I think Iowa really has something special with this state baseball tournament. Early guess is there were about 30,000 total at the tournament. After working in three states where baseball is an afterthought and your stuck with dull legion ball (North Dakota, Colorado, Minnesota) and another where there was no high school baseball season at all (Montana), I really enjoy a place where people get passionate for state baseball.
Martensdale-St. Marys saved their best for last in the state title game. After winning their first two games against Coon Rapids-Bayard and English Valleys in their final seventh inning at-bat by one run, it looked like Kee, Lansing (one of the most storied programs in 1A) had a good shot to end the famed winning streak.
No shot. Down 3-2 after two the Blue Devils scored six unanswered and cruised to an 8-3 win. It’s their national record 87th straight win, second straight 1A title, and the first time in Iowa prep history that a baseball team has had back-to-back perfect seasons.
In other words they’re pretty good. They made some noise at the end with a bunch of players doing backflips after they won. To quote Joakim Noah when he talked about the Miami Heat, “they’re Hollywood as hell”. Difference is the Blue Devils actually back it up on the field.
There’s been a lot of talk about recruiting and shady practices at Martensdale-St. Marys. They’ve not been investigated officially, nor has anything come to light. Until something does, it comes off as sour grapes. Open enrollment ain’t perfect, but unless you can prove something illegal, kids have a right to play where they want to. And personally? If I had a choice, I’d want to win. Heck, I did have the choice when I was in school. I played at a football power in Colorado where we won a state title, but I had to play behind two future FBS college players. If I really want to play more I suppose I could have transferred to the cross town school (which went 0-10 my senior year), lord knows my play wouldn’t have been missed too much. But I loved playing with my friends, and I loved contributing and playing for a winning team, even if I didn’t play as much as I could have elsewhere.
Whatever you think of the side issues, you have to respect what they’ve done, especially after this tournament. They were not at their best against English Valleys and Coon Rapids-Bayard, but they found a way to win. Great teams do that. And then they blew the doors off a good Kee team. All of this in the face of a constant media spotlight and while a lot of people across the state were rooting against them (much the same way many root against the Yankees or Red Sox because they are the front runners).
|Throws 90 and is only a Junior|
Martensdale-St. Marys may be the team of the tournament, but Calvin Matthews of Davis County in 2A was the player of the tournament. The big horse (who’s only a junior) of the Mustangs staff used his 90 MPH heat to strike out 31 batters in 15 and 1/3 innings in their three wins. He also hit the heck out of the ball, clubbing a homer and driving in several runs. He’s already committed to Iowa, but had scouts from several major league teams watch him throw. That’s the beauty of these state tournaments-you always get one kid from a small school we seldom ever see emerge.
In 4A Dowling won their first state title since 2001, beating Mason City 6-1. Hard to believe it’s been that long since they last won a state baseball title. They started the season with a football title in fall, had a boys soccer state title in the spring, and now baseball. The hoopsters have to feel like they let down the whole school ;).
The allotment of general public tickets for the Big Ten title game in December went on sale at 9 AM this morning. Within two hours they were gone. So yeah, I think expanding to, in part, play a championship game was a good idea.
For some of you, football season started with Big Ten Media days (just a hint here but it’s really not that interesting. Coaches and players basically say the same thing every year. “We’ve got a good team and gotta take em one game at a time”, blah blah blah). For others it starts with training camp opening, and for the high schoolers pretty much right after state baseball ends. For me, it started at about 7 PM tonight. That’s when my favorite baseball team sent the best pitcher in franchise history (Ubaldo Jimenez) to Cleveland for four prospects and a case of Natty Lite. I finally have a tiny idea of what it is like to be a Cubs fan (although I have seen my team play in the World Series in my lifetime. So I got that going for me.).
|Before 2007 I used to call the Rockies the “New Cubs”.|
Speaking of the Cubs, I’ve got a great charitable venture for you. The MLB trade deadline is tomorrow. If you want to give the Cubs the gift of getting rid of a ridiculous contract for an over the hill veteran (Alphonso Soriano anyone), you would be worthy of sainthood.