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Dave Reardon

Evening QB

By Dave Reardon

Monday, January 15, 2001

Swinging at moving
the fences in

MOST of you have probably figured this out already, but moving the outfield fences in at Rainbow Stadium is not what the University of Hawaii baseball team needs to recapture the magic of previous decades.

Sure, it might grab a few young fans who are infatuated by the prospect of 31-26 final scores -- but how many of them will get to watch the final out before it's bedtime?

And more importantly, how are we sportswriters going to make our deadlines?

Seriously, college baseball games are already too long. Between aluminum bats and the dearth of quality pitching, you could run a marathon in the span of a typical college game -- yeah, you, the guy with the permanent condition of a Twinkie in one hand and TV remote in the other.

OK, maybe chicks do dig the longball, but more of them dig winners. And can anyone explain to me how scaling down Big Blue and moving it in five yards is going to help the Rainbows notch more victories than a year ago?

It's not like UH hit a lot of warning-track flyballs that will go for HRs now. This might help the opponents more.

For the record, Hawaii hit zero home runs over the fence at Rainbow Stadium last year. But they hit two in-the-park homers, which is actually a more exciting play.

Is it out of line to suggest that it wasn't where the fence was that made the difference, but the players throwing the pitches and swinging the bats?

Historically, the best UH teams were like the best baseball teams at any level: built around pitching. For the Rainbows, it meant quality pitching that was hard to take deep -- not only because of the 340-foot distance down the line and 380 to the power alley, but also due to the tradewinds.

In short, the team was tailored to the unique stadium.

Moving the fences in 15 feet is "ridiculous," as one former Rainbow player who'd rather not be named said.

So what we're saying here is that UH doesn't need a smaller field, it needs to put a better product on the field.

This isn't meant as a slam (no pun intended)against the current players, but it all goes back to recruiting.

Dane Sardinha, Justin Wayne, Keoni DeRenne and Shane Komine -- who all received some sort of All-America recognition last year -- all played high school baseball in Hawaii. But none of them ever played an inning for UH.

Two are pitchers, one a catcher and the other a shortstop -- the most important positions in baseball. If the Rainbows had been able to keep any two of them here (50 percent of the top prospects shouldn't be too much to ask), it's not unreasonable to think UH might have won the WAC last season.

AND what about now? How can any top prospect be expected to commit to UH when they don't even know who the coach is going to be next year? That's a little bit more important than shorter fences.

Kamehameha senior Bronson Sardinha committed to Pepperdine. While it's true he may go pro anyway, Sardinha said he would have "strongly considered" playing for UH, if the new coach had been in place when he made his decision last fall.

You usually only get one chance with recruiting.

But at least the damage regarding the fences is repairable. They can be moved back if whoever the new UH baseball coach is wants it that way.

Maybe they can figure out a way to shift Big Blue back-and-forth every half inning.

Now that would be a home-field advantage.

Dave Reardon, who covered sports in Hawaii from 1977 to 1998,
moved to the the Gainesville Sun, then returned to
the Star-Bulletin in Jan. 2000.
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