Chansky’s Notebook: The Harvey Rules

They are calling the Dark Knight the Pale Pawn.

Former Tar Heel Matt Harvey made it big in the majors a year after he joined the Mets in 2013. That’s when his menacing beard and tough-guy demeanor on the mound made him an all-star and gave him his nickname, which he played to the hilt as a man about town.

Things aren’t so good for the Dark Knight these days, a year after coming off Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2014 season. He seemed to regain his form a year ago, which proved the operation was successful. He posted his best record, 13-8, and struck out three short of the 191 Ks he had before the injury. His career earn-run average at that point was around 2.50, pretty darn good.

After 10 starts this season, and a 3-7 record so far, coupled with an awful 6.08 ERA, Harvey has been blasted by the New York media, which does that to athletes who don’t play by the rules off the field. Harvey is surly, slips out the back door of the locker room before the press comes in and says basically nothing when approached otherwise.

A column in the New York Post blistered Harvey this week, calling him a phony and criticizing the Mets for enabling his unprofessional behavior. The Post said, from DiMaggio to Jeter, pro athletes in New York have stood tall and taken the heat whenever things went bad.

They call them the Harvey Rules. Matt does it his way when things are going good and makes up his own rules when things aren’t. It is a familiar refrain; according to one of his former coaches at UNC, Harvey was the toughest player to deal with on the team.

Now the Mets say they have to do what is best for the Mets, as well as Harvey. That may mean sending him to the minors, where he can work on his head and his heart as well as his velocity and location. The Mets’ chief rival in the National East is Washington, which has crushed Harvey in his two starts against the Nats.

They said his once-dominant fastball is indifferent now and his second and third pitches are being slammed all over the park. He has given up 11 earned runs in 7 2/3 innings against Washington.

Looks like The Dark Knight needs to lighten up or they will be calling him Flash, as in Flash in the Pan.

Chansky’s Notebook: Baseball Format Hurts ACC

Carolina is why the ACC baseball tournament format is wrong.

The ACC restricting its baseball tournament to ten teams does not help its member schools that find themselves on the NCAA bubble. If there were no ACC tournament, the Diamond Heels would be a shoe-in for an NCAA tourney bid with their high RPI and top three toughest schedules in the country. But now the selection committee will say, “Well, they didn’t even make their own conference tournament.”

They did not because the ACC remains the best college baseball league in the nation with tremendous balance from top to bottom. Granted, the Tar Heels have slid considerably from their early season run in which they climbed to No. 3 in the rankings. But their RPI of 15 remains strong and is their best case for making the NCAA field. No team with an RPI that high has ever been denied.

But, still, Carolina is not playing at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park this week. How hard would it be for the league to add one more day to the tournament and let the other five schools in? Revise the format, start on Monday and give the top four teams byes like they do in basketball. They can figure it out; it’s not rocket science.

Is it a matter of money? The ACC is one of the wealthiest leagues in America. Surely, all schools would agree to pay travel expenses to Durham even if it meant playing one and be done. That would be like basketball teams that go out early in the ACC tournament; it may affect their NCAA seed but it wouldn’t be a black mark like it is in baseball. If UNC makes it on Selection Monday, and other ACC teams that are playing in Durham do not, we’ll surely hear the old complaints about favoritism for the Tar Heels.

What criteria should the NCAA use — your overall record and body of work throughout the season or your final standings in the conference? I say both. The Tar Heels will get in on Monday, but not happily for those ACC teams that ended their seasons at the DBAP.

UNC Baseball Prepares For Tough Weekend Series

In what might be their toughest test so far this season, the Tar Heels welcome Louisville to Boshamer Stadium for a three game series starting Friday.

The Cardinals come to Chapel Hill as the fifth-ranked team in the nation and a 33-9 overall record.

Ron Stutts chats with UNC Baseball Head Coach Mike Fox:


Friday’s matchup will see Tar Heel ace Zac Gallen take on the ACC strikeout leader Brendan McKay.

Saturday will feature another pitching duel as J.B. Bukauskas faces off against wins leader Drew Harrington.

The two Cardinal starters have combined to go 17-3 this season, providing one of the biggest tests for the Tar Heel lineup.

So far this season, UNC pitchers have averaged 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings, one of the top marks in the country. They’ll hope that continues this weekend as one of the most feared hitters in the ACC comes to town.

Lefty outfielder Corey Ray swings one of the most dangerous bats in the county. So far this season he’s batting .316 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI’s. But even when Ray doesn’t go yard, he’s just as great a threat on the basepaths.

Ray breaks conventional wisdom that says power hitters don’t have speed; he’s stolen 35 bases on 41 attempts.

First pitch will be at 6:00 p.m. Friday, and 1:00 Saturday and Sunday. The Tar Heels have not announced who Sunday’s starter will be.

Diamond Heels Knock Off Campbell

Shortstop Logan Warmoth started off the scoring for the North Carolina Tar Heels on Wednesday night on the way to a victory over Campbell.

Warmoth’s two-run home run was followed by an RBI single from Zack Gahagan for a 3-0 UNC lead after two innings.

Carolina never trailed, eventually extending the lead to 7-0 over the Camels.

Campbell did score three runs in the sixth inning to chase UNC starting pitcher Rodney Hutchison Jr. But Brett Daniels came on in relief to put a stop to the Camels’ offensive threat.

UNC added two insurance runs and Campbell scored once in the top of the ninth for a 9-4 victory.

UNC has been struggling as of late in Atlantic Coast Conference play but has now strung together victories this week over UNC – Wilmington and Campbell. The Tar Heels are off this weekend with a break from conference play and will be back in action next Wednesday hosting Virginia Commonwealth University.

UNC Baseball Prepares For Weekend Series Against Wake Forest

After an up and down week that saw a loss to Coastal Carolina and a drubbing of William & Mary, the Tar Heels get ready for a three-game series against Wake Forest.

The Tar Heel pitching staff will have all it can handle as they travel to face star first baseman Will Craig.

Craig is the reigning ACC Player of the Year and currently leads the league in batting average and RBI’s, while still showing a propensity for power, going deep 11 times this season.

But despite Craig’s prowess at the plate, Wake Forest has struggled this season, going just 7-11 so far in ACC play.

The Demon Deacons have won three of their last four games, including taking two of three from Florida State.

If the Tar Heels hit like they did Wednesday, when they put up 17 runs on William & Mary, then they should be able to handle Wake Forest.

First pitch is at 6:00 p.m. Friday, 4:00 p.m. Saturday and 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

UNC Baseball Crushes William And Mary 17-2

UNC jumped out to a three-run lead in the bottom of the first against William and Mary Tuesday night and never looked back.

The Tar Heels put up 17 runs the hard way, with just three extra-base hits, none advancing further than a double.

Leadoff hitter Brian Miller set the tone from the start, picking up a walk and stealing a base, which led to the first run of the game.

Miller scored four runs on two hits and tacked on three RBIs.

He was one of 10 different Tar Heels to round all four bases in the game.

Freshman Brandon Riley also had a big day at the plate, going 2-3 with four RBIs.

Starting pitcher Jason Morgan didn’t pitch long enough to earn a decision, but had a solid four innings of work. Morgan allowed just one earned run and struck out four.

Cole Aker was credited with the win after locking down the fifth and sixth inning.

The Tar Heels return to action Friday when they travel to Winston-Salem for the first of a three-game series with Wake Forest.

UNC Baseball No. 17 In D1 Baseball Ranking

The Tar Heels fell two spots in this week’s rankings after losing the weekend series to an unranked Virginia team.

UNC lost the first game of the series before taking an 8-1 victory behind the dominating performance of JB Bukauskas.

They would eventually drop the deciding game in a 15-9 slugfest that saw 27 hits between the two schools.

But there will be no rest for the weary as the Tar Heels welcome Coastal Carolina for one game Tuesday.

The Chanticleers will be a tough test, making it into the top-25 this week and riding a seven game winning streak.

First pitch at Boshamer Stadium is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

Bukauskas Nearly Unhittable As Tar Heels Win 8-0

When the Tar Heels think about starting pitching, they usually think about their ace Zac Gallen, but don’t forget about J.B. Bukauskas.

UNC’s number two starter shut down the Georgia Tech offense, pitching eight strong innings with just four hits as the Tar Heels won 8-0 Friday night.

He matched his career high with 11 strikeouts as the Yellow Jackets had no answer for the righty. At one point he retired 17 in a row and all of his strikeouts came on swings and misses.

The Tar Heels gave Bukauskas all the run support he needed from the start and they quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

Cleanup hitter Tyler Ramirez did his duty, clubbing a solo shot, his fifth of the season, in the fifth inning. He finished 3-5 with four runs scored.

Second baseman Eli Sutherland also had a strong day at the plate, going 2-4 and driving in four runs.

The Tar Heels dropped the first game of the series Thursday, but have a chance to come out of the weekend with a winning record on Saturday.

First pitch Saturday will be at 2:00 p.m.

UNC Clobbers Pittsburgh Behind Miller’s First Home Run

Pittsburgh Panther fans can’t be happy with UNC right now. One day after the basketball team knocked Pitt out of the tournament, the baseball team pounded the Panthers 14-2.

What started out as a close game turned quickly to a blowout as UNC used an eight-run fifth inning to break away from visiting Pittsburgh.

The Tar Heels have now won eight straight games, again on the back of starter Zac Gallen.

Gallen appears to be nearly unhittable this season. He came into Friday’s game 1-0 with a 1.21 ERA and delivered another masterful performance.

He left after eight innings, giving up just four hits and one run with eight strikeouts.

But the Tar Heel offense gave Gallen all the help he could ask for.

First baseman Brian Miller had two hits in the fifth inning alone. He leadoff and got the action started with a single.

After being driven home by centerfielder Tyler Ramirez, Miller came up again later in the inning and put the final touches on the Tar Heels’ offensive explosion.

Miller doubled to right center and brought home the seventh and eighth runs of the inning.

Two innings later, Miller hit a two-run home run to end up a triple away from the cycle. It was Miller’s first career home run.

The Tar Heels will take on Pittsburgh in the second game of the three-game series Saturday. First pitch will be at 2:00 p.m.

J.B. Bukauskas is scheduled to start for the Tar Heels.

Zac Gallen Named ACC Pitcher Of The Week

UNC starter Zac Gallen has been named the ACC Pitcher of the Week.

It is the first time the award has been given this season.

Gallen got UNC off to a strong start against No. 11 UCLA over the weekend. He threw 7.2 innings of shutout baseball, only allowing four hits and striking out 11.

UNC took two of the three games in the series against UCLA over the weekend.

The Tar Heels return to action against Oklahoma State on Friday  in the first of a three-game series.