Technically, I can tell you that our hotel is within view and easy walking distance of TD Ameritrade. That’s true. That’s a high-rise office building right outside the hotel.
We’re about 10 minutes from TD Ameritrade Park, and we’ll be heading that way shortly for interviews and practices. Blog updates to follow.
In the meantime, today’s coverage from the Mother Ship:
In a Pinch: Perdzock finds niche coming off the bench
Notebook: Omaha visit not important only to team and players
Also, this is the transcript from Mike Binaco’s visit with us Wednesday at Swayze Field. Good stuff here, especially toward the end when he answers the question of whether finally reaching Omaha as a coach “has taken the monkey” off his back.
Monday was a pretty neat showing by our fans, and when we came back last night, that was special. We’re excited. Today you start the next step. We’re certainly excited.
(What has allowed your team to get this point?)
It’s a combination of a lot of things. One, it’s a very talented team. We talk so much about toughness and chemistry, a team that’s had nine players drafted, most in the country, but certainly a very talented team, a team that’s played well from start to finish has really handled adversity and what this game deals you. I’m very proud of them.
(Preseason pick in SEC?)
That’s more … the preseason polls in baseball, they’re hard. They’re hard for anybody. It is what it is. The teams that are ranked high are usually teams that had a really good year the year before and/or they return a lot of highly profiled guys, draft picks, guys that are preseason All-Americans, and this team didn’t have that. We didn’t have a great finish from the year before, not a lot of preseason accolades on this team going in but certainly a team that played well this year.
(How do you get over joy of being in CWS and focus on playing well?)
I think that’s one of the challenges today. We’ll meet tonight and talk a little more about the World Series, what will happen in the next few days. One of the things we’ll do, we’ve really done it all year long, you hear it, but just stay to the same routine. What we do year in and year out. Yes, it hasn’t been in Omaha, Neb., but we have a lot of structure to our program. We have a lot of structure when we go on the road. There are times they’re locked in with meetings, pre-game meals, a lot of times we do the things that you probably do in Omaha or that you should do in Omaha. I think our players are used to that.
There are also times when it’s time for them to escape. It’s time for them to go eat dinner with their parents, go to a game and do those things. Our system, a system that I’ve been coaching in a long time, even as an assistant at LSU, we thought that played well in the World Series, just the regimen and the structure that’s inside the program already.
(Do you think the structure and routine of the CWS have changed since the last time you were there?)
Yeah (laughs). That was one of the jokes leaving the press conference Monday. I told Andrew Case driving out, ‘It’s a shame it’s taken this long, because 14 years ago when I go here, I had the blueprint.’ We went to Omaha four times as an assistant at LSU, I stayed in the exact same room. We used the exact same rooming list. It’s amazing how down to … how much we had down the routine of the College World Series and everything to expect. It’s not even the same stadium anymore. Some things have changed. I’ve made some phone calls to Dan McDonnel and Jim Schlossnagle and tried to update that blueprint a little bit.”
(Do you go into this with a new appreciation for the difficulty in getting to this point?)
I think so. Personally, Coach Bertman and those teams made it look so easy, and we went so often that I think at times you did take it for granted. Didn’t know that it would take this long. I always saw us going there to compete for a national championship. When you get a little taste of the reality and how difficult it really is to get there, I think you have more of an appreciation for it.
(Moment or game when you realized this team had it?)
I don’t know about a specific moment. One of the reasons is we haven’t had one of those up and down years. This isn’t a team that’s been real streaky where we played real well and then played poorly. It hasn’t been a team that’s been filled with injuries or things like that. It’s been a team that’s been really consistent. Someone mentioned about the tough loss in Starkville on that Saturday. Then we answered back on Sunday and played so well, but then a couple of games here against LSU where we lost two really close games. Then we went on the road, I thought that was really … that weekend in Kentucky when we needed to make a decision if we were in or out. We went to Kentucky after losing two out of three here to LSU and swept a really good Kentucky team on the road and really played well from that point forward.
(How do you make sure that this success is consistent from now on?)
We’ll talk about that next year.
(Do you try to tell the players as much as you can about the environment in Omaha?)
This is the information age so as much correct information that you can feed them with … the expectation of what to expect, what you’re going to do. That’s one of the keys. The biggest key is to play well. How do you play like we played this past weekend? How do you do that. The teams that play the best in Omaha are the teams that are going to have success, so stick to our routine, stick to that structure have the itinerary, for them to know … there’s not only a lot of pressure on them to perform, but they’ve got family that’s traveling across the country that had to figure out how to get Omaha in 48 hours, hotels and all that. Fortunately our administration has been terrific over the last couple of days. Our ops guys, Andrew Case and Mark McMillan, have done such an awesome job trying to make that as easy as possible for the players, helping their parents with hotels so everyone knows where to go and what to do.
Don’t know much about them.
(Is it by design that all your pitchers throw hard?)
Yeah, I guess so. I wouldn’t … I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t know if this is the team that I would say that about. We’ve had teams in the past that have had a little more velocity. Even though Ellis is a power arm, one of the reasons he’s had success that he’s a pitcher that pitches with command, throws three different pitches in the strike zone. You look at Trent, we talk so many different times afer Trent’s outings where, today the change-up was real good. On Sunday, his fastball command in and out against Lafayette was really good. There are times when his slider is really good. I think these guys probably more than any staff, especially the top line, front line guys, have done it more with pitching, more with command, than just a big fastball. Although the radar gun, there are guys who play all the time that are throwing 95 or 96, besides Laxer, I don’t know if we’ve got another guy like that.
(What do you have to do to make history in CWS?)
Play well. I don’t think there’s any secret about that. You have to go there and play well. You have to go there and perform. It gets much steeper as you get to a regional, then a super regional … that mountain to get to the top and win a national championship, all the teams that get there obviously are good but are playing well at this time.
It’s the goal of any coach and any team to win the national championship. That’s the No. 1 goal and something we’d be very proud of.
(Hear from other Ole Miss coaches?)
Texts from Andy Kennedy, Hugh Freeze, Billy Chadwick was here last night when we showed up. When you’re part of the Ole Miss family I think all of us take pride in each other’s success. You’re in that coaching fraternity where you know how difficult it is, and you know how hard you work, so when somebody has success, obviously you’re happy for them, but it’s also great for your program. When Andy won the SEC basketball tournament and got to the NCAA tournament, that’s good for all of us. As an athletic department coach Freeze has come in and really energized not only the football program but the entire Ole Miss family and we all benefit from that.
He’s had an unbelievable year not just at the plate but behind the plate. He’s been terrific. It was probably a bigger out than it ended up being when he threw out the stealer in the sixth inning, a big throw-out. He did that twice at College Station. He’s been terrific handling the pitchers, an All-American.
(Your reaction to fans at Swayze Tuesday night)
I wouldn’t say surprised, because that’s not fair to them. We’ve got the best fans in the country, but certainly, it was neat.
Everybody asks me, but I think it’s neater for the players, to walk off the bus and realize, you just did this on the road, but how appreciative that these people showed up.
(Starting pitcher for Virginia?)
It will be Chris or Christian. Probably we’ll wait another 24 hours to make the decision.
(Do you feel 400 pounds lighter with that gorilla off your back?)
I woudln’t ay that. That’s what you guys always said. I’ve never felt a monkey or 400-pound gorilla on my back. No, the answer is no. This is what we do. There’s pressure involved. I get that, and I understand that. I may look at it differently than a lot of people. There are teams that have success, and I know how to define, getting to the College World Series, and although I’m so proud of this team for doing that, we’ve had a lot of successful teams. They just didn’t get to Omaha. We haven’t had too many tough years here. The goal’s always to get to Omaha and win a national championship, but you can’t do that every year.
(Good to have former players around, to hear from them?)
It was neat. Some of them were in Lafayette and some of them will be in Omaha, and that’s neat. I mean this, other teams should have gone. Why (they didn’t) I don’t know. I wish we knew that and could see into the future, but we’ve had a handful of teams that were good enough to make it but for whatever reason, didn’t. If it’s we didn’t play well enough, the other team played too well … What was really neat was, the first guy that grabbed me was Stephen Head, and I think Jordan Henry. They were right there. Stephen about killed me, picked me up and bear-hugged me. You never know what’s going to happen in that moment, but two guys, Head in 05 that should have gone to Omaha and Jordan Henry in 09 that should have gone. How about them being in the dugout. That’s pretty neat. They got to experience all that. Unfortunately so many other great players here through the years didn’t get that experience. Part of them were there Monday night.
Yeah, you’re right he’s done it all year long. Just a terrific … what’s amazing is he’s hitting .300 doing that. Most guys that are pinch-hitters, if you hit over .200 you’re having success, and if’ you’re hitting .300 it’s probably because you’re getting a lot of at-bats in other games to get starts in. He rarely gets a game where he has multiple at-bats. It’s really amazing. More to that, if you watch during the game, he’s got to come run from the bullpen. He runs from the bullpen, takes off his gear, puts on his batting gloves. Sometimes we use him and sometimes we don’t, but usually you get that kind of at-bat. You may not get that big of a hit, but usually you get a quality at-bat. He’s been terrific and one of those weapons you have that not a lot of people have.