Saturday, June 15, 2002

What next?

As the 2002 MU Baseball season comes to an end, and the team has been mathematically eliminated from the post-season Big XII Tournament, we begin to wonder what comes next?

An announcement was made a week ago by the Missouri Athletic Department that was probably ignored by a large number of Mizzou sports fans, but which immediately caught the attention of MU Baseball fans and prompted conversation and rumors.

Last Monday, May 6th, Mike Alden and the MU Athletic Department announced the firing of Missouri Softball Head Coach Jay Miller. In 15 seasons, Miller compiled a 556-309 (.643) record. In 2002, the softball team finished 29-33 (.468), 4-14 in the Big 12 (9th place).

Mike Alden made the following statement to explain the firing: "Despite the fact that we're moving in a different direction, we're very grateful to Jay for his contributions. He elevated the overall standing of the softball program in his time here, and there's no question that Jay gave his all to the University. But there's also no question that we're expected to be more competitive in the sport of softball, particularly given the resources recently invested in the program."

This announcement caught the attention of Mizzou Baseball fans, and for very good reason.

The MU Baseball team is winding up a 2002 season that has been quite disappointing. Heading into the season, expectations were high. The quality of the most recent two recruiting classes, both in offense and pitching, were high. The future looked bright.

The season has not played out according to those high expectations, however. The Tiger baseball team, with just 3 games left to play, has a record of 23-27 (.460), 9-16 in the Big 12th, 9th in the Conference.That's a comparable record to that compiled by Jay Miller's 2002 Softball squad.

The 2002 team has actually been worse than the disappointing 2001 team (31-24-1 (.554), 11-19 in the Big 12, 9th in the Conference).

In 2001, the Tigers lost only one mid-week game all year, most of which are played against in-state teams, plus such opponents as Western Illinois and Arkansas State. In 2002, the Tigers have an 8-7 record in mid-week games. Taking away four victories against NAIA schools, the Tigers' mid-week Division I record drops to 4-7. And some of the team's most lopsided losses have come against those teams – 15-10 against Arkansas State, 20-10 against SMSU.

As a result, the question on the lips of nearly everyone connected with MU Baseball has been: Is Tim Jamieson the next coach to feel the Alden Axe?

Just today, May 13th, the two local papers have printed two contradictory articles about the matter. (See excerpts and links in sidebar at right).

The Missourian quoted Gene McArtor as saying that Tim Jamieson's job will be evaluated "at the end of the season", after next weekend's final series against Northern Iowa.

The Tribune, later in the same day, reported that Tim Jamieson's job is safe. It quoted the MU Director of Media Relations as saying that Jamieson and McArtor met last week, at which time the coach was "assured his job is safe."

The truth will probably be known for sure within a couple of weeks, if not days or hours, after the conclusion of the season.