Time and Change is a series at BuckeyeNation where we chat with former Ohio State athletes.
Dave Burba always hinted that he wanted to see what the other side of baseball was like.
The Gilbert, Ariz., resident is doing just that as the pitching coach for the Tri-City Dust Devils. The Devils play in Pasco, Wash., and are a short-season Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
Burba, 46, played for Ohio State from 1985-87 and had a major league career that spanned 15 seasons, including extended stints with both of Ohio's MLB teams. The right-hander played for Seattle, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Cleveland (twice), Texas and Milwaukee and finished his career back with the Giants in 2004.
He was drafted by the Mariners in 1987 and had a career record 115-87 with 1,398 strikeouts in more than 1,777 innings. His 115 wins are the most for any former Ohio State pitcher in the big leagues.
BuckeyeNation caught up with Burba, who talked about his close calls with championships, his thoughts on the OSU baseball program and a little bit about football, too.
BN: During your career you hinted that you wanted to get into coaching. Is it what you expected?
Burba: It's a little different from what I expected. I had no idea what to expect to be honest with you. It's the information and the difference of playing the game to trying to develop guys to be able to perform at a major-league level.
BN: As a player you had to deal with a lot of different personalities. Has that helped you in the coaching aspect as well?
Burba: It's helped tremendously. I considered myself a good teammate and that's one of the things that I preach. It's letting everyone know you're out there for them and not for yourself. As far as dealing with the personalities, you have to realize people aren't wired the same. Some people need a swift kick, others need a pat.
BN: You came to the Indians in 1998 and played straight through 2001. How close were those teams to winning it all?
Burba: Very close. In '98 we went to the ALCS. We had a 2-1 lead on the Yankees. Unfortunately, the Yankees got hot at the wrong time and put three on us and walked away to the World Series and ended up winning it. The next year we were two games over on Boston and blew that. We came up one game short of making the playoffs in 2000. In 2001, we went down to the wire with the Mariners and came up short.
BN: Does one season stick out more than the other?
Burba: Obviously the season we made it to the ALCS sticks out the most because every year after that we didn't put it all together for some reason at the right time.
BN: Shifting your focus over to Ohio State, how close are the Buckeyes from being on top of the Big Ten again?
Burba: Knowing the person I know that's running the ship over there (Burba and head coach Greg Beals both graduated from Kenton Ridge High School), I think they're about three years away.
BN: We can't let you get away without a football question. What do you think of the Buckeyes and how they will do under Urban Meyer?
Burba: I think they're going to be a force to be reckoned with. Obviously, this year they're not going to go anywhere because of the sanctions, but they have a tremendously talented athlete as far as the quarterback goes [in Braxton Miller]. The more he learns that he's the captain of that team, it will definitely be a building block for him. Next year, I wouldn't be surprised if the Buckeyes were playing for the national championship.