Could 2015 baseball team be best ever at UNR?
April 24, 2015
Sports fodder for a Friday morning… We'll find out at the end of the season whether or not this is the best Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team in history. The Pack is 31-10 and seemingly on its way to its first Mountain West regular season title, first NCAA Regional appearance since 2000 and first 40-win season since 1994. Those accomplishments alone will put this team in the conversation as the best in school history. But this team could very well be the most consistent team in Pack history. This Wolf Pack team could finish the year as the only one in the school's Division I history (since 1970) to never lose three games in a row. How's that for consistency? Even the 1992 team, which went 43-11, and the 1994 team (41-15) lost three games in a row at one point.
Wolf Pack coach Jay Johnson will coach his 100th game Friday night at Peccole Park against San Jose State. Johnson is 62-37 as Pack coach (his .626 winning percentage is the best in the school's Division I history) and is going to fall just short of owning the best record in school history (in Division I) after his first 100 games. That honor belongs to Del Youngblood, who went 65-35 (1980-81). Johnson, though, is well on his way to becoming the quickest Pack coach (in Division I) to 100 career victories. Only two Pack coaches (Youngblood and Gary Powers) have won 100 games (in Division I). It took Youngblood 175 games to get to 100 and it took Powers 199. Johnson only needs to go 38-37 over his next 75 games to beat Youngblood's record.
You might want to catch a performance by the Reno Aces' Peter O'Brien before he leaves for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 24-year-old went 11-for-22 with five home runs and nine RBI over the Aces' first six home games. Heading into Thursday's game he was hitting .426 with six homers and 16 RBI over the first 14 games of the season, going 14-for-28 with three homers and nine RBI against lefties and 10-for-15 when he was ahead in the count. The former Miami Hurricanes catcher and New York Yankees second-round draft pick is currently playing the outfield but the Diamondbacks hope he becomes their catcher of the near future (by late May?), if he can clean up his throwing problems. Once the Aces get him back behind the plate and he proves he can at least throw the ball back to the pitcher (that was a problem in spring training), he won't be in Reno for long.
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If a media member was dumb enough to say anything remotely in support of Ray Rice, who punched his girlfriend in the mouth, Adrian Peterson, who beat his child, or Greg Hardy, who assaulted a woman, that media member would likely be fired or at least suspended and publicly flogged. And for good reason. But a NFL team can sign a guy like Hardy to a $13 million deal and receive little or no criticism. The fans of that team will applaud them. Hardy has been suspended for 10 games but will still make roughly $5 million of his $13 million deal from the Dallas Cowboys. Isn't giving a guy $13 million a sign of support? And, by the way, don't be stunned if Peterson is running the ball for the Cowboys this fall.
It appears that Wolf Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo and defensive lineman Brock Hekking have a 50-50 chance of getting drafted into the NFL next week. If it happens it will likely take place on Day 3 of the seven-round draft. Fajardo's arm strength, accuracy and slow release have been under fire but scouts love his ability to throw on the run. Hekking's overall athleticism is being questioned but the scouts love his mullet and fire. It seems Fajardo (great athletic ability) and Hekking (intense passion) both have what the other one lacks. But both will likely be in an NFL mini camp next month one way or another.
If football doesn't work out for Hekking he could always make a nice living as a professional wrestler. He already has the hair, face paint and attitude. Fajardo, though, needs to get into the right NFL situation to have any sort of extended professional career. How about the San Francisco 49ers as the backup to former Wolf Pack teammate Colin Kaepernick? Ex-Wolf Pack players Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson played together with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Why not Kap and Cody in San Francisco? Fajardo, who red-shirted in 2010 and watched Kaepernick set a standard for quarterbacks at Nevada that nobody could ever live up to, would be a better fit behind Kaepernick than current 49ers' backup Blaine Gabbert. They could tell Chris Ault jokes to keep each other in good spirits and Kaepernick could also let Fajardo handle the post-game press.
Can Fajardo play in the NFL? Of course. There are a ton of bad quarterbacks in the NFL. In fact, most starting quarterbacks in the league are awful, let alone every No. 2 or No. 3 guy. The days of a Steve Young backing up a Joe Montana are long gone. We might never even see a young Aaron Rodgers sitting behind an aging Brett Favre. Fajardo can certainly find a spot in the league. He's a wonderful athlete. He was also smart enough to run a complicated offense like the pistol and put up big numbers despite being surrounded by questionable talent. He also has choirboy character and won't turn into a grumbling, defensive jerk like Kaepernick once he gets criticized in the NFL. If this NFL thing doesn't work out Fajardo could run for president. Yes, he doesn't have a rifle for a right arm but arm strength is always the most overrated quality for a quarterback. In short, he could be Russell Wilson. Now all it takes is someone in the NFL to be smart enough to realize it.