Rome wasn’t built in a day. The way you eat an elephant is one bit at a time. Whatever the euphemism, an eternal optimist will always find a way to spin any situation in a positive way.
This year has been a mixed bag for the Wolverine baseball club, winning big games against big-name opponents, losing by large amounts and winning by vast margins. With such inconsistency at the plate and ups and downs on the mound, the Wolverines are lucky to have a coach in Eric Madsen that prefers a rosy tint to his shades in the dugout.
Last year’s Great West Conference pitcher of the year Jeremy Gendlek took the mound Thursday night but failed to meet the standard he set last season, giving up six runs over four innings. But true to their inconsistent form, Utah Valley only surrendered two runs over the final five innings.
“You can’t say you’re satisfied with that (six runs),” Madsen said. “But a mistake on a slider gives up a home-run and then you miss with another pitch and all of a sudden you’ve given up a few runs. Jeremy is doing a good job, you just have to give credit to Southern Utah. They capitalized on those mistakes.”
In their wins the Wolverines have found the best tonic for overcoming runs given up is to smash the ball into oblivion. Thursday night was no exception as six different players left the yard, setting a school record.
“I’m proud of the work they have put in,” Madsen said. “As a coach I felt like we should have scored 34 runs, but I’m ok with their effort and how things turned out.”
“Obviously I wanna see us be perfect all the time but our guys are bearing down and are trying to do things the right way.”
Madsen’s soft-spoken way of describing the situation is both informative and disarming at the same time. His knack for dissecting game info makes what appear to be glaring deficiencies only a small blip on the radar and easily correctable.
In an unstable and rocky start to the 2012 season, Madsen’s brand of optimist-ball may just be paying off. Sticking with his guys and having trust in them is what has been the trademark of this year’s club as they have now picked up three consecutive wins and four of their last five.
How do you spin an ERA nearing 6.00, 41 extra-base hits, 14 home runs and 60 walks? Madsen’s answer won’t surprise anyone and just might convince everyone that’s all behind them.
“Our pitchers have done a really good job at keeping us in games,” Madsen said. “Just like our batters they tend to get greedy and that’s when mistakes happen. But I like where we’re at.”
Putting his response through the truth machine would sound something more like this:
“Our pitchers haven’t sucked bad enough to lose the game for us. They don’t follow the game plan and reach at times to make a bigger play than we need which comes back to bite us. Things could be a lot worse.”
Madsen would never say that and never should. But wouldn’t that be a little more fun for the casual fan?