February 5, 2014


Hitters Burdened by Burdi

By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

sean@collegebaseballinsider.com  @collbaseball


Sidd 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.


Nick 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.


Burdi, 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.


Burdi took time out to take a look back and look ahead for the Cardinals.


First Inning - What do you remember most about your trip to Omaha?
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 goal.

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.

Third 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 us.

Fourth Inning - Starting with the
USA National Team, what did your summer do for you?
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 opportunity.

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 your velocity?
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 East?
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 Relations Office)