Photo Courtesy of New York Post
NEW YORK — Former UNC baseball pitcher Matt Harvey’s fears have been realized.
The New York Mets slinger won’t see any playing time for the 2014 season having undergone Tommy John surgery Tuesday to mend the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Harvey decided this month to have the surgery before he could begin a throwing regimen. The recovery time for Tommy John surgery is usually 12-15 months.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson says he understands the ace won’t be on the mound in 2014 and is exploring replacement options.http://chapelboro.com/sports/professional/harvey-sidelined-with-tommy-john-surgery/
CHAPEL HILL– The Diamond Heels have announced their 2014 baseball schedule. And it figures to be an exciting one. Carolina will host 37 games at Boshamer Stadium and face off against 20 teams that reached last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Head Coach Mike Fox will be gunning for another run at the College World Series title that has remained elusive in his illustrious career, and he knows it will be a tough road.
ACC match-ups with Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State, Virginia Tech and new league member Pittsburgh feature in the home schedule.
The Tar Heels will begin proceedings in Chapel Hill with a three-game series versus College of Charleston Feb. 14-16.
The 2014 ACC Baseball Championship will be held at NewBridgeBankPark in Greensboro, May 20-25. NCAA regional action gets underway May 30-June 2.
For the complete 2014 schedule, click here.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/batter-up-tar-heel-baseball-launches-2014-schedule/
As fall ball and the first days of school start up again for the Diamond Heels, Rogers takes a look at the State of the Program with Head Coach Mike Fox.
In one of his final press conferences of the 2013 season, UNC Baseball Coach Mike Fox remarked that “the end of the year always hurts…it never gets any easier.” This wasn’t an earth-shattering quote. Anyone who has played or follows sports knows the feeling. What was interesting about Fox’s comments, however, is that they came after a win for his ball club. One might expect a different sound bite after a Super Regional that would send his team to — yet another — College World Series.
Perhaps Fox was sympathizing with the losing squad, the South Carolina Gamecocks — coached by Fox’s friend and former assistant, Chad Holbrook. There’s likely some truth to that. Having been there before, Fox was no doubt ultra-aware of the pain that comes with losing on that stage. But even Holbrook himself remarked in his postgame quotes that he already owned two national title rings and smirked, “I’m a big boy, I’ll be fine.”
Much more likely is that Coach Fox was simply offering a metaphorical glimpse of where he has taken his program — to a level where all the games at the end are big. And they can all hurt.
The roaring success of Carolina Baseball over the past decade (the winningest program over that span) can no doubt be a double-edged sword. Victory brings expectations. Success breeds demands. It’s a paradox in a way — especially for the fans. The more you win, the more it hurts when you lose. No one remembers the end of a mediocre season.
Of course, this is a dilemma any program would accept. “It’s better to have loved,” after all. But that doesn’t make it any easier. And it certainly doesn’t make it any easier on the head coach himself. Fox has produced a #1 ranked team in almost every season for seven years, and in a backwards fashion that success somehow brings as much scrutiny as it does praise. The head coach was questioned over his pitch count management last season even though he has been putting pitchers into the big leagues over the last decade seemingly at the rate Carolina Basketball sends point guards to the NBA.
Fox has even attained the status of what might be the most gratifying criticism there is for a head coach: having not won “the big one.” It’s almost flattering — the media’s way of saying you’ve become so successful that they’re going to start nitpicking everything about you just to find a story. It isn’t much different from when Tyler Hansbrough had become so unstoppable in college basketball that pundits started criticizing the prospects of his professional career that hadn’t even happened.
But if you know Coach Fox, you know this criticism means nothing to him. He’s just happy to be there — at that level. That’s all he talks about, “just be there, and we’ll have a chance.”
That kind of attitude takes discipline, which the coach has earned over a long career. He started at second base for the Tar Heels from 1976-1978 (helping his team to a College World Series) and played a year in indy pro baseball. While at UNC he even played on the jayvee basketball team.
In 1979, Fox came back to UNC as a graduate assistant, where he crossed paths with another future Tar Heel head coach, Roy Williams, who was an assistant to Dean Smith at the time. It might be from Williams where Fox learned to tune out criticism and simply coach his team.
“Mike and I have a great relationship — we both love Carolina and UNC athletics. I’ll always support and help his program.” – Roy Williams
There are a lot of similarities between the close friends: the same stubbornness, the same ferocious intensity in anything resembling a competition. Williams’ competitive fire is no secret, and there are enough stories floating around Woolen Gym of Mike Fox’s intensity in pickup basketball games to believe that at least a handful have some truth to them.
“A lot of my coaching comes from my playing days in basketball and baseball. Being undersized, I always had to be aggressive. I think a coach’s mentality always stems from his past.” – Fox
Specifically, both coaches’ programs are renowned for their relentlessly aggressive tendency to put points and runs on the scoreboard — and often lead the nation in those categories. It’s a major reason they’re both such great recruiters (Newsflash: athletes like scoring). Fox and Williams each have the same mindset in coaching: they’ll absorb a few turnovers (or throw-outs at home) if it means having a deadly offense. Fox writes notes to himself before every game based on his competition, but one is always the same: “Be aggressive.” He wants his kids pushing the envelope, and you can’t argue with the results.
“Kids want to be aggressive and run bases — we encourage that. They like to play that way, and we try to allow them some freedom in the batter’s box.” – Fox
Coach Williams’ philosophy isn’t much different, both while running his team and even when watching the Diamond Heels. “I love it when [Coach Fox's] teams take the extra base, hit and run, and put pressure on the other team’s defense,” said Williams.
The aggressive nature of Fox’s game plan invades all aspects of his coaching. Like most successful coaches, he does everything with an underlying intensity and focus. This can be off-putting to the media and pundits at time, but this attitude endears a coach to his players. And of course that is what makes a great manager and brings players to a program.
When Fox gets a runner thrown out by (mistakenly) telling him to round third base, you could argue he made a poor decision. But what does this say to the player? “My coach believes in me. He thought I could make it.”
“I think our style really loosens kids up and allows them to play better. I never want errors or outs, but once you build that trust, giving them the green light frees them up to make plays.” – Fox
Chase Jones came into UNC’s program in 2006, just when Fox was starting to take over the ACC and make Omaha his yearly vacation spot. Having had a few years to reflect on Carolina Baseball’s success since then, Jones’ comments on the state of the program had more to do with Fox and his players than on any win-loss records:
“He’s so great off the field,” Jones says. “He builds you up after a loss, and has no problem chewing you out after a win, like all the great ones. He’s always telling us: Be aggressive. Fine, get thrown out, but always be aggressive. Go for that extra base. Go for home. ”
“Coach instills confidence in his players.” – Jones
When asked about Fox and UNC Baseball finally having an ending to a season that doesn’t “hurt,” Jones said what everyone who has played on that stage knows: “It’s basically a crapshoot at that level. You hope your pitching is there, you hope your bats are there. But the real key is just being there — eventually it will happen.”
And if you know Mike Fox, you know he understands. He says it nonstop, “We just want to be there.”
Of course, this is also an aspect of coaching Roy Williams knows a thing or two about:
“I remember Coach Smith saying in 1982, ten minutes after the national championship game was over, that he didn’t think he was a better coach than he had been two and half hours ago just because we had beaten Georgetown. I made the same statement in 2005 after we beat Illinois in St. Louis. Mike Fox is a fantastic coach… He is winning so many games and I want him to keep knocking on that door for a national championship… and one of these days, he’ll win one.” – Williams
As Jones says, “Omaha is no longer the vacation spot. It’s the standard.”
Photos courtesy InsideTheACC.com, and AP Wirehttp://chapelboro.com/columns/seriously-kidding/coach-mike-fox-past-present-future/
Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications
CHAPEL HILL–The Tar Heel baseball team has hired former UNC catcher and 2009 MLB draft pick Mark Fleury as an undergraduate assistant for the 2013-2014 school year.
Carolina baseball coach Mike Fox made the announcement on Tuesday.
In his junior season at UNC, Fleury carried a .309 batting average with 12 home runs and 60 RBIs. The Cincinnati Reds selected him in the fourth round of the 2009 draft.
As a professional, Fleury advanced to Double-A, with his most recent stop coming with the AA Arkansas Travelers in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim system.
“We are excited to have Mark back in Chapel Hill and on our staff for this season,” Fox said. “It’s a tribute to the kind of person he is that he wanted to come back to school and finish his degree. I think he will be a great addition to our program.”http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/new-addition-to-unc-baseball-staff/
Colin Moran after home run (Courtesy of The Times News)
GREENSBORO – Just seven weeks after being drafted by the Miami Marlins, former Tar Heel Colin Moran started his professional career with a bang.
The sixth pick in this year’s First-Year Players draft found the right-field fence with two outs for a solo home run in his first professional at bat. Moran’s single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers went on to win the contest against Charleston, 4-3.
Despite picking up mid-season, Moran told the Greensboro News Observer before the game “It feels like Opening Day all over again.”
Moran finished the game 1-3 with a walk.
Colin’s brother Brian (another former Tar Heel) also had a successful mid-week night as he threw a scoreless inning in the Triple-A All-Star Game.http://chapelboro.com/sports/professional/colin-moran-homers-on-first-pro-at-bat/
NEW YORK – Former North Carolina standout Matt Harvey will become the third player in program history to start the Major League Baseball All-Star Game when he takes the mound for the National League, manager Bruce Bochy announced Monday.
Harvey, who joins Walt Weiss (1998) and Brian Roberts (2005) as Carolina All-Star starters, will oppose Detroit’s Max Scherzer in the Midsummer Classic Tuesday night at Citi Field. Harvey owns a 7-2 record with a 2.35 ERA in 130 innings of work for the Mets this season. He has struck out 147 batters in 19 starts and currently leads the National League in strikeouts.
“It’s a huge honor,” Harvey told MLB.com. “I appreciate it. It’s obviously here in New York. The fans have been great here all year. Hopefully I can make them proud.”
Harvey will be the first pitcher to start an All-Star Game at his home ballpark since Roger Clemens in 2004. Harvey will also be the third pitcher to make his first All-Star Game start at his home ballpark. The others were Carl Hubbell of the New York Giants in 1934 and Esteban Loaiza of the White Sox in 2003.
“What a tremendous year he’s had,” Bochy said. “It really wouldn’t have mattered what city we’re playing in, with the year he’s had.”
The Mystic, Conn., native starred for the Tar Heels from 2008-10 before being drafted by the New York Mets with the seventh overall selection in the 2010 MLB Draft.
With the selection to the All-Star Game, Harvey becomes the seventh Tar Heel to earn a roster spot at the MLB All-Star Game and is the first player since Brian Roberts in 2007.
UNC All-Star Game History
Nate Andrews – 1944 (Reserve)
Burgess Whitehead – 1935 (Reserve), 1937 (Reserve)
Snuffy Stirnweiss – 1945 (DNP) 1946 (Reserve)
Walt Weiss – 1998 (Started at SS)
B.J. Surhoff – 1999 (Reserve)
Brian Roberts – 2005 (Started at 2B), 2007 (Reserve)
CLEVELAND – North Carolina’s eighth place finish in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup is the highest finish among ACC schools—a feet which Carolina has accomplished for the 15th time in 20 years. It is also the second year in a row in which the Tar Heels have finished in eighth.
The Directors’ Cup measures each school’s performance in NCAA post-season competition.
The Tar Heels got a big boost from their women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse programs which each got 100 points for their national championships.
UNC Field Hockey finished the season second for 90 points, baseball finished third for 83 points, men’s soccer and women’s tennis both finished fifth for 73 points, and men’s lacrosse got a fifth-place finish for 60 points.
Stanford once again took the Cup for the 19th-straight time. However, second-place Florida was only 16.5 points behind.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/north-carolina-finishes-8th-again-in-directors-cup/
OMAHA, NE – “The end of the year, it always stinks.”
Those were UNC Head coach Mike Fox’s sentiments following Friday’s disappointing 4-1 loss to UCLA that knocked the Tar Heels out of the College World Series.
Let’s be honest. There is never a good time to lose. But there can only be one team who doesn’t end their season on a loss. It is both the intrigue and cruelty of postseason tournament play. A team that dominates all season (much like Carolina), can see their season end abruptly at any time. And baseball only exacerbates this effect, as sometimes all it takes is a hot ace on the mound to befuddle the best of lineups.
And unfortunately, the Diamond Heels’ designs on getting their hands on the program’s first NCAA College World Series title fell through late Friday evening, but not before an attempt at a signature ninth inning rally that this UNC squad seemingly patented in their 2013 campaign. Heck, the Heels practically turned the miraculous into the mundane with their late-game heroics, especially late in the season.
“What we did in the ninth inning is just indicative of our kids and how we played all year,” Mike Fox reflected postgame.
Boy, that statement could not ring any truer.
Can you recall the ACC tournament? In what felt like a full mini-season all to itself, UNC survived back-to-back extra inning ballgames against Clemson and NC State just to advance to the championship game where they ultimately defeated the Hokies of Virginia Tech. The sheer will and determination of the UNC squad was put on full display in those late night, no, early morning nail biting contests needed just to secure their own conference crown.
And then it was on to the NCAA tournament. As the number one overall seed, the Tar Heels undoubtedly felt a mountain of pressure along with having a gigantic target on their backs for other upstart teams. And it showed. Unheralded Florida Atlantic forced UNC to an elimination game.
The heart of a champion came out once again for the Tar Heels as they rallied back on multiple occasions to survive the home run barrages of the FAU squad to advance and win a game that Fox remarked was one of the greatest ones he had ever been a part of.
Super Regionals came next. North Carolina’s neighbors to the South were on deck. And wow, what a series it was. Not surprisingly, the Tar Heels found themselves knee deep in another elimination game. And they came up with the goods once again, scraping out a 5-4 decision over the ever-tough South Carolina Gamecocks to yet again book their tickets to Omaha.
The adversity the Tar Heels team continually faced this postseason was matched and exceeded by their “never say die” attitudes that cannot be taught. This team had more fight in them than Mike Tyson. The team thrived with their backs against the wall. Houdini-esque escapes were all but routine. And maybe it finally caught up to them on Friday night. Who knows?
But let’s remember the 2013 Diamond Heels for their admirable fighting spirit and all their unbelievable accomplishments including a school record 59 wins, a school record for most runs scored in a season, the ACC regular season and tournament titles, and another trip to Omaha.
Coach Fox, himself, dubbed this year’s squad “a coach’s dream.” He went on to add that it had been one of his most fun seasons. And this is coming from a man who has been at the helm of Tar Heel baseball since 1999. Just think of all the remarkable teams we have witnessed since then.
So let’s take a cue from Mr. Fox and savor what we have witnessed. What a wild ride it has been. Tar Heel nation was treated to so many unforgettable thrills along the way. And yes, there was no championship ring at the end of the day. But sometimes, in life and in baseball, it is the journey it took to even get there in the first place that ends up being the sweetest part of all.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/cardiac-carolina-comes-up-just-short-in-special-season/
OMAHA, NE - A last-inning rally fell short for the Diamond Heels Friday night as the UCLA Bruins ended Carolina’s season with a 4-1 decision in the College World Series.
For the second straight game, Carolina pitching showed similar strengths of those in the regular season. Lefty Kent Emanuel started on the mound and threw seven strikeouts including all three outs in the bottom of the third.
Emanuel’s outing also included a pair of close calls in the second and sixth innings. In the bottom of the second, after UCLA’s Pat Gallagher scored on a chopper through first and second, the Bruins loaded the bases.
***Listen to the Call***
Dave Nathan with the call on the Tar Heel Sports Network.
Emanuel closed three of his six innings pitched with strikeouts.
After the game, UNC Head Coach Mike Fox said the Tar Heel ace proved to onlookers that the lefty still has a lot to give.
***Listen to the Coach’s Comments***
Despite his strengths, UCLA got out in front of Emanuel in the second and sixth with a run in each inning. Just like the second, he stranded the Bruins with bases loaded, limiting further damage.
After Emanuel, Carolina went through five pitchers with none pitching a complete inning.
The Bruins added two more in the bottom of the seventh and took the four-run lead into the latter part of the contest.
In the top of the ninth—thanks to a pair of singles and a walk—North Carolina loaded the bases, and on a fielder’s choice, Mike Zolk got the Tar Heels on the board.
***Listen to the Call***
With two outs, Carolina saw the bases loaded again. Landon Lassier stepped to the plate, and with a 1-2 count…
***Listen to the Call***
With the win, the Bruins advanced to the College World Series Championship; the Tar Heels finished their season 59-12.
Coach Fox said despite not making it to the championship series and getting Carolina’s first ring, this season was one for the books.
***Listen to the Coach’s Comments***http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/diamond-heels-season-comes-to-end-with-4-1-loss-to-bruins/
OMAHA, NE – Carolina’s superfan, Tom Jensen, followed the Diamond Heels to Omaha and has been reporting on the games for WCHL. He’s en route back to the Tar Heel state, but says he’ll be back in Omaha for the National Championship series.
Just before jumping on the plane, WCHL’s Ran Northam spoke with Jensen about yesterday’s elimination game.
***Listen to the Interview***http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-pitching-lifts-tar-heel-spirits-in-omaha/