BASEBALL

Arizona baseball: New dance doubles Wildcats' pleasure

2012-06-07T00:00:00Z 2014-10-10T11:25:29Z Arizona baseball: New dance doubles Wildcats' pleasureRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 07, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The ESPN network televised nearly 10 hours of Arizona Wildcats baseball last weekend, and will show even more during a sun-soaked super regional that starts Friday.

That means fans will see even more of the Wildcats' newest, strangest tradition.

Call it the "no doubles" dance.

The Wildcats ripped 17 extra-base hits last weekend. After every one, the UA's batter-turned-base runner celebrated by waving his hand behind his head, as if trying to rub his neck.

Typically, the wave is the UA fielders' sign to play "no doubles" defense. When the Wildcats are hitting, though, it's a tip to the opposition.

"When we burn somebody or put a sticker in the gap, it's a reminder: 'You should be playing no-doubles defense,'" shortstop Alex Mejia said. "It's a reminder that, hey, we're here."

Expect to see more of the Wildcats this weekend when they take on St. John's at Hi Corbett Field. The best-of-three series will be shown on ESPN2. The winner will advance to the College World Series.

"It's going to be a tough series," right fielder Robert Refsnyder said.

Here's a look at the Wildcats' made-for-TV move:

• Origins: Hand gestures have been a part of baseball since catchers began putting down one finger for a fastball. Orchestrated celebrations between base runners and their dugouts, however, are a more recent invention. Major-leaguer Miguel Tejada popularized "The Spotlight" a few years back: After arriving at his base, Tejada would raise one arm and, like a spotlight, "shine" his palm toward the dugout. The Texas Rangers adopted something similar - they called it "The Claw" - during their run to the World Series two years ago.

The Wildcats settled on the "no doubles" sign shortly before their regional opener. It worked: Arizona scored 47 runs in its three playoff games, and finished with a .472 team batting average.

"There are so many doubles and triples," Refsnyder said, "I feel like we have do something."

• Variations: Arizona's players stuck with the no-doubles dance last weekend - with one exception.

And, in fairness, they were provoked.

Louisville's Zak Wasserman doubled to right-center field in the third inning Sunday. Upon arriving at second base, he waved his hands behind his head and shot an invisible arrow into the Wildcats' dugout.

"They were getting their butts kicked at the time they did it," UA left fielder Johnny Field said. "That's what fired us up a little bit."

So Joey Rickard did the same thing back to the Cardinals bench after reaching third base later in the game. Arizona went on to win the showdown, and the series.

It was in good fun, the UA center fielder said, but probably unnecessary.

"That," he said with a smile, "was a one-time deal."

• Reactions: Being on television has its perks, players said. Friends and family get a chance to watch from out of town, and every big play is shown - and then replayed - in high-definition detail.

Of course, there's a trade-off. Field is still catching grief from his teammates for the pose he struck after hitting a grand slam Sunday night. The players' on-field traditions, once known only to themselves and a few fans with keen eyes, are now public domain.

"It's pretty cool to be able to watch yourself. It's pretty neat," Field said. "But everything you do pretty much gets exposed. Make sure you're not messing up on the bases."

Ravago drafted

The Miami Marlins drafted Arizona State's Robert Ravago in the 22nd round of Wednesday's Major League Baseball draft, with hopes of turning the right-handed reliever into a pro stopper.

Ravago attended Pueblo High School and pitched two seasons (2010-11) at Pima College before transferring to ASU. As a junior with the Sun Devils, Ravago went 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA.

No Arizona Wildcats were selected on the final day of the draft.

- Ryan Finley

Super Regional

Arizona vs. St. John's, best-of-three series at Hi Corbett Field:

• Friday: Noon (ESPN2)

• Saturday: Noon (ESPN2)

• Sunday: 1 p.m. (ESPN2), if necessary

• Radio: 1290-AM

• Tickets: All-session and single-game tickets are on sale at arizonawildcats.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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