rodriguez and Andrew Susac are more talented and give the team a better chance to win. What’s the difference?

          • angry angry says:
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            Pat Casey has earned the right to play the players he feels give the team the best chance to win, hasn’t he?

            Yup. Just like fans have the right to question questionable moves.

            I’d like to hear what you believe is the difference between your complaints about Mike Riley playing lesser talents like Keith Pankey and your complaints about Pat Casey putting in his best players in place of an inferior talent like Tyler Smith and Jarred Norris.

            Pac-10 play:

            Rodriguez .167
            Susac .268
            Norris .315
            Smith .353

            Not sure where you’re getting that Susac and Rodriguez are better talents. But, I’ll assume you mean they were more highly regarded out of high school? Potential and production are two different things. The football team currently has a 4-star tackle who plays like a 2-star. Keith Pankey was a 3-star yet played like a 1-star. I guess my argument would be pretty simple: play winners who produce. I’m less hung up over star ratings than people think. Also, raw talent isn’t a complete picture of the player. If Pankey were a leader who made people around him better it would be easier to overlook his athletic shortcomings.

            This argument isn’t exactly concise or coherent because I’m starving, my lady beav is cooking dinner, and I want to go eat. The short of it is that it’s clear when a player can’t get the job done (Pankey, Susac, “Krhod”, #28, etc), and it’s equally clear when an “inferior” player (T. Smith, Trosin, Hass, etc) can contribute. Coaches have egos…they get stubborn, they play favorites, they play politics. Sometimes you see a guy playing for these reasons, and it’s not fair to anyone. These coaches are not untouchable geniuses. Don’t treat them as such.

    • tim318 says:
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      I felt chemistry seemed to suffer when Susac returned – at least measured by on-field performance. However, the manager/coach makes decisions all the time about who is the “right” person to play. They watch the games, the practices, and have the instinct. I don’t doubt that Casey would bench a player (or move down in the order) if that was warranted.

  • G Joubert says:
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    The Beavs did better than anyone expected. What can you say?

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    I expressed a slightly different sentiment in the game 2 thread so I apologize in advance for the inconsistency.

    OSU did better than I thought they would at the beginning of the season. I expected to finish about fifth and get a #2 seed in a regional. By the end of the season, they met my new and improved expectations, which was to host and win a regional. Even though they didnt win it all, what they did was really nice and you can’t escape that. This team should be proud of what they accomplished. Also, I feel like the future looks brighter than it has since 2005. And despite the fact he doesn’t always pick the very best lineups, I feel that Pat Casey has improved in the last few years. Can’t complain about that.

  • angry angry says:
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    Texas beat ASU, so it looks like we’ll all be rooting for Cal.

    • StarcraftSquall says:
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      I have no affiliation with California, I’m a Beaver through and through, but since our team’s out, it would be kind of neat to see a team that was almost on the brink of being cut from their school stick it to their budget department. Regardless of what you think about them, losing one of the league’s baseball teams would have been a blow to the entire conference.

  • VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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    The Beavs played poorly against Vanderbilt.

    Same goes for the Beavs’ play at the end of the PAC-10 season (losing two to USC, and then being swept by the Ducks).

    Claiming this team “exceeded expectations” is an obvious rationalization by fans who don’t want to face up to what we saw against USC and the Ducks (at the end of the PAC-10 season) and against Vanderbilt (in the super regional). The Beavs’ play at the end of the year — when it counted — fell way short of what it should have been.

    Rationalization and happy talk will not help the Beavs get better. When it comes to “exceeding expectations”, I’m with Angry.

    • Orange Lantern says:
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      But the Oregonian said we were a team that “Far Surpassed Expectations” and Lindsey Schnell that we had a season that “Noone saw coming.”

      LOL. Usually atleast 4 years of 5 I am fine predicting at the start of the season we will make a regional. We got one of the easiest regionals, but in all played poorly down the stretch. As we headed into the Washington series I was leaning that we would make the CWS, and after we won the first two I saw how it could be very doable for the Beavs because hosting a superregional, being a Pac-10 champion and also a national seed all seemed likely. Hosting the SR is really the key for most teams that want to get in the CWS. I give the team props for getting up to #2 but holding on for a national seed didn’t happen. Most teams would have more confidence when they are that high. We looked awful against Oregon. I am one who actually thinks it is important we show better in all sports against Oregon to build a stronger reputation both in-state and nationally. They are our rival. Acting like we don’t care about Civil War play is what we did all this year and that turned out terrible.

  • JackBeav says:
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    Well, we had limited discussion on predictions, but this is what we were talking about to start the season:
    http://angrybeavs.com/baseball/5007#comments

    The second comment by angry I think was the consensus. At least that’s what I thought of this team coming in. They were so young to start the season that all their talent and chemistry probably wouldn’t get them past ASU and UCLA (who I thought would win the Pac 10 pretty easily).

    That we were front-runners was a surprise. That we couldn’t hold on in the end was the result of that same youth that made us all shy away from great expectations. So results oriented rational thought says we pretty much had this team pegged. They just traveled a different, more exciting path than we expected. And the one big surprise was that we got a regional out of the deal. If they tie for second by swapping the ASU and Nikegon series results, that doesn’t happen.

    So this team ended up about where we thought they would. And it’s nice to see that their own expectations lead them to be disappointed with their own performance in the SR. I think this team is hungry for more of what they did right this year. I don’t know if my expectations for next year will surpass theirs, and mine are pretty high.

    Now we just watch and wait for the MLB signings. I say Susac, Gaviglio and Osich are all gone. And I can’t blame any one of them for going. They are all going to what appears to be ideal programs for their skills.

    I think Jace Fry might go as well. The A’s have a history of picking only a couple high schoolers every year and over-slotting them by a bunch. He may have been picked in the 9th round, and the A’s may be one of the more cash strapped programs. But their history says they offer Fry second round or better money, and he takes it.

    Interestingly, Nate Esposito was also taken by Oakland in the 46th round. I don’t think they over-slot him to the point he’s signed away. And I could be wrong, but I think Jordan Dunatov and Carlos Rodriguez shrug off low numbers for school.

    Dylan Davis and Michael Conforto not being picked speaks volumes. Both of them should have been off the board by the second round. Nobody even taking a late-round flier on either means they are wholly committed to OSU. I am really excited to see both wearing Beavs uni’s next year.

    Here’s a quick vid of Conforto doing some BP. I rarely get excited about BP vids, but this kid looks really good. Keep in mind that his BP balls end up over the fence. A free and easy swing from the left side with power to boot? I’m going to have fun for a couple years watching him play.
    http://baseballbeginnings.com/2010/11/17/michael-conforto-video

    • JackBeav says:
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      And if Brandon Martin does not sign with the Rays, then my expectations for next year go through the roof.

  • locusimperium says:
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    off topic: i saw tom zarosinski is playing for the knights this summer. where was he during the season??

    • JackBeav says:
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      On the bench. It’s cool he’ll be working with Duke, Schultz and Wetzler. Those four should have a good summer of ball together. Come time for fall ball they should be a formidable quartet leading into next season. And if they can get Fry on board with them, we’re looking at some good times for the next couple years at least.

    • JackBeav says:
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      Is Booser the only frosh P without a team?

  • StarcraftSquall says:
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    Here’s the summer league assignment information for Oregon State players (took this from the Oregonian’s webpage):

    Oregon State Summer Baseball Assignments

    Alaskan Summer League
    Kavin Keyes – Anchorage Pilots

    Cape Cod League
    Matt Boyd – Orleans Firebirds
    Danny Hayes – Brewster Whitecaps
    Jake Rodriguez – Falmouth Commodores
    Andrew Susac – Falmouth Commodores

    Northwoods League
    Luke Acosta – Wisconsin Rapids Rafters
    Tony Bryant – Madison Mallards
    Dan Child – La Crosse Loggers
    Garrett Nash – Wisconsin Rapids Rafters
    Tyler Smith – La Crosse Loggers
    Brian Stamps – Wilmar Stingers

    West Coast League
    Ryan Barnes – Wenatchee AppleSox
    Cole Baylis – Wenatchee AppleSox
    Adam Duke – Corvallis Knights
    Scott Schultz – Corvallis Knights
    Ben Wetzler – Corvallis Knights
    Tom Zarosinski – Corvallis Knights

    • mckalk mckalk says:
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      Who pays for these guys to play in these locations? Is it part of their scholarships?

  • seaverbeaver says:
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    Alex Balducci signed with the Ducks.

  • tim318 says:
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    Can’t we be happy about a top-16 finish? Can’t we count a 40-win season a success? Especially, in light of a lot of new players and a couple injuries. I know that fans have a little sour taste about the end of the season.

    George Horton said before the season that the expectation for UO this year is the CWS and anything less falls short. Talk about putting pressure on the players.

    A side note is how impressed I was with fans in So. Carolina and Texas. While watching these games, there was so much energy and noise. Of course, their ballparks are bigger than Goss and they have more tradition. It’s a little hard to be loud when sitting on a metal bleacher when temp is in low 50s.

    • angry angry says:
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      I’m happy with the season.

    • JackBeav says:
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      Quite happy.

      They did what they should have done given their talent and coaching… plus they got to host a regional.

      They’re gonna be good next year.

  • billy says:
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    Heading down to Corvallis for the dedication of the new track today(Berny Wagner is my brother’s father-in-law). Our FB coach is supposed to be there. I’ve already told him what a fine job he did last year. Anyone else have a greeting they want delivered?

    • JackBeav says:
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      Thank him for at least vocally supporting track and field… more so if more is warranted.

      Without the football program and AD stepping up and telling the world what an embarrassment it is to not have a T&F team (and how important it is for the whole of the university’s athletic endeavors) this day might not be happening.

      Have I mentioned how much I am not a fan of Lynn Snyder?

      • billy says:
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        You’d love listening to Berny discussing Lynn Snyder.

  • Pankey's Dad says:
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    Yeah, tell him I said thanks.

  • oneoldbeav says:
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    Yeah, tell him to remind Langsdorf that there are more than two pages in the playbook!

    • billy says:
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      At least he can’t call Quizz up the middle(with no blocking) time after time after time this year.

  • Beavocalypse says:
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    I think the message here is that one should be happy with the season, yet not ecstatic with it. Like everything else, it could have been better.

    The problem with this season and every other team’s season is the fan base.

    Right now, I’d say about HALF (and this is being generous) of OSU’s fan base is like a fairly tough guy with low self-esteem who comes into a fight scared with some smug, piece of shit rich guy. He gets his ass kicked and then watches as the guy humps his wife right in front of him and lights his house on fire. When all the ashes are settled and his wife leaves him for the obviously alpha male he picks his head up and says, without any desire for vengeance, “gee golly, at least I landed one good punch”

    …and that’s the attitude that sickens me. Spot on, Angry.

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