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Friday, May 13, 2016: Bigger, faster and stronger on the mound

   Leading off today: Here we are heading for the homestretch of the school year and I'm assigning more required reading than a rookie AP English teacher.

   Regardless, these are three pieces of work from the past 24 hours that you might want to take a gander at in between dodging weekend raindrops.

   No. 1, It's all about mph: If the five scariest words an athlete can hear are "Go see Dr. James Andrews" then one of the best messages a sports reporter can get is that the renowned orthopedic surgeon has time in his day to talk.

   Vincent Mercogliano of The Journal News spoke to Andrews for his piece on pitchers in Section 1 baseball this spring. At least five hurlers have hit 90 mph on the radar gun, continuing a trend that's been developing in more places than just Section 1.

   "All of these exercises that these kids are doing to play baseball promote a higher velocity," the Alabama-based Andrews said. "If you look at kids in high school now, say in the ninth grade, I can't tell how old they are. ... Our kids are bigger, stronger, taller -- and that's happened throughout evolution. Athletes back when they first started baseball, they weren't 6-6, 6-7 throwing a baseball. They were, at the most, probably 6-feet. So some of that is to be expected."

   Hitting 95 on the gun is eye-catching, but there's way more to the art of pitching than throwing heat 100 times per start. Not that it's stopping major-league teams from obsessing over the hardest throwers at the expense of guys who bounce from 85 to 95 miles per hour but hit spots and get more movement on their pitches.

   "They're giving kids 5 or 6 million dollars because they saw them throw at a showcase," an MLB scout said. "It drives me out of my mind. You see these guys in the minor leagues and say, 'OK, this guy is going to get somebody fired." They attach themselves to a young kid who they think has a high ceiling."

   Parents are equally guilty.

   "I call it the radar gun mentality," Suffern pitching instructor Brian Aviles said. "When I do private lessons, the parents want me to bring the radar gun. I say, 'Are you crazy?'"

   No. 2, Not all lacrosse is alike: Rob Centorani watched girls lacrosse for the first time, and it did not go well. The Press & Sun-Bulletin reporter left the field with more questions than fond memories of the contest.

   "Why are there so many whistles? Why is defense illegal? Why is contact a four-letter word? Why cant they play the same game the boys play?" he wrote.

   Later, he added: "If the people who implemented rules for girls lacrosse had a crack at basketball, drawing a charge would be illegal, boxing out and blocking shots would be cast aside, and screens would be outlawed. Although, to be fair, I did see some picks Monday. Why picks are legal but some of the other incidental contact I witnessed is not is beyond me."

   Many of us have uttered similar thoughts over the years, because girls lacrosse may be a worthwhile activity, but it bears no resemblance to the speed, strength and athleticism of the boys version of the sport.

   You can read the full column here.

   No. 3, Life isn't fair, but ... : Cheri Ward played lacrosse -- sparingly -- as a Baldwinsville senior in 1999 before going on to earn her degree from Ithaca College, a master's at Harvard and her doctorate from Ithaca College.

   Upon learning that B'ville coach Doug Rowe will retire from coaching next month, Ward wrote an essay for reflecting upon what she learned by sitting and watching.

   "To those parents and players who think that sitting on the bench is a waste of time: You're sorely mistaken," she


   "From the bench, I learned I learned that life isn't always fair. I learned that your position or title shouldn't be dependent on your age or seniority. I learned what it means to follow through on a commitment and not to give up when I didn't get 'my way.'

   "From the bench, I watched less experienced, but faster, freshman play 'my' position. Although at first may not have seemed fair, I watched these girls develop into players you could build a team around. Playing the girls who were best in the position was the best decision for the team, and it encouraged me to push myself more because I learned that hard work and results were rewarded. Those coaching decisions paid off; almost every senior in my class went on to play in

college and Baldwinsville won the state championship the year after I graduated."

   An aside: In reader comments beneath the online essay, someone took Ward to task for what he regarded as weak writing skills for someone who's earned advanced academic degrees.

   Ward responded thusly: "You are correct, I did not learn English or writing skills at Ithaca College, Temple, or Harvard as I did not take English or writing classes at any of those institutions. Please do not judge them, or the public school system, based on my errors and oversights. ...

   "Maybe it's another example of trying to do something I'm not the best at, but persevering anyways."

   That's what the cool kids these days refer to "mic drop."

   On the move: David Hanna, a Cornell football assistant, will take over as athletic director at Ithaca High on June 1. He replaces interim AD Jeff Manwaring. Then-AD Danielle LaRoche left for another job last June.

   Hanna has been a positions and special teams coach for Cornell since 2012.

   Extra points: Ali Turner of Geneva scored her 200th career lacrosse goal Tuesday during a 16-4 win over Midlakes.

   Andover pitcher Gretta Howland rang up her 1,000th career strikeout Tuesday during a 6-4 win over Cuba-Rushford. The junior fanned 11 in the game.

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