Tuesday, April 13, 2004

On Aardsma and Bubba... 

A couple of Owl alumni had great first weeks in the Majors.

Bubba Crosby(1998) escaped from the Dodgers farm system to find himself on the New York friggin Yankees this season, and after just a few games, is already a fan favorite. Heck, he was heavily featured as #6 on the All-Time Bubba RBI List on the Sunday Night ESPN Sportscenter, and is on the front page of the ESPN website.

He's got two homers and five RBIs in only five at-bats this season. In his first start for the Yankees on Sunday, he hit a three-run homer in a 5-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox and crashed into the fence to make a terrific catch.

The scrappy center fielder earned several standing ovations from Yankees fans who couldn't help but fall in love with his all-out play.

By the end of the day, they were chanting his name -- on a team loaded with stars such as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi.

"It's just been a dream come true," Crosby said.

"It seemed like every other inning I was tipping my cap. That felt great."
Crosby was part of the package sent to the Yankees last year for Robin Ventura. I can't say I like the Yankees, but here's hoping Bubba continues his hot start. Congratulations, Bubba!

Meanwhile, 2003 NCAA Champion closer David Aardsma is getting a lot of press, primarily for replacing Hank Aaron (or Don Aase in the pitchers section) as the alphabetically first player in baseball encyclopedias. But more importantly, he picked up his first win in relief for the San Francisco Giants in a 7-5 win over the Astros in fron of his hometown fans. Baseball America provides a nice article on Aardsma and includes a look at some of the trials and tribulations of a major league rookie.

In the last 12 months, David Aardsma has:

• ditched his slider for a spike curveball, which helped pull him out of a junior year slump at Rice;
• helped lead the Owls to a College World Series championship;
• signed for a $1.425 million bonus as the Giants' first-round pick;
• earned a spot on San Francisco's Opening Day roster, and . . .
• bummed a quarter off Willie Mays.

It's been an eventful 12 months. Aardsma admits it's hard to say which was the most unforgettable moment. But the rookie hazing on the flight to Houston for his first big league series with the Giants provided the latest highlight, one he's still trying to grasp.

"I had to collect quarters from everyone," he said, still laughing despite being unsure of the purpose of his quest. "Writers, other players, family, everyone. I got a quarter from Willie Mays. I just had to go up to him and say, 'Mr. Mays, I need a quarter. Give it up!' "

Aardsma has other rookie duties to attend to, including keeping the bullpen snack bag filled up and ready to go. Naturally, the bag, full of goodies from candy and gum to sunflower seeds, is adorned with characters from the 1980s girls' cartoon "My Little Pony."
Perhaps the biggest compliment given Aardsma is that he went for $5 in my fantasy baseball auction this weekend, when I thought I could sneak him off for $1.

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