Playing for pride, steak

Minnesota kicked off its annual “Steak ‘N Beans” intrasquad series Saturday.

by Aleutian Calabay

The University of Minnesota fall baseball schedule is an important part of getting ready for the season ahead. It allows the coaching staff to work with players, get a sense of positions and see the athletes compete. It also separates the players into two distinct categories: those who will be eating steak and those who will be eating beans. The intrasquad games that make for the Gophers fall schedule have become a best of seven contest known as the âÄúSteak âÄôN Beans Series.âÄù The baseball squad is separated into two even baseball teams, the Gold team and the Maroon team. At the conclusion of the series there is a formal dinner. Just as the name implies, the winning team eats steak and the losing team eats beans. As further incentive, the losers also serve the winning team and handle the cleanup. âÄúThereâÄôs pride here, the kids want to have braggersâÄô rights,âÄù Gophers head coach John Anderson said. âÄúIt gives them something to play for and tries to raise the bar to make it as completive and game-like as we can. But itâÄôs still a fun thing to create some camaraderie around here too.âÄù When the âÄúSteak âÄôN Beans SeriesâÄù officially got underway Saturday, another annual tradition took place. The freshmen baseball players announced their arrival to the program by singing the National Anthem on the pitcherâÄôs mound. It was about as close to hazing as the program will go and most of them couldnâÄôt hold back an embarrassed smile throughout the ordeal. The game itself ended up being melodramatic. With players constantly being moved around, the game lacked any sort of season-like rhythm. The Maroon team won 6-5 in an 11-inning game that was extended so Anderson could get work in for all his pitchers. While the pitching and hitting showed little rust, the fielding was in some disarray. Numerous errors were committed all around the field. Even with steak on the line, itâÄôs difficult for players to get into a battling mentality when theyâÄôre playing against their teammates. With the season still five months away, there is more meaning in the players getting accustomed to one another than there is in actual results. âÄúThese games go a long ways towards building team chemistry,âÄù redshirt sophomore Nick OâÄôShea said. âÄúThis is a really big intrasquad series and it makes for a friendly rivalry, everyone wants to eat the steak so the guys really get into it.âÄù Even if itâÄôs meaningless for the season, players still want to do things to get themselves noticed. Some of them did just that with some solid indvidual performances on both teams. The Maroon team was led by sophomore Matt Puhl who had two doubles and a run scored. Sophomore JT Canakes had two singles, a walk and two runs scored, and junior Brooks Albrecht had a single, a double and a run scored. Leading the way for the Gold team was freshman Andy Henkemeyer who had two singles and two runs scored. Sophomore Troy Larson had a single, an RBI and a run scored, and junior Michael Kvasnicka has a single, a double and an RBI.