College Baseball: The 16-Hour Day

College Baseball: The 16-Hour Day

A day in the life of a college baseball player.

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Give careful thought to the paths of your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Proverbs 4:25-26

5:30 a.m., 35 degrees.

As the rest of the campus is entering into their final 2 hours of sleep, the Oral Roberts pitching staff readies itself for their second morning lift of the week. Today is rear-foot-elevated front squat day, great way to start off a Thursday. A large "425" is painted on the front wall of the clubhouse acting as a constant reminder why the staff's awake before the sun. JL Johnson Stadium is 425 miles from Omaha, Nebraska, where the best teams in the nation will face off in the College World Series. Every lift, every pitch, every swing has to be accounted for if they want to make it all 425 miles.

5:52 a.m.

A few tap the 425 sign as the 16 pitchers jog over to the weight room. The lift is scheduled for 6 a.m., but if you’re a minute late to five minutes early you’ll be pushing plates for half the lift. As the team stretches out the six pitchers that are scheduled for bullpens that day break apart and head upstairs to do flexibility training; they’ll lift at 5 p.m. with the position players.

7:30 a.m.

As the rest of the campus is beginning to wake up, half the team gets breakfast in the empty cafeteria. While students are hitting snooze and dreading class, the pitchers are beginning to feel the toll from a heavy leg day that included squats, side lunges, box jumps, medicine ball slams and whole horde of other fun morning activities.

7:50 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

In order to be done in time for practice, all 12-18.5 credit hours must be crammed into a long 7-hour span. Leaving athletes with few-to-no gaps between classes. Being a student athlete doesn’t come with any privileges, the university makes sure that "student" comes first. Random class checks are performed in order to make certain that the athletes are in every class, every day, the entire semester. The only time they are allowed to miss is on game day and even then, all the work they miss is due next class.

2:15 p.m. to completion

Pitchers have to be stretched out and ready to go at 2:30. The practice schedule is posted up inside the clubhouse specific to each pitcher. Long toss, easy catch, bullpen, flat ground with a focus on put-away breaking balls, 1-1 counts, the list goes on. Each pitcher must know what is expected of him on that given day.

After warming up, the team breaks apart. The position players head down the left-field line to get stretched out, the pitchers down the right field line to go through their throwing program.

The two pitchers scheduled for the first bullpen get their arms loose. Their bullpen today will be a 45 pitch session that focusses on locating fastballs in various counts. 0-0, fastball on either half of the plate. 0-1, fastball on the outer third of the plate, 0-2, fastball a baseball's length off the plate. This bullpen is vital: if you can't locate your fastball, you can't get outs. The difference of hitting your spot and missing it by mere inches is the difference between getting a weak dribbler to second, or a giving up a base knock.

As the first bullpens begin, the rest of the staff jogs to the indoor for PFP (pitcher fielding practice). In a nine inning game all the pitchers combined may have a mere 3-4 balls hit to them. These outs can take or give an inning to the opposing team. A booted ball or throwing error can add anywhere from 5-12 extra pitches on the inning putting the pitcher way over his goal of 15 pitches or less per inning. For a starter, that can be the difference between going six innings, or getting pulled after four. The longer you’re on the mound each inning, the quicker your arm fatigues. Every out matters. Fielding bunts for a half hour can become tedious but is necessary in order to ensure the team gets those four outs. Without complaint the 12 pitchers split into two lines, and begin the drill. The two pitchers left over begin getting loose for their bullpen.

After PFP the staff jogs back out to the field and rejoin the position players. Some pitchers work on their pick-offs, some start their daily conditioning (today is 8 circuits of pole to pole jog the gap, sprint to center, jog the gap, sprint to the pole), and the leftovers head to the outfield to shag batting practice. Every 15 minutes or so, the pitchers switch it up.

As the sun starts to set, the stadium lights come on. The field is brightly lit for the last bit of practice. The team jogs in, coaches share their closing comments, and then the players split to do their post practice duties. Some fix the mound, some sweep the dugouts; everyone has a job.

Once the work is done, the position players head to the weight room along with the 6 pitchers that threw bullpens. The remaining 12 pitchers head back to the clubhouse. Despite being done with their lift, classes, and practice, their day isn’t over just yet.

Approximately 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Pitchers head out for dinner. The pitchers that live on campus head to the cafeteria, the ones that live off head out to get a quick dinner.

7 p.m.-10 p.m.

Half hour break for dinner is over and now it’s time to get back to work. On the second floor of the GC, several athletes from all sports gather in the Eli Center (academic center for athletes) for study hall.

All first-semester athletes, with few exceptions, are required 8 hours of study hall a week. If you have a minimum 3.0 GPA by the end of the semester you no longer have study hall. If you don’t, back to study hall.

A team’s GPA is seen as a direct representation of both the team and the school. The baseball team's GPA in the 2014-2015 season was one of the highest in the nation. The GPA of the entire ORU athletics during the 2014-2015 year was the schools’ highest in its entire 50 years of being open.

Whether in study hall, or in the dorm room, these late hours are spent studying. During the season these nights will be even tougher. Baseball averages 4 games a week, 2 of those landing on weekdays. Often times when there's an away weekend series the team has to travel on Thursday. This leaves the athletes having to make up 3 days worth of school work, learning most of the material either on their own, or with the help of a tudor. It's not easy.

Books are cracked, computer's are open, after a long day and exhausting practice, the last hours are spent studying.

10 p.m., the Eli center closes and now finally, the day is done.

10 p.m. till bed

The first real free time begins. Some go back to their houses and dorm rooms, others head up to the school’s gym to work mechanics. Some back to the indoor to get some extra reps. The indoor facility now closes at 12:00 am each night because neighbors living across from the complex complained that they could hear the crack of bats hitting balls sometimes as late/early as 2:00 and 3:00 am. Late night hacks, produce late game hits.

6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

16 straight hours of work with few very breaks and not paid a dime for it.

Why work so hard?

425

425 miles from Omaha.

Each hour, each rep, each pitch, is inching closer to one goal: getting to Omaha.

Up before the sun. Still working when the sun goes down. Balancing studies and performance. Working harder than anyone and getting little to no recognition for it. Playing through sickness, playing through soreness, learning from failures. This is what it is to be a college baseball player. 16 straight hours of grinding work and still having motivation to put in extra work. It's exhausting. Yet if you ask any player on the team if it's worth it they'll answer, "every single second."

Cover Image Credit: Oral Roberts University

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A Patriots Fan's Reaction To The Wickersham Report

"We stand united" and no amount of biased reporting can change that.

January 5th, 2018, Seth Wickersham, an ESPN Senior Writer, published, what was supposed to be, an expository report detailing the impending downfall of the Brady, Belichick, and Kraft Era due to their clashing personalities and egotistical power struggles.

Before I delve further into my reactions on this article, I'd like to personally thank Mr. Wickersham for doing what Roger Goodell accomplished last season and the general media succeeded in 2014: poking the bear. The Patriots play better when the world is against them. Part of what being a New England fan is all about is the satisfaction of winning when the general public wants you to fail.

For the most part, you either love the Pats, or you hate them, and that includes their coach and Hall-of-Fame quarterback. However, it doesn't take a genius to catch the pattern. Piss the Patriots off, accuse them of cheating, tell Tom he's too old or lacking in talent, and you'll be sorry.


Alright, now the article itself. Where do I begin? Now I'm not a professional journalist by any means, but I'm pretty sure if you're going to release a story like this, you should, I don't know, cite some credible sources. Let me just hit you with some of my favorite highlights, and remember this is a word for word interview straight from his report:

"But according to interviews with more than a dozen New England staffers, executives, players and league sources with knowledge of the team's inner workings, the three most powerful people in the franchise -- Belichick, Brady, and owner Robert Kraft -- have had serious disagreements."

"Those interviewed describe a palpable sense in the building that this might be the last year together for this group."

"The meeting ended in a "little blowup," according to a source."

"Those interviewed describe a lingering sadness around the team as if coaches and staff know that the end might be near."

And then finally, the author decides to contradict himself and highlight one of the glaring flaws in his own work, "Belichick being Belichick, those around him know nothing of his plans."

Who? Who are these 'sources', who are 'those interviewed', who are 'these staffers and players'? And how are all of them able to express 'lingering sadness' and 'fear of the end' so clearly? I would say about 90% of this article comes from speculation and using ambiguous and untraceable means of evidence to support claims.


The claims themselves are neither ground-breaking nor objective enough to warrant much attention. To suggest that three powerful leaders in the same field 'disagree' or experience a divergence in their ideas or beliefs is not exactly what I would call 'bold', and certainly not exposé-worthy.

Wickersham even dedicates a section of his piece to the apparently 'volatile' nature between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as the coach offers critique to his star player (Hmmm: a coach giving negative feedback to an athlete...sounds like something that's never happened before).

He contradicts himself yet again by saying that Brady is, "showing the slippage of a 40-year-old quarterback," but admits that "he is contending for MVP and is as deadly as ever with the game on the line," in the very same sentence.

Wickersham attacks Brady's TB12 Method, as if we didn't already know it was unconventional, but does so without much conviction, for example, saying that, "injuries to his shoulder and Achilles have done more than undermine claims that the TB12 Method can help you play football virtually pain-free." Last time I checked, Brady has played every single game this season, and after winning their 9th straight AFC East divisional title seems like the team isn't in too much trouble. Oh and he also questioned, "whether Brady had earned long-term security from the Patriots, or if he would finish his career somewhere else," so...

Wickersham also tried to convert Brady's energy at a practice after the Garoppolo trade in late October, early November into him seeming, "especially excited, hollering and cajoling," because he, "was once again the team's present and future. His new backup, Brian Hoyer, was a longtime friend and not a threat."

Brady denied these allegations later in a radio interview saying it was, "disappointing to hear that someone would express that, or a writer would express that because it's so far from what my beliefs are." For someone who claims to be so well-versed in the mind and ways of Tom Brady, he seems to have missed the mark pretty badly on this one.

Grasping at straws, the journalist uses something as vague as the year '2014' to really signify the beginning of the end as within those twelve months Brady and his business partner, Alex Guerrero, "decided to market their business as revolutionary...Brady began to speak unwaveringly about playing into his mid-40s;...and Belichick drafted Jimmy Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois -- the first sign that Belichick was invested in a future that did not include the quarterback who had changed his life and legacy,". Sharknado 2 also came out in 2014, so maybe that was also a sign?



I will admit that Wickersham has some good intentions in noting the adversarial nature between the Patriots and Alex Guerrero's involvement in the team therapy and facilities; however, that's not what this article is supposed to be about. He's arguing that Kraft, Belichick, and Brady's poor relationships with each other will eventually cause a deep enough divide to prevent the team from being successful. At the end of the day, what could've been an interesting investigation on players' private business endeavors and how they impact a team's chemistry, turned into a story filled with mystery sources, far-fetched claims, and just a whole lot of hate against the Patriots.

This isn't new for Patriots Nation. We've been here before. The general media is trying to please the public, and the public hates a team that always wins. They want to find something, anything, to discredit the team's success, and tear apart their leadership. They can try to pull us apart, but that is neither part of the Patriot Way nor the TB12 Method.

The big three, Kraft, Belichick, and Brady released a statement shortly after the publication of Wickersham's article confirming what all Pats fans already knew to be true: "For the past 18 years, the three of us have enjoyed a very good and productive working relationship. In recent days, there have been multiple media reports that have speculated theories that are unsubstantiated, highly exaggerated or flat-out inaccurate. The three of us share a common goal. We look forward to the enormous challenge of competing in the postseason and the opportunity to work together in the future, just as we have for the past 18 years. It is unfortunate that there is even a need for us to respond to these fallacies. As our actions have shown, we stand united." (Reiss).

So thank you, Seth Wickersham, for giving us even more fuel to our fire- on our quest for our sixth ring and our second Super Bowl victory in a row.


Cover Image Credit: Patriots Instagram

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Swimming Was My First Love

Because it's so much more than just a sport.

Ever since I can remember I have spent most of my time at a pool. Whether it was during the summer months when my brother and I would ride our bikes over to the local pool and meet up with our friends and spend all day in the water. Or when I actually started swimming on a team because someone suggested to my mom that I apparently had some talent for it. Even when my days of swimming competitively myself were over I stuck around and helped coach a High School girls swim team.

There is just something about it when I enter the pool and I get that first whiff of chlorine that makes me strangely feel at home. I could never quite get used to cold water especially when it was way too early in the morning to be awake anyway, but that first dive into the water when all the noise around you magically disappears is something that I have come to love.

Swim has been an important part of my life for more than twelve years now and I cannot imagine it being any different in the future. Some of my fondest memories as a teenager include swim in one way or another.

Not only did I learn how to do the perfect flip turn, or how to improve butterfly so I could drop another second on my PR. Swim has taught me so much more than that. I was lucky enough to have two incredible coaches that helped me navigate not only through meets but also how to deal with life in general.

It was them that taught me that with enough willpower, determination and hard work you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Putting in those extra yards in the pool, coming to practice early or doing home workouts really did show me what a difference I could make in achieving my own goals.

After every practice, my second coach would tell each individual swimmer to make smart decisions. It might be because he repeated that sentence over and over again that it stuck with me to this day. But I think it not only applies to swim but to pretty much any life situation that you might find yourself in. Back then it brought us closer together as a team because we were all giving our best and wanted to contribute positively to the group dynamic.

When I started coaching I realized what a difference this positive reinforcement could do for teenage girls that were trying to figure out their place in the world. Building up their self-confidence and seeing them succeed not just at meets when they swam a new best time but also when they became incredible individuals outside the pool, was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Swim has been there through it all with me and even today when I want to clear my head, I find myself putting on that cap and goggles. There's nothing in the world that a good swim can't fix.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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