Craziness in the NCAA baseball tournament

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Texas and Boston College played the longest game in NCAA history Saturday night, with the Longhorns prevailing 3-2 in 25 innings.

While guys like me are worrying about the Stephen Strasburgs of the
world throwing 120 pitches in a start, Austin Wood of Texas threw a
ridiculous 169 pitches … out of the bullpen. Seriously.

Wood tossed 13 innings of relief, including 12.1 no-hit frames, and
said afterward: “I can’t believe I threw 13 innings. I was tired, but
we never doubted that we were going to win that game.” Then his arm
disintegrated as reporters looked on.

Texas coach and all-time Division I wins leader Augie Garrido called
it “the best pitching performance I have ever seen.” Boston college
coach Mik Aoki wasn’t quite as willing to shred his pitchers’ arms, so
he only let Mike Belfiore throw 9.2 innings out of the pen.

The seven-hour, three-minute game finally came to an end thanks to
Travis Tucker singling in the go-ahead run in his NCAA-record 12th
at-bat.

Along with Strasburg losing for the first time
and Texas winning in 25 innings, the opening round of the NCAA
tournament also saw Florida State jump out to a 32-0 lead over Ohio
State on the way to a 37-6 victory.

FSU had 66 total bases on 38 hits, including 15 doubles. As Ohio State
coach Bob Todd put it: “Everything they did was right. Everything we
did was wrong.” It’s not quite March Madness, but the NCAA baseball
tournament has been pretty damn interesting so far.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.