Tag Archives: Ashley Dunkak

The Beauty of Baseball

9 Apr

As my skin sizzles from three and a half hours in the sun this past Saturday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium, I ponder why I so enjoy going to baseball games in spite of the inevitable one-sided sunburn I always incur when I go to observe America’s favorite pastime.

Baseball, though it has its riveting moments, can be a relaxing sport for the observer. The games have no time limits. Much as I tend to feel more comfortable having plans and set deadlines, there is a sense of freedom in a baseball game because it gives its audience an excuse to just sit back and go with the flow.

Also, who doesn’t love to be outside during the spring and summer? With just a little forethought, you can avoid the aforementioned sunburn and come away with a nice, if uneven, tan. In general, being outdoors is just a nice change from school and work. Breeze, sunshine … you’ve got to love it.

While at a baseball game, you have to pay a certain amount of attention, lest you wind up on SportsCenter as the fan who was ignoring the action and looked up just in time to get his or her cheekbone broken by a wayward foul ball. On the other hand, there are plenty of breaks in the action – between the top and bottom of innings, between innings, at timeouts, at pitching changes and more. This affords fans time to visit in close proximity to friends and family, something that has become more and more rare in this age of Facebook chatting and texting.

Because the game often progresses at a slower pace than some other games, fans have plenty of opportunities to educate friends and family members who don’t know much about baseball, passing on the knowledge of balls and strikes, why a certain hit is an RBI-single, the background of a certain players, etc.

There’s so much tradition associated with the mere attendance of a baseball game. Walk-up songs for home field hitters, peanuts, hot dogs, PA system operators with a sense of humor – the song instructing hit batters to “walk it out” or bidding farewell to those who have struck out with the oh-so-classic “nah nah nah nah … hey hey hey … goo-ood bye!”

Finally, going to K-State baseball games is fairly affordable. Students get in free with their Wildcat IDs. For the bleacher seats (and let it be said, there is really no bad seat at Tointon), single game tickets are $6 for “youth” (age 2-18) and $8 for adults. In a world where kids’ meals at restaurants usually extend just to those 12 years and younger, it’s refreshing to see prices that encourage families to come out to games.

So, despite looking like a tomato, going to the game today – which ended in a 14-3 loss for the Wildcats, unfortunately – was worth it. Well worth it.


Keys to the game from Frank, Curt & Jake

19 Mar

Throughout the season, fans and sports reporters talk about must-win games. Coaches and players fall back on the predictable – but reasonable – rhetoric that every game is a must-win game. This time of year, it’s actually true. No win, no more basketball. Today, the team standing between the Kansas State Wildcats and some more basketball is the Wisconsin Badgers.

According to K-State head coach Frank Martin, keys to the game include keeping the Badgers out of rhythm and rebounding the ball.

“If you give them an offensive rebound, they’re either scoring or pulling it out, and now you are guarding for 30 more seconds and that makes it for a long possession,” Martin said.

Wisconsin is notorious for slowing down the game. In the Big 10 tournament, the Badgers lost to Penn State … 36-33. No I’m not kidding. That’s not a misprint – not the halftime score. They grind down the shot clock and then crash the boards to try and start the possession all over again and do the same thing.

This game will be, among other elements, all about the Js – Jacob Pullen and Jordan Taylor. It should be a pretty compelling matchup. Pullen said Taylor does a good job of using the shot clock, lulling defenders to sleep before taking over a possession. That means the Wildcats have to employ a little variety in stopping him.

“We have to do a great job of defending the ball screen and keeping him in a position where he doesn’t know what kind of defense we’re playing, whether we’re trapping it or soft hedging the ball screen,” Pullen said. “Just really keep him guessing. The other thing is we really got to make him guard. Whoever he is guarding, we have to make sure he plays 36, 37 minutes a game, we’ve got to make sure he is using his energy on both ends, not only on offensive end.”

While Frank Martin said it would be exceedingly difficult to slow down Wisconsin, he said his team has to keep Taylor out of rhythm, not allow him to get comfortable, and to keep him out of the paint.

“When he gets in the paint, then he forces help and then he finds shooters,” Martin said. “They put five shooters out there, four shooters, he is a shooter also, but four other guys outside of him, so then that puts tremendous pressure on your rotations to get to that next shooter. “

Working against the Badgers’ swing offense will be a challenge for the Wildcats, particularly for the forwards because Wisconsin’s big men step out further from the lane than, forcing their defenders to step out and guard further from the basket.

K-State senior forward Curtis Kelly will be one of the players handling this transition, likely matching up against Wisconsin’s Jon Leuer, a 6’10” forward who can shoot from 3-point range.

“I’m going to have to come off screens,” Kelly said. “Instead of dealing with a lot of cross screens I’m going to have to deal with a lot of down screens and stagger screens. And me being a big, that’s going to be a little difficult. But, you know, I’m going to try to do my best to guard the player they want me to guard as best I can.”

Martin said if his team allows Wisconsin to move the ball freely side to side and get it in the paint, the Wildcats will be in trouble because that means Kelly and fellow forward Jordan Henriquez-Roberts get dragged out of the lane, and those are the guys that protect the rim. However, the coach said K-State has faced similar scenarios before, such as playing Iowa State and trying to contain Diante Garrett coming off the ball screen.

“We’ll work on that some today and use some of the experiences from the season to hopefully get us as ready as we can,” Martin said.