Friday, September 30, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Actual usual information dissects the conference by-laws:

Reality: There are no barriers to Missouri in the SEC (
Let's dive in and consider the situation that Missouri faces so you guys have better information to combat those who would argue that Missouri's fate is hemmed in by the buyout that would be owed under the Big 12 bylaws, by lawsuit threats, or by other nonexistent issues. Missouri factions that don't want to leave are saying the cost would be $40 million and that a lawsuit would ensue that could cost even more. Please. That's not the case. The actual cost to Missouri for jumping to the SEC would be in the neighborhood of $12 million. And if the school really fought it could end up being nothing at all.
. . .

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mizzou in the Majors: Kinsler's suprisingly great year

What did Ian Kinsler do that's even more impressive than 30-30? (Dallas News)
Ian Kinsler joined the 30 homer/30 steals club for the second time in his career Tuesday, but it may not have been the night's biggest accomplishment for Kinsler.

That would be the two runs he scored to cross 120 for the season. Kinsler went into the final game of the season with 121 runs scored, the fifth-highest total in Rangers history.

Kinsler scored 116 runs while hitting leadoff. It's the most runs scored by a leadoff man in Rangers history, surpassing the 102 Kinsler scored in 2008.

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Impact on non-revenue sports

Missouri coaches talk about SEC's pros and cons (Columbia Tribune)
Gary Pinkel has served as the public voice of Missouri’s frustration with the Big 12, calling the unrest and defections over the past 15 months “sad,” “embarrassing” and “unbelievable.”

But the Missouri athletic department’s angst about the realignment saga extends beyond Pinkel and the school’s power brokers. While a potential conference switch would be driven by football and television riches, a move also would have a profound effect on the Tigers’ nonrevenue athletic programs.
. . .
Baseball is an especially interesting case. A move to the SEC, which claims the last three NCAA champions and is regarded as the country’s top conference, would generate excitement. But Missouri is a world away from the fevered baseball culture of the South. While MU spent a Big 12-low $1.18 million on baseball and averaged less than 500 fans per game at Taylor Stadium last season, LSU might as well be running a small-market major league franchise. LSU spent $7.5 million last year and drew an average of 10,534 fans to its $38 million stadium.

Baseball Coach Tim Jamieson and track Coach Brett Halter, who would face similar weather and cultural challenges, declined comment.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mizzou announces exhibition game this Saturday

Baseball Set to Host Ontario in Fall Exhibition (
Tigers will face the Ontario Blue Jays in an exhibition contest at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The Mizzou baseball program will open its fall schedule on Saturday (Oct. 1) at 3 p.m. as it squares off against the Ontario Blue Jays, a high school team based out of Ontario, Canada. This marks the first time that Mizzou has brought in outside teams during fall competition as it will also play a pair of games next weekend against Iowa in hopes of raising money for Joplin, Mo., Little League.
♦ More on the Ontario Blue Jays at


♦ It's interesting how skewed and how varied the public attitudes about college sports have become.

For many, it's all about the money:

BCS football: Big 12 expansion options (Boise State, BYU), Missouri to the SEC (?) and more on realignment (
*** Why would Missouri want to join the SEC?

Because of the long-term stability and because when the SEC signs a new TV deal — which cannot happen without expansion — then each school will likely receive $25 million-plus per year for TV rights.

*** Why would the SEC want Missouri?

Because it’s an Association of American Universities member and because there are 2 million TV homes in the state.

Mizzou would be the SEC’s fourth AAU school, in addition to Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Florida.

(And don’t forget: UF president Bernie Machen chairs the SEC’s executive board.)

*** If SEC commish Mike Slive is considering a dedicated network comparable to what the Pac-12 has created, then Missouri and Texas A&M are smart additions: The schools add 11 million TV homes to the league’s footprint.

At $1 per in-market subscriber per month … and this is all back-of-the-napkin conjecture … that would be more than $100 million per year — just from Mizzou and A&M.

♦ Or maybe it's because Mizzou and its athletes and fans would enjoy the challenge of top notch athletic competition against the highly skilled athletes of the SEC and their institutions of higher learning. 

And yet there are still some who value the out-of-fashion ideal of the "student athlete":

Student-Athletes Deserve Praise (The Harvard Crimson, 9/28/2011)
In October’s edition of The Atlantic, Taylor Branch wrote a brilliant piece titled “The Shame of College Sports.” His story outlined, and in many ways underscored, what those of us who pay attention to big time college sports have known for years: that the two hallmarks of the NCAA—amateurism and the student-athlete—are fraudulent.
. . .
Former Harvard President Charles W. Eliot, class of 1853, once famously said of Harvard’s baseball team:

“I’m told the team did well because one pitcher had a fine curve ball. I understand that a curve ball is thrown with a deliberate attempt to deceive. Surely this is not an ability we should want to foster at Harvard.”

Folksy naivety aside, Eliot was a firm believer in amateurism, the importance of athletics in conjunction with academics, and the significance of sport as a worthy endeavor regardless of the result...

♦ I'm not folksily naive enough to think anything will change.  You can't turn back the clock.  Modern American athletic culture is like a modern American religion, and its adherents demand nothing less than the glorification of money, power and perfection.

Those who know me know that I'm a bit of a traditionalist and baseball purist.  There's a part of me that hopes Mizzou goes to the Big "Ten", a decidedly 2nd (or even 3rd) tier baseball conference, so that I can return to enjoying baseball for the love of the game, without the high stakes pressure of the Big 12 or SEC.

Word on the Tweet

@KendallRogersPG (Kendall Rogers of
  • Spoke to #TAMU coach Rob Childress for fall profile. Said you talk about the #SEC and you're talking about the best league RPI-wise. #Aggies

  • Childress said #Aggies look forward to the challenge. Said if you want to be the best, you want to play the best. Feels like that's the #SEC

  • Childress has all 12 #SEC teams schedules. Said #TAMU will take a long, hard, look at non-conference scheduling in the future. Interesting.

  • On playing #Texas: "Rivalry has gone on forever, and schools have each other in their fight songs. I'd be disappointed to see it end." #TAMU

  • Lastly, Childress believes going to #SEC helps in #collegebaseball recruiting. Prefers Texas recruits, but admits it could open new doors
@KyleBarbs (Mizzou junior transfer pitcher Kyle Barbeck):
How can you not be romantic about baseball?
Hope my buddy @casemunson had a successful surgery. You're the man!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: MizzouTube

Mizzou Baseball fans will want to take note of the shady character in the background in one of the final scenes of this video. Click HERE for a larger version at YouTube

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baseball Sets Time for Joplin Relief Game

♦ Baseball Sets Time for Joplin Relief Game (
The Mizzou baseball program has announced a 12:30 p.m. start time for the Oct. 8 exhibition game against Iowa. The game will serve as the first of two exhibition games with the Hawkeyes that will directly benefit Joplin Little League as the community continues to recover from a devastating tornado back in May. The 12:30 p.m. start time is scheduled around Mizzou's football game with Kansas State, which was selected for a 2:30 p.m. start earlier today. Fans are encouraged to come out to Taylor Stadium before watching the Tigers take on the Wildcats in Manhattan.

Mizzou baseball has teamed with the Daniel Boone Little League, Diamond Council, BC Baseball and The Callaway Bank to host the University of Iowa in pair of fall exhibition games that will benefit the Joplin Little League program in its efforts to rebuild the program following the devastating tornado that hit the area back in May. The games will be played on Oct. 8-9 at Taylor Stadium and tickets are just $5 with all proceeds going directly to the City of Joplin Little League program. 
Tickets to the games will be sold for $5 and can be purchased at or by calling the Mizzou ticket office at 1-800-CAT-PAWS. As mentioned, all proceeds will go directly to rebuilding Joplin's Little League programs, which were ravaged by a tornado back in May. Tickets can also be purchased at Taylor Stadium the day of the each game. Time for the Saturday (Oct. 8) tilt with Iowa is still TBA as it will be scheduled around the Tigers' football game at Kansas State. The Sunday game (Oct. 9) will begin at 1 p.m.

For questions or information on how to make donations to Joplin Little League, please contact Evan Pratte, director of baseball operations, at 573-882-1917 or via e-mail ( The relief efforts of the Mizzou baseball toward the Joplin area are just another in a long line goodwill by Mizzou Athletics for the Joplin Area. In addition to several outreach trips to the area, Mizzou will also host an exhibition basketball game as Mizzou will battle Missouri Southern in Joplin in the One State, One Spirit Classic Presented by Legget & Platt on Oct. 30.

Also, the City of Joplin has a special tie to the Mizzou baseball program. A former Mizzou baseball jersey from the early 2000s was found in the rubble following the Joplin tornado and made its way to Oklahoma City with the team and hung in the dugout as Mizzou became the first-ever No. 8 seed to ever advance to the Big 12 Championship game. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Aggies officially headed to SEC looks at A&M's move from a baseball perspective in Texas A&M officially headed to SEC
Considering Nebraska will play its first season in the Big ten this year, Big 12 baseball takes another big hit as well with the loss of Texas A&M. They only had 10 teams to begin with (Colorado and Iowa State didn’t have baseball) before schools starting defecting for other conferences, and now they’ll be down to eight baseball playing schools in the 2013 season.

Nebraska and Texas A&M aren’t just any old baseball schools they’re losing. While Nebraska has been down in recent years, the Cornhuskers and Aggies represent two of the five Big 12 schools that have advanced to Omaha in the last decade. Childress was an assistant on all three Nebraska teams to advance to the CWS before leading his own team to the promised land this year...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mizzou in the Majors

Kinsler putting up historic numbers (NBC Dallas-Fort Worth)
With his eigth-inning, game-tying blast to left field, Kinsler became the first second baseman in the history of the American League to have 30 home runs, 30 doubles, 80 walks and score 100 runs in a season. He also has 26 stolen bases, putting him four away from his second-career 30 home run/30 steals season.

Kinsler is up to 115 runs scored and has an on-base percentage of .348, a far climb up from his batting average. To put it simply, Kinsler gets on base and scores runs, which is all you can ask of your leadoff man. The home run power is an added bonus.

2012 Mizzou Recruit Sean Ullrich video

Sean Ullrich at bat:

Letting your voice be heard on Conference Realignment

Fans and supporters of MU Baseball and other Olympic sports have a unique perspective on these matters.

If you want your voice to be heard about Mizzou's conference future, then send an e-mail to the decision makers.

Board of Curators:
MU Admin:
Governor Jay Nixon:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Interview with a re-aligned baseball coach

An interesting interview with Pitt's Head Baseball Coach about how he and the team are adapting to the move to the ACC:

9 Innings with Joe Jordano (
How will it affect recruiting down the road? Will you still focus on the same areas? Will you recruit the same type of player?

I believe our footprint for recruiting will expand. We have met as a staff and have put together a plan that we feel good about and we will execute that plan over the next several months. Again, the timeline of when we begin competing in the ACC will be a big factor in how we proceed. I feel our recruiting coordinator, Danny Lopaze and assistant coach Tom Lipari have done a great job identifying the right type of player for us. We will obviously look to attract the best possible player we can...

Mizzou in the Majors: Tiger-Tiger vs. Tiger-Royal

Two Mizzou alums in the same game:

Rookie Herrera has rough debut as Royals lose home finale (

The Royals built leads of 2-1 and 3-2 before the Tigers pulled even in the seventh inning on Victor Martinez’s RBI single against Aaron Crow. It was Martinez’s third RBI of the game and meant Herrera inherited a 3-3 tie to start the eighth inning.

Manager Ned Yost had hoped to stay away from Herrera, who arrived earlier in the day along with five of his teammates from Class AAA Omaha.

“We brought Crow in to face Martinez with two outs,” Yost said, “hoping that we could get out of that inning with the lead. Crow didn’t look exceptionally sharp, and I’d already used (Louis) Coleman and (Tim) Collins …”
. . .

Doug Fister, 10-13, got the victory by limiting the Royals to one unearned run in three innings after replacing Detroit starter Max Scherzer. Fister is normally a starter, but the Tigers piggy-backed him behind Scherzer in an effort to set up their postseason rotation.
. . .
Paulino allowed two runs and six hits while striking out eight, walking two and settling for a no-decision. Scherzer also got a no-decision after yielding two runs and five hits in five innings.
. . .

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Royal Confusion

The links and quotes today are just baffling and ridiculous, but we'll start with one that actually acknowledges the presence of baseball in the NCAA, written by a self-described "freshman sports journalist at the University of Missouri" (@SG_Mizzou15 on twitter):

Analysts are constantly talking about how this will impact football and men’s basketball, the two most popular college sports. The people making these decisions have no regard for the effect that conference realignment will have on less popular sports, like baseball, soccer or volleyball.

Student athletes in non-revenue producing sports will now be spending less time in the classroom and more time on the road traveling due to the flawed geography of the new conferences. Texas A&M illustrates this example perfectly. Its two closest Big 12 opponents are Baylor (92 miles) and Texas (105 miles). Its two closest SEC opponents next year will be LSU (337 miles) and Arkansas (505 miles). . .
And now for the confusion:

Source: BYU poised to join the Big 12 (
A source close to the situation at Brigham Young University is indicating that if the Big 12 Conference in fact holds together as now expected, BYU is highly likely to become a full member of that conference if it can be assured that the league will be stable into the future.

The source says that university and Big 12 officials were close to making an announcement of the addition of BYU to the conference following the loss of Texas A&M, but those plans were put on hold when Oklahoma president David Boren made it known that the Sooners were exploring their options with the PAC-12. That same source informed Deep Shades of Blue last year of BYU's intent to become a football independent weeks before its official announcement.

The source also informed DSB that prior to the Sooners courting of the PAC-12, the BYU Board of Trustees had authorized President Cecil O. Samuelson to move all of the school's athletic programs into the Big 12.
Superconferences still on hold as Pac-12 stays put (
The seismic shift in college athletics has once again been diverted.

Unless there is a major surprise looming, the latest round of conference realignment will only produce a handful of changes. The 16-team superconference is again on hold.

The Pac-12 presidents and chancellors decided late Tuesday night not to expand, leaving Texas and Oklahoma to figure out a way to get along in the Big 12.

“After careful review we have determined that it is in the best interests of our member institutions, student-athletes and fans to remain a 12-team conference,” Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “While we have great respect for all of the institutions that have contacted us, and certain expansion proposals were financially attractive, we have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve.”
Source says Mizzou has informal offer from SEC (Kansas City Star)
The Southeastern Conference has an informal offer on the table for Missouri to join its league, an option that may not be needed after the Pac-12 decided Tuesday night that it was not going to expand.

SEC officials are willing to wait for an answer from Missouri until the future of the Big 12 is decided, but that future looks much better without the Pac-12 as an option for Oklahoma and Texas to join.

Word of the informal agreement came to The Star from a Missouri booster who spoke directly to a Missouri official. Another source told The Star on Tuesday that an Oklahoma official said the SEC is interested in Missouri
SEC official: No offer to Mizzou (St. Louis Post Dispatch)
As speculation escalates about where various schools, including Mizzou, will land on the conference realignment carousel, Charles Bloom of the SEC said in a phone interview on Tuesday that the conference has made no recent offers for others to join it.
“The SEC has not extended an invitation to any school beyond Texas A&M since it extended invitations to Arkansas and South Carolina,” said Bloom, associate commissioner of the Southeastern Conference.

And the good people at RockMNation have a good summary of the mess-as-it-stands-at-this-moment and some thoughts on what's ahead

MIZZOUEXPANSIONAPALOOZA 2011™: Pac-12 says, "Not Expanding. We're Good." (
Now what?

Again, if "sources" are to be believed, and Missouri can move to the SEC, is that something that the Board of Regents and the Chancellor should pursue?

Or is it in our collective best interest to try and prop up the Big 12, side with Oklahoma and try to see if some reform can be forced through that includes equal revenue sharing and attempt to expand the league back to 12?

I believe that there are pros and cons to both approaches...

Mizzou in the Majors & Minors

A couple of quotes about Mizzou's former 1-2 pitching punch, Crow and Zagone:

♦ (
Do plans still call to convert Aaron Crow to a starter in spring training this year?

Dayton Moore: We do expect to bring him into spring training and compete for a spot in the rotation.
Keys' Zagone gives up two home runs as Nats knot series (
The Keys' Rick Zagone seemed confused, and that's never a good feeling for a pitcher to have.

Frederick's left-handed starter gave up a pair of early home runs in the second game of the Northern Division Championship series on Friday night as the Potomac Nationals went on to an 8-0 win that evened the series 1-1 at Harry Grove Stadium.

Potomac's Brian Peacock hit the first home run off Zagone, a two-run shot in the first inning, while Francisco Soriano followed with a three-run blast in the second.

"The two home runs I gave up were actually on balls," Zagone said. "The first was inside off the plate and the other outside, maybe a strike, a borderline pitch."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Big 12 Celebrity Roast

This next link is a must-click-and-read:

Portraits of Conference Realignment (
ESPN, the Worldwide Leader of Sports and Sports-Like Substances
1. Create Byzantine network of conflicting media deals
2. Watch in horror as your conflicts of interest reshape the landscape of college sports
3. Suspend Bruce Feldman

Realignment anonymous (
westntiger: Hello, my name is westntigerfan and I'm a realignment-aholic. I've been hooked on realignment since December of 2009 when the big ten announced they were looking to expand. I began searching and searching the Internet for all the info I could find on it. I remember how sad I was the day they took those cornchuckers from Nebraska. I now hate the big ten...I mean mubobby said it was a done deal and we were finally away from those donkey balls down at could mubobby miss lead it is 2011 and my addiction is running rampant again....I have these visions of grandeur in the SEC....I can't sleep at night, I just lie in bed all night realigning conferences and always sticking the chickenhawks in some horrible conference like the swac or the pioneer. Won't OU finally leave this conference and kill it so I can stop this addiction and move god make up your mind and do it!! Well anyway that's my story in a nutshell. Thank you

novembereleven: 12 steps no longer good enough, everyone going to 16 steps . . . ...but you may have to travel about 900 miles to find a meeting.

Another great take on the mess:

The Pac Trail: A GIF journey west (
Welcome to The Pac Trail, a wonderful spin-off on The Oregon Trail which taught you how to not cross deep rivers in the computer gaming world as children. If you’re not following CuppyCup on Twitter, do so. He makes expansion mania bearable, which is impressive given the madness that has ensued...
Also check out

And the biggest joke of all?

Timing of Big 12's demise is ironic (
What I can't get past? The league is in the ugly, litigation-filled process of imploding. And, to think, they say football is all that matters in realignment.

On Monday, ESPN Stats & Information updated its conference rankings. For all of last season, the SEC dominated the ranking. This week?

There's a new No. 1.

This ranking, remember, comes without Nebraska, one of the nation's elite programs and one currently ranked No. 9 in both polls.

♦ And Darkow has a great cartoon in the Trib (click the LINK to see the whole thing):

@trripleplay on twitter: I'd rather watch a JAYHAWK pep rally than Charlie Sheen roast

Monday, September 19, 2011

150 days until Opening Day

2012 Tentative Schedule

2011 Fall Roster (unofficial)

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Big 12-Big East Mash-Up?

As always, I try to stay away from speculating on what will happen in the whole conference realignment mess. I have no inside sources. I have no magic ball.

What I have tried to do here is provide a look at the various scenarios that have come into view and see how they would impact Mizzou Baseball in particular. Because here at, we don't care a whit about minor sports like football or basketball.

The latest scenario has been been put into play by the surprising announcement this past weekend that the ACC has raided the Big East and grabbed Pitt and Syracuse. And no one's quite sure but what they'll go for U Conn and Rutgers or some other pair of Big East teams next.

The biggest result of this is that the Big East is now looking very vulnerable.

A secondary effect is that a vulnerable Big East provides some interesting options for potential targets for the Big 12. One of the reasons OU and OSU are looking to bail on the Big 12 is that there seemed no viable new members that would keep the Big 12 strong. That has changed.

If the Big East continues to crumble, then TCU, Louisville and Cincinnati will be much more likely to see the Big 12 as a good option. If the Big 12 gathers those lost chicks into the coop, then other targets like BYU and Houston could find the Big 12 more interesting.

The end result of which could be a Big 14 that looks pretty good as a baseball conference.

The remaining 9 original Big 12 teams comprise a very good baseball conference on their own.

We've previously talked about Louisville, Houston, TCU and BYU as schools with baseball programs ranging from mid-range to top 20 contenders.

Cincinnati is one program we haven't previously looked at.
Brian Cleary has been the head coach of the Bearcats since 1997. UC's record during that time is not spectacular. With the exception of a 39-20 record in 2008, they have struggled to reach the .500 mark in a number of seasons, and have only won 30 or more games 4 times in addition to '08. On eof those was 2011, when they finished 30-27, topping off their year by going 2-and-Q in the Big East Post-Season Tournament.

The last time UC was in the NCAA Tournament was in 1974.

In other words, UC would have to gear up considerably to avoid being a perennial cellar-dweller in our fictional Big 14.

But don't forget that Notre Dame, while still clinging to independent status in football, is currently a Big East member in all other sports. If the Big East crumbles, they'll be looking for a new place to land. The Big Ten makes more sense geographically, but the B1G has shown no interest in taking on the Fighting Irish if the football program isn't part of the deal.

All of this may be a moot point by the end of the week, if not the end of today, if OU and OSU jump to the Pac. If that happens, the Big 12 is as good as dead and it's every team for itself.

2012 Mizzou Recruit: Paxton De La Garza, SS

Paxton De La Garza, SS
6'1", 175 lb, R/R
Lubbock Coronado HS (TX)

@Paxton5 on Twitter (8/28): "Officially a Missouri Tiger"

♦ 2011 Offense: .418 BA; 18 2B; 11 HR; 62 RBIl .495 OBP; .804 SLG

♦ 2011 Texas Sports Writers All-State Honorable Mention

♦ 2012 Pre-Season Parade All-American

See our running list of verbal commits for MU's 2012 recruiting class. The official National Letter of Intent Early Signing Period is November 6-11.

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Is today D-Day?

ACC moves could have impact on Big 12 (
“We can’t do anything until we know what Oklahoma and Texas are going to do,” said a Big 12 source. “We’re waiting on them.”

The answer could come Monday. The regents at both universities have meetings that day and the agenda items include conference realignment.
. . .
If Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are welcomed into the Pac-12 along with Texas and Texas Tech, five Big 12 schools — Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor — would remain.

Starting next year, seven Big East football-playing schools would remain without Pitt and Syracuse: West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, TCU, Connecticut and Rutgers.

A merger could create a 12-team football conference ideal for a football playoff. Big East basketball also includes the likes of Notre Dame, Georgetown and Villanova, and a powerhouse hoops league could be formed.

And a good example of how the "sure bet" according to "reliable sources" can change in the matter of a week:.

Missouri in play as SEC's 14th (, 9/6)
It's important to note that Missouri's addition would, however, be predicated on the collapse of the Big 12. Namely, the SEC is waiting to see whether or not Oklahoma will follow through on its flirtations with the Pac 12 and consummate the west coast union. If the Big 12 survives, it becomes most likely that the SEC will sit at 13 teams for a season and then decide what to do afterwards. But if the Big 12 dies, Missouri is likely to be the SEC's 14th member for 2012.

Let's look at five ramifications if Missouri becomes available...

Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC. What now? (, 9/18)
If Texas stays in the Big 12 then the Big 12 survives with seven schools.

The conference takes three Big East schools -- probably TCU, Louisville, and West Virginia (potentially South Florida if the conference wants in the state of Florida) -- retains its television contracts and stays at ten teams. If an eight team Big East was able to retain an automatic BCS bid so would this conference. Especially with the Big East losing its bid due to extinction.

I still think this is the most likely outcome...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: ACC tosses the salad

ACC has approved the addition of Pittsburgh, Syracuse (USA Today)
The presidents of the Atlantic Coast Conference voted Saturday morning to accept Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the league, according to an official in the ACC. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the league has not announced the move.

ACC adds Pittsburgh, Syracuse from Big East, sending latest realignment dominos falling (AP)
Pittsburgh and Syracuse are headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The ACC announced Sunday that its council of presidents unanimously voted to accept the two schools from the Big East. The move increases the ACC’s membership to 14 and sends the Big East scrambling to replace two of its cornerstone programs.
. . .
Pitt and Syracuse bring the number of programs making the Big East-to-ACC jump in the past decade to five, and Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said the most recent moves were “kind of a shock to everybody.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mizzou in the Majors: Scherzer, Detroit clinch AL Central

Tigers clinch - now what? (
First is the question of whether the Tigers should go all out in an effort to earn home field advantage–whether just for one round or through the ALCS–or set up their rotation how they want it for the division series. As Chris Iott of pointed out Friday, the fact that the Tigers have announced Brad Penny as the starter for Tuesday’s game against the Royals likely means the team has decided to go with the latter option. In fact, as Iott outlines rather nicely, it appears that the rotation is set up very conveniently for the playoffs without any clever maneuvering necessary. As of now, the likely scenario is that Justin Verlander will pitch in game one, September 30th, on an extra day rest, followed by Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, and Rick Porcello, each of whom, except Scherzer, will also be pitching on an extra day rest. Finally, Verlander would be set up to start in a potential game five, again on five days rest.

25 reasons why Tigers will it again in 2012 (
#21: Max Scherzer's stuff: He did what he did this season without consistently locating his fastball where he wanted. Good, but capable of being better.

Detroit News staff predictions: How the Tigers will fare in the playoffs (Detroit News)
John Niyo: I picked 'em to win 85 or 86 games and miss the playoffs, so they've already exceeded my expectations. The bats are hot, the depth is excellent and Justin Verlander's primed for the spotlight. (I still say this team's ultimate fate rests on the arm of Max Scherzer as much as anyone, though.) I think they get by the wild-card team — Red Sox or Rays — but I'll take the Yankees over the Tigers in the ALCS.

MizzouTube: MU Recruit Ryan Phillips video

Rockbridge HS pitcher Ryan Phillips VIDEO (

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mizzou Baseball: Word on the Tweet

♦ Video: 6 AM Summit workout

@nickmo0001 (freshman Nick Moore):
6am workout over, now 5 classes from 9-2 with an exam and a quiz, practice, hopefully some extra cuts, girls soccer gm #justlivinthedream
Just found a bum sleeping in our stadium... That's a first! Kinda looked like this guy...
For those interested in purchasing tix to the Joplin relief games against Iowa, click this link! Tix are just $5
@jcfield27 (former Tiger J.C. Field, now Assistant Coach at University of North Dakota):
I have one of the best jobs you can have...I absolutely love going to the field. Love what you do, never work a day in your life
@casemunson (freshman Case Munson):
it's official... surgery it is
@Cole_Maz (former Tiger Cole Mazurek)
"That's the word on the tweet" -Kelly Fick
♦ Follow trripleplay's Mizzou Baseball list on twitter

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Mizzou waits

♦ From @MikelGarrett on Twitter:
Brady Deaton mentioned possible name change from Big 12 to Heartland Conference. @Mizzou
Deaton finally says it: Mizzou waiting on OU to move (Kansas City Star)
“Surviving legally is one thing,” Deaton told The Star on Thursday evening. “Surviving as a strong, competitive conference is the key to what you’re asking.”

The pivot point could be what is decided by the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents on Monday. If Oklahoma remains, the Big 12 will aggressively move to add a school to replace Texas A&M, Deaton said. If Oklahoma decides to leave, and other schools follow, then the remaining schools may have no choice but to consider collecting punitive exit fees from the departing schools.

“Right now certainly Oklahoma is deliberating, and I feel we’ll know where they stand shortly," Deaton said.

Oklahoma regents warming up the wagon for Sooners' Pac-12 escape (
They tried to bury it, but this still being America — open meetings laws and such — if you scroll aaaaallllll the way down page 218 of the 219-page agenda for next Monday's meeting of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, it's there in plain English:


The Board of Regents will discuss potential legal ramifications of athletic conference realignment options and/or consider new athletic conference membership and take any appropriate action. An executive session may be proposed pursuant to Section 307B.4 of the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act.

Why Texas is doing the rest of the NCAA a favor with the Longhorn Network (

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Obfuscation & Absurdity

MU's Deaton discusses OU, future of Big 12 (St. Louis Post Dispatch)
Mizzou chancellor Brady Deaton, the chairman of the Big 12 board, said Wednesday night that he anticipates clarification of the University of Oklahoma's future alignment intentions within 10 to 14 days but that he remained hopeful the conference could stay viable even if OU — and probably Oklahoma State with it — were to leave.

"I don't want to go too far there, (but) there's a legal basis for the Big 12 to go on and, certainly, I would expect that to continue," he said in a phone interview.
Not that Deaton is expecting Oklahoma to go.

"If things change, we'll try to keep it together and move forward with other members," he said, later adding, "I'm a little more optimistic certainly today than I was maybe a week ago. . .
Report: Texas has three viable realignment options (Austin AMerican Statesman)
A high-ranking Texas source said that the ACC has been in contact with Texas, but added that talks hadn't progressed to a mature phase. In fact, the source wasn't sure what other schools the ACC would look to add besides Texas.

Don't take that to mean it won't work.

The ACC is willing to talk about a unique conference format that has intrigued Texas. Instead of divisions, the conference could be divided into four pods, with each pod containing four teams, to aid scheduling.
. . .
"Texas really isn't happy with the way the Pac-12 would like to align the conference," a well-placed source said. "They want to put all the former Pac-8 schools in one division and group all the former Big 12 schools (assuming Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech join) with Utah and the Arizona schools."

Texas wants to be in the same division as UCLA and Southern Cal, which would be tougher, but it would also guarantee the Longhorns a trip to Los Angeles every year. Think recruiting.
This was a Texas-sized fiasco in living color (Los Angeles Times)
There are no heroes here. Spread the blame like peanut butter.

Texas got greedy.

The rest of the conference may have deserved what it got it for enabling its own Frankenstein monster.

The NCAA acted, as always, at mule speed.

And ESPN, whose roots, once journalism and now cash flow, had to know better, but chose to get richer rather than do right.

At the sports books in Las Vegas, they call that a parlay.
♦ This columnist's fantasies are even more far fetched as his column title is long and rambling: The Big 12 might be able to survive even without OU, A&M and Oklahoma State. I’ve been doing some serious thinking on this topic, and you know what that means.(Houston Chronicle)
I know you’re cynical, and so are Texas officials.

But if you tell the story just so, you can make the case that the programs at SMU, UH and Baylor are a whisker away from being on the national landscape. All three have very good coaches and all three play an exciting brand of football. SMU has a new stadium, and UH and Baylor plan to build ‘em.

If A&M could be talked into staying—and Aggies would riot in the streets if that happened—it would be a very strong conference. Without the Aggies, it’s way less than that.

But does Texas have better options? Any other option would either be a nightmare in terms of travel or require a reworking of the Longhorn Network revenues. . .

If Big 12 implodes, what is best for Mizzou? (St. Louis Post Dispatch)
KATHLEEN NELSON: What strikes me as odd about this whole flapdoodle is that football seems to be steering the decision. If that's the the case, the Big East gives Missouri the best home. The Tigers would appear to be consistent contenders for the conference's BCS bid. But for basketball, Missouri would have a hard time being anything but an also-ran.

Geographically and athletically, the Big Ten is best. But those guys seem to have some hang-up about Missouri; either because the conference gains nothing TV-wise or doesn't consider the school an academic fit. The coastal conferences would be a logisitcal nightmare and probably would reinforce the reputation of Missouri's fans as "not traveling well."

The Shame of College Sports

The Shame of College Sports (
The United States is the only country in the world that hosts big-time sports at institutions of higher learning. This should not, in and of itself, be controversial. College athletics are rooted in the classical ideal of Mens sana in corpore sano—a sound mind in a sound body—and who would argue with that? College sports are deeply inscribed in the culture of our nation. Half a million young men and women play competitive intercollegiate sports each year. Millions of spectators flock into football stadiums each Saturday in the fall, and tens of millions more watch on television. The March Madness basketball tournament each spring has become a major national event, with upwards of 80 million watching it on television and talking about the games around the office water cooler. ESPN has spawned ESPNU, a channel dedicated to college sports, and Fox Sports and other cable outlets are developing channels exclusively to cover sports from specific regions or divisions.

With so many people paying for tickets and watching on television, college sports has become Very Big Business. According to various reports, the football teams at Texas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Penn State—to name just a few big-revenue football schools—each earn between $40 million and $80 million in profits a year, even after paying coaches multimillion-dollar salaries. When you combine so much money. . .

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mizzou Baseball in the Minors: Gibson rehabs

Twins' minor league pitcher begins rehab (Greenfield Daily Reporter)
February, 2013. Near the middle of that month, the Minnesota Twins’ pitchers and catchers will report to their spring training facility in Fort Myers, Florida. Kyle Gibson intends to be part of that group, battling for a spot in the Twins’ big-league rotation.

For now, his right arm — his pitching arm — is wrapped in a brace, and the Greenfield-Central graduate won’t throw a baseball for at least four months.
. . .
“Setbacks happen in everybody’s career at some point,” Gibson said. “Most likely this won’t be the last (disabled list) stint of my career. This is just another obstacle to work around.

“My goal is to be ready by the beginning of August for some rehab games. I’d like to get 30-40 innings, whether it’s in winter ball or a fall league and start working on getting my command, which will be the big challenge. And then be ready to go for spring training 2013, and really compete.”

Bat Backlash

alabama baseball team released from Nike contract (Tuscaloosa News)
The University of Alabama, along with every college under contract with Nike, has been released from its obligation to use Nike baseball bats in the upcoming season.

Alabama requested that Nike allow the school to use other manufacturers' bats following the 2010-11 season.

The move came after a Tuscaloosa News report in May revealed a striking difference in the performance of Nike bats as compared to other manufacturers.

Nike's bewildering college baseball bat problems (
Of the top 20 teams in home runs last season, not a single one used Nike bats.

Major schools such as Southern Cal, Miami, Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky all used Nike bats and experienced major drops in offensive production. Home runs were 20 percent lower and slugging percentages 44 percent lower for those teams than for the rest of the NCAA.

Nike releases schools from bat obligations (
It will be interesting if other Nike schools—Georgia, Kentucky, Miami, North Carolina and Southern California are five notable ones—elect to stick with Nike bats or switch, and whether their offensive performance is affected. The Tuscaloosa paper reports that those five Nike schools and Alabama hit 20 percent fewer home runs and slugged 44 percent lower than the national average. But how much of that performance gap was a product of the bats, and how much was a product of personnel, or the superior quality of pitching in power conferences, relative to the national average? Cherry-picking statistics—especially when considering a miniscule sample size—inevitably leads to faulty conclusions.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Oklahoma, Oklahoma State to apply to Pac-12, report says (
Oklahoma will petition the Pac-12 Conference for membership before the end of the month and Oklahoma State will follow, Chip Brown of reported, citing a source in the Oklahoma administration.

The move would confirm suspicions that the departure of Texas A&M from the Big 12 Conference would cause a chain reaction of other Big 12 teams seeking new conferences. Oklahoma’s move was expected to dictate what other schools, such as Texas and Texas Tech, decide to do.
UT tries to convince OU to stay in the Big 12 (Houston Chronicle, 9/12)
Texas reportedly is offering to pool revenues from the conference's tier I football television games (those broadcast on ABC and ESPN) as a way to equalize revenue for the remaining Big 12 teams if they would stick together.

It would not affect the money generated by the Longhorn Network for UT's tier III games through its 15-year, $300 million contract with ESPN. The Longhorns remain the Big 12's biggest moneymaker by a wide margin because of that contract.

But UT's late offer still might not be enough. A published report Monday indicated the Sooners have formally applied to the Pac-12 to become its 13th member, citing the revenue discrepancy caused by the Longhorn Network as one of the primary reasons they want to leave.
Realignment threats creating game of chicken in college athletics (
Since the second edition of the Big 12 Missile Crisis turned into the first edition of the Big 12 Hostage Crisis last week, the descriptions of the situation have grown more theatrical.

"It's a big game of chicken," one insider said of the impasse, which began Sept. 6 when Baylor president Ken Starr left a voicemail for SEC commissioner Mike Slive threatening to sue the SEC for accepting Texas A&M's application for membership.

"It's like a bunch of guys sitting around a table pointing guns at each other," said another insider of the situation that will remain gridlocked until Oklahoma decides whether it wants to remain in the Big 12 or move to the Pac-12, where the prevailing attitude is anti-expansion until another conference -- the SEC -- expands, at which time said attitude will become aggressively pro-expansion.
Notre Dame, Texas joining the Big Ten? (Bucyrus Telegraph Forum)
In the Internet community, when Purple Book Cat talks, folks listen. On Thursday, the anonymous PBC started a thread revealing at a Wednesday night meeting, Notre Dame and Texas jointly presented the Big Ten Conference a proposal for terms of entry into the league. Such terms came after lengthy discussions involving both schools over the past several months.

Interestingly, the top priority for both institutions was to get the Big Ten to back off its mandate of a 9-game conference schedule beginning later this decade and maintain the current 8-game slate. This would allow Texas and Notre Dame to continue traditional rivalries, with Oklahoma and USC, respectively.

According to PBC, the status quo would be maintained until 2014, at which point the Longhorn Network would become a part of an expanded Big Ten Network when both schools would join the league.

Mizzou Baseball Joplin Relief Series has released more details about the upcoming Missouri-Iowa games for Joplin relief:

The Mizzou baseball program has teamed with the Daniel Boone & Diamond Council Little Leagues, BC Baseball and The Callaway Bank to host the University of Iowa in pair of fall exhibition games that will benefit the Joplin Little League program in its efforts to rebuild the program following the devastating tornado that hit the area back in May. The games will be played on Oct. 8-9 at Taylor Stadium and tickets are just $5 with all proceeds going directly to the City of Joplin Little League program.

"On behalf of Mizzou baseball, the Daniel Boone and Diamond Council Little Leagues, BC Baseball and The Callaway Bank, we are very excited to have the opportunity to raise funds for Joplin Little League," Mizzou head baseball coach Time Jamieson said. "The members of that community have been through a lot since May and we just want to let them know that we are still keeping their relief efforts in our thoughts. I am also really excited to welcome the University of Iowa to Taylor Stadium. It will give fans the chance to enjoy a very competitive baseball series."

Tickets to the games will be sold for $5 and can be purchased at or by calling the Mizzou ticket office at 1-800-CAT-PAWS. As mentioned, all proceeds will go directly to rebuilding Joplin's Little League programs, which were ravaged by a tornado back in May. Tickets can also be purchased at Taylor Stadium the day of the each game. Time for the Saturday (Oct. 8) tilt with Iowa is still TBA as it will be scheduled around the Tigers' football game at Kansas State. The Sunday game (Oct. 9) will begin at 1 p.m.

For questions or information on how to make donations to Joplin Little League, please contact Evan Pratte, director of baseball operations, at 573-882-1917 or via e-mail ( The relief efforts of the Mizzou baseball toward the Joplin area are just another in a long line goodwill by Mizzou Athletics for the Joplin Area. In addition to several outreach trips to the area, Mizzou will also host an exhibition basketball game as Mizzou will battle Missouri Southern in Joplin in the One State, One Spirit Classic Presented by Legget & Platt on Oct. 30.

Also, the City of Joplin has a special tie to the Mizzou baseball program. A former Mizzou baseball jersey from the early 2000s was found in the rubble following the Joplin tornado and made its way to Oklahoma City with the team and hung in the dugout as Mizzou became the first-ever No. 8 seed to ever advance to the Big 12 Championship game. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mizzou Baseball in the Majors: Post-season Tigers?

Tigers' Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister form top trio (Detroit News)
It's putting the cart way before the horse.

The Tigers have to clinch a postseason spot first. That's the horse.

Setting up the rotation for the postseason is definitely the cart.

But it's a cart worth discussing at this point.
. . .
If Max Scherzer is the choice to start the second game, he would have four days' rest between his final start of the regular season (on Monday at home against Cleveland) and the Saturday game of a division series that would begin on Friday. . .
Kinsler: Rangers can draw on '10 playoff experience (
It wasn’t so much what the Rangers did last September that frames this season’s AL West fight with the Angels.

It is more about what Texas gained in the post-season a year ago, second baseman Ian Kinsler said.

“Basically, we had the division locked up last year in September,’’ Kinsler said. “But we gained a ton of experience in the playoffs. Those games are the ones you can draw on when you are in a pennant race.’’

2012 Mizzou Recruit: Alec Rash video

Sunday, September 11, 2011


It's been a full weekend for me.

Friday and Saturday I spent over 16 hours in downtown Columbia, enjoying the Roots n Blues n BBQ festival. Saturday morning into the afternoon I was at a conference in Columbia about ministry to prisoners re-entering society. Sunday morning I was at church. Off and on all day Sunday I've been watching and listening to stories and features about the 10th anniversary of 9/11/2001.

At the music festival a man sitting next to me was struggling to understand the definition of "the blues".

"If it's the blues," he asked, "why does everyone seem so happy about it?"

I thought for a moment and responded, "Jesus told us, Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.'

"And it's always true, " I added, "that there's no comfort unless the blues come first. That's just the way of the world."

At the Prisoner Re-Entry Conference, a woman told about a program called Celebrate Recovery, a 12-step program for addicts. And she pointed out that "there's no Recovery to celebrate unless first there's been something Lost."

It's the way of the world. We all know this.

There's no reconstruction unless there first has been destruction. There's no renewal until the old dies. There's no rebuilding something that hasn't first fallen apart.

It's the way of the world. And yet we struggle to remember it.

Ten years ago, we all remember where we were when he heard or saw the news about the first plane that hit the tower. The news was a strong reminder that things go wrong. The world is most definitely cursed with accidents and tragedies.

But then we learned of the second plane and the second tower. And that hit us harder, because we were suddenly, abruptly, brutally forced to remember that not only to bad things happen, but that there is no end to the depths of darkness and evil that people can and will descend to.

We all are capable of horrible thoughts and acts and deeds.

It's the way of the world.

I deal with people in prison ministry who have plumbed the depths of the darkness of which they are capable. And many are brought up short, stunned at where they've ended up. Wondering if there's anyone who understands.

On Sunday morning, at my church, we all shared in the weekly communion service. It's a reminder for us all that there is no resurrection without suffering and death. Sunday only arrives after Friday, and the long wait of Saturday.

The world is cursed. Death and destruction and chaos will happen again and again, and yet we keep forgetting, keep thinking it will not be so.

Faith doesn't mean we pretend the world is different than it really is. Faith means believing there is more.

We need to be reminded that we have a Creator who willingly subjected himself to the effects of the Curse, experienced the trials of life and agony of death.

It's the way of the world. And our only hope is to share in His suffering, to let our old selves die with Him, and to also then share in His new life.

He knows. Even when we forget, He knows.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Mizzou Baseball Joplin Fundraiser

Posted on Twitter by @BlumbergOTB: #Mizzou baseball is setting up a #Joplin fundraiser. Will host Iowa #Hawkeyes at Taylor Stadium Oct. 8th and 9th.

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: What it's all about for MU Baseball

Nothing new here - just a summary of the blizzard of info from the past week or two.

No one knows what's going to happen at this point, and nothing any of us say, predict, fantasize or fear will affect the decisions being made in the offices of university administrators.

But basically, there are two options:
  • The Big 12 survives and thrives by growing: aggressively acquiring new members. This is getting less and less likely (see Big 12?)

  • The Big 12 disintegrates and each school scrambles for a new conference home
Here's a summary (with links) of our information and analysis of each of those possibilities and the options:

Potential new Big 12 members (from a College Baseball point-of-view), ranked from the best baseball programs to the least:
  • Rice: top-tier baseball program, but football and basketball programs unlikely to earn them an invite unless the Big 12 is really desperate.

  • Arkansas: Average RPI ranking of 22nd; unlikely to leave SEC for wounded Big 12

  • TCU: Average RPI ranking of 22nd; has jumped conferences frequently in the past 20 years; currently headed to Big East

  • Notre Dame: Average RPI ranking of 40th; not going to happen

  • Houston: Average RPI ranking of 51st; geographically a good match for Big 12

  • Louisville: Average RPI ranking of 76th, but has been an up-and-comer this decade; built-in historical/regional rivalry with MU

  • Wichita State, Creighton, Tulsa: All pretty successful baseball programs; none will get a sniff of a Big 12 invite

  • BYU: Average RPI ranking of 122nd

  • Pitt: Average RPI ranking 126th; would be another middle-to-bottom dweller in Big 12; geographically makes no sense

  • Air Force: Not a good baseball program, in lower half of RPI rankings nationally

Potential new conference homes for Mizzou
(from a Baseball point-of-view):
  • SEC: One of the elite 4 baseball conference, generally considered #1 overall; Competition level would be somewhat greater top-to-bottom than the Big 12; MU would need to step up recruiting, facilities, competitiveness on all levels; some good regional rivals

  • Pac 16: One of the elite 4 baseball conferences; Competition level fairly equivalent to Big 12; travel costs would be huge playing in the Pac 16, even if OU, OSU, UT and TT are included

  • ACC: The least likely scenario; ACC is one of the elite 4 baseball conferences, comparable competitively to the Big 12; unlikely to come seeking MU, currently very geographically bound to the east coast

  • Big East: Not among the elite 4, but generally better than the Big Ten; makes sense only if the Big East also adds in some other Big 12 schools as well (KU, KSU, BU?)

  • Big "Ten": A decidedly 2nd-tier conference (maybe even 3rd tier) - Recruiting and strength of schedule takes a hit; MU's focus shifts to dominating and winning B1G conference championships and riding that success as far into the post-season as possible

And a side note: What about Kansas?

In the end, unfortunately, NCAA Baseball, along with all the other non-revenue sports, will be only a side note at best in the discussions. Football is the 800 pound gorilla, with Basketball its skinny sidekick.

My best guess on MU's "final" destination?
  • 45% Big Ten
  • 45% SEC
  • 10% Big East

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Cast Your Vote Now

Apparently there a lot of fans, bloggers and even sports "journalists " who think it's up to them to lobby for, stir up excitement for or otherwise determine the outcome of conference realignment. Let's hope the administrators in their academic offices make these decisions in a business-like manner.

♦ Or not . . . If you haven't seen this at the official website of, you ought to take a look. apparently Kenneth Starr (yes, THAT Kenneth Starr), the president of Baylor U, thinks social media tactics are the way to proceed as well. is a "social media campaign started by Mizzou fans to rally support for a move to the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Are we fired up about this? You better believe it!"

♦ Interestingly, if you type in or click on this link,, it reroutes you to somewhere interesting. Apparently the creators of instant websites are fickle.

Mizzou Baseball in the Minors: Kyle Gibson Surgery

Kyle Gibson audio interview on Sirius XM Radio, on the decision to undergo Tommy John surgery.
"You're normally 100% probably 14-15 months out"

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: D-Day for big 12?

A&M domino could fall Wednesday; then tilt-a-whirl really begins (
By Tuesday night, the SEC should know whether it has the required nine presidential votes to extend an invitation to Texas A&M, which sent a conditional withdrawal letter to the Big 12 last week. If the Aggies get the invitation, they will accept and announce as early as Wednesday their intention to join the SEC. Then, things could get wild.
Who's next to jump off the big 12 ship? (Fort Worth Star Telegram)
Adding the three Big 12 schools, linked by adjoining states, would expand the Big East's television footprint into the heartland of the country.

It would also allow Big East commissioner John Marinatto to properly approach the league's television partners about reopening negotiations on the conference's TV contracts, some of which are to expire in November 2012.

After the SEC presidents formally welcome Texas A&M -- expected to happen today -- all eyes, ears, moving vans and T. Boone Pickens accounts will fall upon Oklahoma, as it ponders an expected move to the Pac-12.

With the heart of the Big 12 gutted, that would allow the Big East to follow through on its reported plans to add Kansas, K-State and Mizzou.

The X factor is Missouri.

If the Tigers are an SEC expansion target -- still more a rumor than a possibility -- the Big East would have to replace Missouri in its expansion plans.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Blah Blah Blah

So what should Big 12 schools do? Say no to super conferences (Blog Maverick, the Mark Cuban web blog) He has some very good points:
  • More schools will Not mean more TV money
  • Fans will hate the scheduling impact
  • Say goodbye to Cupcake football games
  • Goodbye geographic rivalry games
  • Big dogs hate becoming little dogs
Big 12 coaches weigh in (
  • Mack Brown, Texas: “We’ll end up where we want to end up, and that’s OK”
  • Gary Pinkel: “I have no control over what’s happening. I’ve been very honest and forthcoming (about) what I’ve said of the Big 12. I’m going to focus on our big game this week against Arizona State.”

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: What about Kansas?

In all the hoopla and hypotheticals and hysteria over the impending doom of conference realignment, one thing that keeps getting shoved to the side is the relationship between Mizzou and Kansas.

The Border War. The Border Showdown. The Border Hoe-Down. Whatever they're calling it these days.

The MU-KU rivalry ranks right up there with the other great sports rivalries. UND-Duke. Michigan-Ohio State. Yankees-Red Sox. Cards-Cubs. Kewpies-Jays. (I threw that last one in for Larry.)

In all this conference realignment talk, some scenarios have KU going with the Pac-16 while MU goes with the SEC or Big Ten. Nobody seems to think the Big Ten or SEC would want Kansas. KU's football program seems to be the drawback to their attractiveness to a potential new conference, even though they have one of the premier basketball draws in the NCAA (as much as it pains me to admit it).

Mizzou fans' reactions to the possibility of MU and KU being split to different conferences have tended to run along two lines, with a minority third:
  • "I hate Kansas! I hope they get left out in the cold!" This is an understandable reaction. MU fans hatred for the Jayhawks can be pretty extreme sometimes. But I think we'd miss having them to around to despise.

  • "We can still schedule plenty of non-conference games with KU!" This is true, although logistically something will get in the way eventually. If the Jayhawk football program doesn't improve, scheduling them as a non-conference game won't help MU's ranking any. And I'm not sure how long the home-ad-away series would continue for basketball. And if you skip one year, the next year it's easier to skip. And so on.

  • "We have to stay with Kansas". I haven't heard this one much. It's surprising to me, since every time you read a mention of what Oklahoma plans to do, there's always another sentence tacked on: And wherever OU goes, they'll take OSU with them. I suppose MU doesn't have the clout of OU to make something like that happen. It certainly makes no sense to risk Mizzou's future by making any deal dependent on letting KU tag along. (Jayhawk fans would be incensed to think they need the Tigers to give them any help in this.)
Of course, here at, we always look at every question from the most important perspective: How will this affect MU Baseball?

Kansas is not currently and doesn't look like its's going to be a big powerhouse in NCAA Baseball. Adding them as a non-conference opponent each year is not going to drag down the RPI, and it's not going to help the RPI much.

But the annual MU-KU match at Kauffman Stadium and the every-other-year home-and away weekend series are both among the best audience draws both teams get each year. Continuing to schedule both of those annual match-ups as non-conference rivals would still be a good idea - much better than another midweek game against SIU-Edwardsville or a weekend series vs. another East Podunk State.

I'd have to put myself somewhere between response 2 and 3 above. Bringing along KU with us to a new conference cannot be a deal breaker. There are ways to maintain that rivalry out of conference. Other rivalries manage to do that (e.g., Notre Dame-USC).

But it would be a shame to not do what we can to keep the rivalry in conference. It adds an extra level of importance to the rivalry, beyond the need to destroy the hated Jayhawks.

Even if we end up in the Baseball Hell of the Big Ten, taking Kansas there with us would make it a little more bearable.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Big Ten?

We've looked at the hopes for a revitalized Big 12 in baseball. We've salivated over the SEC as a viable alternative. We've shrugged at the Pac-16 and dismissed the ACC and Big East out of hand.

Which brings us back to a familiar topic. What if Missouri finally does wind up in the Big Ten.

It certainly could happen. There's no doubt the Big Ten would be a great fit for Missouri in football, basketball and academically.

But I've made no bones about what a fall from heights it would be for Mizzou Baseball to land in the Big Ten. You can re-read my earlier diatribes on the topic if you'd like:

According to those Conference RPI rankings we've been quoting from, the Big Ten has come in at 16th (twice), 14th (3 X), 13th (twice), 12th, 11th and 10th (in '05 and '00) since the turn of the century.

Not only the SEC, Big 12, ACC and Pac-10 have consistently been high above the Big Ten in those rankings, but Conference-USA, Missouri Valley, Big East, Southland, Atlantic Sun, Big West, Mountain West, WAC, Big South and Southern Conferences have bested the Big Ten on more or less a consistent basis.

If you think being in the Big Ten would be cool (and not just because of the temperatures), take a look at Nebraska's recently released 2012 schedule. They've managed to convince the 2011 CWS participant Cal Bears to come to Lincoln in early March (the Bears, who were on the chopping block as a program well into the season, probably were a bit behind in setting up a schedule). And they've managed to convince regional Big 12 rival Kansas State to play three games, and that's good, because KSU may be one of the highest ranked teams they play in 2012 after Cal.

You know me. If MU is playing in the Big Ten for the next many decades, I'll still be there in Section E, Row 4, Seat 1 for as many games as possible.

But it won't be the same. The top-shelf recruits don't want to play in a conference that over-excels if it gets to be ranked 10th in RPI. Even the new recalculated RPI formula won't help the Big Ten become a destination conference for players who see college as a stepping stone to the major leagues. The Big Ten's restrictive rules on over-signing might make some marginal players and their parents happy, but it doesn't do the coaches and recruiters any favors.

If Mizzou makes the move to the Big Ten, I'll reluctantly agree it's a good move for the school. Overall, it would be better for the non-revenue sports than hooking up with the Big East or Pac 12 (travel costs to any of the "coast" conferences would be devastating for the Olympic sports).

And then I'll drop my head into my hands and mourn the passing of the long and storied history of Missouri Tigers Baseball in the Big 6, Big 7, Big 8 and Big 12.

The Big 12 receives its last rites (Columbia Tribune)
If that happens, the best-case scenario for Missouri would be if Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany decides the era of 16-team super conferences is here and he doesn’t want to wait until only the dregs of the expansion pool remain. If MU could emerge from this mess as a member of the Big Ten — the conference it wanted to join all along — it would be overjoyed. The Big Ten is a stable Midwestern league with great academics and an athletic competition level that suits Missouri fine. The main drawback of the Big Ten is the potential hit MU would take recruiting the state of Texas.
What's next for Mizzou and Big 12? (St. Louis Post Dispatch)
Whether Mizzou actually had something to go on or was just batting its eyes for a possible offer from the Big Ten last spring and summer may never be known. But two aspects of the dance still resonate:

MU believed it was a fit in the Big Ten, academically, athletically and culturally; the Big Ten didn't see it as an overwhelming case and took Nebraska.

And that was at a time the Big Ten had openly expressed it was studying expansion. Now it gives every indication it is content as is and not moved to react to SEC expansion.

Between that public stance and the way the Big Ten jilted MU last year, the Big Ten seems more a distant hope than a plausible landing place for Missouri in the near future. But does the Big Ten reconsider its stance as the musical chairs get going and view Mizzou differently?

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: ACC? Big East?

The ACC is other member of the consistent top-4 elite baseball conferences (along with SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12).

But if joining a Pacific Coast 16 conference seems far fetched and an ill fit, what about the Atlantic Coast Conference?

Missouri is no more an Atlantic coast state than it is a Pacific coast state, and the ACC actually is made up entirely of schools that are located along the Atlantic seaboard, stretching from Boston College to Miami. If the ACC wants to expand to the Super-Conference level of 16 (they currently number 12), they're going to have to move inward to find some of their candidates.

It seems more likely, though, that most of their targets would be teams in the somewhat unstable Big East, or independent schools in the area.

Adding Missouri would be a stretch far beyond their current or even potential footprint. Not a good match for either the ACC or for MU.

The Big East has been stretching the definition of "east" in recent years, topped off by their newest member, Texas Christian University. Adding Missouri as another farther west school wouldn't be out of the question for them.

But two things count against the Big East as a viable suitor for Mizzou.

First, The Big East is an odd patched together set of schools all focused in different directions. Several of their schools don't really pay much attention to football, preferring to be basketball schools. Because of this instability, the Big East is more likely to find themselves being the target of poaching by other conferences wanting to expand to Super-Conference level. The SEC will be looking at some of those Big East schools to add to their East Division. The Big Ten will will be doing the same. And the ACC, as noted above, will be doing their own cherry-picking.

And that's just as well. The Big East is no place for MU football. And The Big East is a hit-and-miss baseball conference, with some movers and shakers like TCU and Louisville. But the Tigers might as well be in the Big Ten or Missouri Valley as far as baseball goes.

♦ The far-flung ACC and Big East have little to offer a Midwestern school other than BCS status and an outrageous increase in travel costs. (Columbia Tribune)

Mizzou Baseball in the Majors: Max Effectiveness

Max Scherzer sees results from mechanical correction (Detroit News)
The Tigers right-hander knew what went wrong during last week's abominable start against the Kansas City Royals. And during a couple of bullpen sessions last week, he fixed things, which was evident during Sunday's 18-2 Tigers trouncing of the White Sox at Comerica Park.

"My head was too still — I wasn't finishing pitches," said Scherzer, who ran his record to 14-8 and whose ERA sank to 4.33 following his seven-inning, five-hit, no-runs effort Sunday.

The mechanic gremlins had to do with Scherzer's body flying open during his pitching delivery. He would attempt to correct his wayward torso and legs by keeping his alignment more intact, which led to his head becoming rigid, which in turn prevented him from finishing pitches that sailed rather than stayed on path.
. . .
"If hitting is supposed to be the most difficult thing to do in sports," he said, reciting the old Ted Williams line, "pitching is the most complex."

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: Pac 12?

Is the Big 12 falling apart? If so, whither Mizzou? We've looked at the SEC as the best option for MU Baseball. Next we look at the Pac 12.

The Pac 10, now 12, has been among the top 4 of D-1 baseball for a decade and more.

The Pac 10 expanded a bit eastward beginning this season with the addition of former Big 12 member Colorado (a non-participant in baseball) and Utah.

If the Big 12 crumbles, the PAC is likely to reach out and try to extend their reach even farther eastward. Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have all been rumored as possible targets.

And occasionally Missouri's name comes up in that list as well.

In reality, the two gems in that list that the Pac 12 would aim for first would be be Texas Oklahoma, both football powers. Once one or the other of those schools were to accept membership, then the remaining two slots to fill the 16-team Super-Conference roster would duke it out for Pac 16 attention.

It seems unlikely to me that Missouri, the most eastern of all those schools, would be near the top of the Pac's list. The travel distances even within a potential Pac-16 Western Division would be long.

A potential Missouri-included Pac-16 East might include:
  • Mizzou
  • Oklahoma
  • Oklahoma State
  • Texas Tech
  • Colorado (no baseball)
  • Arizona
  • Arizona State
  • Utah
From Missouri to Utah is a trip of 1,200 miles. To Arizona is about 1,350 miles. Those trips make the Columbia-Lubbock trip (800 miles) seem like a walk down the road.

While the Pac-16 would be a highly competitive conference in baseball, there are no new natural rivals in that list, beyond the current Big 12 rivals in OU, OSU and TT.

While there are worse conferences Mizzou Baseball could find themselves in, the PAC seems a bad fit for the Midwest Tigers.

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: SEC?

According to the BoydsWorldcom conference RPIs for the past 15 years, the SEC has led all conferences in RPI more than any any other conference. Some statisticians dispute that dominance, saying the RPI formula has been skewed to favor the SEC (or perhaps, the SEC has skewed their non-conference scheduled to take advantage of the formula).

Either way, the SEC has consistently been one of the best 1 or 2 conferences in D-1 baseball for the past decade and more.

Assuming Texas A&M's attempt to jump to the SEC becomes a reality, the general consensus seems to be that the SEC will not be interested in moving from 12 to 13 teams without immediately going for a 14th, and possibly moving ahead to the Super-Conference level of 16 teams. And the same general wisdom says they'll be wanting to add another team on the western edge of the SEC and then a pair of teams on the eastern or northeastern edge.

Missouri has been the western team named most often in that scenario. That could make MU a member of the SEC-West, which would include Missouri, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Louisiana State, Mississippi State, and Mississippi.

There are several natural rivalries and established head-to-head histories in that list for Mizzou:
  • MU vs. Texas A&M, as former Big 12 members, they've built a history of close competition

  • MU vs. Arkansas would be a natural border-state rivalry. The two have a 2-game mid-week series scheduled for May 2012.

  • MU vs. Auburn. The Tigers and Tigers played in 2011 and are scheduled for a 3-game series to open the 2012 season.

  • MU vs. Mississippi State. Former Mizzou Assistant Coach John Cohen is now the Head Coach at Mississippi State.

  • MU vs. Mississippi. Old Mizzou and Ole Miss have met in NCAA Regionals more than once in the past decade.
The SEC would be a challenging conference to compete in. Tim Jamieson and company would have to be at the top of their game to compete with these teams. But that's been true for years in the Big 12, matching up weekend after weekend against a Big 12 slate that has been getting better and better top-to-bottom.

The cachet of being an SEC member would be attractive to top-level recruits who want to play in the high-visibility SEC, but don't want to spend 3 years in the Deep South. I know of at least one top recruit from the past decade who turned down offers from the SEC and instead chose Mizzou and the Big 12 because of that very reason.

If the Big 12 crumbles, the SEC would be the best option for Mizzou Baseball. It would be one of the two most logical geographic choices for MU athletics overall - the other being the Big Ten (which we'll talk about in another post).

♦ "If the Big Ten is content to stay at 12 schools, the SEC would be the next best option based on geography and television revenue, but it is a downgrade academically and too much of an upgrade competitively." (Columbia Daily Tribune)

What's next for Mizzou and Big 12? (St. Louis Post Dispatch)
Missouri touches three SEC states and would add nice markets in St. Louis and Kansas City for TV purposes.
But despite stray conjectures by some that the SEC wants Mizzou or vice versa, there is little to support the connection. A person familiar with conference expansion talks said MU has hardly been mentioned by the SEC.
. . .
Moreover, as much as the SEC has endeavored to clean itself up, the Cam Newton saga at Auburn last year is a reminder of a renegade mind-set that still seems to persist around the conference. Either you change the conference, or you get changed to fit in. Which seems more feasible?

And while academics may ultimately be overrun by athletics in the scramble for a conference home, Mizzou has trumpeted its American Association of University membership in the context of the Big Ten — each member of which a year ago was in the AAU. (Nebraska since has been banished). The Big 12 has five AAU schools, the SEC two.