On April 19 at 10:48 a.m., Michael Pfenninger, Manhattan Jaspers starting infielder, tweeted this:
It’s such a mature message being posted by a 20-year-old. And for those who don’t know Pfenninger, they probably would be taken aback by it, especially in the 20th century. When asked about the tweet, Pffenninger said there’s actually a story behind it.
“The Pennant Will Rise” was the phrase etched onto t-shirts and hoodies for the Mets’ being crowned National League Champions. For the marathon season ahead, Jim Duffy, Manhattan Jaspers baseball head coach, said “Pitching, Defense and Staying Healthy” is what’s going to earn his team’s way to success in ’16.
Thirty-three games in, the Jaspers find themselves tied with the Rider Broncs for the eighth seed in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with 11 wins and 22 losses. Their longest winning streak of three straight games came between March 22 and March 26, not enough to counter losing five straight in three separate parts of the schedule: (1) Feb. 28 – March 8, (2) March 13 – March 19, (3) April 2 – April 9.
Last year for the Manhattan Jaspers was the third season in a row that they failed to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title. The back-to-back championship teams of ’11 and ’12 are moving further and further away, especially now that only one player from the latter year remains: Michael Scarinci.
What made ’14 sting even more is the fact that they didn’t even qualify for the tournament.
Baseball can’t be played without a pitcher or catcher.
Without his catcher, a pitcher has no one to throw to and create a pace of game with. And for a catcher without his pitcher, he has no one to give pitch signs to and to keep in check throughout a game.
“For those two positions to really be in sync, it’s what makes the team go,” former Manhattan College pitching coach Justin Echevarria said. “So that’s why it’s called the battery. Without those two guys, there really is no season. … You’re only as good as they are.”
(Editor’s Note: Stats accurate as of April 12.)
Manhattan’s season has been okay.
At the start of the season, the pitching and overall depth of the team looked to be promising. Tom Cosgrove caught the attention of D1Baseball.com’s Eric Sorenson and “The ‘ J’ Effect.” The return of Mike Scarinci from last season’s Tommy John surgery recovery and Scott McClennan from a blood clot (2013), micro-fracture left knee surgery (2014) are a few examples of that.
Named “Best Sports News Article: 2014-2015” by Manhattan College’s “The Quadrangle”
The need for a pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery (TJS) — repairment of the ulnar collateral ligament — is an epidemic.
Between ’05 and ’11, the average number of TJS cases in Major League Baseball per year was 16. That number skyrocketed from ’12 to ’14, increasing to 28 per year. In ’14 alone, there were more TJS conducted than in the entire ’90s: 80, according to ESPN’s Sport Science.
TJS has an 80-percent success rate, which is high but still leaves pitchers with a one in five chance of failure, according to USA TODAY Sports.
“It’s not so much the MLB organizations but the pitchers, even going back to youth baseball, which is problematic,” Andy Martino, “New York Daily News” baseball insider, said. “A lot of times pitchers are drafted already well along the way in having this kind of damage because of overuse. … There are all kinds of debate. Nobody knows the answer. Teams are trying all sorts of different things and there’s no evidence that anything is really helping or hurting. It’s just hard to figure out.”
The Lamar Cardinals’ sweep of the Manhattan Jaspers two weekends ago showed off Manhattan’s expected slow start.
For starters, they haven’t practiced outside since October and are now facing live pitching for the first time. So their early rusty play is understandable. Plus, it’s simply too early in the season to nitpick.
“(The series) was certainly productive, but the numbers wouldn’t tell you that,” Jim Duffy, Jaspers head coach, said. “All in all the numbers they look disappointing, but I kind of I like some of the things that I saw and, in the same vein, we have a lot of work to do. That was totally anticipated.”
The most productive part of the weekend at Lamar for Duffy was that everybody played. Right now, he wants his team to focus more on the process of play, body language, effort and execution as opposed to results. Results to him are meaningful, but don’t become important until MAAC play.
The Manhattan Jaspers rebuild is over. Inexperience and injuries are replaced with experience, health, talent and depth.
Where the pitching is concerned they are impressive. It’s a staff comprised of young talent of the deepest and highest quality, and to no surprise. Jasper head coach, Jim Duffy, recruited heavily in pitching in the 2014 college baseball draft class. The top recruit, Tom Cosgrove, was projected to be a pitcher to watch in the MAAC by “The ‘J’ Effect” and D1Baseball.com last week.
It’s no secret that the Manhattan Jaspers have been in a rebuild mode over the past two seasons. The time has come once again for them to be a MAAC championship contender since their 2011 and 2012 back-to-back title wins.
Why now all of a sudden? Good, talented pitching…lots of it too.
This is what Manhattan College Jaspers head coach, Jim Duffy, said late last season.
“It certainly [was] a rebuilding season. We’re retooling for the immediate future.”
When a team is in a rebuilding situation it can go one of two ways:
1. Start over with new personnel and tank. 2. Trust in the people already in place and hope for the best from in house talent. Duffy and his Jaspers decided on No. 2.
Three months ago, it was announced that the Manhattan Jaspers baseball program would no longer be calling Van Cortlandt Park home.
The park that is in constant need of field work done by the Jaspers themselves, uneven dirt in the infield and on the pitcher’s mound, pocketed grass in the outfield and an aging scoreboard. That’s all without mentioning the singular set of bleachers for fans and students to sit on that creak and rattle when climbed and walked on, making the trespasser fear that the seats are about to cave in and collapse.
This is the same park that housed the 2012 Jasper team to post an 18-0 undefeated home record. From its cons to its pros, they’re exchanging Van Cortlandt for Dutchess Stadium, a 4,494 seat AstroTurf minor league stadium home to the Tampa Bay Rays class-A affiliate the Hudson Valley Renegades, in Wappingers Fall, N.Y.
It’s been a long and disappointing season for the Jaspers for a second straight year. Last year, they finished 24-28 (11-13 MAAC), which ranked them sixth in the MAAC.
This was after winning back-to-back MAAC championships in 2011 (20-2 MAAC, 34-19) and 2012 (18-6 MAAC, 33-27). Head Coach Jim Duffy said the team is still learning and is already looking toward the future.
“It certainly is a rebuilding season,” said Duffy. “We’re retooling for the immediate future.”
It’s rare to see siblings play on the same team let alone be in the same room without there being some kind of feud between the two. There are a number of arguments that could happen such as who’s better than the other in terms of personality, academics or talent.
But that’s not Joe and Scott McClennan.
Standing in at a slight 5 foot 9 inches and 180 pounds, Manhattan College baseball’s Mike Vocatura didn’t allow the smallest of odds stop him from reaching his biggest goal of playing D1 college baseball.
In order to do so he needed every bit of his determination and perseverance to make the baseball team.
Manhattan College baseball is 30 games into its season, and it has been nothing short of a big disappointment.