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Baseball: Fastballs and Films

Bill Brink | Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It’s a long season for the Irish. Luckily, A.J. Pollock and Eric Maust add some levity to it.

Sophomore pitcher Evan Danieli knew he might be in trouble, but he didn’t know how. But Pollock and Maust had embarked on a cinematic adventure to poke fun at their teammates, and Danieli was next.

Pollock and Maust have enough on their plates. Pollock leads the team in hitting with a .364 batting average and has six home runs. Maust, a pitcher, has a 5-2 record. But when Maust and Pollock haven’t been helping the Irish (25-16, 10-8 Big East), who play Illinois-Chicago tonight at 6:05 p.m. at Eck Stadium, they’ve been making amateur films mocking their teammates and coaches.

“It’s been kind of a tradition. They go around and make little skits about each player on the team,” junior Billy Bookford said. “They’re very creative with what they do. They have creative minds, and they’re both good at what they do.”

Pollock and Maust made a video that included skits mocking players and coaches from December to late February. To burn Danieli, they filmed him doing routine activities, then spliced the footage together with clips from the rest of his teammates talking about him. The result: A documentary-style feel-good story about Danieli – that he had no idea took place.

“A.J. and I schemed this out beforehand, and we thought it would be funny to get at Big D and create this story, completely fictional, about Danieli,” Maust said. “Just using clips of him and framing clips of him and adding stuff onto it and make him look really silly and ridiculous.”

The two had made a video the previous season, and Pollock said the impetus was the fact that his class never did the traditional freshmen skits.

“We didn’t do it because the seniors gave us like, a day and it was right before finals and we didn’t have a chance to get the material together and do it,” Pollock said. “We didn’t do it and they were all mad at us. We ended up going 28-28 that year and they were blaming it on us.”

The next year, Pollock and a few guys made a video for the seniors. This spring’s video was a sequel.

Maust learned of Pollock’s video editing skills when Pollock, a native of Hebron, Conn. and a big Patriots fan, made a video montage of New England’s run towards the Super Bowl and showed it to the team.

“He put together a montage and put it up on YouTube and he was showing the guys and it looked really good,” Maust said.

This year, Pollock kept his video under wraps to keep his teammates in suspense. He and Maust worked hard, sometimes harder than they wanted.

“I’ll give A.J. a little attitude on some of my bad days when I have a lot to do and I’m stressed out a little bit,” Maust said.

No one, not even the coaches, are immune from the duo’s mockery. Maust and Pollock took press conference footage of their coach, Dave Schrage, from Notre Dame’s athletic Web site and added mock questions to create a faux Coors Light press conference commercial.

They toed the line with some their videos, Maust said.

“Due to the nature of what we were doing, some people would be watching the movie with straight faces,” he said.

Pollock agreed.

“We stepped on some toes,” he said. “We got some people pretty good.”

Of their ideas, he said, “We can run it up the flag pole, some people can either salute or remain resolute to it.”

Danieli had an inkling that he might be in for it when Pollock told him he wanted to mess with him in the video. Danieli’s response: attempted sabotage. Pollock said Danieli tried to make his own movie to poke fun at Pollock – “Evan doesn’t have a movie and he’s not capable of making one,” he added – and tried to recruit Maust to help.

“He tried to get [Maust] to turn against me by saying that I really trashed him in the movie and I wasn’t going to show him it,” Pollock said.

The result of Pollock and Maust’s work was an hour-long collection of skits that took down Schrage, Danieli and the rest of the team.

Pollock pondered how much the movie would be worth. “I’d say 12-15 bucks,” he said. He paused. “Fifteen. 30 bucks. We’re trying to make money here.”

Neither Pollock nor Maust would divulge the future of their production team, but both believed they had potential.

“You’ll just have to wait and see,” Maust said. “I don’t even know if we know. We might even do something over the summer, I don’t know. We don’t give any previews.”

Pollock had loftier aspirations. He floated the idea of making a feature-length film with a plot and submitting it to the Sundance Film Festival.

“We have big expectations,” he said. “We got some big ideas, we’re going to have to sit down and figure out what the best interest is for the Maust and A.J. production company.”

This weekend, Pollock and the Irish took two of three from Louisville on the road. They have home series against Big East opponents Connecticut and South Florida after facing non-conference opponents Illinois-Chicago and Bowling Green this week.

Illinois-Chicago (17-19, 11-4 Horizon League) has lost four of its last five games. Sophomore Jason Ganek leads the Flames with a .328 batting average, followed by senior Brandon Harwell at .327. Sophomore Steve McGuiggan has converted 13 of 13 stolen base attempts.