SPORTS ADDICT: Catching the Plano Blues
SPORTS ADDICT: Catching the Plano Blues
On Friday night, I was able to attend and cover my very first Texas Collegiate League (TCL) game between the Weatherford Wranglers and the Plano Blue Sox.
As a passionate baseball fan, I can’t help but love this league.
The addition of wood bats is a definite draw for these kids, who rarely get a chance to work with wood due to the daily dings of metal bats at the NCAA level.
“It’s the guys that can’t handle wood that don’t last long in the pros,” Blue Sox head coach Mike Maack said.
And there’s nothing like summer baseball.
Sitting behind the Blue Sox coaching staff with a clear view of home plate, I setup shop with my laptop before grabbing a Coke and a bag of peanuts.
Mark Doll pitched to near perfection.
Everything I had read and heard about Mark prior to Friday night’s game were more than mere words of support towards this one-hit wonder of a pitcher.
Speaking with Mark prior to his start on Friday night, I couldn’t help but smile as I watched this kid with a good head on his shoulders showing off his stuff and making it look easy.
Mark told me his best pitch is his fastball, and boy did he prove that.
Mark paints the corners of the plate like Roger Clemens has done for years n starting way back in Boston.
And Mark Doll could very well be the next ‘Rocket.’
Mark and his Plano Blue Sox are currently 7-13, but their record doesn’t speak clearly of their talent.
Just ask coach Maack, who says, “we’re taking baby steps and aiming for small results.”
Mark is a top-notch pitcher, one of the best I have seen in years.
As a die-hard fan of sports, and especially baseball, I have watched and witness a multitude of great pitchers parade through the Baylor Bears baseball organization under head coach Steve Smith.
Doll’s got discipline.
Doll’s got dedication.
And Doll’s got game.
In addition to a fastball with movement and pitcher-perfect precision, Mark can also throw a nasty slider/curve ball and has a decent change-up as well.
Mark has told me his change-up is what needs the most improvement, and in my opinion if Mark can utilize his change-up and learn to mix it in with his high heat and sneaky slurve, he’ll be un-hittable.
But Mark has more than just on-the-field talent.
He’s got off-the-diamond charisma and character.
He’s a family guy, he loves his friends and he loves his hometown.
In other words, the next Roger Clemens…
Mark my words, Doll will be a force to be reckoned with, at both the NCAA level next year for Memphis and in the pros for whatever team decides on Doll in the 2007 draft.
One thing is certain n Diamond Doll is one of the best pitchers ever, hands down, at the TCL level.
Since the TCL began in 2004, the league has defiantly grown in both players and fans alike.
But nothing can compare to the rise in rankings for Plano ace Mark Doll.
Doll owns two complete games this season, and they came on back-to-back starts in which he gave up just one run over 18 innings of work.
And he’s doing his best to get the Blue Sox back on track in a very tough TCL division.
“We don’t look at our record,” coach Maack said. “We’re just one hit away from winning a ball game… that’s just baseball.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
They say baseball is a game of inches.
They say baseball is a game of failure.
Both make sense.
We praise a batter for getting a hit 25 to 30 percent of the time.
That means he fails the other 70 to 75 percent of the time.
But the game of baseball is about more than just numbers and percentages.
It’s about love and passion.
And coach Maack, along with his Blue Sox, are looking to focus on the highs of summer as they aim to turn things around.
For Coach Maack and the rest of the coaching staff, they see a lot of positives for Plano’s squad.
Mainly, team chemistry.
That can be seen, both on and off the field, for fans, kids and parents alike in attendance at any of the local TCL games.
These college kids that play in this summer league are top-notch guys, all the way around.
We’re talking about players from schools like Baylor, Rice, Texas and Texas A&M.
We’re talking about schools that compete for the College World Series year-in and year-out.
And we’re talking about a great group of athletes that not only want to make it to the next level in reaching the pros of Major League Baseball, but they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get there.
That’s what this game is all about.
It’s all about the love…