It's A "White-Out" At Russ Chandler Stadium Today

April 17, 2010

The idea this afternoon at Russ Chandler is to wear white. You know, “white out” everything. It’s a big game, after all, as it seems to be when Clemson is in Atlanta, even when Georgia Tech is not ranked No. 5 and the Tigers are not ranked 16.

Andrew Robinson will be right at home. He’s a white-out kind of guy.

Here, an explanation: Robinson is the Yellow Jackets’ de facto closer, although by his numbers – 4-0, 0.87 ERA – you’d figure the senior was meant all along to be right where he’s at.

Cat’s on it like Mariano Rivera; he looks half asleep while slicing through hurricane conditions. Robinson white-outs circumstance. Everybody else’s pants are on fire, and he’s munching nachos. Look up, at those numbers in the prior paragraph. Ridiculous, and he has a countenance to match.

Somnambulism (sleep walking) may help more than the wicked movement on Robinson’s fastball.

The young man has a method: calm down. Apparently, once upon a time he had a problem with nerves so now he goes out of his way to soothe himself, even if it takes checking out the ladies in the crowd. He’s a regular sleep-walker.

“If I’m all hyped up, I get a little wild, so I try to joke around with guys and stuff,” said Robinson. “I joke around with Cole and Skole. When I’m warming up, they’re all right around me.”

They would be catcher Cole Leonida and third baseman Matt Skole.

Cat (Robinson) was dialed in again Friday night in a brief stint, retiring both hitters he faced to pick up the win against Clemson. All he did was enter with one out and the bases loaded in the 10th inning and strike out cleanup hitter Kyle Parker, and then induce John Hinson to line softly out.

Did anybody mention that Parker and Hinson are the Tigers’ two leading hitters?

Football coach Paul Johnson was at Friday’s baseball game, and perhaps he left disappointed. He’d probably rather see Parker – also the Tigers’ quarterback – succeed to where the junior is drafted highly enough in June by a Major League team to leave school early. He went hitless in five at-bats with two strikeouts and grounded into a double play.

Parker stared at Robinson’s two final pitches looking less like a player who entered the game tied for second in the ACC with 12 home runs with a.500 on-base percentage and more like a bumfoozled Tiger. Johnson probably wishes both Robinson and Parker woke up.

So . . . how does Robinson’s pulse go so low without him passing out?

He’s been in every role as a pitcher at Tech, and was penciled in as a setup man this season. But closer Kevin Jacob went down more than a month ago with a bum shoulder.

This calming-down process has become more important.

Catcher Cole Leonida explains: it’s a fluid series of movements physical and verbal; Robinson’s method changes without meditation; it just happens.

“I’d be lying if I said we hadn’t picked out a girl in the stands [to talk about],” Leonida said. “It’s not the same thing every time. Sometimes, I just tell him to take a deep breath. Sometimes, he has a funny story about the bullpen. Tonight he didn’t do it, but the vast majority of times the first pitch he throws to me is a fastball that goes about 46 feet [a bad idea when the bases are loaded]. That kind of loosens him up.

“There’s nothing we do that is ground-breaking. A lot of guys come out there, and they’d have a snarl on their face. He comes out and I just told him, `Hey, throw some strikes.’ He says, `OK.’ “

P.S. Sting Extra, or a variation thereof, will return in a couple weeks. Meanwhile, send comments and suggestions about the e-newsletter and the Tech website to gtstingx@gmail.com. And somebody please explain the phenomenon I witnessed last night at the baseball game centered around the wig-headed man they call Vu. He tossed a tire over his back, something like a suplex in wrestling. Google the move; very impressive, especially at the international level (both Vu’s and a true suplex). I don’t know what was stranger: that, my wife calling in the middle of the game and asking when and why I cooked the two previously frozen slices of pizza while she was out of town, or Tech SID staffer Mike Huff telling me he didn’t know there were horse-drawn carriages in downtown Atlanta. Every day’s a commuter flight through the Twilight Zone if you think about it.

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