Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cashing In

It has been a busier June than normal, thanks to Coastal Carolina's fantastic run on the diamond. Kudos to the University for making an aggressive play to keep Gary Gilmore in Conway. While Gilly is getting some much deserved coin in his bank account, some of his players are also cashing in.

Signing Bonuses

Jordan Lyles #38 pick of Houston Astros in supplemental first round: $930,000
Pete Andrelzyck, 5th round pick of the Florida Marlins: $185,000
Dock Doyle, 5th round pick of the NY Mets: $167,000
David Sappelt, 9th round pick of the Cincinnati Reds: $75,000

You can see why Jordan said no thanks to the Gamecocks and quickly signed on the dotted line with the Astros organization. These four players would be wise to stock away this windfall of cash. Their salary in the minors starts at $850 a month and $20 meal money on the road. Eventually, the big bucks of the big leagues is on the horizon, but it's a long and tough journey to make it in the show.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Mad Dash

First and foremost, a tip of the cap to Gary Gilmore for finally slaying the dragon. For so many years, reaching the NCAA Regional was not good enough for the CCU baseball program. This past weekend at Charles Watson Stadium was a declaration that the Chanticleers are a legitimate college baseball power.
My first year here was the heartbreaking Athens Regional where the Chants were one strike away from a Super Regional before current Cincinnati Red Jeff Keppinger hit a home run to put Georgia into the Super Regionals. Finally, after seven more trips to the Regionals, the Chants slugged their way into college baseball's sweet 16.
This is the second straight year I've covered the regionals and you learn in a hurry that it's a marathon weekend. There is such a premium on staying in the winner's bracket and both Alabama and Coastal Carolina knew it on Saturday night. The game started at 7:30 due to a 30 minute lightning delay. The Crimson Tide took a 10-6 lead on a bases loaded triple and it looked like "Here we go again". Hags came over to the ballpark and picked up the tape of highlights to that point as we both thought it was shaping up to be a Crimson Tide win. But by the time Hags reached the driveway across the street, CCU exploded for 7 runs in the 8th inning highlighted by a Tommy Baldridge 3 run HR to give the Chants a 13-10 lead. Hags got back in the car and came to pick up the outburst. At this point it was about 10:40 pm and we were racing against the clock. Would the game end on time? Would we be able to get post-game reaction? This was the most significant moment in CCU baseball history and we wanted to have it for the 11pm news.
At 11:06 pm, David Sappelt squeezed the leather on the third out and gave CCU the breakthrough win. Normally, we'd have a cooling off period and go to a press conference at Brooks Stadium, but because the game was so late, the NCAA graciously allowed us to do interviews on the field. The clearance to go on the field came at 11:09 pm as the handshakes were completed. Hags is hitting the air in about 14 minutes. Can I get the interviews, run across campus to my car, get back to the station, edit the interviews and send it on our computer server? Vegas probably had it as a 15-1 shot. I got Gilly and Tommy Baldridge and the CCU support staff came to the rescue. I asked if they could golf cart me to my car -- Kelly Moore and I sped towards the athletic offices and realized that the gate was locked up. We sprinted through the offices and into the parking lot on the other side of the fence. It's 11:16 - seven minutes to go. I turn the key and make a sharp left turn and meander around campus towards the traffic light at 501. I call Hags and he realizes that we have a shot at it. A little game traffic, but I'm sprinting into the edit bay at about 11:20 pm. I have to download about 90 seconds of tape into our computer and begin editing. Hags is going to do highlights first so we have a little time. As he goes out on the set, I'm chopping up the sound and sending it to our control room. With about 75 seconds to spare, it's in our system. Hags wraps up the highlights and tosses on blind faith to the post-game reaction hoping it's there. It was. It's stories like this that make the business fun. If I was a minute later, it would have been a very different feeling. The baseball gods were looking out for us.
When I was running to the parking lot, there were some great CCU baseball fans who asked me as I was sprinting that I couldn't possibly get this on for the 11pm news. The next day, they heard that I did make it on the air and we laughed about it on Sunday before the East Carolina game. Surely, with a 7pm first pitch we wouldn't be cutting it close in the title game right? 35 runs, 37 hits, 7 errors, 8 pitching changes and 3 hours and 54 minutes later I was wrong. This time it was 10:54, but there was a championship celebration to deal with. As I was making the same mad dash to the parking lot at 11:06, the same people who saw me the night before looked at their watches and said "You've got plenty of time! If you made it last night, tonight will be easy!" I should mention that my on-camera intro to the celebration was shot by none other than Coach David Bennett who camped out on the third base fence for most of the weekend.
We were lucky enough to go 2 for 2 when it came to getting a big sports story on the air. Hags and I have spent the better part of 10 years shooting games at Watson Stadium in front of intimate gatherings, so we were satisfied that we were able to bring the excitement of the biggest weekend in CCU baseball history back to the viewers at home.
Now it's off to the Super Regional. Hopefully, with some help from our TV friends in NC, we won't be making any sprints through the parking lot in Cary, NC!