A Pitcher’s Nightmare

TYLER HOWELL

Staff Writer
Warming up, Josh Gascon felt a bit of pain. But hey, what pitcher can say they’ve never come across a little pain here and there?
The first batter comes to the plate but sits right back down in the dugout after a quick three pitch strikeout. The following batter gives more of a battle, fighting off some pitches until the umpire calls strike three as he got caught looking on a pitch inside.
Up next comes the three hitter, the best pure hitter on the opposite team.  Simply put, Gascon’s feeling untouchable, a great way to start a season. The first two batters go down easy in the first game of the year. Gascon winds up and hears, “pop-pop,” two small crackling sounds that come from his elbow while letting go of the ball. Instant shooting pain is coming from the inner part of his elbow.
To waste time Gascon walks off the mound apparently cleaning the ball off but in actuality biding time to see if the pain will vacate from his elbow.
Despite the pain being seemingly unbearable, Gascon takes his spot on the mound. He throws three straight pitches that are all off target and the batter throws his bat in the direction of his team’s dugout and walks to first shaking his head.
With pain still aggravating Gascon’s elbow, he attempts to ignore it. His first two pitches to the fourth hitter in the opposing team’s lineup are fastballs for strikes. Neither of them close to what Gascon’s usual high 80’s, occasional low 90’s fastball can get to. Taking the mound, Gascon gets set and “fires” a fastball clocked at 45 mph and the hitter jumps out of his shoes swinging for strike three and the inning is over.
On March 17, 2008, Josh Gascon experienced a pitcher’s worst nightmare.
“I went behind the dugout, popped about 5 or 6 ibuprofen and just stayed back there the entire half inning because I felt like I was going to barf,” said Gascon, then a student-athlete at FLCC. “I went back out, tried to just keep going and gut it out. But after my first warm up pitch went about 25, 26 feet I knew I’d only be hurting myself and more importantly the team if I kept going.”
After the game he was taken to the hospital right away and sure enough, he found out that he had in fact torn his MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) in his right elbow.
“Right when the doctor told me I needed surgery, I kind of broke down a little bit, because I really never thought I’d be able to come back from the injury,” Gascon said.
The surgery he had to get was the infamous Tommy John Surgery. Tommy John was a pitcher in the major leagues for 26 seasons but in 1974 he sustained an injury to his elbow. For the procedure of the surgery, a tendon is taken usually from the forearm and then used to attach the part of MCL that was torn.
Before Tommy John had the surgery, the injury ended pitcher’s careers. Since then, thousands of athletes from amateurs to professionals have taken on the surgery and successfully continued their baseball careers.
Gascon had a respectable high school career in Livonia, N.Y. He was a four year varsity player, three time all-star and during his senior year he led all Livingston County pitchers in strikeouts (100 plus), wins (9) and he was second in ERA (2.30).
“When I was a freshman in high school I remember seeing him pitch in Livonia and he was throwing 90[mph],” said Adam Szczupakowski, a former teammate of Gascon at FLCC. “I remember thinking he was a beast.”
Gascon only played one season and that one inning at FLCC, before transferring to Fredonia State this past fall.
He didn’t make the move to Fredonia alone though. Junior, shortstop John Bennett, a friend of Gascon’s chose to transfer to Fredonia State at the same time as Gascon.
“Gascon has been like a brother to me, even here,” Bennett said. “Coach Palisin talked to us both at the same time after a game at FLCC. Definitely one of the best friends I’ve ever had. We didn’t plan on transferring together, however him being here is one of my favorite parts of this college.”
Gascon’s surgery caused him to miss almost three years because of the rehabilitation process. This process is usually expected to take about 12 to 18 months now with proper methods. But it can be quite expensive to rehab from such an injury for an amateur athlete who is not getting paid to play. The amount the surgery costs alone can be staggering and that doesn’t even include the rehabilitation process, which is supposed to be three times a week.
Despite the time Gascon missed playing baseball, he’s made an impact on some of the people that now know him the best, but may have never had the opportunity to do so if it wasn’t for his injury.
“I’ve known Josh for little over a year now,” said Chris Fazio, also a former teammate at FLCC. “One of my closest friends I met at Finger Lakes. He is one of the hardest working individuals I have ever met. I faced Josh only once [in practice]. I worked the count but I popped up against him.”
Gascon had the surgery on April 24, 2009, just over a year after his injury. Without baseball Gascon decided he’d take up something he was successful at in high school: soccer.  He only played soccer his senior year in high school but he still managed to be named a county all-star as well as a member of the exceptional senior game.
In Gascon’s second year at FLCC he was named to the all-conference team as a stopper. He admitted that he doesn’t have many foot skills, normally the main gift any soccer player has, but he did say what he did well was leaping up and getting headers. It wasn’t baseball but the main thing he loved about soccer was the slide tackling.
Baseball was gone, but not completely. During Gascon’s rehabilitation process, he taught himself how to do something many people can’t do.
“I actually learned to throw left handed so I could continue to be around the game as much as I possibly could,” Gascon said. “It took a lot of practice but I can play a good game of catch. I actually clocked my left arm at 64 [mph] one day, but I don’t have any pitching control with my left arm.”
Throwing lefty at 64 mph as a righty? There are people that can’t even throw that with their dominant hand. While 64 mph may fool a batter once in a while, it wouldn’t be enough to maintain consistency at the division III level.
Gascon obviously knew that his left arm wasn’t going to allow him to play competitively, but he did know one thing.
“After about a week [after the surgery] I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t work at being able to play once again,” Gascon said.
Gascon has appeared in six games while starting two. His record is 2-0.
While Gascon and the Blue Devils baseball team haven’t had their ideal season, Gascon has worked extremely hard to get back to playing baseball. Even though he admits that he is only able to throw around 84 mph now, he’s allowed to play the game he couldn’t live without.

Relay for Life Keeps Students Up All Night For Admirable Cause


TYLER HOWELL

Staff Writer

A quote from Lance Armstrong reads, “If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or fight like hell.”
Members on the Fredonia State campus of the group Colleges Against Cancer have “fought like hell” raising almost $20,000 for the American Cancer Society (ACS) during its sixth annual fundraising event of the year, Relay For Life.
Relay For Life, the ACS’s signature fundraiser, raised over $370,000 last year and over $1,000,000 in the past eight years while spreading to over 600 communities in 21 counties.
Tables were lined up around the basketball court in the Steel Hall Fieldhouse while students and parents alike were playing games before the Opening Ceremony begun. The ceremony began when members from Colleges Against Cancer took turns saying what this opportunity to raise cancer awareness means to them.
Leslie Walter was the night’s Honorary Survivor that Colleges Against Cancer decided to honor. “When I was 17 my life changed,” said Walter while fighting back tears, “It was a localized spot on my collarbone.”
She continued to speak about the day she found out that she had cancer. Her routine checkup at her dermatologist led her to getting a mole checked that had been bothering her with her field hockey chest protector. When the results of the test came back, the news wasn’t good. It was then that she found out she had stage one melanoma, a skin cancer.
Fortunately, Walter found out that she could have it surgically removed without having to undergo any chemotherapy. With the scare, she has become more appreciative for the time she has and not the time she could have lost.
“I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders,” she said. “I got lucky, really, really lucky and I thank my lucky stars every single day.”
Not everyone has been as lucky as Walter.
Heather Ruch, a sophomore education major and secretary of Alpha Phi Omega, the team that took second place in the fundraiser, has lost three people in the past five years. She lost her grandfather to pancreatic cancer, her aunt to her battle with breast cancer and her best friend’s mom to lung cancer.
“This fundraiser hits close to home for me,” said Ruch. “I think that it is important to support cancer research; it could have kept my family in my life longer. I know that cancer touches so many families and creates so much pain. I am very appreciative of everyone who donates to this cause.”
She continued to discuss what her family went through.
“When we found out my grandfather had pancreatic cancer we were all in shock because he was only 62 when we found out. The doctors gave him 6 months to live in June of my freshman year of high school. I remember that by Christmas he wasn’t himself anymore. My dad cried all the time that holiday season and I have never seen my dad cry before or since that time. My grandfather lasted only another month before he died.”
Ruch also described how awful of a loss her best friend’s mother was.
“My best friend’s mom died our senior year of high school,” she said. “She was only 40 at the time. She had battled cancer once before and had been in remission for four years. As she got sicker my whole family did all we could for her family. That day she died, I got a phone call at 7 a.m. and was at her house by 8 a.m. I remember getting there, my best friend and her younger sister were already crying and [being there] was all I could do to keep strong for them.”
According to the ACS, in the past year the estimated number of deaths due to cancer is over 577,000, an astounding number that actually increased from the previous year.
Sophomore education major, Emma Florian,  also participated in Relay For Life and individually led everyone going into the fundraiser with a total of $510.
“It is very exciting to be the top participant this year and I am proud of my accomplishments,” said Florian. “The American Cancer Society is an amazing organization and Relay For Life is an inspiring event that everyone should participate in at some point in their life. Without the donations and support from my family and friends, I would never have been able to raise the amount of money that I did. I am very grateful for that as well and the donations I received were incredible and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this fight against cancer.”
Brandi Whytas, a transfer student from Niagara University, led the Tau Sigma team with $502 raised just by herself. With the help of her teammates Tau Sigma raised over $400 more than any other team.
“Our team captain Amber Brunco has been working diligently to fundraise for our team by holding a returnable pop can deposit where the proceeds went directly to our team,” Whytas said. “She has also been able to get donations and items from local restaurants such as Pizza Hut, Dunkin Doughnuts and the dine-out night at Applebee’s.”
Whytas, who admitted that even though it is her first year at Fredonia, it wasn’t her first year participating in a Relay For Life event.
“I have participated in Relay for Life a few times before in West Seneca,” Whytas said. “I relay because I have lost many family friends due to cancer. Most recently, I lost a dear friend, Rusty Wexler and will be dedicating my walk in her name. Also, I have been very fortunate that my immediate family members who have had cancer are now survivors including my grandmother Joan Haft, grandfather Henry Whytas, and aunt Linda Wintringer.”
Lucky won’t usually be described in terms of cancer, but when it comes to finding a cure with the help of great organizations such as ACS, it seems fitting that luck can play out in mysterious ways whenever there are people out there fighting like hell.

FSU Baseball Captains Lead the Pack Early In Season

TYLER HOWELL
Staff Writer

In terms of seniors, the Fredonia State men’s baseball team is lacking; not in talent, but in numbers. The Blue Devils do not view their lack of elder statesmen as a weakness, they prefer quality over quantity.
The Fredonia State men’s baseball roster consists of two seniors, nine freshmen, ten sophomores and thirteen juniors. The most extraordinary thing about Fredonia’s senior duo is that both are transfers and have only been Blue Devils for a combined five years.
The seniors are team co-captains Dan Greco and Tommy Tantillo, both of whom Coach Palisin thinks very highly of.
Greco has been one of the team’s best hitters, if not the best. He has only one strikeout in 45 at-bats to go along with an extraordinary batting average of .422. The box score doesn’t tell the complete story.
“He’s probably been one of our best captains that we have ever had,” said Palisin. “Greco actually got the most votes we have ever had for a team captain and he has done a lot in the offseason to keep the team together.”
Greco has been a student at Fredonia State for three years now; spending all of the past three years donning the Blue Devil’s uniform after spending his first year of college at RIT. Not too many baseball players will ever admit that the game’s fun has vanished, but during Greco’s time playing RIT, he felt like he lost the fun of the game.
“When I got here I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play baseball anymore because it wasn’t fun anymore,” said Greco. “But it was different here; guys on the team loved the game and played all out, all of the time. It was a family atmosphere, and it made the game more fun that it had ever been for me. The last two years I’ve worked harder for baseball than I ever have for anything, and really learned how to push myself past my physical and mental limits.”

One of the main reasons Greco chose to come to Fredonia was his brother, Josh, who played baseball for the Blue Devils as well. His brother and a few others on the team that Greco knew from summer ball helped convince him that he would have a much better experience playing at Fredonia State. It also didn’t hurt that the price difference between RIT and Fredonia State was substantial.

Greco has been an everyday outfielder this season as well as a pitcher on occasion and he’s been very good at both. Despite saying that he tries to not look at his stats, they’re pretty hard to ignore. Starting in 14 games, he has a batting average of .422 as previously mentioned, to go along with an ERA of 2.35 in four appearances. No other player on the team has come close to being that versatile; that’s not bad for a guy who’s in his first full season as a hitter.
“In my time in this program, I learned from some of the best players I’ve ever played with as to how to work and improve,” Greco said. “This past offseason I worked harder than ever on my swing and so far it’s paying off. It’s not for the stats though. I feel like the better I do, the better the team does and that’s what matters.”
Greco came to Fredonia State as a pitcher, but part way through last season he turned some heads on the coaching staff with his abilities; so they turned him into an outfielder as well.
“He hit ninth for us last year, hitting around .200 and he worked a lot over the summer on his swing,” Palisin said. “He’s just been one of our most consistent hitters, we needed someone to step up this year in terms of hitting and he really has.”
Tantillo is in his second season with the Blue Devils as a backup second baseman after using up his first two years of eligibility at Jamestown Community College. Two of the main reasons he chose Fredonia State were because he wanted to stay in the area and the educational opportunities were what he was looking for. In Tantillo’s time at Fredonia, he has taken on a responsibility that he, as well as most students, have not had the opportunity to experience before going to college and living on his own.
“Being at Fredonia is the first time I have really been on my own and it has been a great experience and it has taught me some responsibility,” said Tantillo.
Having played baseball since he was 8 years old, he has enjoyed every minute being able to continue to be a part of the game and his time at Fredonia hasn’t swayed that mindset at all.
“I have definitely met some new people and made some very strong friendships here,” Tantillo said. “As far as baseball goes, I have learned a lot about the game here and really enjoyed my time being around my teammates. I don’t plan on stopping until my body doesn’t allow me to play anymore.”
Tantillo hasn’t played as much as some of the other players, but he’s someone who Palisin believes is a true team player who may be valuable to the Blue Devils after his athletic eligibility is expired.
“He’ll be around as an assistant coach and he is someone who is a smart kid,” Palisin said.

A Little Competition Vaults Blue Devils to Great Performances

Tyler Howell

Staff Writer

Juniors Dan Fetes and Brian Sheehan arrived at Fredonia State in the fall of 2009 as freshmen with an identical plan to play catcher for the Blue Devils. Neither of them had any clue that the other was on their way when they first got to Fredonia. Though tensions were tight initially, Fetes and Sheehan are now past the who’s-who competition. They are both doing whatever they can to win games for the Blue Devils this season.
“That freshman year was kind of awkward,” said first baseman Fetes, smiling. “We didn’t really know each other coming to Fredonia and [Sheehan and I] didn’t know that the other one was coming here, so there was some competition right away.”
Both came into their freshman seasons looking to prove that they could be the successor to Blue Devil catching legend Rob Herrmann, who was slated to graduate at the end of the 2010 season. They knew that the future catching job wouldn’t be handed to them in their sophomore season so they continued to work hard.
“As we went into our sophomore year we knew it was kind of our team, behind the plate, after Rob left, we got to know each other from living in the same suite,” Fetes said. “He caught certain pitchers better than I did and vice versa. We became better friends and it wasn’t a rivalry as much as it was pushing each other to play better whether it was blocking drills, pop times or anything.”
Fetes split time at catcher last year, but decided to move to first base this season. He is flourishing at his new position. Both Coach Matt Palisin and Fetes believe that Herrmann passed along valuable knowledge to Fetes that has helped him improve this season. Herrmann’s hitting knowledge and presence as a proven leader were instilled in Fetes when the two were teammates in 2010.
Fetes used that knowledge and has shown much improvement since last year when he had a .235 batting average in 34 at bats. This season he has been a completely different hitter with a .365 batting average in 63 at bats while leading the team in hits (23), doubles (6) and RBI’s (13).
Not to mention that Fetes also leads the team in stolen bases with 12, a statistic first basemen rarely ever lead in.
“There are plenty of guys who are just flat out faster than me and can simply outrun the baseball,” Fetes said. “I’m not fast enough to do that, so I’ve always tried to find an edge on the bases. I owe some of it to my dad because he would always talk about base running with me when we would practice baseball every night growing up.”
Fetes’ success on the base paths just goes to show you don’t have to be the most gifted sprinter to swipe bases on a consistent basis.
“Danny’s probably the best baserunner I’ve ever coached,” said Palisin. “He’s just a gung-ho aggressive player.”
That’s definitely not the only thing he has been trying to perfect about his game. Going into the offseason Fetes knew that he would be moving to first base so he adapted his weight training routine accordingly. Moving to first Fetes knew it would help the team if he had more pop in his swing, so he decided to workout harder and more often so he could get stronger.
“I knew I just needed to get bigger in general,” Fetes said. “I weighed-in last season at just less than 175 pounds, so this year I upped my time in the gym from 2-3 days a week to 4-5 days a week. I started eating better over the break and tried to be more focused and even more dedicated. I felt like I came into this season in the best shape of my life and I weighed-in at just less than 190 pounds.”
Sheehan, the team’s starting catcher, has had an amazing season thus far hitting .405 which is good enough for second on the team. Sheehan has exactly two-thirds the amount of at bats [42] this season as Fetes, but he has more walks. In fact, Sheehan leads the team in walks. He contributed this to his approach of waiting for a specific pitch that he knows he can drive. As simple as that may sound, Sheehan has been tremendous with his plate discipline, only striking out twice so far this season.
Sheehan, who has been the team’s starting catcher since last year, admitted that even his job was up for grabs before the season started.
“At the beginning of our practices this winter, most of the positions in our lineup were up for grabs, including mine,” Sheehan said. “There are two more very good catchers on the team right now and another that tore his ACL in the off season. This year they were really on my heels looking to start in our lineup and it really pushed me to put out my best effort at all times. Whenever we practice in the offseason and throughout the season, we are always pushing each other to make ourselves better every day. My teammates and I expect the best effort out of each other every time we are playing.”
Palisin noticed Sheehan’s extra drive coming into this season and as a result Sheehan reclaimed the starting catcher spot on the roster.
“Brian has really stepped up his game this year and he’s earned the starting catcher position, being one of our top hitters,” Palisin said. “Probably the best catcher in the conference in terms of throwing, factor in the fact of him hitting .400, it’s nice to have him in the middle of the lineup. It’s hard to take him out.”
This offseason, Sheehan’s main focus was to perfect his swing because of his struggles to adjust his swing during the fall season. He has seemingly solved all of those problems and more.
Though the Blue Devils’ current record of 9-12 may not imply it, both Fetes and Sheehan believe that this year’s team has what it takes to compete with the best teams in the SUNYAC conference.

Metta Weird Peace

I thought that the Los Angeles Lakers Ron Artest had changed.

He hasn’t.

He may say the right things when it comes to the media but when it comes to his actions on the court.

He is the same old Ron Artest.

And I LOVE it.

If you have not seen the video today, the versatile and volatile forward beat his chest with his right fist and then beat Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden with his left elbow.

The elbow isn’t what I love.  As the announcer pointed out, that elbow is disgraceful.  I am a Lakers fan but there was no reason for that specific cheap shot.

What I did love about the moment was that Ron Artest and his intensity has returned.  Last year he played like a, well, not how he has in the past.

When he was ejected just short of the end of the first half he was leading the Lakers in points with 12 and he had a line of 5 rebounds and 3 steals. More importantly it was a close game. The Thunder then made a huge run and went up by 17 points before the Lakers came back and tied the score up. Two overtimes later after Kobe Bryant makes clutch shot after clutch shot the Lakers grab the win.

While Artest’s elbow and ejection didn’t keep the Lakers from a win, it may mean much worse with expectations of Artest having to miss at least one playoff game but probably more.

If the Lakers can hold off and stick together until he gets back from suspension, Artest’s instability may prove to be one of the team’s biggest assets.

 

BTW if you have no clue why Ron Artest changed his name to Wold Metta Peace, this is one of the reasons…

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=pacers+pistons+brawl&mid=08859DFC583137E073F108859DFC583137E073F1&view=detail&FORM=VIRE3