Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall World Series

Team parents show supports, spirit at Missouri baseball team's Fall World Series (Columbia Missourian)
They're more spirited than your average fans.

They travel to Columbia from all over the country to see Missouri baseball games. They're not only supporting their team, they support their sons.

The parents of the Missouri baseball players use the team's Fall World Series as an opportunity to socialize, get to know newcomers and most importantly, encourage their sons. The team's fall scrimmage is their first opportunity of the year to get together.

Mizzou in the Majors

Mathis keeping eye on World Series (White Mountain Independent)
Mathis is scheduled to depart for winter ball in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.

“I’ve never played winter ball,” he said. “I was supposed to play last year but it didn’t work out. My arm wasn’t feeling that great. But this year I’m going down to work on some stuff.”

And he has a couple of things to work on as he looks to get back to the majors and remain there.

“I had an up and down year, kind of inconsistent,” he said. “I’m going to work on my stuff and correct some mistakes. That’s the biggest thing I’m going down there for. The bottom line is it’s a good competition level. There are a lot of big league guys from the Dominican Republic playing down there and a couple of my teammates are going. As it gets closer to spring training the talent level picks up.”

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors

ShowLo honoring Mathis Friday (
Show Low High School will hold a ceremony retiring Doug Mathis' No. 17 jersey at halftime of its varsity football home game with Payson at 7 p.m. Friday. Mathis, who pitches in the Texas Rangers organization, will be on hand and is expected to sign autographs before the game.

"He made it to the pro level which doesn't happen very often for somebody from here," said Show Low varsity baseball coach David Nikolaus.

The left-hander has pitched with the Rangers parts of the past two seasons and is on their 40-man roster but is not pitching in the World Series.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors: Ian vs. the Giants

Giants walk away with Game Two (
2 games . . . 2 very dumbfounded looks on the face of Ian Kinsler.
Ian Kinsler comes within inches of HR (
In Kinsler led off the top of the fifth with a deep shot to center that came inches from giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead. It hit off the top of the wall and bounced back into play for a double. That's where Kinsler would stay as David Murphy and Matt Treanor failed to move him over.
Game 2 key moments (SF Chronicle)
That adage about baseball being a game of inches came into play on Ian Kinsler's leadoff drive to center. If he had hit it a few inches farther or if the fence were a few inches shorter, Kinsler would have had a homer. The ball hit the top of the wall and bounced back into play. He had a double, but would not advance past second.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors: Ian vs. the Giants

Long-time readers of may remember that one of the annual recognitions we award in the post-season Tip of the Cap Awards is the Base Cadet award, given to the Tiger base runner who exhibits the most creativity (and sometimes the most fool-hardy daring) on the base paths. I always soften the blow for the current recipient by pointing out that the very first Base Cadet moniker was given in 2003 to none other than Ian Kinsler, who distinguished himself with a few lapses of judgement and attention on the basepaths that year. Occasionally, the old base cadet still rears his dizzy head at unfortunate moments:

Aubrey Huff nonchalantly catches dejected Ian Kinsler committing A FAIL (
Okay, so what exactly happened here? Kinsler hit a tough infield hopper off Sergio Romo to the second baseman Freddy Sanchez. Sanchez scooped it out of the infield, but threw it wide of the bag that forced Aubrey Huff to dive for the ball. Kinsler, assuming the ball went wide of Huff, touched first base easily and started running toward second.

But the ball didn’t go wide of Huff, who managed to snag it and then leisurely strolled back to tag the sad-looking Kinsler. You can view the play here, over and over again.

Kinsler's aggressiveness costly on basepaths (
Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler knows just one way to pull his team out of a hole -- by being aggressive.

But sometimes the one way is the wrong way. An ill-fated decision on the bases led to a key out in the eighth inning of the Rangers' 11-7 loss to the Giants in Game 1 of the World Series at AT&T Park on Wednesday.
. . .
"I didn't see much," Kinsler said. "I saw the throw was going to be wide. I didn't get a full look at it and I heard the crowd react, so I figured it went by [Huff]. I took one step and I saw that he came up with it, and I was out."

It's not the first time Kinsler's zeal on the bases has led to a bad play at a key time.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mizzou Baseball Fall World Series

Mizzou Fall World Series to start Wednesday (
The MLB World Series between Texas and San Francisco is not the only World Series that will get underway on Wednesday. The Mizzou Baseball Fall World Series is set to start this Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Taylor Stadium.

The schedule has been adjusted to allow more days off between games for the pitchers.

The first two-games of the series are set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. After a day off on Friday, Game Three will be played at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Game Four is set for 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 1, with Game Five scheduled for 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

The best-of-five series is open to the public free of charge. All game will be played at Taylor Stadium.
2010 Fall World Series Schedule
Game 1: Oct. 27, 6 p.m.
Game 2: Oct. 28, 6 p.m.
Game 3: Oct. 30, 11 a.m.
Game 4: Nov. 1, 4 p.m.
Game 5: Nov. 2, 8 p.m.

Mizzou in the Majors: Ian vs. the Giants

An intriguing Fall Classic of pitching vs. power (San Francisco Examiner)
Second base: Freddy Sanchez, S.F. vs. Ian Kinsler, Texas

Both were solid contributors in the regular season, although Kinsler’s injuries kept his numbers down. But the Texas infielder has had a huge postseason, clubbing three home runs and driving in nine this October. Advantage: Rangers.

World Series position outlook: 2B (
When Ian Kinsler is in the lineup, the Rangers play better. It's that simple. They had a better record and a better team batting average when he was healthy and playing. In short: He's extremely valuable.
. . .
Kinsler gives the Rangers someone who can hit the ball deep, but also collect key hits, move runners over and become a threat when he gets on the bases. He's an example of the versatility that makes this team so good.

Watch for Kinsler to make an impact in the World Series. He's fearless and has a habit of coming up big in the big moments.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors

Ian Kinsler (left) celebrates the American League championship with his Texas Rangers teammates

Sunday, October 24, 2010

NLI Early Signing Period coming up

The National Letter of Intent Early Signing Period is coming up quickly, on November 10-17.

[Photo at right: 11/13/2003, Jacob Priday signs NLI to play at MU]

So far we have reported on the following recruits who have made verbal commitments to Mizzou. Of course, nothing is certain until these prospects sign their official Letter of Intent.

Brett Graves, RHP/SS; Francis Howell HS (StL)

Jake Ivory, C/OF; Francis Howell HS (StL)

Brett Thomas, RHP/SS; Oak Ridge HS (MO)

Another possible MU signee:

Tyler Hunt, Westran HS (Huntsville, MO)

If anyone has any information about players who are signing with Mizzou this November, drop us a line at

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors: World Series Bound

Kinsler and the Rangers are going to the World Series (
For a former Mizzou Tiger, just four game lie between him and a World Series ring. Ian Kinsler and the Texas Rangers defeated the New York Yankees last night in game six of the ALCS, 6-1. The Rangers win the series 4-2 and now await either Philadelphia or San Francisco.

Kinsler would be one for two last night with and RBI and a walk. He would drive in the last run of a four run inning for the Rangers in the fifth. Kinsler would hit a sac fly that would score Michael Young.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors . . . In the World Series !!!

The Texas Rangers and former MU Tiger Ian Kinsler defeated the Yankees tonight and are head to the World Series !!!

Mizzou in the Minors: Hot Stove

OK, so this doesn't even qualify as a rumor. It's a speculation by a blogger. But definitely of interest to a Mizzou fan.

Possible trades could get exceptionally interesting. The talk around the web is of a possible Zack Greinke trade. He is locked up for the next two years at $13 million a year, which is a relative bargain for an ace.

The Twins could be possible trade partners here. I would look for them to offer a package of Delmon Young, Kevin Slowey and possibly Aaron Hicks or Kyle Gibson. I would do it if Hicks were not included. Hicks will be our starting right-fielder starting in 2012 and hopefully for many years after.
Kyle Gibson a Kansas City Royal?

2011 Recruit: Jake Ivory, C/OF/P

Jake Ivory, C/OF
Francis Howell HS (StL)
6'1", 160 lb, R/R

Perfect Game lists Ivory as a verbal commit to MU, and I have received independent confirmation of this

2010 Offense: .439 BA; .487 OB%; .701 SLG%; 47-for-107; 33 R; 14 2B; 4 3B; 2 HR; 42 RBI

2010 MSHSAA All-State Class 4 1st Team
2010 All Gateway Athletic Conference South 1st Team

Member, St. Louis Pirates developmental team:
Jake Ivory of Francis Howell committed to the University of Missouri.
Perfect Game profile:
Jake Ivory is a 2011 OF/RHP/C with a 6'1'', 160 lb. frame from St. Charles, MO who attends Francis Howell. Lean muscular build, hits from a square stance, plus bat speed, short to the ball, makes consistent hard contact, line drive approach, good gap power with more to come, defensively, athletic actions, long loose arm action, plus plus arm strength, ball carries, ball comes out of hand easy, solid OF mechanics, also pitches, 3/4 arm slot, loose and easy arm action, ball comes out easy, short tight spinning curveball, shows a straight change, solid two way prospect, excellent student.

Mizzou in the Majors: Ian Kinsler

Rangers' Kinsler made impact Mizzou in one season as Tiger (
The coach watched the future all-star take three ground balls — and it was all he needed to see.

Mizzou baseball coach Tim Jamieson had traveled down to Arizona to find the Tigers’ next shortstop. And as he stood off to the side of a field near Tempe, Ariz., watching the young kid smoothly glove ball after ball from the dirt, there was no question: Jamieson had to make sure this Arizona kid named Ian Kinsler ended up in Columbia.
. . .
“There’s no question that his performance in the big leagues has helped our recruiting,” Jamieson says. “His legacy [at Missouri] has continued and will continue.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors: Ian vs. the Yankees

MU's Ian Kinsler (03) is hitting just .143 in the ALCS, after leading all hitters for the ALDS (.444; 8-for-18; with three homers and six RBIs). But in Tuesday night's game, the Rangers were hustling and taking advantage of every opportunity, even those offered by a hitter in a slump.

First came the antlers. Nelson Cruz hustled from first to second to tag up on Ian Kinsler's fly to center. If that doesn't happen, the Yankees don't intentionally walk David Murphy to get to Molina.

Who knows how things unfold in that case, but Molina's three-run blow was his second homer of the postseason. He's here to catch and to call games, but he's hitting .375 with power just for a bonus.

Not getting the Joba done (
Chamberlain came on after Boone Logan allowed a solo homer to Josh Hamilton with two out in the top of the seventh.

Vladimir Guerrero greeted Chamberlain by driving his first pitch (a hanging, 84-mph slider) to left for a double.

Chamberlain then walked Nelson Cruz on four pitches. And Ian Kinsler followed with a pop-up to short right field that fell out of Nick Swisher’s reach. Swisher was subbing for an injured Mark Teixeira at first. Kinsler’s hit scored Guerrero and put the Rangers up, 7-3.

Coaching tree

According to MUTigerBaseball on Twitter:

FYI Tiger faithful, the Cubs new manager Mike Quade was a college teammate of our very own Coach Jamieson at the University of New Orleans.
That was apparently a UNO team with a leaning toward coaching, taught and inspired by Ron Maestri, UNO Head Coach from 1972-1985. Among the players on that team:

  • Paul Mainieri, Head Coach @ Louisiana State
  • Dan Callahan, Head Coach @ Southern Illinois-Carbondale
  • Tim Jamieson, Head Coach @ Mizzou
  • Mike Quade, new Head Coach @ Chicago Cubs,

Informed Athlete

Recent Calls (Informed Athlete Newsletter)
As a reminder, Division I college baseball teams can't carry more than 35 players on the roster once the season starts in February.

If your son's team has more than 35 players participating in fall practice, somebody will be cut from the team before February.

If your son is cut from the team now, or within the next few weeks, the coach may actually be doing them a favor

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors: Ian vs. the Yankees

A 1-1 LCS can be anybody's guess (
"It's a five-game series now," the Rangers' Ian Kinsler said. "We have Cliff Lee to pitch two of them. That doesn't sound so bad now, does it?"

A tale of two teams (
Ron Washington dubs this Rangers team "resilient" for bouncing back after a tough loss. None was ever tougher than Game 1 of the ALCS.
Well, when the bullpen failed miserably in a 6-5 loss Friday night, MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons walked into the clubhouse and saw something he really admired.

"I was impressed with how Ian Kinsler stood up and out front afterward," said [Peter Gammons], the Boston-based baseball writer/TV analyst of 40 seasons.

"The whole team stood up. Nobody hid. That's a good sign."

Mizzou in the Majors: Kinsler in the Post-season

Slices of Sox in Rangers (Boston Herald)
Kinsler and Pedroia are now two of the best second basemen in the American League. Even if they’re not particularly tight, Kinsler has no regrets.

“It worked out,” he said. “Everything turned out the way I wanted it to. I don’t know what would have happened if I had stayed there or gone to a different school. Everything happens for a reason, and now I’m here.”
Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz make post-season history (Lone Star Ball)
While Cliff Lee (deservedly) has gotten most of the attention, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz also made history...

Kinsler and Cruz each homered three times in the series against the Rays.

In a post-season series that went five games or less, this is only the second time teammates have each hit at least three homers.

The other pair? A couple of Yankees you may have heard of...Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, in 1928...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors: Ian vs. the Yankees

Ian Kinsler hasn't yet homered in the ALCS, like he did in the ALDS, but in Saturday's 7-2 Rangers' win over the Yankees, he combined power with speed.

Rangers prevail in Game 2 (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
While Hughes started the fifth inning for New York, he didn’t record an out. The Rangers chased him from the game after Cruz led off with a double and Ian Kinsler followed with a triple. Joba Chamberlain replaced Hughes and allowed Kinsler to score on a single from Moreland. Texas led 7-1 heading into the sixth inning.
And in case you're wondering, Kinsler never faced Chamberlain during their college years. Kinsler's last season with the Tigers before being drafted was 2003, while Joba Chamberlain's career with the Nebraska Cornhuskers spanned 2004-2006.

Simmons Field Photos: Turn Two

Jeremy Hernandez and Ian Kinsler, 2003

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors: Ian vs. the Yankees

Bring on the evil empire (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
"They're probably the best organization in all of professional sports," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We respect that, but at the same time, that has nothing to do with this series. We believe we have the best team in baseball, and we're going to try to prove that."
Two key Rangers expect more hits in ALCS (
While Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz were busy garnering references to Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth in the ALDS, probable MVP Josh Hamilton and Michael Young, the franchise leader in hits, couldn't get things going at the plate.

Kinsler and Cruz each had three homers in the five-game series win over Tampa Bay, becoming the first pair of teammates in major league history to have at least three long balls in a postseason series of five or fewer games since Ruth and Gehrig did it in the Yankees' four-game sweep of the Cardinals in the 1928 World Series.

Both players helped carry the offense. Kinsler hit .444 (8-for-18) with three homers and six RBIs in the ALDS. Cruz batted .400 (8-for-20) with two doubles, three homers and three RBIs. He also stole third base, resulting in a bad throw and a run in Game 5. Bengie Molina and Elvis Andrus also had averages over .333 and came through with some big hits.
Rangers closer, Rivera, similar (
Ian Kinsler speaks about Neftali Feliz, the Rangers' closer, in glowing terms. Kinsler admires his poise, his lack of pretense, his ability to compartmentalize and rebound after rare wobbly outings.
Feliz does not pump his fist or thump his chest or dance around the mound. After strikeouts, he lowers his head and walks off the mound. In that way, Feliz reminds Kinsler of someone else: Mariano Rivera.
"The only other guy that I can think about is Mariano, who's pretty similar as far as poise and consistency with his emotions," Kinsler said. "You can go look at the past saves that he's had. The only one I can think of was the one that he closed out in Oakland to clinch the American League West. He smiled. He pointed. That was about it."

SimmonsField Photo: 30 Yards and a Cloud of Dust

Mike Rallo, 1997-2000

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fields of Faith

Andreas Plackis, MU Baseball Junior Catcher, was one of the featured speakers Wednesday night at Fields of Faith at the Hearnes Center. The event, sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was attended by several hundred students.

A number of MU athletes - including former MU football player Brad Ekwerekwu - shared their testimonies in between sets by the Christian Campus House worship band. These were not the stereotypical "Jesus wants me to win" messages, but heartfelt stories of learning humility and reliance on faith.

Plackis spoke from his heart about learning to stop playing the game of baseball just for himself or for the people in the stands. Instead, he envisions Jesus Christ as he comes up to bat, reminding himself, "It's just not possible for me to let Jesus down, because Jesus is the one who holds me up."

Andreas mentioned a low point this past Spring, a game where he went 0-for-5 and wore the "golden sombrero", striking out four times. The only thing that gets him though times like that, he said, is having learned not to base his happiness on his baseball accomplishments.

"Not basing my happiness on my sport really frees me up to play," he said, freeing him of the stress he was feeling when he was "building his house on the sand" of personal success.

Here's a Tip of the Cap to Andreas Plackis and the other Mizzou athletes who have the courage and strength to take a stand and to reach out to help other students.

Mizzou in the Majors: Kinsler shines in Postseason

As others slump, Ian Kinsler rakes (
Ian Kinsler made history in his first postseason. Riding a 3-for-4 night, including a two-run, ninth-inning homer that put the final dagger in the Tampa Bay Rays, the Texas Rangers' second baseman hit safely and scored a run in all five games of the ALDS.

The only other player to get his postseason career off to such a flying start was Boston's Nomar Garciaparra.

Kinsler's huge game, coming in the most important nine innings for the Rangers franchise -- no longer the only one not to win a playoff series -- made him 8-for-18. a team-best .444 average in the series, with three home runs, tied with Nelson Cruz, and a team-high six RBIs.

Tucson's Ian Kinsler helps Texas Rangers make history (Tucson Citizen)
The Lone Star State knows a thing or two about heat.

So, too, does Ian Kinsler, who may not be the sole star on the Texas Rangers, but he’s certainly their hottest hitter at the plate.

The Canyon Del Oro (Oro Valley, Ariz.) High School grad propelled the Rangers on Tuesday night to the first postseason series victory in the franchise’s 49-year history with a 3-4, 3-RBI performance, highlighted by a 2-run, ninth-inning home run.

Kinsler caps stellar ALDS with homer (
"He plays with an edge and that edge showed up throughout this series. It was a big series for Ian Kinsler. People will take notice of him now."

The 28-year-old had at least one hit and scored a run in each of the five AL Division Series games.

"I'm just trying to get on base," Kinsler said. "I'm trying to do whatever it takes for this team to win. It's pretty simple in the playoffs. I've been doing it all, but when you're in the playoffs it obviously elevates the level of focus. I'm just trying to do the same thing I've done all year, just a little bit more focused."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors: Postseason

An interview with Ian Kinsler (
Q. How would you describe your chess games with Cliff Lee?

IAN KINSLER: As a loss (laughter). That's how I'd describe them. He whoops me pretty good, and he's not scared to let me know that he's dominating me any time. I mean, first move he's dominating me. That's just how he rolls.

Mizzou Baseball Injury Updates

■ From MUTigerBaseball @
  • Bad news: senior of Jonah Schmidt torn ligament in left thumb sliding into 3b yesterday. Surgery tomorrow and out for rest of fall.

  • Good news: He'll be healthy in plenty of time for start of season. More injury updates: Opel & Champagne both close to facing live pitching

  • Anderson and Burton are each a month or so into their throwing programs and making great progress. All should be good to go for '11 season!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors

Ian Kinsler makes Rangers' lineup better (
With Kinsler: 61-42 record, .285 batting average, .427 slugging percentage and five runs scored per game

Without Kinsler: 29-30 record, .261 batting average, .405 slugging percentage, 4.5 runs scored per game

Mizzou Baseball Coaching

New coaches putting a stamp on MU Baseball (Columbia Tribune)

As a former pitching coach, Jackson said he knows the benefit of playing a pressure offense and how putting runners — especially speedy runners — on base can influence what happens on the mound.
. . .
“Now that the bats have changed that aspect — they’re going to be a little bit deadened — now that even more feeds into the idea of getting baseball players, guys that understand what it means to bunt, small-game, understand how important defense is, understand how important it is to throw strikes,” said Jackson, who got ringing endorsements from former Missouri pitchers Danny Hill, Aaron Crow and Kyle Gibson, all of whom he had coached in the Cape Cod League, “because, ultimately, that’s going to lead to success.”

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Big 12 (for awhile) Baseball

Nebraska plans $4.75 million indoor baseball practice facility (
Nebraska's athletic department is planning to spend $4.75 million on an indoor practice facility for the Cornhusker baseball and softball teams.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's athletic department announced details of the practice facility Friday.

If the university's regents approve, the 22,000-square-foot practice facility will be built near Nebraska's Haymarket Park field.

The practice facility would have batting cages, pitching mounds and a turf field usable for indoor practice.

University officials said this upgrade at Haymarket Park should improve the odds of Nebraska hosting regional competition in the NCAA baseball and softball tournaments.

Mizzou in the Majors 2010: Doug Mathis

Doug Mathis, Texas Rangers

Doug Mathis' season can be summed up in these numbers:
Texas Rangers - 8 appearances, 4/11 - 5/14

Oklahoma City Redhawks - 9 appearances, 5/21 - 7/1

Texas Rangers - 1 appearance, 7/6

Oklahoma City - 2 appearances, 7/11-16

Texas Rangers - 3 appearances, 7/20-24

Oklahoma City - 7 appearances, 8/7 - 9/7

Texas Rangers - called back up on 9/28, no appearances

ERA with Rangers: 6.05
ERA with RedHawks: 5.56
Mid-season grades: Bullpen (, 7/8/2010)
To be honest, I almost forgot Doug Mathis had been a bullpen cog for a good portion of the first half. But that’s probably the way it should be since he posted a 6.98 ERA and 1.97 WHIP. He pitched better than that last season, but he really is just a replacement level arm and he will find it harder and harder to make any kind of contribution with the Rangers going forward.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors: Post-Season

Rays force Game 4 after rally vs. Rangers (
Ian Kinsler led off the Rangers' seventh and smashed a 386-foot homer down the left-field line off Garza to put the Rangers up 2-1.

Kinsler to Rays fans: Stop worrying about umpires (
"It's tough to win when you're (complaining) about a call from the previous day," Kinsler said Friday at Rangers Ballpark, where the series resumes Saturday. "It seems like they were still talking about the Carlos Pena call, which is basically a non-issue because it hit the bat. And it's tough to be a good crowd when you're worried about umpires. We were able to take them out; they were interested in the umpires and it worked out well for us."

Mizzou in the Majors 2010: Justin James

Justin James, Oakland Athletics

Justin James has to be the idol of every MU Tiger player who rode the ups and the downs of success and failure on the field. Drafted out of high school by the Boston Red Sox, James instead chose to come play at Mizzou. Drafted after his sophomore year (he had reached the magic age of 21) by the Toronto Blue Jays, he spent part of 4 years with the Blue Jay organization until he reached Triple-A in 2007, and then found himself released. He was picked up by the Reds and rose within one season to their Triple-A team - only to be released again.

He was signed then by the Kansas City T-Bones of the independent Northern League, where he distinguished himself in the back yard of professional baseball, a place where veteran players go when they aren't quite ready to call it quits.

James began the 2010 season with the T-Bones, appearing in 11 games, recording six saves with an ERA of 1.69. His contract was purchased by the Oakland A's on June 17 and he was sent to the Double-A Midland Rockhounds, where he pitched in 12 games, posting an ERA of 2.29 and 21 strikeouts in 19.2 innings.

On July 22, he advanced to the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, where he went 1-1 with a 1.37 ERA in 16 games. He recorded four saves while striking out 28 in 19.2 innings.

And then, the Oakland A's parent club called him up in early September. After bouncing around in one organization after another, after finding himself in the unaffiliated backwaters of baseball, Justin James made it to the Show.

Justin James glad he listened to little brother (San Francisco Chronicle)

September call-up excites James (
"You never want to take the jersey off your back," James said, "but I was going through a rough time."
Crow latest in line of MU's Friday night fighters (Columbia Tribune, May 2007)
There’s a lot of Justin James in Missouri ace Aaron Crow.

James was a seemingly tireless worker in 2003 as he helped pitch the Tigers into an NCAA Regional. James mentored Danny Hill and Garrett Broshuis, who in turn paved the way for Max Scherzer and Nathan Culp.
The diamond hopes (Columbia Tribune,October 2001)
Highlighting the class is right-handed fireballer Justin James, who chose Missouri after failed negotiations with the Boston Red Sox.

"He is the highest profile player that we’ve signed," Jamieson said of the sixth-round selection in last year’s draft. "Justin is the biggest name in the group. But we have some really good players who have come here, too."

James wasn’t completely happy with the Boston situation. He wanted to drafted in the top three rounds, which have a significantly higher signing bonus than later rounds.

"At first, I was wanting to go play professional baseball because it’s my dream," said the 6-foot-3 Yukon, Okla., native, who is ranked as the 93rd best prospect by "I hope to someday play professionally. But, to me, the money wasn’t right.

"Now, I am happy to get two years of college out of the way, work real hard on individual things and mature a little more physically," he continued. "Hopefully, in two years I will go in the draft again, and things will work out better than they did this time."

James eliminated several national powers - including nearby Oklahoma and Oklahoma State - before choosing MU over Baylor, which is annually a Big 12 title contender.

"I would rather go to a team that is good - but not as good - and help them out," James said. "It would be more rewarding to make them good. It’s a challenge to help out a team and make them really good."

James is certainly in for a challenge.

Friday, October 8, 2010

You Make the Call: Should it be Wood?

The Missouri Tigers are practicing with wood bats this Fall. The new metal bats that meet the 2011-mandated BBCOR standards are designed to make the metal bats behave more like wood.

So why not just use the wood?

Our latest "You Make the Call" poll (in the left-hand sidebar) lets you express your opinion.

Wood becoming most logical bat answer (
“I think the cost factor is the main reason we haven’t gone to a wood bat,” Serrano said. “It’s a cost factor because you have to think about how many bats college teams will go through in a year. MLB is always going to get the best wood and there’s a chance we’d be stuck with the second-tier wood. Getting lower grade wood really wouldn’t be good for our game.”

Division II Baseball considering wood bats (, May 2010)
Most quality metal bats cost $300 and up, Brunk said. A good wood bat costs between $25 and $50. He said most college players will not go through enough wood bats in game competition to equal the investment in metal. Further, those who are worried about breakage can use composite bats in batting practice, thus extending the life of the wood bats.

Flagler head coach Dave Barnett is certainly among those coaches concerned about cost. He believes wood would be cheaper.

“I bought two bats this year, one for $399 and one for $369,” said the longtime coach of the Peach Belt Conference school. “I gave the guys a catalogue and said, ‘I can buy two bats – pick them.’

“There are cheaper bats, but none less than $300, and no one is buying a $300 bat these days. Players bring their own, and they last only one year (because) they lose their velocity. Kids get new bats every year. So don’t tell me that wood bats are going to be a cost issue.”
Top coaches prefer metal over wood (, June 2010)
According to an Associated Press survey of 24 coaches whose programs have won 1,000 or more games since 1985, 17 said they preferred aluminum and that there was no need to study the possibility of going to wood bats.
. . .
Proponents of metal argue that all 301 Division I programs play with the same thing and there's no risk of having top programs playing with better wooden bats, potentially skewing the results. They also like the scoring boost and say a $300 aluminum bat can last an entire 56-game season, while $100 wooden bats can break at any time.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors: Kinsler adds power to Rangers' win

Ian Kinsler extends Texas lead (
Ian Kinsler cranked a two-out, bases-empty home run in the top of the fourth inning of Thursday's Game 2 of the American League Division Series, giving the Texas Rangers a 2-0 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.

The bomb could go a long way toward earning the Rangers a far more important 2-0 lead—in the ALDS, that is.

Kinsler's shot was sweet redemption after he grounded out with a runner on second base in the second inning, and came on a fastball from the homer-prone Jame Shields of the Rays.

Texas Rangers: Why the pummeling of the Rays is no fluke (
Kinsler is the sweet swinging second baseman who has struggled mightily in 2010. He hits for power, average, steals bases, and is a fairly reliable fielder. But nagging injuries kept him from flashing that potential in 2010.

Kinsler got ample opportunity to rest his ailments in September, and has looked fantastic in the first two games of this postseason. If he's back to full strength, he's the X-factor.
Rangers up 2-0, on the cusp of first ALCS (
"We're a very good team," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "It seems like throughout the year there were always challenges, but we played our best baseball when our backs were to the wall or when we were facing a tough team. We had our lapses but, for the most part, that's our game, that's our team and that's what we've been doing."

Mizzou Baseball: Fall Practice

Baseball to scrimmage on Saturday (
The Mizzou baseball team will continue its fall practice with a scrimmage this Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Taylor Stadium. The intersquad scrimmage will be open to the public and is free of charge.

Fall practice for the Tigers is underway and will conclude with the annual Fall World Series, which is scheduled for the end of October (a finalized FWS schedule will be released soon).

The Tigers will be using wood bats on Saturday, just as they are doing for all fall practice sessions.

Please note that there will be no public parking around Taylor Stadium on Saturday, as all football parking rules and regulations will apply.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bats Below Average

I stopped by Taylor Stadium for an hour after work today - perfect day for baseball.

I tweeted some of my observations while at the park, but the one thing that struck me most was the sound of the Tiger offense. Instead of the usual PING of the bats hitting the balls, I heard the sweetest sound on earth: the CRACK of a wood bat hitting a baseball.

Yes, the Tigers are using wooden bats for all their practice sessions this Fall.

I'm guessing this has something to do with the new NCAA bat specifications that have a lot of college coaches and players complaining. The new specifications require that the bats perform more like wood bats. The complaint, however, is that the bats are very sluggish, significantly reducing offensive punch.

Knock on wood (
• Augie Garrido, UT: "I think every coach kind of goes, 'Whoa.' It is recognizable from the very first batted ball. When you hit it on the sweet spot, it still goes. Whereas we might have hit 15 or 20 balls out in batting practice before, we're now hitting five or six balls out in BP."

• Paul Manieri, LSU: "I just hope you don't retard the development of the hitters because now all of a sudden everybody's sacrifice bunting with their 3-hole hitters, taking pro hitters and sacrificing all the time because offense is so sluggish."
■ Baseball America's Aaron Fitt, on Twitter:
[Mississippi State's John] Cohen on the new bats: "Guys are killing balls; they just don't go. Nobody's going to hit balls out of our ballpark—I'm serious."
■ Virginia second baseman Keith Werman (American Chronicle):
"You could get away with those bloop singles that get by the infielders and now they don't get by the infielders," Werman said. "I have noticed in the field that grounders are not hit that hard. You really have to barrel the ball up. When the big guys barrel it up, some of the ones that you thought were no-doubters, they barely get out or they don't get out. I have noticed it a lot more with the big guys."
Apparently, the reason some teams are using wood bats in fall practice is due to a shortage of the new bats.

New bat specifications could change college baseball (
But no matter what Bianco thinks of the new rule, his team is one of the lucky ones. While Easton rushed about a half-dozen demo bats to Oxford, Miss., and other schools with similar bat deals, some colleges won't see the new models until right before the season.

Although the NCAA sent out a memorandum to bat manufacturers Sept. 16, 2008, informing them of the change, the transition hasn't been a timely one.

Louisville -- who, as one would guess, uses Louisville Slugger for its bats -- has only received one bat built to the new specifications. Due to the lack of BBCOR aluminum, the Cardinals are practicing this fall with the old bats and will hit with wood bats this winter.

UL coach Dan McDonnell expects to switch to the new bats when preseason practice begins in February.

"We took batting practice with it one day, but since we only have one, we decided to wait and swing it later," McDonnell said. "I don't blame the Easton schools for using them, since they have them, but we don't have that luxury."
On the other hand, Kendall Rogers of had a good point on twitter:

A little Did you know? According to the #NCAA, teams and players can use wooden bats in live competition. Wonder if some will now?
Wouldn't that be sweet? Personally, I'd be in favor of the Tigers unilaterally deciding to be a wood-bat team. If the new composite bats suck as much as everyone says they do, it might actually give Mizzou an advantage.

Mizzou in the Majors 2010: Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers

Max Scherzer's player page and stats

Max's season can be summarized by his monthly ERAs:
4.25 April
9.45 May
3.48 June
2.31 July
1.29 August
3.14 September
Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer figures himself out - at least for one start (, 5/31)
It was only one game. And yet, it felt like so much more -- in the career of Max Scherzer, and in this Tigers season.

Scherzer entered Sunday's game with a 7.29 ERA, which is two runs north of lousy. He left it to a standing ovation, after striking out 14 Oakland A's.
. . .

"You can't fix your arm slot," Scherzer said.

Once he realized that, Scherzer tried to figure out if something else was causing his arm slot to drop. He watched film and realized he was wrapping his arm back behind his body too much, throwing everything out of whack.

Problem solved ... except, later that day, the Tigers sent him down to Toledo.
He pitched great down there, then came back up and absolutely dominated the A's. After walking Rajai Davis to lead off the game, Scherzer struck out six of the next seven batters.
Royals have no answers for Scherzer in loss to Tigers (, 9/22)
Scherzer, 12-10, permitted only two hits in his previous game, too — a 9-2 victory over the White Sox. Command problems now seem a thing of the past; he hasn’t walked more than two in any of his last eight starts.

What changed?

Scherzer cites an improved slider — and the decision to use it earlier in games — as a key in elevating the effectiveness of his fastball and change-up.

“A lot of (its improvement) was the decision to throw it early in the game,” said Scherzer, an All-American when he was at Missouri. “I was thinking (before), ‘Save your good stuff for later.’

“But then it would be an hour since I’d thrown one, and I’d lose my feel for it. That’s really been the difference in the increased improvement of my slider.”

September's surging starters: Scherzer (FanGraphs, 9/27)
Not only is Scherzer striking batters out at a high rate, but he’s also pitching deep into games, something that has become underrated in fantasy circles. In my mind, Scherzer shouldn’t fall past the fifth or sixth round next year, and should be the first Tigers’ pitcher off the board. That’s right, Max Scherzer is better than Justin Verlander, and should be treated like it
Backstories for 2010 Milestones (, 10/5)
May 30 Max Scherzer, Tigers, struck out 14 in five and two-thirds shutout innings, becoming the first pitcher since 1900 with as many strikeouts pitching five and two-third innings or fewer.

Only Brandon Morrow of the Jays had a game with more strikeouts this season, whiffing 17 Rays on August 8, when he lost a no-hitter with two down in the 9th. Bud Norris of Houston and Washington Stephen Strasburg also had 14 strikeout games, both against the Pirates. Twice during the season, Scherzer struck out eight in five and two-third innings.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors: Post-season

Take Two: An alternative look at the day in sports (Columbia Tribune)
Former Missouri standout Ian Kinsler will get his first taste of postseason baseball tomorrow afternoon when the American League West champion Texas Rangers meet the AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays in the division series.
Trib reporter Matt Nestor goes on to list the Mizozu alums who have played in the World Series

2011 Tentative Schedule change

■ This from
BruceinLA: There will have to be a change in the "tentative" 2011 baseball schedule trripleplay posted here recently. The KC Royals are scheduled to play Cleveland in KC on Apr 19, so that game with ku will not be played in KC that day.

The game is indeed listed as scheduled in KC on Apr 19 at the beaker website. But let's face it, if they are not any smarter than to be able to lose to Baylor in football by less than 48 points, how would you expect them to get the date of a baseball game correct?
Looking at the published Royals schedule, they are indeed at home against Cleveland that day, which would seem to make an MU-KU game unlikely, to say the least.

The only other date when the Royals will be on the road and the Tigers and Jayhwaks both have an open date would be Wednesday May 11th. We will wait and see what develops.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mizzou in the Majors . . . in the Playoffs !!

The Texas Rangers will be playing the Tampa Bay Rays this week in the first round of the MLB post-season. That means former Tiger Ian Kinsler (03) will be in his first post-season since reaching the major leagues. Unfortunately, fellow Ranger and former Tiger Doug Mathis (05) has been left off the post-season roster, even though he had been called back up to the Rangers late in September.

Yankees? Rays? Rangers have no reason to fear either squad (
New York, Tampa Bay; Tampa Bay, New York. It didn't matter.

Well, it did to Ian Kinsler.

He admitted after a regular-season-ending 6-2 loss to Los Angeles that he found himself constantly looking at the scoreboard in left field for updates on the Yankees-Red Sox and Tampa Bay-Kansas City games. An 8-4 Yankees loss that ended in the seventh inning of the Rangers game ensured Texas will open the Division Series at Tampa Bay on Wednesday. It also brought Kinsler a little peace of mind.

"Sure," Kinsler said when asked about concerns over where the Rangers would be going. "I wanted to know whether or not to pack a jacket."

Friday, October 1, 2010

2011 Recruit: Brett Graves

Howell QB Graves putting baseball first at Mizzou (StL Post-Dispatch)

One of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the area, Graves has drawn some college interest and clearly has the ability to play football beyond high school. But he is already spoken for. Graves, one of the area's premier baseball prospects, will sign with the University of Missouri in November.

"Mizzou has all the facilities I need to hopefully reach my potential, and it's close to home," said Graves, 17, a pitcher/infielder who also considered Wichita State, Missouri State, Kansas State, Arkansas, Texas Christian and Baylor. "Early on, I gave some thought to college football and to maybe even trying to do both. But I've always wanted to go to a big school and at 6 feet 1 and 170 pounds, baseball was the more realistic option.
. . .
Last spring, Graves was a Post-Dispatch All-Metro second-team selection in baseball after hitting .477 with 26 RBIs and 19 steals. On the mound, he finished 4-1 with a save and a 1.76 earned-run average. In 47 2/3 innings, he struck out 48 and walked 17. A member of the Rawlings Prospects program, Graves had his fastball clocked at 91 mph this summer.

Mizzou in the Minors

Realizing a dream (The Gonzaga Bulletin)
After a three-game stint in rookie ball with the Arizona League Rangers, Brett Nicholas ('10) got the news he'd be heading back to where his collegiate career began, Spokane, to play for the Rangers' single-A affiliate Spokane Indians.

"It was very ironic, but also a blessing because I was so familiar with the town, and since minor league ball was such a change it was nice to have a familiar city to live in. It felt great to come back and I got to see a lot of the friends that I had not seen in a while," Nicholas said.