POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Mar 14, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 2:13 p.m. HST, Mar 14, 2011
Remember that movie "Fever Pitch?" Maybe not. It was pretty lame. It's not cool to disguise a romantic comedy as a sports flick.
There were only a couple of things I liked about it.
Two of my favorite Red Sox players from my youth, Jim Rice and Dennis Eckersley, played themselves in it.
The other reason I didn't walk out of the theater is why I bring up today an otherwise forgettable movie from six years ago. There's a scene in which an obsessed fan sees players from his team out enjoying themselves after a tough loss.
It's about perspective and resilience. If you don't have them in your everyday life you stand a good chance of going crazy. Same is true for athletes, especially baseball players. You've got to be able to let it go and get up for the next game.
If you can't shake off a bad day at the office, well ... your next one will likely be even worse.
From a much better movie, "Stripes": "Lighten up, Francis."
So it was with the University of Hawaii baseball team yesterday. The Rainbows blew a lead late in the game again, and for a while there it was looking like it might be a repeat of Saturday's disaster against Portland, when the Pilots scored eight times in the last two innings, thanks mostly to UH's offering of errors, wild pitches, passed balls and other various and sundry ways to kick away a game.
But if there's anything predictable about a team of young people it is its unpredictability. Just when it appeared the Rainbows had perfected a recipe for disaster and were intent on serving it up two days in a row, they forgot how to lose.
"The kids are way more resilient than the coach," said the middle-aged man in charge, Mike Trapasso. "It's the good thing and the bad thing about baseball. You have a meltdown game you come right back a few hours later. You have to be able to forget about the meltdown, so that makes it the bad thing, too.
"But with kids this age, you give 'em 20 minutes and a couple slices of pizza and they're good for tomorrow."
OF COURSE, it helps to have Kolten Wong in your lineup, too.
In the eighth inning, after UH had squandered the lead, Wong was 0-for-3 in the game, hadn't hit a homer yet this season and the left-handed swinger was facing a southpaw. Two hanging curveballs later, he had tied it and then won it in the 10th with launches over the fence (the game-winner came against a lefty, too).
Add another chapter to the legend.
But Wong can't be the only hero, and he can't do it every game. The UH lumber awoke from its slumber with 11 hits, and they were spread throughout the lineup.
"Everyone expects it from (Wong) all the time," said first baseman Jeff Van Doornum, who also homered and gunned out a runner at home. "It's kind of tough on him."
SHORT MEMORIES and long blasts work for me. But don't forget the Rainbows' greatest strength. It's the rarest commodity in the game, pitching depth. With Matt Sisto, Connor Little, Jarrett Arakawa and Jesse Moore, your chances are good for a quality start. All four delivered solid outings against Portland.
The bullpen is deep, too. Zach Gallagher — fourth reliever in from the 'pen yesterday — reminded us of that with his stellar effort, as he grounded the Pilots with runners on first and second and none out in the ninth.
"We're blessed to have so many pitchers who can do a job like that," Wong said.
"Gallagher made the pitches and kept them off balance," added Van Doornum.
Even with all that, the Rainbows defense needs to improve. Or there will surely be more days like Saturday, when it will be good to recall "Major League," and what the veteran catcher told the rookie warlock reliever who was rocked in his debut, despite the tiger blood flowing through his veins:
"Relax kid, we've got 161 of these games left to go."
It's a lot fewer than that in college baseball. But you get the picture.