Kevin Cooney is
in his 17th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic University
and 21st overall. Each week, he’ll share some of the highs and lows
of running a college baseball program - one that continues to grow as a national
power. Cooney, who starred as a pitcher before taking Montclair State to a
Division III national title, has guided the Blue Wave to a 226-89 record and four NCAA Regionals the past five years. His 1999 squad won 34 straight games, tying
the NCAA mark set by Texas in 1977.
Feb. 21, 2004
Dugout Talks and Scouting
My neighbor Gary Becher
brought his family to the game last Saturday. It was Gary’s first trip to a game
even though he’s lived across the street for more than 20 years. I was concerned
that he wouldn’t like sitting down the left-field berm with my wife and kids
because he has Founders’ Seats behind the Marlins’ dugout.
I saw him Sunday night, and
he was just raving about the experience. He loved sitting on the hill in a lawn
chair as his kids and mine ran all over the place. He was impressed with the
quality of play from college kids. I think we found a new fan.
Anyway, he asked me what I
was saying to them after the game in the dugout. It looked serious, and Gary
figured it was some important coach talk.
Actually I was just
explaining everyone’s role in putting out the big field tarp. Half our kids had
never done it before.
He should have been in the
dugout before the game.
As we waited for Southern
Illinois to finish BP, a bunch of us were sitting around talking.
Serious baseball pre-game
Not exactly. We started off
discussing flag etiquette. What is the proper way to raise the flag, and then
fly it at half staff? Exactly what constitutes half when the pole is behind an
From that, we somehow
segued into music, specifically rap and hip hop. I was asked why I quoted Eminem
last season, but now rap is banned.
This led to a discussion on
how so many songs have lyrics that degrade women, and are so blatantly sexual in
their approach to women as sex objects. One kid argued that girls like it, too.
My point was that they have little choice, and the real problem is that so many
young people are becoming desensitized to vulgarity and exploitation, that it
I reminded them that they
all have mothers, some have sisters, most will have wives, and possibly
daughters. Their story might then be different.
We also discussed The
Passion of The Christ and the anti-Semitic fallout in the past from the
Medieval Passion Plays in Europe, and the fears of a revival because of Mel
Gibson’s new movie.
As the time neared for
infield practice, our thoughts turned back to baseball, but for a while there,
it was a pretty freewheeling discussion.
These seem to be a big deal
to everyone, but think about this: Why would you want to help someone else beat
an opponent you just defeated? That makes your opponent’s winning percentage
worse, which in turn hurts your RPI. The RPI is a measuring tool used by the
NCAA to select at-large teams to the NCAA tournament. If you were beaten,
wouldn’t you want your opponent to go on and have the best season possible?
I don’t think the small
edge you may get is really worth damaging the RPI. Besides, do you know the type
of pitcher the team sharing information on an opponent’s hitters was throwing
that day? Was that guy the same as the pitcher you will send against them? We
once had a scouting report on an SEC team we were playing. Its best hitter was a
projected first-round pick and extremely fast. Our scouting report described him
as an opposite-field, slap hitter. So we played him way over toward left field.
His first at-bat was a booming triple PULLED down the right-field line! As I ran
out to coach third, one of OUR fans yelled out “Hey Cooney. Why don’t we have a
Reports can be useful, but
I made the decision three years ago not to exchange information with teams.
Right or wrong, we stick to that. Oh, we’ll talk to a friend who may be familiar
with an opponent, just to get a feel for what type of club they may be, but our
fax machine stays quiet throughout the season.
Postseason, now that’s another story.
Not a Happy Valentine's Day (2/16/04)
Opening Weekend (2/9/04)
Almost FAMUs (2/2/04)
FAU Living in Land of Hope and Dreams (1/28/04)
(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)