Jan. 5, 2000
Q: Where is the ASU baseball program as we head into the 2000 season?
A: We are proud of our recent accomplishments, having finished in the top 10 in the country 2 out of the last 3 seasons. Playing for the National Championship 18 months ago was a great achievement for our program, however our goal is to win the National Championship and it was a great disappointment to come up short in the final game. Overall, we feel our program is moving in a very positive direction and our goals are at the highest level.
Q: What are the benefits of playing one of the toughest schedules in the country?
A: One of the staples of our program is to play playoff baseball day in and day out, not just at the end of the season. There is no better way to do this than to play teams like LSU, Cal State-Fullerton, and Oklahoma, and then to play in the toughest conference in the country. When playoff time does come, we will have been tested over and over again, and this is really the only way to achieve our lofty goals.
Q: What is the program's stance on professional baseball and why has Arizona State had more players drafted in the last two years than any other program in the country?
A: After our players leave Arizona State our goal is for them to have professional careers marked by excellence and longevity, not just the mere "getting a shot" in the minors. So many of our players chose ASU and then are drafted higher than they were originally because our schedule pits them against the very best players in the country. In addition, our players are winners and that is an intangible that cannot be underestimated in professional baseball. The bottom line is that the people who run professional baseball know that ASU players have been tested at the highest level and they are proven winners. Kids like Dan McKinley and Ryan Bradley are great examples of this as they were 14th round picks out of high school and became 1st round picks through their ASU experience.
Q: What role do academics play here at Arizona State?
A: A key word in our program is commitment, and we expect our players to display the same level of commitment in the classroom as is expected of them on the field. Our players' academic performance reflects this commitment as the 1999 team had three Academic All-American players and our incoming players held a school high team GPA of 2.73.
Q: What are some of the things that the ASU baseball program is doing in the community?
A: We have made a commitment to giving back to our community in any way we can. Part of this commitment includes our free Diablo Clinics for underprivileged youth, the Sun Devil Speakers' Bureau, and the Guadalupe Project. Our players spend countless hours speaking to and interacting with these young people and we feel that our players have the ability to have a great impact. The incredible part of this service is that our players are also learning life lessons in the process and they get every bit as much out of these programs as the children they are helping do.
Q: How do the facilities at ASU set the baseball program apart from others across the country?
A: Packard Stadium is one of the nation's finest collegiate baseball stadiums. Having said that, we are very excited about the upcoming renovations that Packard Stadium will undergo in the next few years. These renovations will include a new players' clubhouse and locker room. When you combine these improvements with our state-of-the-art hitting and pitching facility, there is no question that ASU provides our players with the best facilities in college baseball.
Q: How does attendance at ASU baseball games compare to the rest of college baseball?
A: ASU baseball is among the nation's leaders in attendance and consistently leads the Pac-10 in average attendance. The last five seasons have seen a marked improvement in the number of spectators attending ASU baseball games and the Sun Devils' popularity has only grown through the emergence of the Arizona Diamondbacks right here in our backyard.
Q: What are the first reports on this year's recruiting class?
A: We are not in the practice of getting too excited about recruiting classes because that puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on these kids. However, we are extremely pleased with this year's class and we feel we have signed the top players in Arizona and the country for that matter. The thing we are most excited about is the quality of person that these young people represent, and these players have a very definite idea about the price you have to pay to become a champion.
Q: ASU baseball is the most storied tradition in college baseball. What impact does that have on the team and the program?
A: The tradition of ASU baseball is something that our players take tremendous pride in and we feel it is necessary to live up to these very high expectations. The bottom line is that the goal at ASU is to win the National Championship, and this standard has been set by the great teams, players, and coaches of our past.
Q: How would you describe the feeling of playing for the National Championship in 1998?
A: It was a great thrill for our team and program. Even though the National Championship is our goal each and every year, it is hard to describe the feeling of making it through a regional and having the opportunity to play for it all. That was a special team made up of first class kids and their legacy is one that will continue to motivate this year's version of the Sun Devils.