The Super Bowl is a week away. What, you want me to write about the Pro Bowl?
For a second week in a row, let's talk about America's sport, baseball.
Sure, football blasted into our sports hearts because of intensity, pain, drama and concussions. We love watching people win, lose and suffer all at the same time.
But when summer comes, we return to our roots.
Baseball. It's America's game. I don't know what sounds more relaxing than watching the first pitch underneath a silhouetted sunset, with an ice cold beverage in one hand, sunflower seeds in the other. As a Houston, Texas native, I loved heading to the old Astrodome, sitting in the dungeon, watching the ugly, rainbow uniforms while munching down on a dome-dog. OK, it was a lot better as a kid.
The dog days of summer is what I live for.
So when I found out my TV station, WBTW, would be investing itself into enhancing the quality of life of baseball fans around the Grand Strand, I was ecstatic.
Last week, WBTW and Coastal Carolina University athletics announced a weekly baseball television program, "Inside the Clubhouse," which will air on WBTW on Sundays beginning March 6.
"You look at what I call as Coastal baseball nation, it goes from a handful of parents 15 years ago to being able to draw four and five thousands to a regional and super regional," CCU baseball coach Gary Gilmore said. "I think this will help that group grow. People will start to watch the show and say 'man, this is really neat to see.' All these things go on with these guys as they progress during the year."
It won't be your typical coach's show where the bench boss breaks down game-film. The CCU athletic department along with News 13 will give fans an all-access pass to the season. Road trips, locker room, big wins, tough losses--this show is the ultimate ticket to the game.
And there's not a better team to showcase than the Chanticleers baseball team. Nationally known and ranked by all preseason standards, coach Gilmore and the guys are coming off the program's most successful season in school history. The Chants recorded an NCAA best 55 wins, earned the No. 4 overall seed in the NCAA Baseball tournament, only to be defeated by eventual national champion South Carolina.
Key players did graduate from the 2010 team, but this year's version returns plenty of All-America candidates. A quality team starts with a quality pitching staff. Look no further than the Chanticleers ace this season, Anthony Meo, to be the backbone of the team. Meo finished last season with a 13-2 record, 2.32 ERA.
Offensively, guys such as Tommy La Stella, Daniel Bowman, Scott Woodward and Taylor Motter are proven to get the job done. If for no other reason, tune into News 13 at 11:30 p.m. on Sundays to watch a hitting clinic. Last year's team batting average was .324.
Year of the Chanticleer
If you live in the Eastern Carolinas you have probably heard about the Chanticleers basketball program. CCU is carrying a 16-game win streak into tonight's game against High Point and is now picking up votes in both major college basketball polls.
North Carolina fans are shaking their heads right now.
Cliff Ellis and the Coastal bunch have three votes in the ESPN/USA Today poll compared to the Tar Heels' two.
The black-eye to the near-perfect season so far is Mike Holmes. Coach Cliff Ellis dismissed the South Carolina transfer in early January after he violated team rules. Many reports indicate that an altercation occurred between Holmes and leading scorer Desmond Holloway. But what's baffling to me, is how a conflict of this magnitude could occur while the team is playing at such a high level.
Ellis, being the veteran coach he is, weathered the storm. He put a muzzle on the situation, refusing to comment and never confirming that any altercation occurred. While the talent of Holmes certainly makes the Chanticleers a more dangerous team come March, the chemistry of the team is improved.
CCU wraps up a four-game road swing with games away from Kimbel Arena tonight and Saturday. What I can tell from a first-hand perspective is the way this team is rallying together and using the opposing crowd as fuel to its own fire.
The team's leading scorer, Holloway, is in unprecedented territory. As a junior college transfer from Wabash Community College, Holloway has entered the Division I level and scored 10 or more points in every game.
His favorite player is Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is no surprise as both have a similar lanky body-type. While Durant's shot is millions of dollars better than Holloway's, the CCU junior can brag about the way he can draw contact.
The soft-spoken Holloway has a knack for getting defenders in the air and getting to the free throw line. Holloway picked up Big South player of the week honors on Monday for the second time this season.
CCU returns to our favorite high school gym masquerading as a college facility, Kimbel Arena, on Feb. 3 against conference foe Liberty. That happens to be the only team in the league that's trying to keep pace with the Chanticleers.