February 5, 2014
Burdened by Burdi
By Sean Ryan
Finch gained fame for throwing a 168-mph fastball.
Younger readers searching Google or Bing after that first line
are learning from Wikipedia about the April Fool’s Day hoax
Sports Illustrated pulled in 1985.
Burdi (above) was born in Hinsdale, Ill., eight years after
Finch’s day in the sun, just four miles from Oak Brook, Ill.,
where per The Chicago Tribune was home to the short-lived
Sidd Finch’s Bar & Grill. The guy who played Finch in the photos
to accompany George Plimpton’s classic hoax, Joe Berton, was a
middle school teacher in Oak Park, about 15 miles from where
Burdi was born.
Louisville’s all-world closer, is no hoax.
Although he says he only has topped out at 102 mph, Burdi
boasts firepower seemed destined for a major league stadium
soon. Burdi, a junior right-hander who went 22-2 with 212
strikeouts in three varsity seasons at Downers Grove South High
School, helped anchor a talented and deep Cardinals bullpen a
year ago, going 3-3 with a 0.76 ERA, 16 saves and 62 strikeouts
and 13 walks in 35.2 innings. Opponents hit .192 off Burdi in a
year when Louisville marched to the College World Series.
took time out to take a look back and look ahead for the
First Inning - What do you remember most about your trip to
Omaha is a memory that will last for me for a
lifetime. It’s something I have always dreamed about. To be able
to say that I played at the College World Series is something
that will live on forever, but most importantly, I got to share
it with my brothers and it’s surreal to think we achieved such a
Second Inning - When did you know last
year that you had a team capable of reaching
I honestly knew since spring training we would
make it to Omaha. Nothing less than Omaha was acceptable for
that 2013 team, and we made that pretty clear. Once we beat
Miami in the Regional, we had so much momentum going into Supers
that it was going to be very hard to beat us.
Inning - The Cardinals lost a lot on the mound from last year’s
team - who's ready to step up?
We lost a lot, but we have plenty of guys ready to step up.
On the mound, Kyle Funkhouser, Anthony Kidston, Jared Ruxer and
Joe Filomeno will all be ready to pitch. As for guys in the
field, Mike White and Zach Lucas will be huge impact guys for
Fourth Inning - Starting with the
USA National Team, what did your summer do for
Team USA is a huge honor, and that team had been
a goal of mine for such a long time. I don’t know how to put it
into words. I just want to say thank you to USA Baseball for the
Fifth Inning - One hundred mph... What exactly does that feel
like? Can you throw even harder?
I’ve been up to 102 mph before, and I’m hoping the extra
work I put in this off season will lead to a tick or two higher.
Sixth Inning - Have you always been one of those pitchers who
threw the hardest?
I have been blessed with a very strong arm and for the most
part, yes. Ever since I was a little kid, I have been able to
throw harder than most of the other kids, even the older ones.
Seventh Inning - What do you think contributes the most to
I think really, it’s about taking care of my body. Eating
right, working out and shoulder workouts have all been key
ingredients to my velocity being as high as it is. A huge
difference maker for me has been using Jaegar bands. Those are
the best things out there for any pitcher.
Eighth Inning - Your conference is made up of new opponents.
What will that be like for you? What will you miss about the Big
The Big East is a first-class act, and they have always been
good to the University of Louisville, but times are changing,
and we are more than excited to be part of the American. As for
facing new opponents, I can’t wait. Fewer people in this
conference have seen my stuff so I think that could give me a
little bit of an advantage.
Ninth Inning - What do the Cardinals need to do to get back
to a Regional, Super Regional or Omaha?
We just need to play Louisville baseball. There’s nothing
else we have to do other than play our kind of baseball. If we
do that, I think we could achieve our ultimate goal of
dog-piling in Omaha.
(photos courtesy of UL Media