Jake Kahaulelio’s three-run homer was the biggest blow as the Carolina Mudcats beat the host Birmingham Barons 9-4 in the opener of their three-game series.
James Avery (2-3) was the winning pitcher, while Angel Garcia (1-5) took the loss.
John Shelby homered and singled with two RBI for the Barons.
The Mudcats return home Friday night for the opener of their four-game season-ending series with the Tennessee Smokies.
BROOKS FOOTBALL BUILDING/DURHAM Sean Renfree gets the keys to the Duke offense for real on Saturday night, and if Blue Devil coach David Cutcliffe is correct it’s not going to be a cupcake assignment.
Duke leads that pre-Great Depression series 5-0-1, but this meeting with the Phoenix — ranked No. 7 in the preseason FCS coaches’ poll — has the potential to be a little more balanced. And the Blue Devils have had their troubles lately against top-notch FCS teams, having lost the season opener to visiting Richmond 24-16 last season with then-starting quarterback Thaddeus Lewis hobbled and about a third of the team coming off a camp epidemic of swine flu.
“We’re playing a good Elon football team,” Cutcliffe said on Tuesday at his weekly press luncheon. “I know that sounds like ‘coach talk,’ but you see the results of their games from a year ago and look who’s back. Understand that Scott Riddle is a big-time player at quarterback. He punts, he’s a good runner, he’s a good thrower and he’s extremely strong. They’ve got their tight ends back. They’ve got their receivers, and they led (the Southern Conference) in every defensive category a year ago. They averaged 30-plus points a game and gave up 13.
“So am I impressed with them? Yes. I’m also impressed with the fact Coach (Pete) Lembo has done some good recruiting. Usually (elsewhere) in the FCS you see a lot of transfers. They’ve developed their young men in a program and they know how to win. It’s great for us to play a quality team that knows how to win because we need to measure ourselves.”
A lot of what happens on Saturday will depend on the effectiveness of Renfree, who as a redshirt sophomore will be stepping into the shoes of Duke’s all-time passing leader Lewis.
So writes Henry James in his novella The Aspern Papers, which features an elderly and rather ghoulish lady by the name of Miss Juliana Bordereau. The book came to mind for a few reasons after the Bulls' 8-4 loss to the Charlotte Knights. One, I just read it and really enjoyed it (H/T to Heather); two, the above line, probably my favorite in the book, applies to last night's ballgame; and three, the Bulls blew the game by missing borders.
The home team, fresh off a 1-3 road trip to Gwinnett and Charlotte (which made last night's game really a continuance of a series in-progress), built a quick 4-0 lead, thanks mostly to a couple of ruinous errors by Knights infielders in the second inning—Durham had only five hits all night. The Bulls' starter, Ramon Ortiz, making his third appearance since being signed just a couple of weeks ago after injuries to three of the Bulls' other starters, was pretty effective early. He struck out the side in the first inning on nine pitches after allowing a leadoff double to Alejandro de Aza (third baseman J. J. Furmaniak had a play on the hot smash but it kicked off his glove and down the left-field line). Ortiz produced an astounding seven swings-and-misses on just 15 first-inning pitches. He fanned two more in the third inning, and another in the fourth—all six of his strikeouts were of the swinging variety rather than looking, and they were all against Brent Morel, Jordan Danks and Stefan Gartrell, the latter two near the league lead in strikeouts.
But Ortiz allowed three runs in the fifth on three hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly to very deep left field, and Brian Shouse started throwing in the bullpen. Ortiz's control, which had been excellent early—first-pitch strikes to all but three batters through four innings, no walks—had begun to deteriorate. He wasn't pleased with the strike zone of home plate umpire Jason Bradley, who wasn't giving Ortiz the corner on what looked like a slider. Recall that the strikeouts were all swinging, none looking: His control wasn't mesmerizing, especially not to this swingin' Knights team.
And in the top of the sixth, after Ortiz allowed a leadoff single to Dayan Viciedo, he threw five pitches to the Knights Tyler Flowers. Probably all of them were right around the plate, but only two were called strikes. The count was full and Ortiz sent some language from the mound to Bradley. Bradley sent some back. Bulls catcher Dioner Navarro started to speak to Bradley and manager Charlie Montoyo emerged from the dugout—just to protect his player, really, not because the pitches were no-doubt-about-it strikes. Montoyo attempted to distract Bradley with some nosegays of conversation, but when Ortiz shouted loudly enough for anyone to hear (what, exactly, we weren't sure, except that it wasn't a compliment), Bradley ejected him. (Was it just coincidence that, after the game, as we passed the umpires' locker room we heard one of them bray an exaggerated, mimicking, mocking "Donde esta?" As in, Where was that pitch, please, Senor Ump?)
Like the man says, there's singular folly in not having known when to stop. You can get away with it once, but not twice, and Ortiz was got away. Some general intercourse ensued, as Mr James might put it, over the ousting of Sr Ortiz from his perch, an intercourse which occupied the conversants for the next several minutes. Mr Shouse, however, put a soothing and quieting poultice on the recrudescent misgivings by inducing a 1-6-3 double play from Mr Flowers, clearing the bases with two men out. Nighthawks circled approvingly in the bright lights overhead, "a turn of the game had pitched us together the last of August," &c.
And sportsfans, I wish I could tell you that that's how it ended, but I'd be lyin' if I did. The madness of art, or at least the rest of the game, lies after the jump.
The Carolina Mudcats’ scheduled road game with the Mississippi Braves was canceled by heavy rains on Monday night.
The Mudcats will continue their road trip on Tuesday night with the opener of a three-game series at Birmingham.
Carolina will return home Friday night to take on the Tennessee Smokies in the opener of a season-ending four-game series.
The Durham Bulls finally got their Triple-A victory record.
But it wasn’t as good a day for the Carolina Mudcats, who dropped a 6-2 road decision to the Mississippi Braves.
The Bulls’ two-city, five-game set with the Knights continues on Monday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The Mudcats have one more game at Mississippi, then move on to Birmingham for three before closing their season with a four-game set against the Tennessee Smokies beginning on Friday night.
Two of those road victories came against the Puerto Rico Islanders, the only times the RailHawks have ever won at Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium. Coming off a win at Tampa Bay last week, it was a confident RailHawks squad that greeted the Islanders for their first of two visits to Cary, N.C. this season.
Perhaps too confident. The RailHawks’ 3-2 loss to Puerto Rico is not the first time Carolina has appeared the better squad in defeat. But, it is only the second time this season the RailHawks (9-8-7, 34 pts.) have scored two goals in a match and lost, the other being six days ago at Austin. As for the Islanders (8-7-8, 32 pts.), the win extends their current unbeaten streak to nine games—the last league match they lost was to the RailHawks on July 11.
Talk about extra-inning drama.
Things didn’t finish quite as well for the Durham Bulls, who dropped a 3-1 road decision to the Charlotte Knights in 11 innings.
The Bulls will visit Charlotte again Sunday before playing the last three games of the two-city series in Durham beginning Monday night.
The Mudcats will take on Mississippi twice more, then move on to Birmingham for a three-game set before returning home Friday night for the opener of the season’s final series against the Tennessee Smokies.
With the Durham Bulls’ position in the Governors’ Cup Playoffs clinched and the Carolina Mudcats already eliminated from the Southern League playoff race, both of the Triangle’s pro baseball teams lost one-run games to Atlanta Braves organization teams on the road Friday night.
Durham now moves on to Charlotte to begin a five-game, two-city series. The Bulls’ next home game is Monday night, while the Mudcats’ next home game is Sept. 3 against the Tennessee Smokies.
The USA Today preseason Coaches’ Poll was released this month, with Alabama predicted to repeat as BCS Champions. In the NBA, Las Vegas odd-makers have installed the Miami Heat as the heavy favorite. These two teams, on the surface, are very different: the Heat a composition of high-priced free agents come together to bring fun, flair and excitement to the NBA, and the Crimson Tide, a much more joyless and disciplined bunch captained by a taskmaster coach who would rather scowl than smile, glare than wink.
What unites them, though, are a series of news stories over the past month that revealed and complicated how we think about athletes in America and how to judge the complex relationship between players and the entities for which they play.
Two metaphors were used, each outrageous in its own way, that demonstrate how those who control teams and athletes still see them in highly problematic ways. Alabama head coach Nick Saban, bemoaning the role of agents in players’ lives, referred to them as no better than, “pimps,” while Jesse Jackson in response to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s impolitic letter brought up the spectre of slavery.
Let’s consider the Saban example first: In order to fully appreciate this metaphor, we should be clear about what it is that a pimp does and is. A pimp is such an odious figure because he profits off of using the bodies of those he controls for the enjoyment of others. The abused give most of the money back to the pimp, and in the end will almost invariably end up washed up, strung out and used up, but this of no concern because there is a steady pipeline of new people to replace the old. Does this sound familiar? Indeed, from this perspective, Saban is right to point out the presence of pimpery in college football, but he should have pointed the finger at himself, not the agents.
Comparing and equating a well-known and highly successful coach to a pimp is an explosive charge to level, and the natural response is to point out just how shady these agents are, skulking about campuses trying to lure players to sign with them. Again, it bears mentioning just what it is that these purportedly odious agents do. The agents who find themselves in violation of NCAA rules usually get into trouble for giving players money in exchange for some additional consideration when they turn pro. To find this morally objectionable is to have thoroughly bought into the foolishness offered by the NCAA.
Put another way, in what other area of life is it wrong to give someone money as part of a bid to get them to sign with you? For example, law students at elite schools often take summer jobs paying them up to $2,000 a week, mostly to do a few easy assignments, play golf and go on firm trips, all with the purpose of trying to get that student to sign with the firm upon graduation, at which point they generally get a hefty signing bonus. Yale Law School, for example, does not decry the role of legal recruiters in spoiling their students, but the NCAA would want you to believe that a player agent who gives a college player money in order to convince them to sign a representation contract with them is somehow an odious and reprehensible person.
This naturally raises the question: What is the purpose of the NCAA rule prohibiting agents from contacting players or giving them money? These rules exist as a system of control designed to maintain the power of the institution over the players. Both basketball and football are littered with successful college coaches who failed at the professional level. These failures usually have much less to do with Xs and Os, and more to do with the fact that a professional athlete generating and earning millions of dollars will not tolerate a control freak yelling into his ear—nor should they.
If you look beyond even this narrow argument to the broader structure of the NCAA, you see myriad rules— concerning things like transferring to other schools and prohibitions against alumni giving players money— that are designed to put the player in a clearly subordinate position to the coach and the university.
This is not to revisit the debate about whether college athletes should be paid by universities. The money that players receive from agents does not come from schools, but rather circumvents the school, which is of course precisely the danger that the schools fear. A player with an independent source of income is not as easily controlled and is naturally less pliant to the demands of the NCAA, the school and his coaches. The natural retort is to point out that students are compensated well enough with a free education and room and board. Setting aside the fact that many of these athletes are in fact on partial scholarships and often have no spending money (because they are prohibited from working) there are two major points here.
First, there is the question of what is “enough.” Nick Saban is set to make $16 million over the next your years. At the University of Alabama, the cost of tuition, room and board is roughly $19,000, or $76,000 over the course of four years. To those of you without a calculator handy, Nick Saban’s compensation is 210 times larger than that of a scholarship player. I understand that coaching is a difficult job that requires very rare and specific skills (after all, Ice-T reminds us that “pimpin’ ain’t easy”)—but to suggest that Saban’s contribution to the success of the Alabama football team is 210 times greater than, say, Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mark Ingram is to strain credulity.
Second, compensation in the form of goods and services is not really a defense. The payment-in-kind argument that says because the athlete is fed, housed and taken care of he needs nothing more ignores the fact that he cannot negotiate his terms and smacks of a certain uncomfortable kind of servitude, which brings us to the related case of Lebron James…
Freddie Freeman went 5-for-5 with a homer and four RBI, leading the Gwinnett Braves to an 11-4 rout of the visiting Durham Bulls in the opener of their two-game series.
Leslie Anderson led the Bulls with three hits including a double with an RBI. Fernando Perez doubled and singled with an RBI while Dioner Navarro added a pair of hits for two RBI.
The Bulls will play at Gwinnett again on Friday night before moving on to Charlotte for the opener of a five-game, two-city series.