The snow is falling in Ann Arbor again. The temperature isn’t supposed to eclipse 50 degrees in the next 10 days. It’s still March.

Michigan Baseball

It must be baseball season in Michigan.

I know, it may not seem like the most opportune time for America’s favorite pastime. March Madness is still going strong, and the hockey team begins its own trek through the NCAA Tournament in Grand Rapids this weekend. Baseball is probably the last thing on your mind right now.

But let’s face it — your bracket sucks, and the puck won’t drop at the Midwest Regional until 8:30 p.m. There is no better way to spend tomorrow afternoon than taking in a game at the Fish, perhaps the most classic sporting venue on this campus.

If you need any more reason to attend what could be one of the most celebrated days on the Michigan sporting calendar, then I can give you plenty, no matter what walk of life you come from.

For those of you that can appreciate any form of expertise, coach Rich Maloney could be the best hire the athletic department has made in the modern era (whenever that began). He is the most knowledgeable, personable, likable and respected coach that I have had the opportunity to cover at the Daily. A question along the lines of “what did you think about the play of Kyle Bohm today?” could just as easily lead into a 10-minute conversation on the importance of the sacrifice bunt. He can really talk about anything baseball for hours.

And while it may seem random, he knows his stuff. Maloney inherited a power-hitting team when he took the helm for the 2003 season, but the Fish is not a power-hitting park. Maloney’s skillful recruiting and restructuring of Michigan baseball has turned the team into a possible Big Ten favorite. After a series of games in warmer climates, Michigan boasts an 11-3 record so far this season, its best start since 1987.

The new concentration on small ball and pitching has led to seven Wolverines batting over .300 so far this season and no starting pitchers with an ERA over 4.00.

It might be a purer form of baseball, one might even say boring, but isn’t that refreshing for the times we live in? So there aren’t a lot of home runs flying out of the park. Big deal. At least you know these athletes aren’t pumped full of steroids. It’s enough to keep all you baseball purists out there happy.

In fact, the list of Wolverine captains this season includes senior Matt Butler, who is listed at 5-foot-6, 165-pounds, and even that could be an exaggeration. He is the ultimate poster boy for the little guy. And aren’t we all the little guy some days?

But it’s this unassuming outfielder that leads the team with three home runs on the year. If a team’s leading home run hitter weighs 165-pounds, its players are probably not on steroids.

Hot topics like steroids are the kind of things you can discuss at a day at the Fish. If catching up with some pals is your thing, bring some friends, grab some peanuts (and a blanket) and take your favorite spot in the bleachers — a spot that looks like it might inspire random conversation.

The Fish is the perfect place to break down all the possible draft picks out there for anyone that has an impending fantasy baseball league draft coming up. Not sure whether Johan Santana is overrated this year? Maybe watching a few Michael Penn curveballs while listening to your buddy jabber on for a couple innings will help you arrive at the proper conclusion.

That kind of multi-tasking is what a day at the park is all about, especially at the Fish. There are distractions galore, for both sexes. It all stems from one logical source — baseball players are hot.

Before you start passing judgment, hear me out. If baseball players are hot, many of the women that come to watch these baseball players will also be hot. The fact that they’re watching baseball makes them hot. It’s all one big logical circle that makes perfect sense.

Ergo, it is perfectly acceptable to admit the fact that baseball players are hot. It improves the viewing experience for everyone at the park. You gotta have something to keep you interested between innings. Fantasy baseball can’t take up that much time, can it?

So there you have it. Reasons from across the whole spectrum to get yourself to the Fish tomorrow at 3 p.m. Even if the home opener is eventually cancelled, like it was last year, because of this winter/spring weather — I like to call it spwinter — there will still eventually be a home opener.

And when that time comes, bring a valid Mcard, probably even a non-valid Mcard. I mean, c’mon — it’s the Fish, the most welcoming environment at Michigan. Just make sure to bring a blanket. Or keep an eye out for one of those attractive fans that might have a blanket. You’ll thank me for it.

 

Josh Holman will be at the Fish on Friday, with a blanket, an attractive person and whatever else he needs to stay warm. He can be reached at holmanj@umich.edu.

 

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