STEVENS: The Fall Classic - Lobo Style
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/25/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 25, 2008

Lobo Baseball

What: Cherry & Silver Fall Baseball Classic

When: Monday thru Friday, Oct. 27-31 (1 p.m. each day)

Where: Isotopes Park

By Richard Stevens, Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

Bobby Moore of Tidwell's Silver Slammers doesn't think he'd look good prancing around in an apron and asking a gloating teammate things like: "Need any more water? Can I cut your steak for you?"

"Hopefully, I'll never have to find out (what he looks like in an apron)," said Moore. "This game has a definite seriousness about it. There are incentives to win, but I think mainly nobody wants to be on the team that loses."

The game actually is five games the University of New Mexico baseball team will play Monday thru Friday at Isotopes Park with all games beginning at 1 p.m. It is the Lobos Annual Cherry & Silver Fall Baseball Classic.

The reward for the winning team is a steak dinner at Coaches Bar & Grill. The losing team has to don aprons and wait on the winners. When the winners are full, the losers will find themselves looking at a plate of beans as their main course.

"The (talk) has already started," said Moore, a left-handed pitcher for the Silver Slammers. "Guys are separating themselves and there is some talk flying around. I'm already hearing from the Red squad about how they are going to beat us."

The series marks the highlight of the Lobos fall season. UNM coach Ray Birmingham has divided his Lobos into two squads: Chad Tidwell's Silver Slammers and Ken Jacome's Big Red Machine.

The two UNM assistants picked the teams like two kids on a sandlot: You pick, I pick, you pick, I pick and down the line until all 41 Lobos had a team.

The Big Red Machine will start Jason Oatman on Monday, Travis Dirk on Tuesday and Kenny Toves on Wednesday. The Silver Slammers will start Ryan Escarcega on Monday, Gabe Aguilar on Tuesday and Moore on Wednesday.

Birmingham is looking to replace three mound starters from the 2008 spring season. He also lost all-conference shortstop Scott Gracey and all-league third baseman Ian Hollick. The Lobos open the 2009 season Feb. 20 in Isotopes Park battling Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

"(Isotopes Park) is the best surface that we'll play on and probably the best playing surface any team we play will see," said Moore. "It makes it special to be over there. It also allows us to simulate what is going to happen in the spring."

Birmingham, in his second season at UNM, said he is approaching the Cherry & Silver Classic hoping to see some serious competition, but he also is planning to use the series as a tradition builder for his program.

"We want this to be a big deal because Lobo baseball doesn't have a lot of tradition and we're working hard to establish some," Birmingham said. "We are making this a competitive event. I want it to be fiercely competitive. We are making sure that losing hurts and winning provides some reward.

"It's also a fun deal. The guys want to beat each other because it's for bragging rights. It's a divided team for a few days and everyone on one team is matched with a guy on the other team, so you know who your waiter is going to be.

"We want friends and fans and alumni to come to the game and then join us at Coaches to celebrate the event. We want the community to be excited about what's fixing to happen with this program."

And what might that be, coach?

"We're going to Omaha," said Birmingham, referring to the site of the College World Series.

Editor's note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner.