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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Trapasso: Poll doesn't rank high

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

So, how did Mike Trapasso, coach of the now No. 24-ranked University of Hawai'i baseball team, greet the Rainbows' first Top 25 appearance in seven years yesterday?

With all the joy somebody who just had his signs stolen and fungo bats turned to scrap.

"It means nothing," Trapasso said of being No. 24. "We're (just) the University of Hawai'i Rainbows. No number."

It would be easier to get the family credit card numbers out of Trapasso this week than having him own up, warm and fuzzy like, to No. 24 in the Collegiate Baseball poll.

Never mind that UH hasn't occupied a place in the Top 25 since Feb. 22, 1999. Or, to put it in perspective, not since Jamie Aloy was playing and Landon Hernandez was 12 years old.

But there is a method to Trapasso's pointed testiness this week. A solid reason behind his cold denial. And, it is called the First Hawaii Title Rainbow Baseball Tournament, which opens today at Les Murakami Stadium.

It is not the kind of thing the 'Bows want to come swaggering into off their 11-3 start. It is not the time to get a big head and lose perspective. Not with No. 11 Arkansas (9-0) looming. Not with Washington (8-2) also on deck this week.

To understand Trapasso's reticence in embracing the polls at this early date and the 'Bows are but one-quarter of the way into their schedule you need only recall the last time they started off 11-3. That was 2003, not far enough gone so that the lessons have faded.

Just when everybody was feeling good about a Rainbow renaissance in 2003, talking about polls and regionals, reality hit UH with the force of a Louisville Slugger. The Rainbows went 19-23 the rest of the way to finish 30-26. A winning season, but not quite the breakthrough the start had portended.

So it wasn't just because he was home doing the vacuuming when word came yesterday about the 'Bows' poll position that Trapasso's attitude was polls apart from that of most UH fans.

He knows, for example, that part of what has gotten this team this far has been its focus and consistency and now would be a bad time to lose either. There are still questions about the UH pitching staff, which really hasn't been extended much. It hasn't been forced to go deep into its bullpen with regularity. Not in ways this five-day tournament could provide.

Which is probably why UH hasn't cracked the Baseball America or USA Today polls yet. "I think a lot of (pollsters) are waiting to see what we do this week," Trapasso said.

While jumping back into one top 25 after seven years makes a good milepost, the real measure of UH is yet to come. The one the 'Bows want to shoot for is the final poll, where they haven't been found since 1992.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.