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 Reports


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 strategy?


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 8-foot fence?


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 seems normal.


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.


Scouting Reports…


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 right fielder?”


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.




Previous Entries

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)