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.



May 19, 2004

The 'Badlands' of Miami


There’s a great Springsteen song called Badlands. It is on his third album, which was delayed two or three years after Born To Run was released. He was embroiled in a court battle with his manager over the wording of their contract, which in essence gave the manager full control over the rights to Bruce’s songs. It was years later when the young, naïve songwriter realized what was in the legalese of the contract he had signed.


The lyrics speak of someone working so hard to live his dreams while “caught in a crossfire that I don’t understand.” I am sure having your life’s work controlled by someone else is enough to make you want to “spit in the face of these badlands.”


There is a lot in this song that addresses how we live each day, and what gives us the strength to some way rise above the things in our lives that keep banging against our heads. Lately, I have looked at this from more of a religious perspective. There is a lot of Catholic school influence in Springsteen’s writing, and recently I have reconnected with my own faith.


But, listening to Badlands while driving Luke to school this morning, I found myself listening with a different ear.


Tonight, we play the University of Miami down in Coral Gables. Talk about Badlands!


Florida Atlantic has played Miami since 1982. In that time, the Hurricanes have traveled to Boca Raton only three times. So three times in 24 years, they had to get on a bus and make the arduous trek north on I-95 to play a game in the hotbed of their fan base. That makes three games out of the 43 games played between the two schools.


People ask me every year why Miami doesn’t play us here. The only answer I can give is that they choose not to do so. We use the same umpire’s association, and it’s an easy 50-minute commute. It’s not like we are St. Mary’s of the Poor, either. Florida Atlantic has been a Top 30 program for the last five years. I look at other people’s schedules and don’t find this sort of disparity.


So, after 17 years of this imbalance, I am really tired of playing down there. We have met three times in the NCAA Regional in Coral Gables, a fact of life that is tough to counter, but the regular season needs to be different.


But as the song says:

“Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king.

And a king ain’t satisfied, till he rules everything.”

We are not the rich man in that metaphor.

“I wanna go out tonight, I wanna find out what I got.”


This is an important game for us. The season hasn’t continued the way it started. We are like an engine that just doesn’t run smoothly all the time. Games we should have won have often eluded us, and I don’t think there is a person in the program who is happy with our play. That is the problem with raised expectations. But that’s also the price all good programs face.


As the regular season draws to a close this weekend, we face Mercer in a three-game conference series. Those games will determine where we finish, and where we will be seeded in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. Our hope is that we will be successful this week and be positioned for an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Miami has the No. 1 RPI in the country and is currently ranked as high as fourth. A win tonight goes a long way toward our goal.


“Badlands,you gotta live it every day

Let the broken hearts stand

As the price you’ve gotta pay

We’ll keep pushin’ till it’s understood

And these badlands start treating us good.”


We just have to do it in the Badlands of Miami.




Previous Entries

A Bad Part of a Good Job (5/14/04)

Sweep Home Alabama (5/12/04)

Winless at Winthrop, but Victorious in Friendship (5/3/04)

To Bunt or Not to Bunt - That is the Question (4/27/04)

The Promised Land (4/21/04)

A Little Rusty (4/17/04)

Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door (4/15/04)

OB Gets CG for FAU vs. UCF (4/13/04)

The Present and the Past (4/8/04)

Held Up Without a Gun (4/5/04)

Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword (3/27/04)

Bye Bye Buckeyes...Hello Dolphins (3/26/04)

A Festive Week Ends in a Wreck (3/22/04)

Spring Break No Day at the Beach (3/16/04)

Baseball is Boring? What are They Smoking? (3/9/04)

Hanging with LaRussa was in the Cards (3/6/04)

Winds of Change (3/1/04)

Washington's Birthday (2/23/04)

Dugout Talks and Scouting Reports (2/21/04)

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)