Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Tip of the Cap 2011: Quotes & Quibbles

Talking Head of the Year

Hunter Mense

Hunter provided a level of humor and insight that exceeds even the best of his predecessors as Tex Little's wing-man. His knowledge of the intricacies of the game was informed by his lifetime playing baseball, including several years in the minor leagues. His knowledge of the coaches and players on the team was evident in his comments on why they did what he did, and his uncanny predictions of what they were about to do.
"Amp's going to get hit by a pitch, then Thigpen will sacrifice bunt him over to 2nd, then Mach will get a hit to drive him in, and we win." (spoken by Hunter at the beginning of the 9th inning on May 15th vs. Texas Tech. It happened exactly that way.)
@TheHunter32 on Twitter:
  • 4 umpires here at the #Big12 tournament per game...they'll for sure make it about themselves and screw plenty of things up still.
  • A bend in the road is not the end of the road ... unless you fail to make the turn (5/21, following MU's final regular season game)
  • If you come to a @MUTigerBaseball game, make sure you sneak your own food in. These damn concession stand prices are a joke! #4dollarpretzel
  • Baseball is such a game of confidence and momentum...just like curling. #ilovebaseballnohomo
  • "Matt Stites back on top." -Tex Little #sexualinnuendosfromtex
  • @MizzouSBcoach Take a note at how quick those little players on gametracker get on and off the field, it's amazing!
  • Got pulled over for texting while driving. Told the cop I was tweeting, not texting...he let me go.
  • There's a gas station here in Waco that had a jersey signed and framed from the NIT runner up team. I stood in awe...#isthatgood ?
  • Hey #mizzou, can we get a real live tiger? I'll take care of it...I'll even get a kennel for it, take it for walks, and feed it steak!
  • Remember @MUTigerBaseball fans, when the Tigers have 23 hits or more you get free handshakes from Brad Pitt. #miz #promotionsimakeup
  • The umpire behind the plate is now texting between pitches. And he called a pitch a strike that bounced. #greatumpire
  • Update from the MU/KU game at the K: A streaker just went from the stands all the way across the field and into the fountains.
  • Fight breaking out by third base between Brock Bond and some other guy... Wait a minute... #flashback #miz #mizzou (4/6, during MU-KU game)
  • Good thing @ou_baseball left yesterday...they avoided having to play today and losing the series. #weatherisfine (3/27)
  • @OU_Baseball just had our pitchers set up the field for BP and then backed out. #iseehowitis (3/26)
  • Beautiful day for a double header at Simmons Field. Come on out for free sunshine... #getatan #rawwr (3/20)
  • The softball team would probably kick our asses right now. 2 perfect games and a no hitter in the same week?! #unheardof #MIZ Echofon • 3/6/11 4:45 PM
  • Tweeting from the booth is about as good as it gets! #tweetfromthebooth (2/27)
  • Dear @KendallRogersPG, there are more players in the Big 12 & country other than John Stilson. Thanks #homer #uhearta&m (2/18)
And a couple of Tweets about Hunter:
  • @BlumbergOTB: Classic #Mizzou baseball moment: @TheHunter32 says, "I say ONE word on the radio too much." Tex: "Which one?" Hunter: "A little bit."
  • @ ShawnDizzle77: Waitress just asked Hunter if he wanted to save his pepsi bottle as a spitter. Only in Manhattan, KS.
  • @ShawnDizzle77: @TheHunter32 is the sole reason for Garcia losing his perfect game and no-hitter. His exact words "Tex, Jamie Garcia perfect through 7.1

A Tip of the Cap to Tex Little

There is no harder task for a play-by-play man than to broadcast the games day after day when everything seems to be going wrong for the team.

I heard more compliments and kudos directed Tex Little's way this season than I have in years. A good part of that was because of the way Tex handled the highs and lows of this season. While never a "homer" in the classic sense of the term (he calls 'em like he sees 'em), Tex ws able to convey through the tenor of his voice and his choice of words that he was as invested in the failures and successes of this team as anyone out there listening to him.

When that last hit ball went over the wall at Bricktown in the 10th inning, Tex said nothing more than "It's over the wall. The game's over, and the season's over." But you could hear in his voice that he was as stunned and crushed by that quick and simple ending to the long season as any other Mizzou fan.

This season especially, when I missed more than half the home games, I came to appreciate the pleasure of following the Tigers by following Tex. You made the long season a fun one, Tex. My cap is off to you.

Newspaper article of the year

This article sums up the hard truth that the game is not just a game anymore. Not sure it ever was.

But it also shows how well Mike Alden and the entire Athletic Department are doing in the face of the economies of the business. Here's a Tip of the Cap to man at the top who endures a lot of heckling from the people who think they could do better.

MU teams thriving in Big 12 despite fewer financial resources (Columbia Tribune)

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, every program at Missouri ranked among the lower half of the Big 12 in spending between July 2009 and June 2010.

Baseball Expenses (figures in millions) 1. Texas $3.73 2. Texas A&M $2.17 3. Oklahoma $2.10 4. Baylor $2.02 5. Nebraska $1.89 6. Texas Tech $1.56 7. Kansas $1.55 8. Kansas State $1.40 9. Oklahoma State $1.39 10. Missouri $1.18

Media Topic of the Year: BBCOR Bats

It seemed the media would never tire of the topic. But there was a good reason why they kept coming back to talk about the bats: College Baseball was changed in some big ways this season, for better or worse.

It also provided for some inventive headline writing. A few of the headlines and articles:
And a few quotes that took a swing at the subject:
"There's a lot more unselfish at bats," Threlkeld said. "Hitters really focus on trying to get runs in as opposed to getting a hit because there are a lot less runs scored. (Tech Talk)

“I’ll be honest … I think the product we use is pretty good,” Gibson said. “We use a Reebok bat – I don’t work for Reebok, but I think they were ahead of the game when the NCAA went to the BBCOR bat. I think their technology was a little ahead of the other companies.” (
"You don't want to show up 30 minutes late - you might be in the 6th inning" (Rob Childress, Big 12 coaches pre-season teleconference)

Nattering Nabobs

Local media coverage of Tiger Baseball was a mixed bag.

Matt Nestor at the Columbia Daily Tribune seemed to have fewer features this year. That may just be a subjective perception, though, since the Trib started charging to read their online articles.

The Columbia Missourian had a few good feature articles, but didn't seem to have anyone who had a fan's dedicated interest in MU Baseball. They did a decent job, though.

The standout in my mind this season was, surprisingly, The Maneater. I don't suppose they actually did any more features about the team than the Trib or the Missourian, but their coverage was amped up from past years, which tells me that someone had an avid interest, namely the "cub reporter" pair of Mike Vorel and Nate Atkins.

What Schmidt expressed most during the skid was a desire to produce team results over individual statistics.

"I especially don't like to lose," Schmidt said after the final game of the losing streak, an 8-3 defeat to the Jayhawks on Friday night. "(But) that's the great thing about baseball — there's always tomorrow. You have to tell yourself, 'Tomorrow is going to be the day.'"

Prophetically, tomorrow was the day for Schmidt and the Tigers. Schmidt's snap of the RISP drought in Saturday's win and the spill-over effect it had on his teammates was evident among the Missouri coaches.

"Whenever you have someone in the lineup get something done, it helps everybody," Coach Tim Jamieson said of the hit. "I think there's no question, what Jonah did helped Blake (Brown) in the ninth."

With one "tomorrow" in the bag, Schmidt isn't done digging for late-season success. Although this season has been everything but the senior season he dreamed of, Schmidt maintains the forward-looking swagger that has established him as the team's cause to believe in.

"We've been so close," Schmidt said of the losses. "I really think we're going to get it clicking and get the ball rolling in the right direction."

The national college baseball media seemed to ignore Mizzou more than they have in past years. They seemed to draw the conclusion early that the Tigers were going to live down to the pre-season predictions, and thus they were not worth much attention.

One exception was, which printed a feature early on about the Tigers and had frequent comments about them. Unfortunately, most of those comments and articles were negative - downright dismissive and critical at times. This is especially surprising considering one of their stringers, who was providing a lot of their MU coverage and commentary, is a Mizzou student. He proved himself to be a typical Mizzou fan, though, sniping at the Tigers when they were down, then jumping on the bandwagon when it really got rolling.

  • Fred Katz (CollegeBaseballDaily Chat, 2/13): "And Mizzou does not look good at all. Should be at or near the bottom of the conference

  • @FredKatz (5/26) on Twitter: #Mizzou baseball coming out of nowhere in the second half of this season. Jamieson has been superb with this team

From the Cheap Seats:

  • Dad: Way to go down, swinging, Tigers! The future looks bright. Gutiest effort I've ever seen by a team that simply refused to go quietly.

  • MizzouAstro: Super proud of this team

  • MizzouFan21: As Mizzou fans, we should be used to it by now....We are tied with K State at the bottom of the Big 12 when it comes to conference championships (with 7). To put how pathetic that is into perspective, Texas has 110.

  • trripleplay: To the people who said this team had no heart and no senior leadership:

    You were wrong. Seniors like Jonah and Amp and Phil led this team out of the depths of a miserably long season and turned it into a team that fought tooth and nail to win Big 12 weekend series and get into the Tournament and made it all the way to the 10th inning of the championship game.

    And to the ones who will say that anything less than winning is failure, you're wrong, too. This team exceeded expectations and transformed itself during the season. That takes a lot more guts and is worthy of more fan loyalty than cheering for the teams that have the big budgets and pull in the elite recruits and ride to glory on the backs of their pocketbooks.

    Every True Son is proud of the 2011 Missouri Tiger Baseball team.
Be sure check out the entire 2011 Tip of the Hat series:

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