The Major League Baseball postseason has been exciting to watch. Though the Milwaukee Brewers missed out, Wisconsin has reasons to watch.
Former University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point pitcher Jordan Zimmermann made the postseason for the second time in his career with the Washington Nationals. Clintonville, Wis. native Mike Jirschele made the playoffs as third base coach for the Kansas City Royals. Jirschele has ties to UWSP because his son Jeremy is an assistant coach for the baseball team, and his other son Justin played for UWSP.
Prior to playoffs, the area celebrated when Zimmermann threw a no-hitter on Sept. 28. He became the second Division III pitcher to ever throw a no-hitter in the MLB. For UWSP head coach Pat Bloom it was exciting to watch.
“We were at our golf outing with 150 people watching the TV throwing their hands in the air on the final out,” Bloom said. “It is something we can all be proud of.”
Zimmermann continued his dominance against the San Francisco Giants in game two of the National League Division Series. Zimmermann pitched into the ninth inning needing only one out to complete a shutout. With a 1-0 lead, he was pulled after walking a batter. The Giants scored later in the inning and won in extra innings 2-1. The decision by Nationals manager to remove Zimmermann was a questionable decision leaving Nationals fans puzzled.
Bloom said it was tough to see Zimmermann removed from the game in that spot. “Those are very tough calls to make, especially with the season on the line,” Bloom said. “It was hard to see him taken out with one out left after retiring 20 straight.”
Zimmermann would not get another chance to pitch because the Giants eliminated the Nationals. Bloom could not be happier for Zimmerman.
“It is very exciting to see him have success and not just this season but every season,” Bloom said. “I am happy for him and his family for the success, and the pride he brings back to central Wisconsin and Pointer land.”
Bloom believes Zimmermann’s success helps the UWSP baseball program. “We want to tell kids age 16-18 that Jordan Zimmermann played at UWSP,” Bloom said. “We want his success to bring a strong identity to Stevens Point.”
Watching Zimmermann pitch on television is different than watching the dugout for Bloom.
“I get into the games he pitches intensively,” Bloom said. “ When you coach someone in the big leagues it is hard send your positive vibes through a TV.”
It has been just as exciting for Bloom to see the success of Jirschele and his family.
“It’s great to see him in playoff baseball with a chance to win a World Series,” Bloom said. “He’s more than paid his dues.
Mike Jirschele finally made it to the MLB as a coach with the Kansas City Royals after being in the minor leagues for almost 30 years. Mike Jirschele is currently the third base coach for the Royals, which Jeremy Jirschele said is something his father and Jeremy’s kids enjoy.
“He said it was great to be back on the field, giving signs,”Jirschele said. “It’s more fun for me and my kids because he is out there on the field. They enjoy seeing him on TV.”
Coaching third base can be tough when deciding to send a runner to home plate on a close play.
“There are times I’m thinking what’s he thinking,” Jeremy Jirschele said. “I would say it’s a little more stressful playing through scenarios, but we say it is a good problem to have.”
This season has been worth the wait for the family, according to Jeremy Jirschele after his father spent his entire career in the minor leagues, and now made it into the postseason. Another bonus is seeing many of the players Mike Jirschele coached succeed in the playoffs.
“Guys like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Billy Butler have all played for him in Triple-A,” Jirschele said. “That part makes it more special with homegrown players.”
Jeremy Jirschele went to game three of the American League Division Series when the Royals clinched the series and called it a great experience.
“Right away you see the enthusiasm in the parking lot, and that is what postseason baseball is all about and Kansas City is taking advantage of it,” Jeremy Jirschele said.” We were able to go down in the locker room to congratulate the guys and had a lot of champagne hugs.”
Jeremy only went to the one game, while his mom and brother have gone to every game the Royals have played in the postseason. Jeremy said he will go to all the World Series games if the Royals advance.