A Hit Over the Walls of History

December 14, 2009 - Leave a Response


AU Club Baseball

By Will Noel

The aluminum bat splits the morning air with a loud ping. The white ball flies into the outfield. The white ball drops onto the damp green grass. The outfielder sweeps up the ball and throws towards second to stop the runner. The ball soars over the head of the infielders and smacks into the empty dugout. Outfielder error.

“That’s why we practice,” says sophomore, coach Steve Costanza. It is just another morning for the Eagles, American University’s Club Baseball team.

Baseball has a long history at American University. It was one of the first sports, along with football and basketball, to be played as a varsity sport at AU according to the athletics department.

Baseball began in 1928 as part of a club league, according to the department. In 1939 baseball was re-instated, and put on a 14-game ‘trial’ season. The season was a success and the team became a varsity sport, according to the website.

By 1947 baseball was a fully supported team, and in1954 American University proposed building a baseball stadium, according to the website. The stadium was never built.

The team continued on through the 1960s, winning a Mason-Dixon League Championship on May 20th, 1966. The first, and only division title the team would see for 13 years according to the University.

In 1979 the AU baseball team went 16-2, and won the Capital Collegiate Conference Tournament according to AU.

The AU varsity team coach, Dee Frady, won his 400th games in 1986 after 23 years of coaching.

Costanza started the newest chapter in AU baseball in the spring of 2009. “It was really difficult at first,” said Costanza. “We had meetings the semester before. Getting guys who were really serious took a while”.

The initial team, barely a dozen lowerclassmen, spent that spring practicing. Finding a field was their first priority.

“We were lucky,” said infielder Greg Matlesky. “All we had to do was walk down the street from campus and there it was.” The field that the Eagles call their own is a public recreational field on Massachusetts Avenue.

“The field is not great for anything but practice,” said Matlesky. “The fields we have played other teams on are always top quality”.

With a team and a field the Eagles applied to be part of the National Club Baseball Association in the spring said Costanza.

The NCBA was created in 2000 to provide a large structure for club baseball teams according to their website. The league plays seven inning baseball games.

The NCBA keeps baseball in areas where colleges are letting teams go according to experts. At the University of Vermont, and a handful of other colleges this year, baseball was cut due to budget cuts according to the Burlington Free Press.

The NCBA is divided into two divisions. The first division is for larger schools like Syracuse and the University of Maryland. The second division is for newer, less competitive clubs like the Eagles, according to the league.

The Eagles were officially admitted into the NCBA on July 14th, 2009 according to the NCBA. The league placed the team in the Northern conference of Division II against Georgetown, Howard University, Mount St. Mary’s, and Loyola.

The Eagles entered into fall 2009 with everything needed to play baseball. The NCBA only plays exhibition games in the fall, according to the team’s website.

The Eagles off-season schedule set the team up against Georgetown in a double header, Loyola Maryland, and Mount St. Mary’s.

During the fall exhibition the Eagles lost to Georgetown 0-10 and 2-8. “These games were the first time most of the guys had seen fast pitching in a few years,” said Costanza. “In that second game Greg went two for two though, so we caught on quickly”.

The team spent the next two weeks practicing during early mornings before classes. “It was a pain,” said third baseman Eugene Wheelis. “But with only 17 of us there is not a lot room for mistakes. If we don’t hit well then or pitchers have an enormous task.”

“That first double header was like a marathon,” said pitcher Brian Katz. Only two men on the roster are listed as pitchers, sophomore Katz, and junior Ben Corson.  “We gave them some relief, but that first game was hard,” said Costanza.

After losing to Loyola at Druid Hill Park 3-13, the Eagles had their final exhibition games against Mount St. Mary’s.

The games were played near the border of Maryland and Philadelphia. The stands were empty with the exception of a handful of Mount St. Mary fans. The Eagles walked up to bat wearing their red and white club baseball shirts.

The first game was a game that featured both teams offense. Mount St. Mary’s was able to score seven runs in five innings. The Eagles pulled ahead in the top of the fifth inning on a string of hits from the order.

“I couldn’t hit anything,” said Matlesky who struck out three times. “I just could not pick up their pitches.”

The second game was focused more on pitching and defense. Mount St. Mary’s gained the lead early, but in the sixth inning the eagles rallied for five runs, eventually winning 6-3. It was the first win for American University baseball in two decades.

“Getting that first win was huge,” said Wheelis. “With Brian’s pitching, and that rally we really got [Mount St. Mary’s].” After the game Costanza shook each of his team mates hands. “We got the win, and that’s a great way to end exhibition” said Costanza.

“The time he has spent building this team is amazing,” said Katz. “You really have to appreciate his effort.”

The American University Eagles will begin playing in their first regular season for the NCBA on March 15th, 2010. They will face Georgetown in a three game series.

Each NCBA season is 15 games long, and the regular season ends in late April. There is a playoff series and World Series for teams that win their division. A Division II team has never won the series in the nine years of the league. -30-


Disenchanted Youth

October 14, 2009 - Leave a Response

Nearly a year after the election of Barack Obama as president many Americans are still talking about the changes they voted for.

The views of young voters in America were a popular topic at the American Forum, held at American University. “2006 was a critical switch where the 18-29 year old vote broke for Obama by 25 to 30 points,” said David Winston, a republican strategist. Young people, the 18-29 age range, were politically charged during the 2008 election as well, explained Winston.

“Partisan behavior is not an engrained behavior yet.” Said Winston, “Outcomes are what matter to the young people.”  The President’s inaction has been the focal point of media outlets since he won the Nobel Peace Prize. “The president is not popular unless he achieves something” added David Gregory from Meet the Press

Obama’s approval rating has been in decline since August when it was over 65%, in recent weeks the approval rating has been right around 50% according to Gallup polls. Part of this decline may be due to the oversaturation of the president on TV, Gregory. “Obama is the go to guy in the administration,” said Gregory, “he is more engaged in affecting the media narrative then Bush.”

“Obama ran on change and hope, I voted for him, and all his policies so far seem to ignore me, and the rest of the young people who voted for him” said Greg Matletsky, an AU sophomore. Students at colleges across America played a large part in the election. “Young voters made up one fifth of the electorate in the last election.” Said Jose Vargas, from the Huffington Post.

The midterm elections are being watched carefully by both parties, according to a republican strategist, to see if the democrats can sustain the youth vote. “It was really interesting that after Prop 8 passed, the rallies were largely made up of young people.” Even with the technology the White House is using, the message is what’s most important said Vargas. “The comments on Obama’s Facebook from young people are subtle and informative,” said Vargas.

“I want to be more involved in a lot of the political discussions occurring right now,” said John Botto, an AU junior. “It is hard to be interested in things like healthcare though, I’m more interested in things that affect me.”

“Climate change was a missed opportunity for the Obama administration,” said David Corn, from Mother Jones. Young people were active in many green movements, but a green policy is not apparent in the presidential administration.

At a time when the generational gap is widening, according to an NBC study, Obama’s importance to the young vote was unique said Gregory. “They don’t have faith in the government, or the media or banks, but in Obama.”

The Forum, hosted by Jane Hall, a professor of American University’s School of Communication, has been occurring annually for 21 years. The event has been recorded by C-Span, put on the radio by WAMU 88.5, and even streamed live to the internet.

The theme of this year’s Panel was Change+1: Are Young Voters Talking Back to Obama. The five, previously mentioned panelists, David Gregory, Jose vargas, David Winston, David Corn, and Erin McPhee all discussed the topic in a crowded auditorium on the American University Campus.

Last year, the forum discussed the power of the youth electorate, and predicted how important the youth vote would be. No one predicted it would have been a 66% to 32% margain for Obama over McCain said Vargas.

Odd Numbers Reign Supreme

September 28, 2009 - Leave a Response

Newton had three laws of motion. Kepler had five laws of planetary movement, odd number lists tend to stand the test of time (plus those 10 commandments)…

What is journalism?

Early this August, Professor Danna Walker, defined and outlined the “Seven Laws of Journalism“. These laws are great ideas, however their importance may be slightly overplayed.

Is Journalism Dead? Dr. Walker would have you believe that the newsmedia has held a funeral for itself in the last decade. “The news is shedding its “clunker” status and becoming sleek and efficient.” I believe this description is more effectively describes journalism classes, and not the actual discipline itself. Journalism literally flipped itself on its head in the last 12 years. From a twice a day paper, to twice daily news on cable, to 24 hour cable, to twitter; the news has become a much more constant, and instantly gratifying part of life. Until recently most communications courses have been about “the old ways”. Journalism school enrollment rate were down. But luckily there was a quick shift that has given a pulse back to it. Journalism is like the NHL post-lockout, it is newer, more exciting, and there is much more exposure (and, oh yeah, the best of it happens in DC), but it is still the same fundamental thing .

Dr. Walker’s “laws” also highlight  getting paid, getting outside to be part of what you write about, and not procrastinating. These three laws are great bits of common sense, which would make them a formula in mathematics and science.

The next lie defines the journalist as “a story factory” that must pump out readable, interesting material. This analogy is great. In the book Dr. Walker uses, Scott Byers, a small town sportswriter, writes over 100 stories on a weekly basis. The most successful journalists may not write that many stories a year, however starting out everyone has to do the grunt-work.

Finally the professor makes it “law” to pay homage to democracy, and technology. She warns against turning your back on either situation. This is why journalism is an attractive field. You get to be a cutting edge patriot, and that is why America loves the news (Even Glenn Beck still watches the “fringe media”, although he disagrees with it).

The list is a great way to look at the new-dynamic journalism that is on the rise. The time of journalism heroes is definitely over, but this new profession may bring something even better to the homes of America.


The big ideas that stick out from the reading are how different writing for the three areas covered were. Politicians lie is a great tip. All three do have a few similarities too, they all require good research, a working knowledge of the subject, and basic social skill to write a good story.

Class Blog

September 4, 2009 - Leave a Response


Comm200 Learns Leads & Canvases Campus-328

By Will Noel

Thursday morning 30 AU students canvassed campus looking for curiosities and conflicts for an upcoming assignment…

The previous lines are an example of how to correctly format articles.

The first line is the date.

The second line is called the Slug. It is a few words that act as an abstract for the article. It often includes basic information about the article (including word count and news cycle).

Third is the by line.

Finally the article starts with a lead (a.k.a. lede). A quick informative line that is also eye-catching. Leads can describe the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why), but do not give away the entire story. Harrower offers a small review in creating strong leads on pg. 63.

After the lead, most articles have a summation, called the nut graf. This paragraph is followed by different grafs. The 3rd graf is often a quote. The 4th graf is usually background. However there is no concrete rule (just proven methods).

Using these basic rules creating an article or finding a story can be as easy as finding a location on campus and observing what is happening. Finding primary sources (i.e. people to interview) is a must in these situations.

When you interview a person it is important to quote them exactly, and take good notes. Objectivity comes from good research and factual writing.

These concepts were all covered in Comm200 on September 3, 2009.


If You can’t handle the Truth, will They still print it?

September 3, 2009 - Leave a Response

“News is what somebody wants to suppress. All the rest is advertising”.
-Lord Northcliffe
It is Wednesday and I want to watch today’s news. I want to know what is going on. One click of the DirecTV remote and I have 30 channels of news. MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, HLN, the list goes on. In a perfect world this situation would be easy to fix. Any network would have some story that would help me figure out what is going on outside. I could watch between the channels and feel like I knew what was occurring. But today changing channels makes things foggy and unclear. Fox is conservative. CNN is liberal. HLN only shows tragedies… and most stories dispute or disprove something running as breaking news on another channel. What happened to objectivity?
The journalism textbook my communications class uses has an entire chapter and a half on opinion vs. fact/fairness. The author, Tim Harrower, preaches the use of factual, concise reporting. Harrower advises that opinions should only run in movie reviews (except for the use of colorful adjectives to characterize situations and make an article easier to digest). Objective reporting is portrayed as the most important part of a good foundation in ethical journalism.
In every major practice or discipline, from law to pharmacology, ethics and morals are a BIG DEAL. So why has objectivity become a difficult thing to find? Why isn’t objectivity an ethic, or moral?
In 2005 Dan Gillmor wrote on objectivity, calling it “a construct of recent times”. Gillmor proposed throwing out the goal of objectivity. Gillmor proposed “[The] pillars of good journalism: thoroughness, accuracy, fairness and transparency.” Gillmor’s proposal creates a strong base to create fair and objective articles. I do not think we need to ‘throw out’ objectivity, but to take Gillmor’s pillars and use them to redefine it. Thorough and active reporting based off of transparent research that fairly depicts the situation is objective
News should not be that sensational. Let me know what happened, let me know how it affected people, and then let me know why I care. Then I can go and go to another channel to hear how it is being interpreted by obviously biased TV personalities. Objectivity should be thorough, accurate writing fairly depicted with transparent sources and research. That is what I want to read. Not the super-sensational slop that is scientifically designed to be catchy and interesting…
…But until that day comes, I’ll stick to the 11:00 nightly news on CBS. It’s got slop, but at least no one is paid to offer me their opinion (I hope).

Preseason Football & Pig Fever

September 1, 2009 - Leave a Response

There is nothing you can do about it, so don’t panic…

Flu season is usually a boring story. People cough, some people get shots and  some people don’t – but if you don’t you might die (cue panic). This year the stories read a little differently. Everyone looking at the “Health” column on Google News is keeping an eye on the H1N1 virus. Yes, Swineflu, the apocalyptically driven bad-ass big brother of Influenza. He’s here, and he’s gonna’ get ya’ (cue hysteria).

All news is bad news in the world of swineflu. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that no more than 55 million vaccines will be ready by mid-October. This is not enough to halt the spread of the virus. To make things worse, college aged kids are getting infected at an ‘alarming’ rate, and oh yeah, the regular flu is still coming around. These are all very serious, and possibly scary realities, but none of these reasons are why swine flu has me snorting in disgust.

I’m pissed because H1N1 havoc has caused American University to make a ‘pandemic plan’. If campus becomes infected then AU will have blackboard.com run classes, just like those online colleges on TV. Students (like myself) will pay over 45,000 dollars for 30-36 credits of online courses. The University of Phoenix (one of those online colleges…the one with largest enrollment out of all colleges in America) offers the same education for only 13,000 to 16,000 dollars.

AU does deserve credit for their inclusion of a refund program if things get real bad. But who the hell made the rest of this plan?  Closing borders, schools, and public transportation has been called ‘ineffective’ by the CDC, WHO, UN, EU, and Obama. These measures will not stop the spread of the virus; it will only slow down the inevitable spread of the swineflu. But AU has made it the foundation of their plan.

For 45,000 dollars a year I should be able to get sick on campus, or at a game, just like everyone else in America. Not because the mailman sneezed on my Sports Illustrated.

This fall two things are certain, you’re gonna get swineflu, and Favre is gonna play (see, there was a preseason football comment). There is nothing you can do about it, so don’t panic. And please, cover your mouth and wash your hands.

Breaking News (rarely is breaking, or news)

August 27, 2009 - Leave a Response

Reporting and the media have evolved significantly in the last century. News has gone from a daily dose in the local paper, to a twice a day cycle with the morning and evening news. Today, news runs 24 hours, with many ‘news media’ channels often offering multiple channels of news. Even sports has a news cycle, ESPNNEWS is one of the most appealing news channels, with some of the biggest breaking stories. These stories range from the return of Brett Farve, to the death of Michael Jackson. In today’s world writing and reporting have become something that people need almost as much as oxygen. This can be attributed to a change from informative article to exciting and informative articles. Reporters and journalists have mastered tricks and new technologies to make their jobs even more efficient.

The most interesting thing I find is how powerful and reliable taking notes are, even without knowing shorthand. In the later pages of Harrower’s text a half dozen reporters discuss how even tape recorders fall short to the simple, lo-tech pen and paper.

This class will be exciting for me because Harrower also spends some time in the book looking at the legal reasoning and ramifications of articles and interviews. I really enjoy legal issues, and I have never focused on journalist cases before. During the course of this class I want to be able to expand my interviewing abilities so I can draw longer, more precise answers while talking less myself. I also am excited to see exactly how things work and progress in a news room. The only exposure I have had to journalists and the ‘media’ is in ads and tv specials that label journalists as evil people who will do anything to suck the blood out of a story. Time to hear the other side of the story.

Will’s Wall of Wonders.

August 26, 2009 - Leave a Response

alliteration aside, this page is about two things:

#1 fulfilling a requirement for my communications class

#2 expressing the way I see it

let’s go…