Oregon State baseball has it cooking right now. On Monday, the Beavers took over the No. 1 ranking nationally in three of the major college baseball polls.
OSU is 38-9 this season.
I recently spoke with three-time national championship coach Pat Casey about what he sees on the field. The 2022 Beavers are incredibly balanced. They pitch especially well and feel built to contend for a College World Series championship.
It got me thinking about Casey’s three national title teams. In 2007, I took a walk to church with Casey in Omaha, Neb. one morning. On the way there, I asked Casey about the talent make-up of his roster. The Beavers weren’t the most talented team in Omaha, but they were playing the best baseball there.
He told me then, “I don’t need all the best players. I just need some of ‘em.”
OSU proved it on the field.
Now, Casey is watching a group of his former players lead the charge toward Omaha. Mitch Canham — who was the catcher on Casey’s first two national championship teams — is now head coach. Canham has former OSU players Darwin Barney, Rich Dorman, Ryan Gipson, Richie Mascareñas and Jake Postlewait on the staff, too. Even the director of baseball operations, Ryan Gorten, is a former Oregon State player.
“I think they’ve got more managers than I had players,” Casey told me. “It’s really cool to go there and know that every one of those guys played in this program.”
Oregon State hasn’t lost back-to-back games this season. The Beavers have lost only one series all year (vs. Stanford in April). OSU is poised for a fun postseason run. It felt like a good time to revisit that talent talk I had with Casey.
I asked the former coach if he remembered our conversation years ago in Omaha about talent. Casey did. He even remembered the name of the street name we were walking on.
“I just think you’ve got to get the right people,” Casey said. “Sometimes the most talented guys are the right people. I was never that gifted to say give me all the best guys and I’m going to let them play and show me how to do it. I always had a great blend, great coaches, the right people on the field.”
Oregon State hosts the University of Portland today in Corvallis. The Beavers finish the Pac-12 regular season with a conference series on the road against Arizona and a home series vs. UCLA. After that, it’s off the Scottsdale, Ariz. for the all-new Pac-12 Conference baseball tournament, beginning on May 25.
Double-elimination format over five days.
Top eight teams qualify.
Games held at Scottsdale Stadium, the spring training home of the San Francisco Giants.
I love that the conference is putting on this postseason tournament. It gives the Pac-12 one more media rights’ asset to sell and another opportunity to showcase its top teams. Oregon State feels set up for a big run.
MISTAKEN IDENTITY: I am not a big Formula One race car fan but I was immensely entertained when I saw the clip of former race car driver turned broadcaster Martin Brundle on Sunday. He had a wild mix-up during Sky Sports’ coverage of the Miami Grand Prix on ESPN.
Brundle thought he was interviewing Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes on camera. It wasn’t the QB. It was Duke basketball star and projected top-two NBA Draft pick Paolo Banchero.
Mahomes stands 6-foot-3. Banchero is 6-foot-10. I’ll safely surmise the UK-based reporter doesn’t follow college basketball or football. Brundle’s awkward handshake and “whatever” departure at the end of the interview is my favorite part.
My wife, Anna, worked in television news for a couple of decades and won a couple of Emmys. She knows the business. While I was laughing at Brundle’s cringe-worthy moment, she astutely pointed out that the error may have been caused by bad information told to the reporter during the live broadcast.
You can see the “IFB” earpiece in Brundle’s ear. In an uncontrolled crowd like that you’d need to have a spotter identifying celebrities and directing the reporter. Brundle’s realization that he’s not actually talking with the Super Bowl MVP quarterback was likely sparked by the producer getting in his ear with, “That’s not Patrick Mahomes.”
Still, it was an entertaining moment, wasn’t it?
It reminds me of an incident that happened on the radio airwaves years ago. KXTG, my favorite Portland sports station, hired a new host named Dave Smith. He was a really nice guy and a very capable host but he was relocating from Southern California. This placed him at a distinct disadvantage and fostered what ended up being an awkward on-air moment.
Smith was hosting his show during his first few days when University of Oregon broadcaster Jerry Allen called in for a previously scheduled weekly interview. The producer, who was also new on the job, got in the host’s ear and informed him the “UO broadcaster” was on hold and ready to go on air.
A few minutes earlier, Smith spent his commercial break furiously researching. During the Google search, the new guy somehow got his OSU-UO wires crossed and went back on air certain he had Mike Parker — long-time radio voice of the Beavers — as his guest.
Jerry Allen sounded mildly confused when the host’s first question was about the Beavers. But then came a second question, and a third about Oregon State. This went on for several minutes. Smith asked and Allen politely answered. It wasn’t until Smith went to reset the interview that Allen gathered he was, in fact, being mistaken for Parker.
“My guest is Mike Parker,” announced Smith. Then, the host asked another Beaver-related question.
Allen shot back: “This is Jerry Allen… I think there’s been a mistake.”
I was listening in as I was driving around that day. I nearly drove off the road. Everyone who has lived here any length of time knows the difference between Allen’s voice and Parker’s voice. I tried texting Smith, who I had just met. He wasn’t looking at his phone during the interview. I also had no luck texting the producer.
I’ll give them both a lot of credit. Because Smith and Allen recovered and laughed about it by the end of the interview. It was a highly entertaining listen because we’ve all been there in some way. Brundle knows what I’m talking about.
WORLDS OF SPORT: The first-ever Worlds of Sport fan expo is taking place June 18-19 at Oregon Convention Center. It features all the big sports brands, E-sports, memorabilia, industry panel discussions and is going to be a cool Father’s Day weekend event.
Those who will attend will get a chance to kick a field goal, make a putt, throw a speed pitch. The list of activations is mind blowing. Also, there will be a presence from the Ducks, Beavers, Blazers, Timbers, Thorns, Winterhawks, Washington, WSU, UCLA and lots of others. Really excited for a family-friendly sports event that is a long time in the making.
Worlds of Sport will also benefit a couple of important local charities, including Do Good Multnomah — which helps with permanent housing and low-barrier shelters for the homeless. Also, it will benefit Camp Exceptional, the Bald Faced Truth Foundation’s summer camp for special-needs and typical kids.
I don’t know what you have planned for June 18-19, but if you’re into sports, check out tickets on the website and get this on your calendar.
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Great job John and staff . Always interesting
Casey built an amazing baseball program at OSU! Beavers Baseball is now a nationally recognized brand, an impossibility before Casey took the helm. Beaver Nation should know how special & extraordinary this is & appreciate it.