I’m not really sure that this is proper classification, but I think those were barnyard noises coming from the Columbus East baseball dugout.
If those weren’t goat sounds, well, I’m sorry. The opposing team probably couldn’t figure it out, either, and that was the point. Perhaps you can get the other guys thinking about something other than baseball.
It’s a different take on the old “Hey batter batter ... swing” theory of baseball chatter that your father and your grandfather experienced. It’s goofy, but perhaps effective.
You do a goat, I’ll do a cow, throw in a couple of cat meows and perhaps the pitcher will get rattled.
Even if it doesn’t really work, it sure shows that these Olympians are having a good time. There’s lots of laughter these days for those wearing orange.
That wasn’t the case earlier this season, when baseball time at East meant half past dead. Sitting in the press box during one game in April, you could hear the birds chirping.
That’s OK if you’re on a nature walk, but it’s not a signal that the guys are getting into a baseball game, or that they give a darn.
Thirteen games into this season, the players themselves admitted that maybe they didn’t care. Team chemistry could best be described as ice.
It was alarming since the Olympians had many of the elements that make for championship-type teams. They had solid starting pitchers in Peyton Gray, William Anderson and Cam Curry. They had power in guys like Sam Claycamp and Connor Roberts. They had quickness in Christian Wichman.
Through 13 games it added up to 8-5, a notch better than mediocre. After their third loss in five games, a 5-4 sleepwalk against Jennings County on May 1, East coach Jonathan Gratz wanted his players to sort things out.
Whatever happened within the confines of that team meeting, they walked away realizing that they cared about each other. Perhaps that is what was needed.
Eight consecutive victories later, Columbus East is the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament champion for the first time since 2001. The Olympians appear to have a shot at winning their first sectional title since the century turned.
East is the No. 8-ranked Class 4A team in the state according to the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association poll.
Things are fun around the barnyard again.
On Saturday, East mashed host Jeffersonville 5-1 to win that conference tournament championship. East would put a runner, such as Nick Andrie, on base. Andrie would take his lead and the pitcher would attempt a pick-off play, with the East runner diving back into the bag.
When Andrie would get up to dust himself off, the impassioned pleas would come from East’s dugout, albeit, way, way after the play had ended. “Get back! Get back!”
The final scream made it sound like Andrie needed to escape from a house fire. In the stands, all the East parents started to laugh. Yes, they are having a good time, too.
Buried beneath the surface is a reminder that baseball, after all, is a game. It’s OK, at times, to yuk it up.
A little levity has meant a lot to these kids.
On the mound Saturday, the Jeffersonville pitcher had to be wondering what he was facing. There were those crazy sounds coming from the dugout again. It could only mean one thing.
These kids are a bunch of baaaaaaad men.
Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 379-5632.