IP: What do you think of when you hear the term “west coast guy?” I think it’s changed over time. The connotation used to be more short game, more small ball, more base running, more of a pressure offense and less of a “three-run homer” approach, but that’s changing, clearly.
Biggest difference from east to west? One of the biggest differences is how far you have to go to get recruits. In highly populated areas- southern California, northern California, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Tampa St. Pete, Orlando- a lot of it is done in the car. When you’re in the Midwest or the Northwest, a lot of it is done by getting on an airplane. In southern California, you just don’t do that very often.
With the fans, the passion and the fan support in the SEC is unmatched, and I don’t necessarily think it’s exclusively a baseball issue. There are a lot of similarities with football, basketball, softball attendances in certain areas. When you look at just baseball, though, there’s just a lot more developed facilities- nicer, newer, larger- in our league. It’s not necessarily an east-west thing, some of it is the culture of towns that SEC teams are in.
What’s your fondest memory from Omaha? Probably Tommy Bond’s starting that game and winning it (Bond pitched 7 2/3 innings in win over Florida State). It was a big moment, really proud of him and his effort that day. Another one is being in the bullpen with Brad Wilkerson and him looking at me and saying, “Hey Hendu, this is fun, huh?”
Fondest memory off the field– I went behind home plate and I remember watching Kris Benson and Billy Koch pitch for Clemson. I couldn’t believe that Ken Vining was their third pitcher, he was so good. It hit me that you have to have real pitching depth.
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