How does one spend a fall Saturday when Notre Dame has a bye?
One can turn to playoff baseball, which offers several Notre Dame connections. During their final regular season series against the Cleveland Indians, the Chicago White Sox turned to Notre Dame for inspiration:
The Sox placed a blue and gold sign reading "Play Like A Champion Today" near the door leading from their Jacobs Field clubhouse to the field. The sign came from Notre Dame, whose equipment manager, Henry Scroope, is a friend of Sox equipment manager Vince Fresso and announcer Ed Farmer.That is exactly how the Sox have played, as they have not lost a game since displaying the sign.
In the National League, the Houston Astros are led by star closer and former Irish pitcher Brad Lidge. Lidge was selected the 1998 Big East Pitcher of the Year while playing for Paul Mainieri's squad. This past February, Lidge returned to campus to speak at the baseball team's opening dinner and brought Roger Clemens with him.
The Atlanta Braves also feature a Notre Dame connection, as master pitching coach Leo Mazzone is a huge Notre Dame fan. Mazzone, of course, is the man responsible for such miracles as the Jaret Wright Reclamation Project. As Mazzone told the Chicago Tribune:
I love Notre Dame. Never went to college, but I love Notre Dame. I love them with a passion, not only because of their football program but for the other things they represent. Notre Dame shouldn't be a school that should have trouble getting great athletes in there. I hope they continue to play the same schedule they play because that's what makes them what they are.The story I have heard is that on October 10, 1992, when the Braves were set to take on the Pirates that night in Game 4 of the NLCS, Mazzone slipped out during the day to catch Notre Dame's 52-21 pasting of the Panthers. Although Mazzone was late returning to Three Rivers, the Braves won the game that night.
Speaking of baseball, Paul Mainieri's squad just completed their series of fall intrasquad scrimmages. As seen to the left, former baseball Freshman All-American Jeff Samardzija stopped by. Samardzija, of course, was unable to participate as he is preoccupied pursuing All-America honors in another sport.
It's also Blue-Gold time for another Irish squad. New hockey coach Jeff Jackson will make his debut as Irish coach in a free scrimmage at the JACC tonight at 7:00. Jackson, who won two national championships while coaching at Lake Superior State, was named head coach in May. On a related note, Notre Dame alum and current Detroit Red Wing Brett Lebda scored a goal in his first NHL game this week.
Brandon Hoyte has been named a semi-finalist for the Draddy Trophy, college football's "academic Heisman." The award is named after the founder of Lacoste. Does this mean Hoyte may be hurt by the fact that he is more likely to pop a collarbone than a collar?
If you're still looking for a college football fix this Saturday, then turn to EveryDayShouldBeSaturday. Though the two are Gator fans, Orson Swindle and Stranko Montana do a masterful job of covering the entire college football landscape through equal parts pageantry, punditry, and parody. Plus, if you follow their links long enough, you'll come across such gems as this startling evidence of Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer adding insult to injury after defeating Louisiana's football team.