Animals Weekend Wrap-up: Maryland

This weekend witnessed the last time Maryland played in Dick Howser as an ACC member.

(Summaries by Bryan E)

Game 1: Turtles 3, FSU 15

Reluctant reporter with your Maryland series game one wrap up. Small in number. Large in decibels. It was cold before game time and it didn’t get any warmer. You northerly expatriates can snicker amongst yourselves, but 45 is insufferable to most of us as exhibited by the attendance.

The official numbers haven’t been released as of the time I’m writing this but my estimate is about 1500 at best. Those who missed out missed out. The turtles were quick out of the gate, scoring one in the first and playing solid defense while keeping a quick pace on the mound. Turtles drew first blood in the top of the first and it was another battle of attrition until their starter, who did more than his share, was finally sat down.

The good guys in garnet blew up for 7 in the 7th and 6 in the 8th to slam the door in a walk away win 15-3.

I think the best of the best is being saved for Sunday. Can’t wait to hear Terry’s version of Happy Trails. Can’t wait to hear GTFO, if that happens. Can’t wait to never see the turtles again.

Today had some good ones, though. A lot of “bullpen”clap clap “bullpen” clap clap. With the small crowd it was easy to get in any jabs you wanted to. Oyster John stepped his game up in a hoarse making fashion. Chilidog did his Noles cheers in the 3rd. He’s good like that.

I kept yelling “Crabcakes” and now I guess I owe Harry an hors d’oeuvre.
For such a poorly attended game it was as much fun as any so far this year.
Tomorrow should be interesting as we have already seen the best of their starting pitching and their relief got run like the hare. We’ll be under the oaks tomorrow for what is predicted to be a sunny gorgeous day. Grillmaster Matt will be there and I’ll be cooking up eggs around 10:30. Bring the family. Bring your voice. Bring meat.
Go Noles

It was so cold that Bryan remembered a Maryland run in the first that never happened. Maryland didn’t score until the 5th, off a 2 run shot. This was a blow-out, as has tended to be the case with FSU vs Maryland over the years, but it wasn’t the same as those that came before it. Past Maryland teams have been complete dogs, but this is a pretty decent squad that stands a good shot at post-season play. Their ace, Jake Stinnett, is a pretty good pitcher and kept his team in it through almost 7 innings. When he finally got in trouble, he was pulled and the Noles promptly jumped all over his replacement.

As Bryan mentioned, this was a poorly attended game. The combination of weather, FSU spring break and Maryland’s history did the crowd no favors. But the folks that showed up showed why FSU has the best fans in the nation. The game was a lot of fun in the section. At one point, Stinnett struck Jameis Winston out. After which I yelled, ‘You just struck out a Heisman Trophy winner. Your career has officially peaked.’ That got some chuckles from the crowd.

For the O Canada break, I went with ‘Welcome Louisville’. Louisville will be replacing Maryland in the ACC as they head off to the B1G. And upgrade in almost every conceivable way.

Game 2: Turtles 5, FSU 1

Your reluctant reporter with your Maryland series game 2 wrap up. I’ve never seen a home side of the 5th end before we could finish Oh Canada and the fight song, but that was pretty much the theme of the day. 5-1 for the turdels in an uncontested rout. We had our opportunities but left the bases loaded twice today. No quarter was given nor taken.

It started in the top of the 1st with 2 errors on the first contact of the game with Yertle laying down a bunt that Leibrandt dirted in the general vicinity of Nogowski. Nogo had no play at first, but should’ve blocked the ball off better. The insult was added to injury as the ball rolled out to the fence along the base line and was bumbled by Knief. Yep…. two errors on the first play of the game. A microcosm of aforementioned theme.

Today was a train wreck all the way around, but, damn, it was a party train. We’ve never lost a tailgate. And today we dominated. Good breakfast, great lunch and lukewarm leftovers as we licked our wounds. Grillmaster Matt always brings his A-game and is the meat making glue that binds us all together.

Todd V. made his triumphant return with his lovely family and I think they had a great time. If you don’t already know him, he’s a longtime animal who now lives in Nicaragua and is doing great things. He and his league are in need of all forms of baseball equipment. Gloves, balls, bats, helmets, catcher gear… Ya know…. baseball stuff. Bring it to the Oaks or let someone know where and when they can pick it up and I’ll give you a boiled egg for your trouble.

Tomorrow’s a new day. An already early 11 AM start is made worse by the time change tonight.
Get your beauty sleep children. Don’t forget to hydrate.

O Canada break was ‘Pay your exit fee’. Hey, $50 million doesn’t grow on trees. Grab it while ya can. Bryan is a fairly new Animal, so he hasn’t seen short 5th innings. I have seen one where we didn’t get through O Canada. I don’t like those kinds of 5th innings. Fortunately, they are rare. Unfortunately, one happened on Saturday against Maryland.

As I mentioned for the first game, Maryland is an improved team. Their Friday and Saturday starters will keep them in series throughout the year. If you get into their bullpen, it can still be happy fun time, however. Their Sunday guy won’t scare anyone, however.

Game 3: Turtles 0, FSU 7

Bryan was apparently a victim of the time change and didn’t make it to this game, so I’ll try my best. Like the Friday game, this one was sparsely attended due to the time change and the game being moved up to 11am. But those who did make it out were a lively bunch. It was a pretty fun Sunday at Howser.

As this was the final game that Maryland would play in Tallahassee as an ACC member, we tried to give them a proper send-off. Mike Compton took the lead in this endeavor by delivering a gem of a performance. A complete game shutout on two hits, 10 K’s and no walks. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. The Twitters told me it was the first complete game shutout since Rhett James did it in 2004.

O Canada break was ‘Hit the road, Jack’. We had a good bit of fun in the section on Sunday. In the 5th, Maryland brought in a reliever named Zach Morris. The same name as a character from the old 80′s/90′s Saturday morning TV show ‘Saved By The Bell’.

Ya’ll know we couldn’t resist that. Some samples that I can remember:

“Are you still dating Kelly Kapowski?”

“Where’s Screech? I hear he’s making interesting movies these days.”

“Mr. Belding: Drunk or just crazy?”

“Do you know Lisa Turtle?”

“Bayside *clap clap* Bayside *clap clap*…

“We want Slater *clap clap clapclapclap*…

I’m sure I am forgetting some, but we kept ourselves entertained. We also sang two improvised farewell songs to Maryland.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.

You tried, you failed, now run along and hide

And to the tune of ‘We’re not gonna take it’ by Twisted Sister:

We’re not gonna miss you!

NO! We ain’t gonna miss you!

We’re not gonna miss you, not at all!

And as the game wound down to its last strike, instead of ‘K time!’ we chanted ‘Exit!’. Later, Maryland. As one wise man once said:

Animals Weekend Wrap-up: Miami

(Summaries by Bryan E)

Game 1: Bad Guys 3, FSU 1

Your reluctant reporter with the shiny silver lining to a dark evening…… We lost. 3-1.

My opinion is that we ran into a team that can take advantage of situations and lapses in fundamentals. I’ve been advised to not say things anti-Noles, but what stands out to me is the freedom of FSU bats to swing at the first pitch…. ERRR, maybe it’s the batters’ blind willingness to swing at the first pitch no matter what. (SC)UM isn’t a great team. We just stuck our jaws out while throwing blind haymakers. I hang this loss on plate discipline.

(Edit/addemdum} After a couple hours of being home and reflecting, this wasn’t a bad game. Both teams played solid ball, it just ended up that the team with less errors won. The torque, tow, and velocity of the game was enough to win over any margin walking baseball fan. I don’t think I saw anybody crying on the way out so I’m sure we’ll al live to fight another day.

It was also odd, as Marty M. pointed out, that there were only two umps on the field. I think the field ump was wrong on a couple calls. One for us and one for the Canes, but the guy behind the plate was god-awful.

No excuses, though. There really is no player to brag on or shame. I, personally, had a great time. The energy in Section B is working to a boil for the 2 PM showdown on Saturday with the chance to even it up. In a win or a loss, I can’t help but love all of you that are there and participate. You make it awesome for me and everyone else.

I don’t have much to complain about when it comes to FSU baseball – face it, we’re spoiled – but the 4pm start time for the Friday game of this series was was, to be blunt, dumb. I understand that it was an early season game, and that games are typically scheduled earlier for light/weather reasons, and I understand that this was a non-conference series. But come on, this was Miami, not UGA or some northern warm-up squad. This is considered by many FSU baseball fans to be THE rivalry of the season. The game needed to start at 6pm. I wasn’t able to get to the game, so maybe I’m just a little bitter.

Donald “The Godfather” took care of the O Canada break, busting out with ‘No More Winter’, in reference to the previous few days’ cold snap.

Game 2: Bad Guys 2, FSU 10

Your reluctant reporter, Game 2 (SC)UM series.

Uno. Dos. Tres. Cuatro. Cinco. Seis. Siete. Ocho. Nueve. Diez. Once (own say). Yep. 11 balls in a row in the bottom of the first for Miami’s pitcher. A total opposite approach at the plate from last night. And it paid off. After giving up 1 in the top of the first, we answered with 4 runs on a lot of walks and very solid hitting, all of the runs coming in with 2 outs. The tone was set for the day. It was a party before, during and after.

Brandon Leibrandt went 6.2 walking only one with 3 k’s to boot. We flipped 3 double plays today, two of them amazing… the last was a 3-4-1 double play in the 8th, I think.

Gage did his middle relief thing as expected.

Brandon Johnson got some meaningful time on the mound today and looked solid.
The youth on our team shows a lot of promise going forward as well.
The tailgate was another meatfest, both really and metaphorically. Some guy in a penguin suit did Noles cheers. It wasn’t pretty, but it got a rookie through her first set of cheers in a highly intense atmosphere.

Good guys 10. Bad Guys 2. A good day to be a Nole.

O Canada break was, ‘BioGenesis’, in reference to the steroid scandal involving certain Miami-affiliated individuals. Miami has a freshman player by the name of Brad Zunica who came in to pinch hit and then play 1B…this kid is a great big mountain of a man, listed at 6’6″ 254lbs. That got the steroid talk going.

Game 3: Bad Guys 6, FSU 13

Reluctant reporter, Game 3 (SC)UM series 2014.

Have you ever rented a mule? Did you beat said mule? If yes, then give a Cane a sympathy hug. The power of the stick pummeled the power of the carrot as every rally attempt by the uglies in orange was thwarted with a boss’ slap.

Don’t get me wrong…. it’s not that the Canes didn’t bite their bridles. Their lefty starter stayed in way past glue factory time and pulled like a blue ox the first time through our lineup. The wagon got shaky exactly the second time our boys faced off against him. The third inning was explosive. 6 runs to answer the paltry digit the Canes put up in the 2nd. Then the rout was on….. Or so we thought. All of the “fans” with the early exodus missed out on the bad guy rally that evened it up at 6 in the 6th only to be followed by the reminder that any one in orange is a short timer in the capital city. 7 runs in the bottom reminded the ugly orange that real America wins through cunning and skill.

Mike Compton went five full with 4 k’s and 2 walks. The relief held the ground with Strode, Gage, Holtmann and Jameis finishing up with no walks and Holtmann throwing 3 k’s to the the 3 he faced.

Poise, children, poise.

Final score 13-6 good guys. Another great weekend under the oaks. Thanks for making it great for all of us.

O Canada break was ‘Those weren’t antlers’. Zunica again made an appearance, this time as DH. We gave him a ‘deer antlers’ chant when he was batting. Not our funniest weekend, but screw it we won the series.

 

Animals Weekend Wrap-up: Georgia

Game 1: Georgia 3, FSU 8 (Summary by Bryan E)

Game one of the UGA series was about as slow moving as a game can get. Luke Weaver got the start, and though he didn’t bring his best, it was good enough to hold the lead as the Noles drew first blood with a run in the 1st. It was a very ho-hum night until the Noles blew up for 6 runs in the 4th off of timely hitting along with our continued knack for drawing walks. “Take me out of the ballgame” is my personal favorite and we got to belt it out in the 4th.

UGA drew this game out way too long. Their pitching kept the pace at a crawl. Made no sense to me. Final score was 8-3 good guys.

Gonzalez is having a helluva season so far on the field and at the plate. Strode came in to relieve Weaver after he gave up a 2 run bomb over the right-center fence by some kid named Posey. Strode looked good tonight. Real good. He struck out the side in the 6th and put down 2 in the seventh before being relieved by Gage Smith who, I believe, finished the game. Jameis is batting 1.000 after popping a short blooper to center field. He was promptly picked off at first base after taking a speedster’s lead. Speaking of speed…. Ben Deluzio has it in spades.

Tonight just seemed to lack the energy of a big name matchup, but that’s not on us. There’s a reason the St. John’s River flows north. It’s because Georgia sucks.

See you under the oaks tomorrow for what is predicted to be a perfect FL winter day.

The big news of Friday was, of course, the US Olympic Hockey team falling to team Canada in the semi-finals. And of course we immediately had people calling for us to not sing O Canada. Indeed there was lively discussion even within the Animals on the subject. But in the end, we stuck with tradition and sang it. For the break, I came up with ‘AWKWARD!’, which I thought summed up the situation, and held true to our long history of funny and irreverent.

Game 2: Georgia 4, FSU 10

Reluctant reporter with your game two UGA synopsis. PURE ENERGY. The weather was perfect. The tailgating was epic.

It was a sellout. I even heard estimates of 600-800 fans turned away. There’s a lot of excitement around our program and I can’t help but think that Jameis alone is good for 500 tickets a game. When you add in Jimbo and Candi front and center, Dick Howser has become quite chic.

As an aside, when I was doing my cheers in the third I hadn’t noticed that the Fishers were where they were, so when I stopped in the middle he was surrounded by 4 or 5 4(or so) year old kids and he was handling it like they were his own. I asked him if he wanted to do a cheer, he declined, but one little boy in front of him said “I do.” So he did one with me and I hope it made his day. Jimbo signed the kid’s glove as I wandered away. Class act.

This was a nasty little skirmish for the first few innings. Back and forth. UGA scores, we even up. They score, we even up. Someone tried to credit my terrible Noles cheers in the third for tying the game. I blame that damn garbage can for us not taking the lead. But, honestly, it’s been asking for it for years.

UGA’s weakness obviously is it’s relief pitching because they haven’t had a lot of trouble making contact with the ball. It was the 7th when the wheels finally fell off. The good guys broke the tie with 4 runs followed by 2 more in the 8th to seal the deal 10-4. Gage Smith got the win in what seemed like a short appearance, but when you’re playing UGA your sense of time gets warped. Today’s game was even longer than last night’s. Almost 4 hours.

I’m still giggling at the early “spayed or neutered?” call. Today was a good day to be an animal. I’m so thankful to be a part of this.

As Bryan mentioned, the weather Saturday was amazing. They really should have just gone ahead and scheduled a double-header, especially knowing that the weather was going to go south the next day. But Saturday was definitely one of those fun days in the section where everyone is a little loopy and silly. That’s how the ‘Spay or Neuter’ thing got started. Somebody mentioned Bob Barker and then that happened. For the O Canada break, we went with ‘At least we’re not Russia’, as the US Hockey team failed to medal in a bronze game they clearly didn’t want to participate in.

Game 3: Cancelled

The weather did not co-operate, and the game will not be made up. On the bright side, Compton will get the start vs the Yankees.

Go Noles!

Animals Weekend Wrap-up: Niagara

This year we are going to try to provide our own content on the site, rather than just linking to outside media. In part, this is due to so many of them keeping the baseball content behind a pay wall, but also because you probably already read those sites. While we won’t ever equal the work Drew Hankin did with his reporting on FSU baseball, we can promise to give you a glimpse of the things that go on in the section, something Drew never shared.

This could end poorly. ;)

Our own Bryan E. – former Animal Rookie of the Year – has taken the electronic pen up to write synopses of the games, which I will be posting here, along with tidbits from each game in the section.

Game 1: Niagara 2 – FSU 13

Nobody else has jumped in yet so I’ll give the reluctant review of opening day. Great Animal turnout. Lots of old friends making new friends under the oaks. Thanks to Moe’s for the chips and bigass pan of queso. Thanks to Gage Smith and his awesome mustache for delivering the queso k so that all fans present could possibly take in the white gooey goodness gratis on their next visit to aforementioned business.

To the game now… Luke had trouble painting the strike zone early in the 1st. Giving up a walk to the first man to stand in. Without the numbers in front of me ( or the desire to use them) I’d say the key descriptive word for the night was nerves. Our offense was banging on all cylinders but the transmission was skipping gears. 13-2 final score sounds like a curb stomping on any level of baseball, but it should’ve been much worse. Our bats swung hard and our boys ran fast without a cogent goal but then settled in to the standard pace of modern FSU baseball.

Slow, plodding, consistent at bats and generally solid defense built a 5 run lead in a shutout, rolling with a no hit 6 full innings for Luke Weaver, who I might add sported a lovely modern mullet. The seventh started with Strode who came out and added a HBP to 3 walks to kill the no-no. He was yanked for the new school stache, Gage Smith who side armed his way out of an ugly situation. We scored some more. We sang Sweet Caroline. Jameis drew a walk and scored later in the 8th.

The win was never in danger. Final score 13-2. Could’ve been better. Could have been worse. I’m just happy to be back in my seat making noise for the good guys. See you tomorrow

To say the Animals were a little rusty after the off-season would be kind. But, to be fair, we were all still a little drunk off of the football season…something that hadn’t been true in far too long. John B. had the break for O Canada and came up with ‘I’ve got the break’. Like I said, rusty. But it was a really great crowd for opening day, and everyone was glad to be back at baseball. The kids are growing like weeds, and the Animal breeding program continues to be successful, with two brand new Animal babies in the section this year.

Game 2: Niagara 1, FSU 4

Your reluctant reporter here with a day 2 synopsis. It’s too early to say with certainty if our bats are behind or Niagara has a dominant number 2… Well, their #2 starter is not dominant. Nor are their relief pitchers. One thing they can hit, though, is Gonzo. Through 2 games he has been HBP 4 times. Glad none were to his hips.

Niagara left Gilligan’s Island worth of men on base, as did our Noles, but it hurts a lot worse when you have 6 hits with no errors and are losing 1-0 to a team with one hit. Once the seal was broken the runs trickled in until the lead was secure.

Taylor Blatch came in relief of Leibrandt, who went 6 full and was credited with the win. I say knock knock. You say who’s there? I say not ready for primetime. You say Taylor Blatch. I nod and smile. Jameis came in and cleaned it up. With 2 RISP and no outs in the 8th Jaboo pulled the last six outs and sent us home smiling.

Final score 4-1 for the good guys. Another excellent showing for the faithful and a damn fine tailgate experience. Thanks to Matt for manning the grill under the oaks and all that brought their A-game, and meat, for making it another classic experience.
First pitch is at 11:30 on Sunday. Bring your brooms. Or leaf blowers. It’s gona be a sweep.

I’ll agree with Bryan that Blatch’s first appearance was not exactly one he’ll want to remember. But that’s what these early games are for. Learn from it, get better, come back and try it again. I was kind of glad to see Winston get the save opportunity out of the way early. It’s done, out of the way, and hopefully not a ‘thing’ any more.

For the O Canada break, John B dropped ‘Suck it, Putin!’ in reference to the US Olympic Hockey team’s thrilling victory over Russia earlier in the day.

Game 3: Niagara 0 – FSU 13

Reluctant reporter Game 3. Wow. 11:30 first pitch. Nobody’s going to show up today. Not the first time I’ve been wrong, and surely not the last. Great turnout under the oaks and a strong contingent in by first pitch. Good on you, Animals.

Slow start offensively as the good guys left men on base in the first two frames and fell prey to the greatest trick play in the book as the Peagles’ starter threw one past the catcher during an intentional walk to DJ and caught Delph out at the plate (sarcasm).

(EDIT)Gonzo broke the knot by being the first to score on a 2 run RBI in the third by Jose. On the day Gonzo went 3 for 3 with no new bruises. A nod to Chili Dog for the first Noles cheers of the season. Better him than me.

The true story of the day was the (endless) 5th inning. Oh Canada in every variation but French, 8 runs, directing the bumbling brothers to the circus, and the whisper cheers until I (yes… blame me) ruined it. I only apologize to DJ Stewart because he is the only one affected that can run faster mad than I can scared.

This was a looooooong game. Youth came in the seventh and did their part. Gage West, true freshman from Lincoln, went yard over the right field fence for the first round trip of 2014. Hopefully the first of many to come.

The game was called for time after 8 full, but I felt like Niagara didn’t want to go home. Who could blame them? Life is good under The Oaks at Doak.

(EDIT) How can I forget to mention Mike Compton? Solid. He will be a key reason that we succeed this season. If they don’t score, we always win.

As Bryan mentions, the O Canada inning was a doozy with the Noles plating 8 runs in the frame. We did normal O Canada, Fast O Canada, Backwards O Canada, and even Hummed O Canada. I had the break and went with ‘Brass Monkey’, a nod to Gonzo’s walk-up music.

I’d like to share with you a Tweet from Joel Brophy, a freshman catcher on the Purple Eagles squad.

Joel is by no means the first visiting player to express this kind of sentiment, nor will he be the last. I would put our house up against any other in college baseball. We simply have the best fans you can find. And I don’t mean just the Animals. Drew Fittry got a standing ovation from the crowd after his performance on Saturday, and it was well deserved. I’m not sure every fan base in the country would have given him his due, but I am certain that our fans would never NOT give an opposing player recognition for a great performance. That’s just part of what makes FSU baseball great.

Here’s to a great 2014 season and another run at Omaha! Go Noles!