Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 9 MU Baseball Stories of 2011: The Long Season

9. Jamieson leads USA National Team
Tim Jamieson spent his summer as the head coach of the USA Baseball Collegiate USA National Team, but he wasn't the only Tiger on that team.  Dan Pietroburgo gained some valuable experience as an assistant coach with the team.  And Eric Anderson got a lot of attention by leading the pitching staff with a 2-0 record and 0.00 ERA . . . as an alternate substitute.
8. Tigers sign 10 to National Letters of Intent
The recruiting class for Fall 2012 features an impressive collection of pitchers and position players.  Many are from the St. Louis area (Recruiting Coordination Kerrick Jackson's home stomping grounds), but others came from places like Texas, Iowa and one promising homeboy from CoMo.
7. Tigers play for Joplin
Mizzou played a two-game fall series against Iowa in October, with all proceeds from tickets and a silent auction going to the Joplin Little League.  
6. Phil McCormick sets records in the bullpen
Phil McCormick, who saved his career by re-inventing himself as a submariner, piled up 36 appearances in 2011, tying his own single season record; totaled 72 appearances over 2 seasons, 2010-11, a Mizzou record for appearances in consecutive seasons; and he finished his career with 105 total appearances, good for 3rd all time for Mizzou.  Good enough to grab the attention of the scouts and get himself drafted in June.
5. Jonah Schmidt leads the offense
After three seasons as an all-or-nothing swing-for-the-fences designated hitter, Jonah responded to the challenge of the new "dead" bats (see # 3) in 2011 and led the Tigers in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage.   He even earned a shout out on Vox Magazine's 30 under 30.
4. Eric Anderson leads pitching staff
After being limited in his freshman year by injuring, EA began the season as a first baseman, then slowly eased his way back into the pitching rotation, growing in strength and effectiveness to the point of becoming a dominant pitcher in the Big 12.
3. BBCOR Bats
The big story all year long for all of NCAA Baseball was the introduction of the BBCOR bats, which contributed to a significant drop in power numbers throughout Division I.   For better or worse, the college game shifted more toward "small ball", and some teams - including the Tigers - appeared slow to adapt to the difference.  And as many complained during the season, not all the new bats were equal.
2. Tigers fight their way to the Big 12 Championship game
It was a long and difficult season for Tim Jamieson's Tigers in 2011.  But as the season wound down, the Tigers revved things up, gong on a tear in the final weeks.  Knowing that winning the Big 12 Tournament championship was their only hope at getting a bid for the NCAA Regionals, they fought their way into the 8-team field.  Then they played with a passion during the tournament,  including three games against the Longhorns.  The rubber match of that MU-UT clash was one for the history books, as senior Kelly Fick pitched the game of his life (and the final game of his career), wearing the same jersey number as the battered Joplin tornado jersey hanging in the dugout.  Unfortunately, the Aggies ended the Tigers' comeback in the title game, and the season was over.
1. Mizzou jumps to the SEC
Without a doubt, the biggest news of 2011 came to a head long after the baseball season was over.  After an intricate slow dance with the Big 12, the Big Ten and the SEC (with the PAC 12 and ACC doing a two-step in the background), Missouri finally announced in November that MU will join the SEC in 2012.  The impact on the Baseball Tigers will be huge.  We've been taking a look at what it will mean to be a part of SEC Baseball in our SEC-Dixienary series.  But first, the Tigers will play their final Big 12 season in the next few months.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 9 MU Baseball Stories of 2011: MU in the Majors & Minors

9. Brock Bond & Aaron Senne sidelined for 2011 with injuries
The pair of promising minor leaguers found themselves on the shelf this season.   Bond played in 19 games and then suffered a concussion in a game and never got back to being able to play.  Senne had Tommy John surgery at the beginning of the season and was out for the year.  
8. Doug Mathis, World Traveler
Mathis, who had spent part of the previous three seasons up and down with the Texas Rangers, spent time in the minor leagues of the Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's during the season, finally signing on for a stint with the Samsung Lions in Korea.  Upon his return from Korea, he was signed to a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox on December 2nd.
7. Max Scherzer pitches in the AL Playoffs
Max had a good year with the Detroit Tigers (15-9, 4.43 ERA), helping take them to the AL Central Championship.  He pitched great in a game against the Yankees in the ALDS (1.23 ERA), and then stumbled in the ALCS against Texas (9.72 ERA, 8.1 IP)
6. Former Mizzou Catchers contribute
Former MU catcher Nicholas was featured in an milb.com story for his leadership skills with the Spokane Indians, an important characteristic for a catcher on his way up the ladder.  Trevor Coleman had a good season with the High-A High Desert Mavericks (Mariners organization), but the highlight of his season was being called up to AAA Tacoma for 10 days as a temporary fill-in.  
5. Nick Tepesch makes a splash in  his first full season
Nick Tepesch spent a solid year with the Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers organization) of the High-A Southern Atlantic League.  He was the Rangers' June Pitcher of the Month
4. Ian Kinsler in the World Series.  Again
For the second straight year, Ian Kinsler played a key role in helping the Texas Rangers make it to the World Series.  The Rangers failed to win the crown again, but Kinsler had a much better series this time around, earning a lot of attention for his performance in Game 2
3. Four Tigers drafted; 3 begin their pro careers
Matt Stites (17th round, Padres), Phil McCormick (31st round, Giants), Conner Mach (46th round, Yankees), and Zach Hardoin (47th round, Astros) were all drafted.  Mach chose to return for his senior year with the Tigers, but the other three spent the summer putting up good numbers in the Rookie Leagues 
2. Kyle Gibson's fast-track to the Show delayed by injury
Kyle Gibson received a lot of press and a lot of hype for his performance in Spring Training and then with the AAA Rochester Red Wings in the early weeks of the season.  Most experts predicted he would be a mid-to-late season call-up to the Minnesota Twins.  But then his numbers started to drop, and then the other shoe dropped.  In early September, Gibson underwent Tommy John surgery and is hoping to return to the mound in time for Spring Training 2013.
1. Aaron Crow makes Major League debut with the KC Royals
After a layoff of more than year between his first draft and finally signing with the Kansas City Royals, and then a rough and disappointing first full year in the minors, Aaron Crow grabbed the attention of baseball fans and the Royals' management in 2011 Spring Training, earning a spot on the opening day roster.  Crow became an early leader in the Kansas City bullpen, so much so that he was chosen to join the American League team in the All-Star Game.  Altogether, an impressive rookie year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

SEC Dixie-nary: S is for SEC Tournament


S is for SEC Tournament

The SEC Baseball Tournament takes place at Regions Park in Hoover, Alabama (home of the Double-A Birmingham Barons), each year. (Virtual Tour of Regions Park)

With the expansion of the SEC to 14 teams, a new format for the Tournament was announced on December 19th.

SEC Announces Format Change To Baseball Tournament (secdigitalnetwork.com)
The 2012 SEC Baseball Tournament, which will be held in Hoover, Ala., at Regions Park for the 15th consecutive year, will increase to 10 teams and will begin on Tuesday, May 22nd. The tournament will continue to follow a format that is modeled in a similar fashion to previous SEC Tournament and College World Series brackets. The 10 teams are seeded 1-10 with the two divisional champions guaranteed of the top two seeds and first-round byes. Games played from Tuesday thru Friday are double elimination with single elimination starting on Saturday. The tournament field will include the top teams from the SEC’s Eastern and Western Divisions plus eight at-large bids seeded 3-10 based on conference winning percentage.

The SEC has also announced the beginning of a Baseball Legends Program, modeled similarly after the popular ‘Legend’s and ‘Greats’ programs that surround the SEC Football Championship Game and the SEC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. Four former SEC baseball standouts will be honored on-site as part of the annual baseball tournament each year beginning in May of 2012.
According to an article last month in the Columbia Tribune, expansion of the tournament field was discusses at the SEC Baseball Coaches Meeting in early November:
The league coaches, however, recommended expansion of the SEC Tournament from eight teams to 10 or 12. Jamieson, who lobbied for a 12-team bracket, said that letting more teams play beyond the regular season would bolster the conference’s argument to reach double-digit bids.

“What you want to avoid in future years is having teams that don’t qualify for the conference tournament having to fight that battle to get into the NCAA Tournament,” Jamieson said. “The conference has gotten bigger and it’s gotten stronger. … That deserves serious consideration.”
Former MU Assistant Coach and current Mississippi State Head Coach John Cohencommented on the change:
“When you see a team as good as LSU was last year and still not get into the NCAA Tournament, that’s certainly something we all thought about because LSU was a very, very good team,” Mississippi State coach John Cohen said. “Had LSU gotten into an NCAA regional, they could have gone all the way. The league itself is interested in getting as many teams into the NCAA Tournament and to Omaha as possible. Certainly that’s just one of the benefits to go to a 10-team field.”
The 2010 tournament drew over 126,000 total fans (an average of 10,000 per game).

The entire tournament is broadcast on regional TV, with the championship game on national TV.

Distribution of Revenue Generated by SEC Baseball Tournament

All guaranteed revenues shall be divided as follows:

  1. Each participating institution will be provided a per diem of $75 per day for up to 30 individuals for each day the institution plays a game. The per diem revenue will be paid on a percentage basis of available funds;
  2. Each participating institution shall receive a travel allowance of $30 per mile one-way. The travel allowance will be paid on a percentage basis of available funds; and
  3. Any revenue above full expenses of the participating teams shall be divided into 13 [this quoted rule is from a rule book written prior to the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M] equal shares, with one share to each member institution and one share to the Conference


Regions Park in Hoover, Alabama

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

50 Days until Opening Day

College Baseball

College Baseball Gift Guide (espn.com)
It's the holidays, which means it's the time of year when the spirit of giving is prevalent everywhere you go.

College baseball is no different. If we were to make a list of gifts to be handed out for the coming season, what would it look like? Well, Baseball Santa has made his list and checked it twice. Yes, the "naughty and nice" part comes into play, too.

Here's a list of college baseball gifts for the upcoming season that teams and conferences may find underneath the tree when they wake up Christmas morning. . .

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

SEC Dixie-nary: R is for Recruiting


R is for Recruiting

Eight of the Top 25 2011 Recruiting Classes (BaseballAmerica.com) were at SEC schools.

The SEC has a recruiting advantage because it has consistently been the most successful NCAA Baseball conference, leading in conference RPI, teams in the NCAA Regionals, and other measures of success.  Plus, the SEC gets more national exposure than most other baseball conferences.

Of course, just being in the SEC is already turning into a plus for Mizzou Baseball recruiting:

Area recruits react to Mizzou's upcoming switch to the SEC (stltoday.com)
But for Griff Goodrich, the developing story hit closer to home. A senior pitcher at Kirkwood, had committed to continue his baseball career at Missouri before the move to the Southeastern Conference was announced.
. . .
"When I got the news Sunday morning, I woke up and right away it was pure excitement," he said. "It was awesome. The Big 12 is a great, prestigious conference, but to move down to the SEC for baseball, that's baseball country down there. You've got the top teams fighting for a trip to Omaha every year out of that conference. It's great competition."
Will a Tier-1 recruit who grew up in the Sun Belt be attracted to leave the South and go to "northern state" Mizzou in order to play in the SEC? Not likely, unless there's some other reason he wants to leave home.

For a top recruit from the Midwest, though, spending three years playing in the South might not be appealing.  But three years in the Midwest at Mizzou could be attractive now that MU is now an SEC team. It may be true there's no baseball conference like the SEC. But it can also be true that there's no place like home.

Recruiting Footprint:

The following is a list of where each SEC school tends to get its recruits, based on numbers from their announced 2012 Recruiting Class and their most recently posted roster.  The data is not consistent, due to some schools having only last year's roster posted and others not having their recruiting class posted.  But this list serves to provide a general idea of the Recruiting Footprint of each school..

Alabama
  • 2012 Recruit Class:  8 AL; 1 FL; 1 NC
  • 2011 Fall Roster:  25 AL; 4 GA; 3 FL; 2 MS; 2 SC; 2 LA; 1 each IL, OK, Ontario
Auburn
  • 2011 Fall Roster: 20 AL; 8 GA; 2 CA; 2 TX
Arkansas
  • 2012 Class: 4 AR; 3 TX; 1 each NC, OK, NM
  • 2011 Fall Roster: 19 AR; 10 TX; 5 CA; 5 OK; 3 LA; 2 KS, 2 MO (St Louis and Columbia); 1 each IN, CO
Florida
  • 2011 Roster: 28 FL; 2 GA; 1 each NJ, PA, KY, NC
Georgia
  • 2012 Recruit Class: 17 GA; 1 PA
  • 2011 Roster: 30 GA; 2 TN; 2 VA; 1 FL; 1 NC
Kentucky
  • 2011 Roster: 15 KY; 4 TN; 3 IL; 2 CA; 2 GA; 2 IN; 1 each SC, OR, WA, OH, UT, CO and Quebec
Louisiana State
  • 2011 Fall Roster:  23 LA; 5 TX; 2 FL; 1 each OK, CA, NC, CO, MS, WA, NV
Mississippi
  • 2012 Recruit Class:  6 LA; 1 ea TX, OK, TN, PA
  • 2011 Fall Roster:  14 MS; 6 FL; 4 CA; 4 TN; 3 GA; 3 LA; 2 VA; 1 each AR, AL, IL, OH, TX
Mississippi State
  • 2011 Roster:  13 MS; 8 AL; 6 TX; 2 FL; 2 GA; 1 each LA, MD, NJ, MO (St. Louis)
Missouri
  • 2012 Recruit Class: 8 MO; 1 IA; 1 TX
  • 2011 Fall Roster (from SimmonsField.com):  15 MO; 6 TX; 4 IL; 3 KS; 3 CO; 1 each AZ, IA, LA
South Carolina
  • 2011 Roster: 16 SC; 5 FL; 4 VA; 2 GA; 2 NC; 1 each NJ, NV, RI, PA
Tennessee (Dave Serrano is the new coach this season, just in from the west coast)
  • 2012 Class: 6 TN; 2 GA; 2 SC; 1 NC, 1 KA, 1 WA
  • 2011 Fall Roster: 14 TN, 5 GA, 2 NC, 1 VA, 2 CA, 1 ea TX, SC, OH, KS, KY, WA, FL
Texas A&M
  • 2012 Recruit Class: 10 TX; 1 MO (Ballwin)
  • 2011 Fall Roster: 32 TX; 1 AZ
Vanderbilt Commodores
  • 2011 Roster: 11 TN; 4 MA; 4 TX; 4 IN; 2 NJ; 1 each LA, FL, PA, NC, IA, NY, AZ, MO (Lee's Summit)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I'll Be Home for Christmas

I'll be home for Christmas 
You can plan on me 
Please have snow and mistletoe 
And presents on the tree 
Christmas Eve will find me 
Where the lovelight gleams 
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

This melancholy song was written in 1943, from the viewpoint of an American soldier, who promises he'll be "home for Christmas", if only in his dreams.

To many people, the idea of being home for Christmas is something only in their dreams.  We still have soldiers in faraway lands who would like nothing more than to be with their families.  Every week my wife and I work with ladies in a Missouri state prison, and at this time of year they are all depressed, wishing they could be with their families.

Of the family I grew up in, only my mother and I are left.  My father and both brothers have passed on in recent years, and my mother is now in a nursing home and eager to follow them.  While I'll be with my wife and our boys and their families this Christmas, a part of me dreams of being with the family of my childhood.

Perhaps, though, we've lost sight of the roots of our Christmas traditions.

On the first Christmas, Mary & Joseph were not home with their families.  Mary had most likely been shunned by her family and community, who didn't believe her story of Divine conception.  In fact, they could have had her stoned to death for what they believed to be her sins.

Joseph chose to turn his back on family and community in favor of believing in Mary and in the angel messenger.  And then, to top it off, the two of them had to leave their home in Nazareth and make the long trip to their ancestral home in Bethlehem, where they couldn't even find a comfortable room for the night.

The shepherds of that era mostly lived day and night out on the hillsides with their sheep, away from their families.  But on this night, they left even their home in the pastures to go see the newborn king.

The magi were most certainly not at home on that Christmas.  They had traveled thousands of miles from their homes in search of a king they had learned about in their studies.

Even Jesus Himself was not at home.
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2)
And yet, in a way, Jesus was at home.

We're told over and over again that for those who choose to love Him, He makes His home in our hearts.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23
My mother is still struggling with accepting the Home as her new home. She told me this week that anytime I'm there visiting her, it's home.

I agreed with her, then told her what I've just shared with you, about no one being at home for the first Christmas. And that even when I'm not with her, Jesus continues to make His home there in her heart. Whether she's back at her house in Moberly, here in the nursing home in Columbia, or even when she moves on from this world to her eternal home, she is at home with her Lord.

To all of my Tiger Baseball family & friends, I wish and pray that wherever you are, no matter whom you're missing this holiday season, you will know the joy and peace that comes from being at home with Him.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Southern Exposure: SEC Baseball chatter

SEC Baseball Tournament Expansion Just A Shameless Cash Grab (sbnation.com)
We promise no hypocrisy among profiteers - the machinations of the Southeastern Conference's Wall Street mentality (the cool movie from the 1980s, not the failed economic institution of 2011) has in some way benefitted every fan, booster, corporate sponsors and yes, media member over the last two decades of unchecked growth. But at least most of the SEC's manuevers towards national dominance and fat paydays have shown some level of tact.

The shameless expansion of the SEC Baseball Tournament merits absolutely none of the acclaim of the SEC's previous ground breaking expansions - the football division / title game revision of 1992, this surely ain't.
. . .
The SEC wants you to believe that an arbitrary tournament - stuck in dismal Hoover, Alabama forever as a direct result of home office nepotism - has the ability to punch a bubble team's ticket to the NCAA Tournament. The reality is that very little has changed in formatting, regardless of the addition of single elimination play (which in baseball just plain sucks).
Huskers vs Gamecocks: Getting To Know South Carolina Fans (cornnation.com)
How loyal are Gamecock fans to other sports beyond football? (You can go on about your two baseball titles if you like!)

Interesting question. Basketball attendance is at an all-time low right now, and lots of fans are arguing about why that's the case. Of course, it's partially that the basketball team isn't doing well right now, but there seems to be a sentiment among some fans that this is a "football-baseball" school; that seems to be how some want to identify. So, that leads to less support for some of the other sports than might be ideal. Personally, I'd like to see people get behind basketball, as I'd love to see us field a good team.

For baseball, as you might imagine, Gamecocks fans are among the most supportive in the nation. Of course, baseball is by far our most successful sport--we've only just recently won the two national titles, but we've always been good and have come close to winning it all a few times before. So fans have a lot to cheer about with baseball.

Cheers, sayings, things Gamecock fans say to one another or during a game. What can Husker fans expect to hear from your fans?

The best is probably the "Game" "Cocks" cheer. One part of the stadium yells "Game," the other part then yells "Cocks." You can get a sense of this here. It can be pretty impressive if the whole stadium gets going. You of course won't get the full effect at a neutral site, but you'll hear it.
♦ And not baseball, but certainly noteworthy . . . this ad is slated to appear in the Sunday Shreveport Times


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mizzou Baseball in the Minors & Majors

A couple of quick hits:

♦ Cast your vote for Aaron Crow in the Topkeka Capital-Journal Top Story of 2011 poll

Kyle Gibson was inducted into the Greenfield-Central High School Athletic Hall of Fame according to the Greenfield Reporter

SEC Dixie-nary: R is for Rulebook

R is for Rulebook


The rules of play in the Southeastern Conference are generally the same as in any other conference, following the NCAA Division 1 Baseball rulebook.  

But there are a few add-ons and exceptions outlined in the SEC Baseball Bylaws

A few highlights of the rules, SEC-style:
  • The 10-Run Rule is not used in the SEC during the regular season, but is in force during the SEC Tournament after 7 innings.

  • Pace of Play:  Beginning with the 2010 SEC postseason tournament, the conference rules award a ball to the batter if the pitcher takes more than 20 seconds to deliver a pitch when the bases are empty. They also award a ball to the batter if the pitcher is not warmed up and ready to go within 108 seconds at the break between innings. The batter must be in the box at least five seconds before the 108 expire or he is given a strike. (http://www.ehow.com/list_6744184_sec-baseball-rules.html)

  • Roster limit: The home team may dress 35 student-athletes in uniform, but only 27 student-athletes shall be allowed to participate in a series. The 27 participating student-athletes for both the home and visiting team must be declared prior to the first game of a Conference series and may not be changed during the course of the series. (SEC Constitution)

  • Artificial Noisemakers [SEC Bylaw 30.22.1.5c] :  The first time the home plate umpire detects the significant use of artificial noisemakers by those in the crowd, he shall call a timeout and request that the public address (PA) announcer make a verbal warning through the public address system.  On the second, and any subsequent incident involving the significant use of artificial noisemakers, a strike or ball shall be assessed against the offending institution, depending upon the team at bat.

  • Batting Practice [SEC Baseball Bylaws]: No team or any member of a team is permitted to take batting practice in any location while a game is in progress.

  • Dugouts [SEC Baseball Bylaws]: The visiting team shall have the right to utilize its choice of isotonic beverage (product and equipment) in the dugout area during SEC regular season competition. If the visiting team does not arrange to have its own product and equipment at a contest, the home team shall supply the isotonic beverage (product and equipment) of its choice in the visiting team dugout area.

    Equipment utilized in the visiting team dugout area must be standard size

  • Electronic Equipment  [SEC Baseball Bylaws]: The use of telephones, cellular telephones, walkie-talkies, etc., are permitted for two-way communication between a team’s dugout/bench or bullpen. Any other form or communication and any other communication between other areas shall not be allowed

  • Inclement Weather:  There are numerous and complicated rules about the scheduling and total innings of suspended games and postponed games, including the mandate that any suspended or postponed game that is played on Sunday be limited to 7 innings.  See the details at SEC Baseball Bylaws

  • Seating Behind Dugouts [SEC Baseball Bylaws]: The home institution shall not seat its students closer than four rows behind the visiting team’s dugout

  • Game Clock [SEC Baseball Bylaws]:  The SEC follows the NCAA Game Clock protocol, with the exception that the clock will be located on the outfield wall in each SEC stadium. In addition, thirty (30) minutes prior to the start of each game, the individual responsible for the operation of the game clock must meet with the umpiring crew to review the protocol. Emphasis should be placed on in-game communication (signals, etc.) from the field to the individual operating the clock

  • Game Clock [gamecocksonline.com]

    Pitchers will have 20 seconds between pitches when there is no one on base. The pitch time limit is not in effect if there are runners on base. The clock will start when the pitcher receives the ball on the mound and stops when the pitcher begins his pitching motion. If the time limit expires at the same time the pitcher begins his windup, there is no penalty. In certain game situations the clock will be paused, for example when the pitcher is returning to the mound after making or backing up a play or another player is returning to his position (e.g. after attempting to field a foul ball).

    Pitchers will get one warning if they violate the rule, after which a ball will be awarded for each violation. A pitcher stepping off the rubber does not stop the clock unless the umpire grants the pitcher time. Batters are also subject to the time limit and will be assigned a strike if they are not in the box ready to take the pitch with five seconds or less showing on the clock and time expires. A penalty is not automatic when the batter is not in the box with five seconds or less showing, as long as play continues without a signal or there is no violation. The clock will be paused if the batter is granted time by the umpire with five or more seconds showing on the clock. Unless unusual circumstances warrant, time will not be granted to the batter with less than five seconds remaining. If neither the pitcher nor batter is ready, the pitcher is responsible.

    Teams will have 90 seconds after the final out of each half-inning to take the field ready to pitch and have a batter in the box (extended to 108 seconds for televised games). Unusual circumstances (e.g. ceremonies, field maintenance, an injury) excepted, the clock starts with the last out of the inning and stops when the pitcher begins his windup for the first pitch to the first batter of the inning. If the offensive team isn't ready before the time limit, a strike will be called. If the defense is not ready, a ball will be awarded.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

SEC Dixie-nary: Q is for Quick Facts

Q is for Quick Facts

"Quick Facts" from the SEC schools' Media Notes:

School Enrollment
  • Florida: 51,474
  • Texas A&M: 50,054
  • Georgia: 35,520
  • Missouri:  33,805
  • Alabama: 31,747
  • Louisiana State: 28,810
  • South Carolina: 28,481
  • Tennessee: 27,523
  • Kentucky: 26,054
  • Auburn:25,078
  • Arkansas:23,153
  • Mississippi: 20,822
  • Mississippi State: 20,424
  • Vanderbilt: 12,093
School Colors:
  • Alabama: Crimson & White
  • Arkansas: Cardinal & White
  • Auburn: Burnt Orange & Navy Blue
  • Florida: Blue & Orange
  • Georgia: Red & Black
  • Kentucky:  Blue & White
  • Louisiana State: Purple & Gold
  • Mississippi: Cardinal Red & Navy Blue
  • Mississippi: Maroon & White
  • Missouri: Old Gold & Black
  • South Carolina: Garnet & Black
  • Tennessee: Orange & White
  • Texas A&M: Maroon & White
  • Vanderbilt: Black & Gold

1895 Mississippi A&M Baseball Team
(now Mississippi State)
First Year of Baseball:
  • Mississippi State: 1885
  • Georgia: 1886
  • Vanderbilt: 1886
  • Missouri: 1891
  • Alabama: 1892
  • South Carolina: 1892
  • Louisiana State: 1893
  • Mississippi: 1893
  • Texas A&M: 1894
  • Kentucky: 1896
  • Arkansas: 1897
  • Tennessee:  1897
  • Florida: 1912
  • Auburn: 1949

Monday, December 19, 2011

Collegiate Baseball 2012 Top 40 Preseason Poll

The Collegiate Baseball 2012 Top 40 Preseason Poll has been released.

  • 5 SEC teams (Florida is #1)
  • 4 Big 12 teams
  • Missouri received votes, coming in at #77 out of 40

You Make the Call: High Impact Newcomers

In the left nav-bar on your screen is the latest "You Make the Call" poll.

Which of the Tiger newcomers do you think will have the greatest impact on the team over the next 1-4 years?

Vote early.  Vote often.  May the relative with the most computer savvy to circumvent the multiple-voting restrictions win!

New UM President played high school ball with Tim Jamieson

Taking the reins comes naturally (columbiatribune.com)
The first political challenge Tim Wolfe encountered in his rise to the top position of the University of Missouri System came not in a boardroom but on a football field.
. . .
For Wolfe, his one season as a starter came with great pressure. The Bruins returned virtually every starter from a team that a year earlier had gone 9-0 but was kept from the playoffs by the state’s convoluted points system.

“It was basically the same team,” said Tim Jamieson, who backed up Wolfe and is now the baseball coach at Missouri. “The one exception was the quarterback spot.”

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey: Details on SEC move

Deaton, Alden discuss MU's move to the SEC (columbiatribune.com)
Q: Can you say with certainty you will be in the Big 12 in 2012? There is the situation with West Virginia maybe not being able to get out of the Big East and come to the Big 12 for three years, which could have ramifications for you. Deaton: Our full plans are to go in 2012, and we think West Virginia will be in the Big 12 in 2012. There is the technical possibility — we don’t think it’s very possible at all — and as you can tell by our actions we’re reasonably confident and have some assurances of that. Q: But if West Virginia can’t come to Big 12 next year? Deaton: We’re going to the SEC regardless. We’re on our own pathway here. I’ve had good discussions with the president of West Virginia over time, and I understand where they are and he understands where we are. Alden: I was in Birmingham yesterday, and in a week we’ll be rolling out the 2012 football schedule. So I can assure you that the 14 institutions there working for the last day in a half in Birmingham are all set and everything is set for Mizzou and Texas A&M being part of the SEC in 2012. The SEC will come out with that schedule in the middle of next week.
More HEREVIDEO: MU Chancellor Interview: Brady Deaton talks SEC transition (mutigers.com/allaccess)

SEC Dixie-nary: P is for Polk


P is for Polk

. . .as in former Mississippi State Baseball Coach Ron Polk, considered the "Father of SEC Baseball".

Polk began as head coach of the Bulldogs in 1976 and went on to win 1,218 games and 5 SEC regular season championships.

But what distinguished him most in the SEC was his endless push to bring not only Mississippi State but all of SEC Baseball into into the modern era and into the forefront of college baseball.  He fought to change the SEC's governing by-laws that were more restrictive than the NCAA's, limiting teams to fewer practices and fewer games than their competitors in other conferences.  He set fire to a facilities expansion race that is still going on in the SEC (and which Mizzou will find themselves obligated to join - or be left in the dust).

Ron Polk
In 1984, LSU hired Skip Bertman as their head baseball coach, and Bertman joined Polk in the battle to build the SEC into what is now considered one of the top college baseball conferences. (LSU fans will probably think this post should be titled B is for Bertman).

For more details about Ron Polk, read SEC Baseball Needed a Well Placed Polk (SECDigitalNetwork.com)
It was at Mississippi State where he put a saddle on the tired state of SEC baseball and whipped it toward the finish line like a jockey trying to get a thoroughbred to the winners’ circle. Rewind to the 1960s and ’70s, and SEC baseball was the black sheep of each school’s athletic family. Most schools had embarassing playing venues, mostly splintered wooden bleachers with rusted handrails.

When State hired Polk, he was the league’s first full-time baseball coach. Schools like LSU, which had its head equipment manager for the athletic department also moonlighting as head baseball coach, hadn’t seriously committed to building winning programs. “They probably drew straws in the athletic departments to see who was going to coach baseball,” Polk says. (secdigitalnetwork.com)
Polk's published his Baseball Playbook in 1982, which became a standard of baseball coaching and training throughout the NCAA and beyond..

For more on the history of SEC Baseball, check out this video by Eric Sorenson of ESPN and CollegeBaseballToday.com: A Stitch in Time: The Rise of the SEC

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mizzou in the Minors

Mariners' Organization All-Stars (minorleaguebaseball.com)
Catcher -- Trevor Coleman, High Desert (93 games), Tacoma (three games): Coleman, a ninth-rounder from 2009, led all Mariners backstops with 50 RBIs. He hit just .265 with six homers but had a solid .378 on-base percentage in 312 at-bats.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SEC Dixie-nary: O is for Outstanding Performances


O is for Outstanding Performances

Long-time Mizzou Baseball fans can tell you that Pete Incaviglia or Robin Ventura are probably the best players ever in the Big 8.  And we can quickly come up with a list of other outstanding players, like Phil Bradley of Missouri, Darin Erstad of Nebraska. Bobby Witt of Oklahoma, and others.

The SEC has seen its share of superstars over the decades, as well:

Records:
  • Single season Batting Average:  .525; 1983, David Magadan, Alabama
  • Career Batting Average: .439; 1981-83, David Magadan, Alabama
  • Single season Home Runs: 40, 1997, Brandon Larson, LSU
  • Career Home Runs: 80, 1995-1998, Eddy Furniss, LSU
  • Single season RBI: 118, 1997, Brandon Larson, LSU
  • Career RBI: 308, 1995-1998, Eddy Furniss, LSU
  • Single season Stolen Bases: 67, 1999; Brian Roberts, South Carolina
  • Single Season Wins: 18, 1985, Jeff Brantley, Mississippi State
  • Career Wins: 45; 1998-2001, Kip Bouknight, South Carolina AND 1982-1985, Jeff Brantley, Mississippi St.
  • Single Season ERA:  0.21. 1970, Rick Farizo, LSU
  • Single Season Strikeouts: 202, 1989, Ben McDonald, LSU
  • Consecutive Scoreless Innings: 47.2, 1994, Todd Helton, Tennessee
  • Single Season Saves: 21, 2002, Blake Taylor, South Carolina
  • Career Saves: 41, 2005-2008, Joshua Field, Georgia
National Player of the Year Awards:
  • 1983, Dave Magadan, Alabama (Golden Spikes)
  • 1985, Will Clark, Mississippi State (Golden Spikes)
  • 1987, Derek Lilliquist, Georgia (Baseball America)
  • 1989, Ben McDonald, LSU (Golden Spikes)
  • 1992, Lloyd Peever, LSU (Collegiate Baseball)
  • 1995, Todd Helton, Tennessee (Collegiate Baseball)
  • 1997, Tim Hudson, Alabama (Smith Award)
  • 1998, Brad Wilkerson, Florida (NCBWA)
  • 1999, Eddy Furniss, LSU (Dick Howser Award)
  • 2000, Kip Bouknight, South Carolina (Smith Award, Collegiate Baseball)
  • 2007, David Price, Vanderbilt (Brooks Wallace)
National Collegiate Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Will Clark, Mississippi State
  • Ben McDonald, LSU
  • Rafael Palmiero, Mississippi State
  • Todd Walker, LSU
  • Eddy Furniss, LSU
  • Dave Magadan, Alabama
  • Skip Bertman, Coach, LSU
  • Joe Sewell, Alabama
Will Clark & Rafael Palmiero
In addition to the players listed above, the following players are repeatedly mentioned as among the best ever in the SEC:
  • Joey (Albert) Belle, LSU
  • Alvin Dark, LSU
  • Bo Jackson, Auburn
  • Joe Sewell, Alabama
  • Frank Thomas, Auburn

Also check out Best All-Time SEC Baseball Player at secsportsfan.com, a passionate argument for Todd Helton as the best ever.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Southern Exposure: Getting to know the SEC

The point & counterpoint of the Cohen/Forrest Moore civil suit (cddispatch.com)
The representation of Mississippi State University and head baseball coach John Cohen have requested a summary judgment to the civil lawsuit against them by former player Forrest Moore.

In a 22-page legal response filed in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court Monday, Mississippi State's legal counsel has provided evidence to support a counter argument to Moore's suit that alleges Cohen and Associate Athletic Director Mike Nemeth with the breach of contract, intentional/tortious interference with contract and civil conspiracy.
. . .
But .....The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog had to decide on a way to bring you, the loyal reader, a summary of what has happened in this case that the person unfamiliar with complicated legal language can fully understand.

Not to worry - what this post is going to do is go through the charges of Moore's legal team in the the civil suit and then give the counter argument of MSU and Cohen's legal counsel:

Read more at http://www.cdispatch.com/msusports/article.asp?aid=14391

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mizzou in the Minors & Majors: Mathis & Kinsler

Red Sox sign right-handed pitcher Doug Mathis (soxprospects.com)
As reported by Baseball America, the Red Sox have signed right-handed pitcher Doug Mathis.

Mathis, 28, was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 13th round of the 2005 draft out of the University of Missouri. His six years in the Rangers system included 45 appearances at the major league level between 2008 and 2010, during which he went 3-3 with a 4.84 ERA and 1 save. His best season was 2009, when he had a 3.16 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 42.2 innings pitched. 39 of Mathis' 45 career major league appearances have come out of the bullpen, but he has been used almost exclusively as a starter while in the minor leagues.

After leaving the Rangers organization following the 2010 season, Mathis had quite a journey in 2011. He signed with the Indians in the offseason, but was released at the end of spring training. Over the next three months he split 17 starts between the Triple-A affiliates of the Giants and Athletics, going 0-5 and posting a 4.27 ERA. After being released by Oakland on July 14, Mathis signed with the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization, where he had a 5-2 record and a 2.52 ERA, helping Samsung win its fourth championship in 10 years. Back stateside, Mathis is likely to begin 2012 at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Ian Kinsler's next big deal (baseballtimeinarlington.com)
Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram confirms that the Rangers are talking with Ian Kinsler's agent about a long-term extension that would lock him up beyond the expiration date of his existing deal. Thanks to a fabulous bet by the Rangers back in 2008 that Kinsler -- who was then in the midst of his pre-arbitration window --would evolve into a top-flight second baseman, Texas owes him just $7 million in 2012, and also holds a no-brainer $10 million team option for 2013.

Said Kinsler of his situation: "I want to stay here. I was drafted by the Rangers, and I want to be a Ranger. You never know how long it's going to take. I think the sooner the better for them, and the sooner the better for me."
. . .

Thursday, December 8, 2011

SEC Dixie-nary: N is for Numbers


N is for Numbers


The difference between the level of competition in the SEC vs. the Big 12 can be seen in the official NCAA 2011 year-end (July 6) RPI rankings (SEC in bold, conference-changing in italics):
#2 Florida (CWS runner-up)
#4 Vanderbilt
#5 South Carolina (CWS Champions)
#9 Texas A&M
#11 Texas
#14 Arkansas
#16 Georgia
#18 Mississippi State
#21 TCU
#28 LSU
#30 Oklahoma
#31 Baylor
#33 Alabama
#42 Ole Miss
#43 Auburn
#45 Oklahoma State
#50 Texas Tech
#51 Kansas State
#69 Nebraska
#76 Missouri
#106 Kansas
#107 Kentucky
#116 Tennessee
#151 West Virginia
If you want to wade deeper into the RPI pool, check out the BoydsWorld.com annual Conference RPIs for the past decade and a half.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

SEC Dixie-nary: M is for Moneyball



M is for Moneyball



Moneyball, SEC-style: How the CWS final became the SEC Championship Series (al.com)
Until 1990, the SEC had never won baseball's national title. This is the SEC's ninth in the past 22 years; the next-closest are the Big 8/Big 12 and Pac-10 with three each. 
Like most shifts in college sports, money changed baseball. The SEC understood that warm weather coupled with fertile recruiting areas meant money could be made on baseball. So the SEC, never shy to spend, went on a shopping spree for coaches, facilities and recruiting budgets. 
In 2009-10, the SEC averaged a nation-best $571,022 in operating expenses per team, according to financial data reported to the U.S. Department of Education. This is a league in which eight of its 12 members have been to Omaha in the past decade. (Only Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Kentucky haven't gone.) 
The SEC, Pac-10, Big 12 and ACC have produced 15 of the 18 championship participants since the best-of-three format started in 2003. Average operating expenses for those other leagues: Big 12 ($535,834); Pac-10 ($478,070); and ACC ($388,073).
. . .
Yet nothing's stopping the Big Ten from investing more into baseball. The 10 Big Ten schools playing baseball averaged $288,948 in operating expenses in 2009-10. Ice hockey, a popular Northern sport, averaged $660,903 in operating expenses by the five Big Ten-hockey schools.

You get what you pay for.
2010 SEC baseball coaches' contracts (al.com).   Compare Tim Jamieson's current contract (which extends through 2013).

♦ The Birmingham Press-Register did a 2009 story on the Cost of Recruiting in the SEC.

These figures are a couple of years old, but they offer a glimpse at what the SEC is spending on baseball recruiting (Vanderbilt, as a private institution, was not required to report details):
2005-2006 
Kentucky: $80,449
Arkansas: $69,140
Auburn: $65,883
Florida: $62,210
Alabama: $53,703
Tennessee: $50,308
Ole Miss: $43,921
S. Carolina: $42,164
Georgia: $40,868
LSU: $28,150
Miss. State: $23,325
Vanderbilt: N/A

2006-07

Arkansas: $91,756
LSU: $80,348
Kentucky: $72,458
Auburn: $68,500
Alabama: $57,325
Florida: $47,514
Tennessee: $47,440
Georgia: $45,829
Ole Miss: $42,460
S. Carolina: $31,804
Miss. State: $18,342
Vanderbilt: N/A

2007-08

Arkansas: $87,115
Kentucky: $71,849
LSU: $70,493
Auburn: $68,500
S. Carolina: $53,196
Tennessee: $50,282
Georgia: $47,962
Florida: $47,612
Ole Miss: $46,868
Alabama: $38,609
Miss. State: $26,518
Vanderbilt: N/A

3-YEAR AVERAGE

Arkansas: $82,670
Kentucky: $74,918
Auburn: $67,627
LSU: $59,663
Florida: $52,445
Alabama: $49,879
Tennessee: $49,343
Georgia: $44,886
Ole Miss: $44,416
S. Carolina: $42,388
Miss. State: $22,728
Vanderbilt: N/A

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mizzou already busy in transition to SEC (St. Louis Post Dispatch)
And Mizzou is weeks away from publicly declaring a capital campaign toward a $100 million facilities makeover that it stresses was being crafted long before the SEC move was a gleam in its eye.
"We haven't changed course at all (from eight months ago), nor do we think we need to," said MU associated athletics director Tim Hickman, albeit acknowledging he expects the move to the SEC to further motivate donors.
. . .
Also on the front lines of priorities will be enhancements of the baseball and softball stadiums, as well as golf and tennis, which already has begun.

For now, though, MU perhaps is busier trying to understand all it has to get done to be aligned with SEC style and baselines than anything else.

"There's a million details," Hickman said, "and we're just beginning."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mizzou in the Minors: Tingler promoted

The Rangers made some moves in their minor league coaching staff, including promoting Mizzou's Jayce Tingler to Minor League Field Coordinator.
They hired former Houston general manager Tim Purpura to run the player development program and promoted their own internal rising player development star Jayce Tinger to minor league field coordinator. (dallasnews.com)
Tingler, 31, will be in his sixth season in the Texas organization in 2012. He spent last season as Coordinator of Instruction for the club’s Arizona and Dominican Republic operations. He served as the organization’s manager in the Arizona League (2010) and Dominican Summer League (2008-09), leading clubs to first-place finishes in each of those three years. He joined the organization as a coach in the fall of 2006.

Tingler played four minor league seasons from 2003-06 in the Toronto and Texas organizations after being a 10th round selection in the 2003 June draft by the Blue Jays. He has a standout career as a player at the University of Missouri in his native state. (mlb.com)

Friday, December 2, 2011

First Pitch Celebration set for February 4, 2012

Like the arrival of the robins in advance of Spring, the announcement of the date for the First Pitch Celebration is one of the first signs that the 2012 Baseball season is coming quickly (77 days away). Not many details yet, but the time and place are set.

Last year's First Pitch featured former Cardinal catcher Mike Matheny as the speaker. That speaking engagement must have really kick-started his career, since he's now the manager of the Cardinals.

From mutigers.com:
The Mizzou baseball team has set the time for its eighth annual First Pitch Dinner. The event will be held on Feb. 4 at the Hampton Inn on Stadium Blvd. from 4-7 p.m., prior to the Tigers men's basketball game with Kansas. More details will follow. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.

Mizzou in the Minors: Senne Mending

Senne getting ready for spring training (Rochester Post Bulletin)
Professional baseball player Aaron Senne of Rochester is in the city rehabbing his injured throwing arm.
. . .
Senne, who just turned 24, expects to be ready to play when spring training officials starts in February. He said he could start the season in low Class A ball in Greensboro, N.C., or perhaps in the Marlins' high Class A club in Jupiter. . .

Thursday, December 1, 2011

SEC Dixie-nary: L is for Longevity

L is for Longevity


Tim Jamieson has been the coach of the Missouri Tigers since the 1995 season.  He was an assistant coach under Gene McArtor for 6 years prior to assuming the Head Coach position.

As Mizzou joins the SEC, Tim Jamieson assumes the role as the coach with the longest tenure.  He ranks 2nd in total wins, 8th in winning percentage (records represent success at current job only)..
2012, Dave Serrano, Tennessee (0-0 at UT)
2010, Mitch Gaspard, Alabama (77-53; .592)
2009, John Pawlowski, Auburn (103-75; .579)
2009, Gary Henderson, Kentucky (84-81; .509)
2009, John Cohen, Mississippi State (86-87; .497)
2008, Kevin O'Sullivan, Florida (176-82; .682)
2007, Paul Mainieri, LSU (175-84-2; .674)
2006, Rob Childress, Texas A&M (197-113-2; .631)
2003, Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt (376-189; .665)
2003, Dave Van Horn, Arkansas (359-201; .641)
2002, David Perno, Georgia (338-277-1; .549)
2001, Mike Bianco, Ole Miss (434-252-1; .632)
1997, Ray Tanner, South Carolina (689-296; .699)
1995, Tim Jamieson, Missouri (571-414-2;.597 )
Tim Jamieson, Missouri Tigers

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SEC Dixie-nary: H is for Home Games


H is for Home Games

The SEC is notorious for scheduling a ton of home games each year.

For example, Georgia's 2012 schedule has 37 home games out of 56 (66%), as does LSU.  Only three of LSU's road games are out of conference, and all three of those are within the state of Louisiana..

Arkansas' 2012 schedule features "a school record 36 regular season home games, including 20 of the first 23 games at home."  Mississippi State also boasts 36 home games.

Florida and South Carolina have 35 home games,  AlabamaAuburn, Tennessee and Vanderbilt have 34,  Ole Miss has 32.  (Kentucky has not released their 2012 schedule - they had 33 home games in 2011)

Compare the 2012 schedules of Texas (32 home games), Ohio State (26) and Michigan (21).

Why are SEC schedules so home-heavy?  Because they can be.  First, their weather in the first few weeks of the season trends warmer than it does in many other parts of the country, so teams from colder climates need to schedule games in SEC-country.  Also, those same teams want the experience and RPI boost of playing against the SEC.

On the other hand, the NCAA is making changes to the RPI formula that will put a bit higher premium on results in road games.  This might lead to some changes in scheduling philosophy when the SEC sees how this affects their rankings.  See also The Proposed New RPI (boydsworld.com) and Alternative Futures (sebaseball.com)

So how does this affect MU?  Columbia's early season weather is not as favorable as the rest of the SEC, being the northernmost SEC school.  So just moving to the SEC doesn't mean Evan Pratte's going to have any better advantage in trying to pad the Tigers' home schedule.

Then again, he's doing a pretty good job at this in spite of MU's semi-northern location.  Mizzou's 2012 Schedule includes 33 home games (60%) - more than Ole Miss.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Border Showdown: Shutdown?

Tiger fans are celebrating MU's win over KU yesterday in what has been hyped as possibly the final meeting between the two rivals. Whether the football match-ups are history is yet to be seen - I'm thinking money talks and whining Jayhawks will be saying "Show me the money" - there are still several other MU-KU final Big 12 match-ups in store in this 2011-2012 season, including Baseball.

Fittingly, the schedules released by both MU and KU show them meeting on the field for the final weekend series of the 2012 season, May 17, 18 and 19, in Lawrence, KS.

One thing is missing from those schedules, though:  the annual MU_KU Border Showdown game at Kauffman Stadium.

As traditions go, that neutral-field game at Kauffman is a fairly short one.  2011 was only the fourth game in the series - all of which were won by the Jayhawks.

The interesting thing about the Kauffman game not being on the 2012 schedule is that it WAS on the 2012 schedule.

KU released their 2012 schedule on October 5th, with a press release that included this:
Kansas will play its annual game at Kauffman Stadium against Border Showdown rival Missouri (April 18) as well as a road game against Creighton at T.D. Ameritrade Stadium (April 3) – the site of the College World Series.
Here at SimmonsField.com we posted a bootleg early copy of the MU schedule on August 27th, based on a tentative schedule being passed around among the Baseball staff and the team.  That schedule also showed the annual Kauffman game on April 18th.

But if you look at the the official schedules posted by both MU and KU today, that game has disappeared.

I've not heard any word on who pulled the plug or why, but it's sad that we'll not get that game in this season. And the scheduling of the game would have been special as well.  Like last year, the MU-KU game was scheduled on the same day as a Royals' game, presumably to take place after the conclusion of the Royals game.  The Royals (Aaron Crow's current team) are scheduled to play the Detroit Tigers (Max Scherzer's current team) on April 18th.  that would have been a great day at Kauffman Stadium for Mizzou fans.

But it's not to be.  We'll have to settle for laying waste to Lawrence once again on the final weekend of the regular season.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

SEC Dixie-nary: G is for Geography


G is for Geography

The new 14-team Southeastern Conference covers 11 states, spanning distances up to 1,000 miles.

Below is a chart of miles (driving) from Columbia, MO to SEC towns. Schools in BOLD are in Mizzou's Eastern Division of the SEC:
  • 311 to Fayetteville, AR (Arkansas)
  • 433 to Nashville, TN (Vanderbilt)
  • 459 to Lexington, KY (Kentucky)  
  • 477 to Oxford, MS (Ole Miss)
  • 576 to Starkville, MS (Mississippi State)
  • 609 to Knoxville, TN (Tennessee)
  • 620 to Tuscaloosa, AL (Alabama)
  • 733 to Auburn, AL (Auburn)
  • 734 to Athens, GA (Georgia)
  • 772 to Baton Rouge, LA (LSU)
  • 779 to College Station, TX (Texas A&M)
  • 871 to Columbia, SC (South Carolina)
  • 1,009 to Gainesville, FL (Florida)
That's an average of 645 miles from Columbia to SEC schools.  686 miles average to the SEC East schools; 609 miles average to the SEC West.  Let's hope that the next SEC expansion (to 16 schools) results in Mizzou in the mosre geographically logical West Division.

Graphical representation of mileage at ColumbiaMissourian.com

The team itself may not be traveling on the highways much, though.
As for long bus trips to distant SEC schools that could cause more class time to be missed, [MU Softball coach Ehren] Earlywine said that in consideration of all SEC baseball teams using charter aircraft, there has been discussion that Missouri will do the same for both baseball and softball. (kansascity.com, 11/7/11)
Original Southern
Conference logo
Interestingly, the SEC was originally formed because the existing Southern Conference had way too many members, spread across to large a geographical footprint (although no one at the time used footprint to define geography). SEC History: Origin Of The 12 Teams (SaturdayDownSouth.com) provides a good overview of the conference's geography-driven origins and history:
The country’s preeminent modern football conference suddenly came into being on the evening of December 9, 1932, when then-Florida President John J. Tigert announced that his institution and 12 other schools had left the larger Southern Conference, effective immediately, to form the Southeastern Conference. Tigert’s announcement came at the Southern Conference’s annual meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee, the home of one of the breakaway schools. Tom Perrin, who authored a history of college football in 1987, wrote, “The main reasons for the rupture were geographical distance, travel time and expense, a great disparity between the large and small schools in the conference, and the fact that half the schools did not play each other from one year to the next, if at all.”
. . .
The Associated Press reported on December 10, 1932, “The unwieldy Southern Conference has split along geographical lines and out of the break today emerged a new group of thirteen schools, mostly of the deep South, to be known as the Southeastern Conference.” This group included the core of today’s SEC — Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt — along with Georgia Tech, Tulane, and Sewanee (also known as the University of the South). The remaining Southern Conference schools were all located in Maryland, Virginia or the Carolinas: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Military Institute, Washington & Lee, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, South Carolina and Clemson; seven of those schools — along with Wake Forest, which joined the Southern Conference in 1936 — left in 1953 to form the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New MLB Draft rules impact College Baseball

New Labor Deal Features Major Draft Changes (baseballamerica.com)
College baseball looks like it could be a major winner as a result of this agreement. UCLA coach John Savage watched as three of his top recruits—righthander Joe Ross, third baseman Tyler Goeddel and catcher Austin Hedges—signed for a combined $7.25 million within the final hour of the 2011 signing deadline. The new rules could direct more marquee players to college.

"I think the last couple of years, there's been a lot of high school players that get substantial money who normally would have gone to school where they were picked," Savage said. "So I think you'll see a little less of that, because the consequences will be heavy, in terms of loss of draft picks and financial penalty.| 
"I think you'd be foolish to think that it's college baseball-driven; we all know it's not. But from a party that's heavily involved in this decision, it looks like it was a good day for college baseball."
MLB changes draft rules (collegebaseballdaily.com)
Draft signing deadline moves from Aug. 15 to between July 12 and 18.
New CBA to impact draft, bonuses (perfectgame.org_)
Going forward, we’ll see the first collectively-bargained drag on signing bonuses—involving both drafted players and those signed on the international market. We’ll also see a welcome change in the signing deadline from Aug. 15 to mid-July, though it’s unclear whether we’ll see a change in the number of rounds from the current 50, a change in draft dates from early June to the end of June, or the introduction of pre-draft combines for the top prospects where physicals will be administered. All those issues were on the table as negotiations regarding the draft reached an 11th hour.
New MLB deal means positive changes for college baseball (cdispatch.com)
November, 22, 2011 could go down as the day college baseball changed drastically for the better.

Why? The entire sport was just guaranteed they're more than likely to get an influx of more quality talent from high school instead of these prospects bypassing NCAA baseball for a signing bonus with a professional franchise.
. . .
The end result: Once the details of this agreement were announced, the general consensus was that not only did the sport of college baseball get a talent boost in the future but professional baseball is likely to get more mature prospects and socially aware people signing into their business. Those two aspects are what professional baseball people think will provide a better overall product for fans at every level of play.

Simmons Field is Field of the Year

Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium Named Field of the Year (mutigers.com)
Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium, the home of the Mizzou baseball team, has been named 2011 College and University Baseball Field of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA), as announced by the STMA on Tuesday (Nov. 22). The field is maintained and cared for by Mizzou Turf Specialist Josh McPherson and his staff.

"Each year, evaluating the applicant pool is very difficult," said Allen Johnson, CSFM, STMA Awards Committee Chairman. "The quality of the applicants continues to improve and this year's winners truly deserved the award."

"The Field of the Year Award validates the intense dedication of our members," said Kim Heck, CEO of the Sports Turf Managers Association. "Each year STMA awards no more than 14 Fields of the Year, so a very small percentage of our members are winners. Josh McPherson and his crew are very deserving of this prestigious award for Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium," says Heck. . .

Aaron Crow, fashion model

Uniform changes include All-Star Game logo (mlb.com)
Subtle changes in the Royals' uniforms were unveiled on Tuesday, but there's one striking addition that signals a big event for Kansas City -- the 2012 All-Star Game logo.

The logo is affixed to the right sleeve of all four versions of the Royals uniform. The All-Star Game, the first in Kansas City since 1973, will be on July 10 at Kauffman Stadium.

Pitcher Aaron Crow and hitting coach Kevin Seitzer modeled the newest versions of the uniforms at the Diamond Club at the stadium.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SEC Dixie-nary: E is for East

E is for East

Word is that Missouri will be playing in the East Division of the SEC, mostly because Alabama and Auburn don't want to be separated.

The three schools that were considered the best in the SEC for much of the 70s, 80s and 90s are all in the West Division:  Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State.   However, the West's dominance appears to be a thing of the past.

In 2011, the West was greatly overshadowed by East.  Three SEC East schools finished in the Top 10 of the RPI rankings; 4 SEC East teams and 2 SEC West teams were in the top 20

With the rise to power of South Carolina, Florida and Vanderbilt as dominant players nationally, the West has failed to keep up.  See Around the Bases Looks at the Future of SEC Baseball (TeamSpeedKills.com)

SEC Divisions (from Mizzou2SEC.com)
On the other hand, the two schools most often in the SEC cellar are Tennessee and Kentucky, both in the East.

Then again, Tennessee has a hired a new coach beginning this fall:  Dave Serrano, who has taken both UC-Irvine and Cal State-Fullerton to the College World Series.

The upshot is that it really doesn't make much difference in the long term which division Mizzou is in, because the entire conference is pretty tough and the winds of fortune will change.

Schedule

I've not heard yet how the SEC Baseball schedule will be set up now that there are 14 teams, but I can make a good guess.

Currently, each team's schedule features 10 weekend conference 3-game series:  5 series against teams within their division, and 5 against teams from the opposite division.  Under that system, an SEC team plays every other SEC team except one.

Arkansas, for example, is scheduled to play every team except Vanderbilt in 2012 (which is odd, considering Vandy is one of the closest to Little Rock geographically).

With two new teams in the conference, my guess would be the system will be similar.  The goal of the schedule is still a legitimate one - limiting the fixed conference schedule to 10 match-ups, leaving sufficient room in the schedule for out-of-conference weekend series.  In 2012, Arkansas has 4 non-conference weekends (Villanova, Valparaiso, the Houston College Classic, and Binghamton) prior to the beginning of the SEC schedule on March 16th, with no bye-weekend in the middle of the SEC schedule.

With 14 teams, that would mean each team would play 6 series versus their divisional rivals and 4 series against the opposite division.  Which means there would be 3 teams each season that aren't on your schedule.

For MU, that would mean a weekend 3-game series vs. Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia each season, plus 4 series against an annual rotation of 4 among Arkansas, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, Auburn and Alabama.

According to an article this past week in the Columbia Tribune, "Jamieson said the league is expected to continue playing 30 conference games, with six division series and four rotating interdivision series, though it has not been finalized."

For more on the geographical layout of the new SEC, check back in here Thursday morning:  G is for Geography

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tough SEC is opportunity for MU baseball team

♦ Some great quotes from Tim Jamieson plus informed insight from Baseball America's Aaron Fitt in Tough SEC is opportunity for MU baseball team (ColumbiaTribune.com)
“It’s both an incredible challenge and an incredible opportunity,” Missouri Coach Tim Jamieson said. “I think it’s something, having witnessed what we did when we went from the Big Eight to the Big 12 and the necessity to step up, we did it. I have no doubt that we’ll do it again when we go from the Big 12 to the SEC.”
. . .
“The bottom line is they’ve just got to recruit at a high level and develop those guys,” Fitt said. “When Missouri had its run there of seven straight regionals, they were doing that very well. They were getting high-caliber talent, and I think if they have years like that, they can absolutely compete in the SEC.”
Read the whole article HERE

Friday, November 18, 2011

MU Baseball Announces 2012 Schedule

The official schedule is nearly identical to the one we published earlier this Fall, EXCEPT for the addition of a Missouri-Illinois game at Busch and the subtraction of the MU-KU game at Kauffman.

Mizzou Baseball Announces 2012 Schedule (mutigers.com Press Release)

The Mizzou baseball program and head coach Tim Jamieson have announced its 2012 competition schedule on Friday (Nov. 18). The Tigers have 55 games scheduled for the 2012 season, including 29 against teams that qualified for last year's NCAA Tournament. Also, of the 55 games, Mizzou will play 33 at Taylor Stadium.

Mizzou will open the season in intriguing fashion as it will play at Auburn in a matchup that will serve as a Southeastern Conference preview. The Tigers will enter their inaugural year as members of the SEC in 2012-13, so there should be plenty of buzz surrounding the Tigers' season-opening series with Auburn. Those games will be held from Feb. 17-19.

Following the season-opening trip to Auburn, the Tigers will then head to the west coast for a three-game set with San Francisco. The Dons we're the West Coast Conference Champions and participated in the UCLA Regional last season. Those games will be held in San Francisco from Feb. 24-26.

After the Tigers' trip out west, they will return home to Taylor Stadium for a 19-game home stand that will last through nearly the entire month of March, beginning with a three-game series against Ball State on March 2-4. The Tigers will also battle Nebraska-Omaha, Charlotte, North Dakota, High Point and Indiana State before playing Oklahoma State, which marks the beginning of Big 12 play. That series with the Cowboys will be played March 23-25. The 19-game homestand will then close with a pair of midweek games against Central Arkansas.

Big 12 play will then hit full-stride for the Tigers as they will play back-to-back series at Texas A&M (March 30-April 1) and at home against Baylor (April 5-7) on Easter weekend. A midweek contest with Illinois will then take center stage following the Baylor series as the Tigers and Illini will battle at Busch Stadium, home of the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. That game will be held on April 11 at 6:35 p.m. and fans will be able to purchase tickets online at MUTigers.com or STLCardinals.com when they go on sale.

Following the game at Busch Stadium, the Tigers will then continue Big 12 play with a road trip to Norman, Okla., where they will play three games against OU from April 13-15. A three-game home series against Kansas State will be next up for Mizzou from April 20-22 before they open a six-game road trip at Missouri State, Texas Tech and Arkansas. The series at Arkansas will mark the Tigers' second SEC opponent of the 2012 season and those games will be played on May 1 and 2 in Fayetteville.
The Tigers will then return home to play Texas (May 4-6), Missouri State (May 9) and Memphis (May 11-13) before closing the regular season with a three-game series at archrival Kansas (May 17-19). The Big 12 Tournament will then be contested from May 23-27 with the NCAA Regional Rounds opening on June 1.

For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.