Monday, June 1, 2015

Brilliance on the Diamond

Freshman pitcher Bryce Barr was a hero last night

I'm sure many of you joined me this weekend in watching every pitch of Columbia Baseball's stunning performance in the NCAA Regionals.

History has always been more forte when it comes to Columbia sports, so let me just rank this achievement for those who haven't been following Lion athletics for very long:

-This is the best Columbia team of any kind since the  1983 Men's Soccer Team that went all the way to the national championship game before falling to Indiana in double overtime. Yes, Columbia Fencing has won national titles, including this year. But the field is just not as crowded and while fencing has many recruiting advantages against even the scholarship schools, Columbia Baseball is at a distinct disadvantage against a much more crowded and competitive field.

-This is the best Columbia Baseball team of all time, including the teams that boasted Lou Gehrig. (Remember that Gehrig's teams did not have winning seasons).

-This is the most enduring elite sports program within the Columbia athletics family, and that includes the roughly 10-15 year run Dieter Ficken's soccer teams enjoyed from the late 1970's until the early 1990's. This baseball team has reloaded three separate times under Head Coach Brett Boretti, and has now won a total of four NCAA Regional games.

Tonight's Regional Final game is a major challenge under any circumstances as Columbia is forced to win a second straight game on the #5 team in the nation's home field. But I don't think anyone is expecting the Lions to look scared out there tonight.  Dating back to the last regular season game of the year at Penn, this team has now won six straight do-or-die games. Columbia is used to the pressure, while Miami is really feeling it for the first time this year.

And again, this baseball run is further proof that the proper management/coaching matters. Boretti has recruited well, managed and developed players well, and made enough correct decisions on game days to win consistently. Programs are not "cursed" by some kind of non-existent hex. When programs fail consistently, it's because they're being managed poorly with the same consistency. The opposite is also true.

Of course Columbia Football can learn a lot from what the baseball team is accomplishing. Hopefully, this will rub off.


oldlion said...

Baseball is the great equalizer; the purest skill sport ever invented. You can be 6'6" and 300 and look hopeless trying to hit a curve ball.

Big Dawg said...

What impressed me most about last nite's game was watching the incredible poise of 2 Freshman pitchers shutting down the #5 team. These kids looks like they were 28 years old and in the majors.

RLB said...

"And again, this baseball run is further proof that the proper management/coaching matters."

you couldn't quite note that happened when Murphy was AD

Jake said...

Because Murphy's role in the hiring of Boretti was not the point I was trying to make. I was trying to dispel the notion promoted by so many that the problem of Columbia Football is unsolvable, no matter the management.

Jake said...

And as far as Murphy is concerned, the exception proves the rule. As Big Dawg has meticulously and correctly documented, Murphy's track record was just terrible. I too like to revel in the exceptions like track, fencing and of course baseball, but they don't change the overall record and they don't change the crucial failures in the key sports of football and men's basketball.

Coach said...

All good points- but there is no mystery regarding Columbia football- the administration has to let the better players in.
It has been done at Duke, Stanford, Northwestern, Vandy, Rice, Baylor- Over the years at Penn, Dartmouth, and Brown.

RLB said...

Some exceptions prove the rule, just some.

MTen? WTen? WSw beat both Ha and Pr, won duals? Improved facilities?

Your view of her is via FB prism.

RLB said...

“Dianne has elevated the stature and success of Columbia athletics in so many ways during her tenure,” Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris said. “A number of programs not only won Ivy League team and individual titles, but also had national success.”

Here are some highlights since Murphy came to campus:
• Thirty Ivy League or national championships in 11 sports, the most of any decade in Lions history, including this year’s NCAA Fencing National Championship and another League baseball championship earlier this month.
• One hundred forty-three Ivy League individual event championships, fourth-most in the Ivy League during that time period and the most of any span in school history.
• In 2013-14, the university’s highest finish – the top 20 percent of 292 schools – in the NACDA Learfield Sports Director's Cup standings.
• Construction of Campbell Sports Center, the school’s first new athletics building in 40 years.
• The resurfacing of every outdoor practice and competitive venue.
• New field hockey and baseball venues.
• The 2009 revitalization of Chrystie Field House.
• Completion of the $100 Million Columbia Campaign for Athletics: Achieving Excellence. It was the largest capital campaign in Columbia athletics history.
• The formation of Columbia’s Athletics Hall of Fame

RLB said...

Record Number of Columbia Teams Earn NCAA Public Recognition Awards

By: Columbia University Athletics
Release: 05/21/2015

After an outstanding year athletically, Columbia varsity sports programs garnered national recognition for academic performance.

Columbia had 14 teams earn NCAA Public Recognition Awards for posting Academic Progress Rates (APR) in the top 10 percent of their sport, as announced by the NCAA on Wednesday, May 20. Fourteen teams represents the most Columbia programs to earn Public Recognition Awards since its inception.

Big Dawg said...

excellent epitaph

Chick said...

Twenty-one consecutive losses (drubbings) in football.

RLB said...

Apparently, to get the new coach, the powers-that-be came up with major money.
The re-surfacing of the grid iron is expensive; there's talk of a bubble at Baker Field, also pricey.

RLB said...

Thanks for the oft-repeated, reiterated endless news, Chick.
Time to try expanding your universe.

Columbia_Fan said...

We are here to bury Diane not to praise her.
Long live the Columbia sports program.

Big Dawg said...

As a pundit once said here previously, she's now nothing more than a flattened patch of dry road kill on a secondary Texas highway.
The paranoid shambles she instigated at the athletic department is over, and her legacy of GF'ing money from the alums and taking credit for others' efforts is over. Good riddance to bad baggage.

And her record really did suck, regardless of how one slices it.

alawicius said...

No harm in praisin' what she done good, brother.

RLB said...

Not all of us want to dismiss her tenure as "...just terrible."

As Harris' statement above notes, she had many successes, assuming you attribute teams', individual's accomplishments to her as some ascribe FB's debacle to her.

Big Dawg said...

Leaving the rancor as well as the aggrandizing out of it, first of all she's gone, for reasons.
No one will dispute certain accomplishments, per previous comments. HOWEVER, the overall record demonstrates not only that she did not do that much better than the last 60 years, but that the last 5 years were worse than her first 5 re titles.
Also, the major "accomplishments" were in areas that, unfortunately, just aren't that important to the general alumni public, but sound good when buffing up a resume, such as "individual titles" in secondary/tertiary sports. Frankly, who cares? This is like polishing the hand rails on the Titanic.
She never saw the forest for the trees. How can anyone be an AD and not focus on the primary sports? And she truly caused chaos within her department. Witness the mysterious departure of good coaches and the questionable termination of the Womens' BB coach.
But she is gone. It's over, and we already see a major turn in overall attitude inside and outside the College. Must be a reason for that.

RLB said...

Jake: a very reliable source says Bagnoli didn't think your blog was helpful.

RLB said...

Big Dawg: perhaps you don't care about the so-called minor sports (baseball, tennis...) but many do. I assume MBb isn't in you prism.

If all that matters to you is FB, so be it.

Evidence of: "...major turn in overall attitude inside and outside the College."

RLB said...

Big Dawg: you're right, there is major interest in the College, among basketball, baseball.


Big Dawg said...


RLB, you appear to be a throwback to the Admin trolls who plagued this blog last year, but who suddenly faded away when their mentor "resigned" (ie: beat the posse out of Dodge)

Everyone associated with CU has disassociated themselves from the blog. That's old news. Jake is not PC. But if it weren't for him, events would never have happened so fast. They can distance themselves all they want, but were it not for Jake, they wouldn't be here.

As far as me, I have always included all sports in my summary of DM's failure. But individual titles and women's volleyball just don't cut it in the real world. Football, men's BB, and Baseball are the triumvirate, or you aren't an AD. And all she could point to was a 2-year run in baseball. As decent as BB was, it was still and is still mediocre. Squash and field hockey are nice for the hundred of so players and family, but don't bring in the donations or the crowds.

I think most of us here and in the CU community understand that, which is the reason for the universal adulation surrounding her departure.