College World Series 2019 Superlatives
Earlier this week, we picked the best tools in the College World Series field, hitting on the categories Baseball America readers are familiar with. Now, we want to touch on some more unconventional tools from the eight teams in Omaha.
Best Hair: The field is lacking on flow this year, but not on designs shaved into players’ heads. The best belongs to Florida State righthander C.J. Van Eyk, who has the Seminoles’ arrowhead logo shaved into the side of his head.
Most Swag: The possibilities are seemingly endless, but Arkansas outfielder Curtis Washington has the Twitter handle swaggyc5, giving him a leg up on the competition. Washington said his nickname in West Memphis, Ark., where he grew up, is Swaggy C (the five comes from his high school basketball number). He cited his dancing, specifically the Hit Dem Folks dance, as part of his swag, but it goes beyond that.
“If you look at me, I’ve got a lot of swag,” Washington said. “Anybody can spot swag and if you’ve got swag, it’s going to show."
Toughest: Last weekend at UCLA, Michigan shortstop Jack Blomgren dislocated the little finger on his left hand in a rundown. The finger got popped back into place, Blomgren scored the go-ahead run and finished the game. Last year in the Big Ten Tournament he got hit in the jaw by a ball and it took a gash out of the inside of his lip. Blomgren stayed in that game as well.
“It’s just a mindset thing,” Blomgren said. “Knowing that it shouldn’t affect me. Once it’s game time, it’s game time.”
Best confidence boost: Mississippi State outfielder Elijah MacNamee hit a three-run home run Sunday in the ninth inning against Stanford in what was his final career at bat at Dudy Noble Field. It was a moment to remember for MacNamee, but he said he likes watching the video of it for more than just the memory.
“I still watch it because I feel like it gives me more confidence each time I watch it,” he said. “It’s definitely a great feeling.”
Most reasoned argument: Louisville closer Michael McAvene is back after serving his four-game suspension that automatically resulted from his ejection during regionals. He’s “ecstatic” to be back with his teammates, but said he believes there should be an appeals process, an opinion voiced by many around the game over the last two weeks. McAvene specifically thinks relievers like him should have recourse to avoid being hit with the same length of punishment as a starting pitcher (position players who are ejected are automatically suspended for one game).
“In my sense and in other relievers sense, if something like that happens and we’re taken out for four straight games, it’s completely different than a starter,” McAvene said. “I think there should be a way to repeal at least as a reliever to shorten the suspension instead of having the full four games.”
Luckiest shoes: In need of a bounce-back game in regionals after losing to Creighton, Michigan catcher Joe Donovan switched things up and went to his white Vans. Michigan won that game to advance to the Los Angeles Super Regional against UCLA and that week in California he came across a pair of pink Nikes. He started wearing them and played well in the super regional and isn’t going back now.
“I hit a few balls well, I hit a home run,” he said. “The rest is just rock-and-roll history. Now it’s just a thing.
“It’s helping me take myself a little less seriously. Anything for that helps.”
Biggest beard: Texas Tech righthander Connor Queen has been growing his beard since the team’s picture day last fall. He said he simply got lazy and has just let it go. He said it’s his first time with a full beard, previously he has just had a chin piece. Queen said it’s annoying, but he’s committed to it.
“It’s definitely annoying,” Queen said. “When I wake up, sometimes it’s going in all different directions. Sometimes it gets in my mouth. When I eat, it’s terrible. It gets everywhere.”