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Thursday Items

-- From Tim Peeler:

No. 3: Is the crowned playing surface ever going to be removed from Carter-Finley, the only stadium remaining in the ACC that still has a playing surface that slopes off towards the sidelines?

Answer, from Ray Brincefield, Assistant Athletics Director for Outdoor Facilities: "The crown was installed for two reasons: so the running backs could go down hill on the pitch sweeps and options that were popular in the 1960s and ’70s and so water could run off the field to the sides, like off a turtle’s back.

"The crown was an advantage when NC State was running the veer and had great running backs like Charlie Burden, Stan Fritts, Ted Brown, Joe McIntosh and Tremayne Stephens. But football has changed so that the slope is not an advantage anymore.

"Turfgrass technology has changed dramatically since then, and everything is gravity based, with sand underneath the turf, like on a golf green. We are all on the same page with Coach O’Brien on this, that it would be better for the program to be playing a surface that is consistent with the laser-leveled Dail Practice Facility fields that the team practices on every day and what it plays on when it goes on the road.

"For now, however, there are no immediate plans to change the crowned playing surface of Wayne Day Field."

That's a little disappointing to hear; I hope we can get it done within the next year or two.

-- More questions: Heather Dinich has a few. So does Ken Tysiac.

-- Pack Pride has some additional Tom O'Brien comments (I think. It seems like some of these quotes are from the ACC football media dealie.):

With Anthony Hill out last year, you had to go to Marcus Stone who had little experience. With Anthony back, how will that change your tight end sets and your offense?
I think the key to that is Anthony Hill. A year ago we felt he was going to be the best tight end in the conference, and we certainly feel that way again now. After having played against him, he was a tremendous blocker, he could run and get up the field, he could catch the football and run with it after he got the football. He’s the key to any type of tight end formation you want to be in. We always play with two tight ends, so it doesn’t change that as much.

-- Things gettin' worse at the N&O?

-- Ken Griffey Jr., hunh. Ooookay.

-- I never thought I'd see a major league player delve into sabermetrics like this...

Brian Bannister feels nervous over breakfast. And when Bannister feels nervous, he goes to the numbers. In rough times, he has always found comfort in numbers.

"Look at my xFIP," he is saying as he pulls out a few pages he printed off the Internet site, "The Hardball Times." He points out his xFIP — an advanced pitching statistic that stands for "Expected Fielding Independent Pitching." The statistic calculates something that looks like ERA, only instead of measuring earned runs per nine innings, it measures three things that pitchers can control — strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed.

[snip]

"Look," he says, and here is his row of xFIP numbers:

2006: 6.29.

2007: 5.14.

2008: 4.59.

"Look at that," he says again. "I’m actually pitching better than I was last year. My xFIP is down. It’s just that I got lucky last year."

Then he stares at the numbers for another few seconds, and he offers a frustrated smile because he knows that, in the end, nobody else really cares about his xFIP.