Nattering Nabobs of the Press
There were several notable performances by the media covering the Tigers this season. A few examples:
■ The yin and yang of Mizzou websites - InsideMizzou.com and PowerMizzou.com - both entered the season promising to provide coverage of MU Baseball like never before. Both were trying to provide coverage that would pull in a bunch of new subscribers hungry for baseball coverage. I doubt either of them got what they wanted.
With apologies to the new regime at InsideMizzou, who enlisted me at the beginning of the season to try to get some action going in their Baseball Message Board (it didn't work), the ultimate winner in this head-to-head match was PowerMizzou, although they still have a long way to go in covering baseball anywhere near to the extent they do football and basketball. Where's the wall-to-wall coverage of MU Baseball recruiting?
But the difference-maker for Gabe's site turned out to be the hiring of Phil Laposa as their beat writer. Check out Gibson etches his name into Tiger lore for an example.
■ Also on the Internets this season was RockMNation, a general Mizzou sports website that focused more on MU Baseball this season than in the past. Their live threads during postseason games were a welcome addition to the general online clutter. And their general off-the-cuff and irreverent approach to MU Sports makes the Rock a must-read destination.
■ Matt Nestor of the Columbia Tribune returned for his 53rd year (or something like that) covering Tiger baseball, and did his usual outstanding job. For example, read Keeping it clean - an off-beat look at Kyle Gibson.
■ The media guy that most grabbed my attention this season, though, was Andrew DeWitt of the Columbia Missourian. The Missourian is notoriously up and down in its baseball coverage, because every year there is a new Journalism School student assigned to the MU Baseball beat. Some of those student scribes couldn't really care much less about Mizzou baseball.
But not DeWitt. As he told me before the season began, he used to be one of the rowdy students in Section B, following the baseball Tigers with a passion. This knowledge and interest showed through in his reporting during the season. Some examples:
Tex Little gives Missouri baseball voice:
It’s 3 p.m. Friday afternoon and Tex Little is settling into the cozy broadcast booth at Taylor Stadium. Little has his scorebook in front of him and is wearing his Missouri baseball cap. His laptop hums behind him, and he looks over some statistics while ESPN radio chirps in the background.
Little started as the voice of Tigers baseball in 1987 and has put in 19 years behind the microphone. “I don’t know another place I want to be other than the ballpark,” Little said.
Missouri's Trevor Coleman says he couldn't catch a cold when he was practicing for the first time with the Tigers in the fall of 2006, generally a problem for a catcher. Three years later, Coleman now speaks and catches like a student of the game after being the Tigers' starting catcher since before Big 12 Conference play started that freshman season.
"He gets in trouble when he cuts it off and chokes the grip a bit," Coleman said of freshman pitcher Ryan Clubb's change-up pitch.
Missouri baseball coach Tim Jamieson sometimes looks like Yosemite Sam with two
pistols pulled while he fires pitcher after pitcher at the opposing team.
Tex Little has been the "voice of the Tigers' for . . . well, longer than I've been around the Baseball Tigers. And you never know what's going to come out of Tex's mouth. A few quotes from the 2009 season:
"Buehler needs to break off another one of those big ole Uncle Charlies."
"That was more like a game of Hot Potato" ("off-the-air" but "on-the-internet" comment after the sloppy fielding of the 2nd inning against Monmouth)
“I don’t know another place I want to be other than the ballpark.”
• “It they want to save him, they can save him.” (Western Kentucky coach Chris Finwood on Jamieson’s decision to hold back Kyle Gibson)
• "Missouri in general is just a tough place for an away team. The facilities aren't exactly what you want, the playing surface isn't what you would want it to be, but it's
a place where Missouri plays good." (Texas Tech's Brian Cloud, prior to MU's sweep of the Red Raiders)
• "Sounds like Johnny Wholesuck for them today." (The Beef, at RockMNation, regarding Texas' use of multiple pitchers for the Big 12 championship game)
• "I'm pretty sure the last time I threw a pitch like that was Little League." (Phil McCormick, regarding the side-armed pitch he switched to in February and March)
• "It seems to happen at Missouri every year, that there's a couple of guys that just aren't as good as we thought they'd be." (Baseball America, after MU returned to their Top 25)
• "The one thing that was pretty cool was the Mizzou fans sticking up for Superfan and chanting "Clap, clap, clap" at the Jayhawk fans." (bolivartiger on Tigerboard.com)
• ""I put like 8 pieces of gum in my mouth and I didn't want to throw it away so I stuck it behind my ear for an inning, and I pulled some of my hair out when I pulled it off, but I wanted to save it for an inning because I wanted to have the most pieces of gum chewed on the team." (Ryan Lollis on his greatest achievement of the season)
• "He's a freak athlete. It doesn't matter if you put him behind a ping-pong table or out in the outfield. He's going to give it everything he's got." (Trevor Coleman, talking about Greg Folgia)
• "I have been pretty lucky. Over the last six or seven years, I have been pretty fortunate. So Kyle just is continuing the tradition of what Aaron (Crow) did, and Max (Scherzer) did, and (Garrett) Broshuis did before him and Justin Stine. I don't even know how to even answer that because it's what I have come to expect." (Tim Jamieson)
• "This is like sitting and slowly savoring a large French Vanilla cappuccino with a touch of cinnamon, enjoying the experience, and then finding a dead cockroach in the bottom of the cup." (Trripleplay, in the middle of the Arizona road trip)
• "For me, it's about the players, the legacy with the players, the relationship with the players. It's about the players that played here; it's about the players that play here; and it's about the players that will play here. That's why I stay here." (Tim Jamieson, at the First Pitch Celebration before the season)
• "Where's your pants, Luke?" (John Cassis, telling a story about his son)