Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Southern Exposure: SEC Fans

For Gamecock Nation, attention is already turning to baseball (independentmail.com)
It’s probably a good thing that the South Carolina basketball team played on the road this past weekend.

Attendance has already been abysmal this season, and it would’ve had to compete for attention with a baseball scrimmage.

That’s right, a baseball scrimmage.

The first weekend of practice for the back-to-back national champion Gamecocks began with stellar crowds. There were reports of over 2,000 fans showing up for Saturday’s 6-inning scrimmage. Plenty of fans were there Friday and Sunday as well.
MSU announces new baseball support group for students, The Dudes (reflector-online.com)
The Mississippi State baseball program is launching a new student support group for the upcoming season to get students involved with athletics. 
Head baseball coach John Cohen said he is excited about the opportunity to have a student support group.

"We have had interest on campus in creating a student-oriented baseball support group," Cohen said. "Essentially it's centered on the availability of chair-back seating and a unified, cohesive student fan group."

Incentives for members include free jersey-replica T-shirts, premier seating at home baseball games and the opportunity to be part of a strong athletic organization, as well as many other advantages.
. . .
In addition, members of the fan group can earn more gear the more frequently they attend games. Rhett Hobart, Student Assoication President, said The Dudes will be linked to the revamped Bulldog Coalition.

"It's going to be in partnership with our new Bulldog Coalition system so students will be able to keep track on what games they go to," Hobart said. "We can track how many games you go to, and once you scan in people get more points along the way and earn more prizes."

Also read The Dudes are Coming (scout.com)

SimmonsField Photo: Hi Jinks

John "Hi" Simmons statue w/ addition

Monday, January 30, 2012

Top 9 Suggestions for Taylor Stadium Upgrade

Missouri associate athletic director Tim Hickman has been talking to just about everyone about Mizzou's plans to pursue some major facilities upgrades over the next few years. On KFRU's "The Closers" the other day, he specified that the short-term focus would be on football, baseball, softball, tennis and golf.

He didn't go into detail about the plans for Taylor Stadium. I'm guessing we'll probably learn more about those plans at the First Pitch Celebration on February 4th.

Here at SimmonsField.com, we have a few ideas. If we're going to dream, lets dream big: Top 9 Suggestions for Taylor Stadium Upgrade
  1. Summit Ski Lift  The little golf carts are OK - when they're running - but most folks end up walking up the hill from Reactor Field to the ballpark.  That's a great workout for the ballplayers, but its a lot to ask of a chubby fan.  An escalator would be cook, but impractical in inclement weather.  And the MU Physics department hasn't invented the Star Trek transporter yet.  So a ski lift seems the best option for getting up that hill to the ballpark on those wintry days in March.

  2. Retractable Dome   Die-hard fans like me take a perverse pleasure in gutting out those frigid double headers in March.  But I could also enjoy NOT freezing at the cold ball game.

  3. Devine Pavilion Roof Bleachers   Sell some cheap seat tickets for the roof top view.  Seat belts would be installed to keep the wind from picking up fans and blowing them all the way to the Jesse Hall dome.

  4. The Superfan Stand   Let's put a crow's nest a few yards above the 3rd base camera deck so everyone's favorite cheerleader/heckler, Larry Wyatt, can be seen and heard by everyone.

  5. Squeeze Play   Back in the 90's there was a handful of musicians from Marching Mizzou who sat in the upper deck and played songs between innings.  Let's build a special section for a resurrected (and compensated) spirit band to entertain the crowds.

  6. Norm's   Let's get the folks at the MU Hotel and Restaurant Management department to put their creativity at work and run a great ballpark eating establishment, maybe on a raised deck just past the left-center wall.  Name it after the first Tiger to pitch a no-hitter, and serve the kind of food that makes people want to come out the ballpark just so they can eat at Norm's.

  7. Bright Lights   Coaches and players from places like Texas Tech and Texas have complained over the years about the poor lighting at Taylor Stadium.  We like to laugh at them when they blame their losses on the lights.  But seriously, the lights could be better.  Sometimes the night field looks like it's being lit by a bunch of cheap energy efficient compact ice cream cone-style fluorescent light bulbs.

  8. Build MU Softball a New Stadium   Tim Hickman has mentioned that one option for a softball upgrade is to build a new stadium somewhere else.  I say let's go ahead and find a new footprint for #TremendousStubble Stadium (Ehren Earlywine is partial to Reactor Field) and put a parking garage where University Field sits now.  It could provide hundreds of parking spots for baseball fans.  Of course, if they were to put it on one of the highest points in CoMo and build it as tall as that new monstrosity downtown, it would might be visible from several of our new SEC rivals' home ballparks. .

  9. New Backstop Netting   It's past time to get rid of the current netting, which looks like a geriatric hooker's fishnet stockings.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tribune practice report

MU pitchers impress teammates as practice starts (Columbia Tribune)
“We can’t really say enough about our staff,” Mach said after Missouri’s first full practice yesterday on Simmons Field. “That’s what everyone’s kind of talking about in the locker room, all the position guys. We don’t tell the pitchers, but we’re like, ‘That dude looks good.’ It’s not just one or two guys, either. It’s the majority of the staff.”
. . .
Read more HERE

Friday, January 27, 2012

2012 Mizzou Recruit: RHP Devin Williams

Devin Williams, RHP/OF
6'3", 165 lb, R/R
Hazelwood West HS

@stlpirates (Brian Delunas) on twitter: Devin Williams (2013 RHP), No. 2 player in MO and No. 273 overall by @PerfectGameUSA has verbally committed to the University of Missouri. (1/27/2012)

PerfectGame profile:   Best Fastball:  88 MPH

No additional info available at this time

USA Today/ ESPN Pre-Season Top 25 Coaches Poll

Mizzou is not ranked in the USA Today/ ESPN Pre-Season Top 25 Coaches Poll.

On first glance, I thought I saw Missouri listed in the "also receiving votes" list,but it turned out to be Missouri State.  My brain hasn't been functioning well this week.

Four of MU's 2012 opponents made the cut for the top 25:
#5 Texas
#6 Texas A&M
#8 Arkansas
#15 Oklahoma

Simmons Field Photo: 3 Weeks to Opening Day


FAQ: What to do, where to eat in Columbia

Where is a Good Place to Eat in Columbia?

A typical college town, Columbia has no shortage of places to eat. I've tried to provide a list of those places that are unique to Columbia. I've also marked (**) those places that I recommend for the ultimate Tiger-town experience.

I have purposely left out the dozens of franchise restaurants and fast-food places, as well as the places I've never been to because they cost more than I want to spend on a plate of food.

If you want a more complete list of places to eat, check out the VisitColumbiaMo.com Restaurant Guide

If you want a more entertaining list of places to eat and drink, check out the RockMNation Guide to Columbia

On Campus/Downtown

Stadium Grill
A couple of dozen of different kinds of burgers. Very close to the stadiums/arenas
1219 Fellows Place

Bambino's Italian Cafe
Good pasta, plus music on some evenings
Bambinos has MOVED to 929 E. Broadway (corner of 10th and Broadway).

Booches is a Columbia tradition going back to the early 20th century; basically a pool hall, but they serve the best cheeseburgers anywhere (listed among the best burgers in America by USA Today). After your lunch, explore the rest of what 9th Street has to offer, including three bookstores, two Mizzou clothing & accessories shops, a baseball card shop, Lakota Coffee, and more.
110 S. 9th

Boone Tavern
Where the movers and shakers meet to eat and eat to meet
811 E. Walnut

Columbia's most well-known sports bar
29 S. 10th

Broadway Diner
Not on Broadway anymore, but still close. An old fashioned greasy spoon -- stop by for "breakfast" any time and order "The Stretch"
22 S. 4th

Shakespeare's Pizza
If you visit no other Columbia eatery when in town, visit Shakespeare's for their famous pizza pie.
225 S. 9th
Also now at Shakespeare's West, 3304 Broadway Business Park Court

Pasta Factory
Another great local pasta place.  It has moved from its downtown location to 3103 W. Broadway, near the Wal-mart and HyVee in west CoMo

The Heidelberg
A popular gathering place for MU students and alumni since the early 60's. The 'Berg burned down in August of 2003, but it has been rebuilt and remodeled and is back in business.
410 S. 9th St.

Flat Branch Pub & Brewery
Local micro-brewery and pub
115 S. 5th St.

Upscale "urban Americana" restaurant.
709 Cherry St.

CC's City Broiler
Reportedly the best steak in town. i wouldn't know, since it's out of my price range.
131 S. 10th St.

Ernie's Steak House
Long-standing downtown eatery; many locals stop here for breakfast
1005 Walnut St.

Lakota Coffee House
Great local coffee house with a wide ranging selection
24 S. 9th St.

Bangkok Gardens
Thai food, unique restaurant
811 Cherry St (recently moved to this location)

Columbia Mall area

G&D Pizza & Steak House
One of several Greek steak & pizza places in Columbia. Best waitresses in Columbia.
Crossroads West Shopping Center
Broadway & Stadium Blvd.

Southern Columbia

Chris McD's
American cuisine with French and Asian influences
1400 Forum Blvd (Forum Shopping Center)

Jazz nightclub
3107 Green Meadows Way

Fine Southern European cuisine
3915 S. Providence

D. Rowe's
Restaurant and bar owned and operated by a former MU football player. Best waffle fries in town. and I hear they have a great Reuben sandwich as well.
1005 Club Village
Near Forum & Nifong, behind Walgreen's

Cooper's Landing
WAY south of Simmons Field, down on the Missouri River, but worth the trip. check out the website for all the details.
11505 S. Easley River Rd.

Rocheport(approx. 10 miles west of Columbia)

Les Bourgeois Vineyard & Bistro
Bluff-top dining
Rocheport, MO

More ideas for eating and meeting:

The Skinny on CoMo's Barbecue
Great article on the many great BBQ places in Columbia
Vox Magazine, 10/2/2008

Tailgate food

Friday and Saturday games often draw tailgaters to the parking lots around Simmons Field.

Hoss' Market
1010A Club Village Drive
(Corner of Nifong and Forum Blvd. - west of Walgreen's)
Hoss's has become the place to go for gourmet carry-out and tail-gate food.

Some downtown venues unique to Columbia

The Blue Note
The best place to find good music.
17 N. 9th St.

Another great music venue - blues, jazz, rock, etc.
1013 Park Avenue

Rag-Tag Cinemacafe
Order a beer and watch the best of independent film-making and the occasional big hit that the major theaters haven't discovered yet.

Working it off

After you've enjoyed the great dining in Columbia, head down to the MKT Trail and run off those extra pounds.

What's going on?

To find out what bands are in town, and what special events may be taking place, check out VOX
Weekly entertainment magazine of the Columbia Missourian

FAQ: Seating Chart

Seat Identification:

Each Reserved Seat is identified by the Section, Row, and Seat Number. (General admission areas are not assigned section, row, or seat numbers)

- Sections: A through G

- Rows are numbered beginning with Row 1 closest to the field. Sections B through F have 6 rows. Sections A and G have 4 rows (numbered 3 through 6). Row 6 in each section is above the main Reserved Seating area, at the front of the walkway.

- Seats are numbered beginning with Seat #1 in each section, on the first base end of each section.

The floor plans used for the creation of the Seating Chart were provided by the MU Space Planning and Management office, with special assistance by Mark C. Meade, C.A.,
Engineering Records Coordinator .

FAQ: Going to the Game

Sports Park at Mizzou

How do I get to Simmons Field?

Three ways to go:

1) Take the Stadium Blvd. Exit off I-70, head south on Stadium Blvd. for about 4 miles to Providence Road. Turn right (south) on Providence. Less than 1 block later, turn right on Carrie Francke Drive (directly across from the football stadium). Simmons Field/Taylor Stadium is at the top of the hill

2) Take the Providence Road Exit off I-70, head south on Providence Road about 3 miles. Less than 1 block past the Stadium Blvd intersection, turn right on  Carrie Francke Drive (directly across from the football stadium). Simmons Field/Taylor Stadium is at the top of the hill.

3) Take the Highway 63 Exit off I-70, follow Hwy 63 South (see Hwy 63 directions, next); Take the Stadium Blvd Exit, head west on Stadium Blvd about 2.5 miles. Turn left (south) at Providence Road. Less than 1 block later, turn right on Research Park Drive (directly across from the football stadium). Simmons Field/Taylor Stadium is at the top of the hill.

Where can I park at Simmons Field?

The parking lot closest to the ballpark, at the top of the hill, is NOT OPEN to athletic event parking between 8 AM and 5 PM. Your car will very likely be towed if you do not follow this restriction. After 5:00, fans may use that lot.

The paved lot just to the south of that lot (still at the top of the hill) IS OPEN to athletic event parking at ALL HOURS.  However, for many baseball games, that lot is reserved for staff and others with special passes.

A gravel lot running along the south of the Walton Soccer/Track Stadium is also open to baseball parking.

Parking will probably not be allowed on the side of the road leading down the hill.

There are parking lots at the bottom of the hill, south of the ballpark, that are also available for athletic event parking. Occasionally a golf cart, driven by a crazed Event Staff employee, will be available to give weary fans a lift up the Summit.

Also, there is a walkway over Providence Road, connecting the Faurot Field football parking area with Simmons Field. When other events do not conflict, parking may be available there.

Where SHOULD I park?

As any college baseball fan knows, foul balls are drawn by a mysterious scientific force to the windows of cars parked in stadium parking lots. Therefore, if you park in one of the lots at the top of the hill, the safest spot is farthest away from the ballpark, or behind some Jayhawk's van.

Where should I sit at Simmons Field?

Anywhere you want. Seriously, people move all over the place. Even the people with reserved seats sit wherever they feel like. The only exception is on those occasions when there is a packed house, when you might not be able to sit in someone's reserved seat.

The fans of the visiting team generally sit along the 1st base line, above the visitors' dugout. But they are generally free to sit wherever they want. They usually don't stay sitting in front of me for very long, though, unless they wear ear plugs (or ear muffs, given the weather at Simmons Field).

It doesn't take long upon your first to Simmons Field to figure out where the bad sight lines are. Some people choose to sit in the bleachers higher up in the stands, to put some distance between their eyes and the black netting of the backstop. Personally, the netting doesn't bother me. I sit in the fourth row up from the backstop and enjoy the view just find.

There is also a covered pavilion along the third base line, where some people enjoying watching the game from a different perspective. There are only a few benches and picnic tables there, but some people bring in their own seating.

There is no outfield seating at Simmons Field.

Simmons Field Weather

That nice spring-like weather you felt when you walked out of lunch does not mean you should show up in shorts and a T-shirt.

The general wisdom among regular fans of MU Baseball is that it is always 10 degrees colder at Simmons Field than anywhere else in Columbia.

Some days you can literally feel the drop in the temperature as you climb the stairs from the ballpark entrance to the stands.

It's a good idea, therefore, to dress warmer than you think you logically ought to. Think layers. After all, you're going to spend most of the time sitting in one spot, not moving around generating body heat.

What can I take into the ballpark?

I regularly walk into Taylor Stadium with a medium-sized duffel bag or backpack. The Event Staff has gotten more diligent in the past couple of years about searching for food and drink. But there are ways.

If you try to walk into the ballpark with visible food, the Event Staff will almost certainly not let you take it in.

Alcoholic beverages are NOT allowed into Simmons Field.

Is there food available at the ballpark?

Of course there is. The concession stand is operated by campus concessionaires, the same people who manage food sales for all MU athletic events.

The menu is pretty tame, nothing to knock your socks off, but it is typical ballpark food.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

SEC Dixie-nary: I is for Index

is for Atmosphere

is for Ballparks

is for College World Series

is for Dixie

is for Quick Facts

is for Ruleboook

is also for Recruiting

 is for SEC Tournament

is for TV

is for Umpires

 is for Versus

 is for Weather

is for X-Files

 is for YouTube

is for Zero

SEC Dixie-nary: SEC is for ...

“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.” (Columbia Daily Tribune, 11/18/2011)

Coach Jamieson is obviously approaching the move to the SEC with a great attitude.  But the question remains:  What will it take to successfully "step up" to the SEC?

is for Simmons Field

3,630 fans at Simmons Field
2007 Regional
We've taken a look at the incredible game day atmosphere at many of the SEC ballparks, and at the huge crowd that come to see college baseball at stadiums that hold 5,000, 6,000, even 10,000 fans.

Surely the fans from those schools will laugh out loud when they see Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium, won't they?  A ballpark that holds a mere three thousand fans?  That will most likely have somewhere between 600 and 2,000 fans?  (MU's largest home crowd in 2011 was 1,176;  the average 2011 crowd was 476).

Well, yes they might.  I would if I were them.
@Ranger222 on Twitter: #SEC Baseball smack! LSU BASE vs. UF (3/18/11) 12,076; Mizzou Total 2011 Home attendance 13,344”
But we can do better.

The fans of Mizzou Baseball can spread the word and show up for the games.  Take as much  pride in supporting the team on a brisk day in mid-March as we do in supporting the football team on a chilly Saturday in November.  Savor the sunshine on those great spring afternoons.

The promotions staff in the athletic department needs to get serious and get creative about attracting not only the people of Columbia but the MU student body to the games.  Football and basketball are marketed like big events and are surrounded with an atmosphere of excitement.

The Athletic Department could learn from some of those SEC ADs, who learned from the Minor Leagues.  Going to the ballpark needs to offer more than just good baseball.  That's good enough for the hardcore fans like me.  But to really attract the attention of the students and to pull in the families from the area, there's got to be a party going on at the ballpark.

People are more than willing to sit in the autumn cold at Faurot Field to watch a football game, because it's an exciting experience, beyond the game itself.  A football game offers cheerleaders, Marching Mizzou, a big drum and a cannon, entertainment on the giant screens, and Truman the Tiger.   Not all of those will translate to the baseball field, but there are other things that can be offered to the modern baseball fan.  People need to be given a reason to endure the cold of March and the dreariness of April for the sake of being a part of the experience that is Mizzou Baseball.

That excitement factor regarding Simmons Field can start with the team.  I know the job of the coaches and the players is to put a quality product on the field, to play the game well, to win.  But they can also have an effect on the crowd and on the stadium atmosphere, too.

When a team lays claim to a stadium as their home turf, they will fight for it, defend it and be fiercely loyal to it.  Their devotion to their "house" will be contagious.  The fans in the stands will pick up on it and become fiercely (and noisily) loyal to their home turf as well.

Call it Taylor Stadium or Simmons Field.  Or Johnny Hi.  But call it home.

There's a huge Under Armour sign on the west face of the Devine Pavilion, visible just past the right field wall of Taylor Stadium.  The slogan on that sign should be the pledge and oath and rallying cry of both the Tigers and the Tiger faithful:
   Protect This House
Once the fans and the students are showing up in ever-increasing numbers, the pressure will be on to expand and upgrade the capacity and amenities at Taylor Stadium.  I don't expect Mizzou will ever need a 10,000 seat baseball stadium.  But Taylor Stadium could be increased to five or six thousand.  With luxury boxes and expanded concession selections and whatever else it takes to put fans in the seats.  Plus whatever facilities are needed to knock the socks off prospective recruits when they come to visit.

There's no place I'd rather be than at Simmons Field.  It shouldn't be too difficult to make it the destination of choice for other Tiger fans as well.

is for Edge
#22 Ian Kinsler has the EDGE

What is it that gives a player or a team an EDGE over the competition?
The eighth week of SEC baseball brought a sole team to the top of the conference standings. Vanderbilt gained a one-game advantage in the rankings thanks to series losses from South Carolina and Florida, giving the 'Dores a slight edge for the regular season crown with just two weeks left to play. All three teams will face struggles this week, as Florida will travel to Nashville to face Vandy in one of the season's most highly anticipated showdowns. The Gamecocks will have their own test, as a surging Arkansas - who just defeated Florida in a series last week - travels to Columbia. (anchorofGold.com, 5/11/11)
Losses by other teams can certainly give a team an EDGE, but you'd better have more going on for yourself than just sitting around hoping someone else loses.

One definition of EDGE is to have a mental EDGE, an unrelenting sharpness of the team's focus and determination to execute and attack.  Lose that, and you'll lose games.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said he called off the dogs a bit when the Tigers were leading 10-1 Friday night, and his squad was never able to turn it back on for the rest of the series. 
“Our guys stopped swinging the bats with aggressiveness. They just kind of lost their edge,” said Mainieri. “The guys just kind of lost their intensity, I think, because we weren’t pushing forward, and we just never got it back the whole weekend.” (TigerRag.com, 5/10/11)
Sometimes it doesn't take much of an EDGE.  A win by a single run is as good as a blow-out win.  A record with one more win than the second place team still means you're in first place.  For now.
Last year, the Gators traveled to Columbia, S.C., on the final weekend of the regular season and won two of three to edge the Gamecocks for the SEC title.
"But they got the last laugh," said Florida catcher and SEC player of the year Mike Zunino. "They got to hold the national championship trophy up." (NewsObserver.com, 6/27/11)
Too often, though, baseball coaches, players and fans respond to being on the downside of the EDGE by chalking it up to luck.  "That's just baseball."

And that is true.  There's always luck.  But teams who have a real EDGE find a way to turn the luck in their direction more often than not.

The EDGE doesn't come by accident.  You can't just show up at game time and hope your team has the EDGE tonight.  You can't just send your pitcher to the mound and hope he has his EDGE.

The EDGE doesn't come from TRYING to gain the EDGE.  The EDGE comes through TRAINING for the EDGE.

♦ Train for the EDGE by training to EXECUTE

Skip Bertman, legendary coach at LSU, wrote:
"The System" that we use at LSU focuses on playing high-percentage baseball in the most efficient manner possible.  You want your team to have more ways to win a game than your opponent.  It's just that simple.  Every time we play, I want our players to statistically have a better chance to win.  If we do this consistently every pitch, every out, every inning and every game, we'll obviously have a better chance at winning.  Assuming both teams have an equal talent, I would still want an "edge" for my team.  Our system works to find that statistical edge. (Skip: The Man and the System, Victory Publishing, 1992)
Eric Sorenson, CollegeBaseballToday, wrote this at the end of the 2011 College World Series, which came down to a final series between South Carolina and Florida, a pair of SEC teams:
"I really dig how bunting, defense and execution had such an impact this year. Simplify man. Simplify."    
John Cohen, Mississippi State Head Coach, talks about training for precision on findyourbestswing.com:
"There's a lot of hitting philosophy out there. Precision is what gets the job done, though. Let's take a look at the battle between a pitcher and a hitter to illustrate this point. A pitcher is trying to load up his energy and deliver it to a precise target. The hitter is trying to do the same thing - load up his energy and release it right back up the middle. The pitcher's job is to disrupt the hitters flow of energy with either pitch placement or by changing speeds. Take a curve ball - the curve ball reaches its apex and most hitters will follow the pitch up and their flow of energy is up instead of straight back toward the pitcher. Have you ever seen a hitter miss underneath a curve ball? Hardly, they miss above it and the pitcher has accomplished his goal of disrupting the hitters energy. Philosophy says stay back to hit the curve ball. Precision says work beneath the plane of the breaking ball." 
♦ Train for the EDGE by training for MENTAL TOUGHNESS
“Get it (the game) down to one inning, pitch by pitch, play by play. A winner or loser on every pitch. Now it’s about who is mentally the toughest.” (Augie Garrido, Head Baseball Coach, Texas)
Is there any team in the country with better leadership or greater mental toughness than the Gamecocks? I doubt it. The team chemistry is off the charts, and veterans like Scott Wingo, Adrian Morales and Michael Roth provide exemplary leadership by keeping everybody loose with their antics. We saw the 'refuse to lose' mentality on several occasions this season, especially when they faced crucial rubber games at Florida and against Vanderbilt. By winning those games, USC delivered a clear message - we're still the defending national champions. (GamecockCentral.com, 5/23/11)
♦ Train for the EDGE by training to FINISH WELL
USC was 6-1 in rubber games this season, including 3-1 on the road. They swept three series (UK, at UT, Aub), but the outcome of seven series boiled down to Game 3 and the Gamecocks usually came through in the clutch. It started in March when USC followed a rubber game win over Georgia at home with a memorable 4-3 victory at Florida the following weekend over the No. 1 ranked Gators. Another celebrated Game 3 occurred April 17 when the Gamecocks beat No. 1 Vanderbilt, 5-3, at Carolina Stadium. One week later, they smashed Miss. State, 13-4, in the rubber game, jumpstarting a five-game conference winning streak. (10 Reasons USC won the SEC Titlte, GamecockCentral.com, 5/23/11)
The Cal Bears 2011 season exemplifies what it means to Never Give Up, as told by Eric Sorenson in From Six-Feet Under to One of Eight Teams Left (collegebaseballtoday.com, 6/12/11):
When I walked into Cal coach Dave Esquer’s office back in October to interview him about the impending demise of his program, he was all dressed out in his usual game-day uniform and immediately talked about never giving up. 
His team and his program were staring down at the final season of their existence and worrying about where they were going to play baseball the following season, but there Coach was, in his full game togs, talking about his team never quitting all fall long, not on the practice field, not on their hopes and not on each other. 
Cal celebrates making it to Omaha
“I’ve not seen a single hint of them quitting or getting discouraged despite everything that’s going on around them,” coach said at the time. “None.” 
Fast forward to the first weekend in June. That same never-quit mantra manifested itself in the ultimate payoff every coach wants to see: Omaha. 
Late on Sunday night, the Bears took down Dallas Baptist for the second straight time, by a 6-2 score, holding a potent Pats offense which came in hitting .311 to just four hits in all. That defensive/pitching clampdown led to an improbable celebration that no Cal baseball fan could’ve seen coming for this team this season. 
“To take this team this far is so gratifying.” Coach Dave Esquer said. “Before our first practice we learned that our program was being discontinued. So we gave our players the option, if they to skip practice and needed a day or two to collect their thoughts and talk to their parents then they could. But to a man, they all said ‘We’re practicing today.’ So they weren’t going to back away one inch from being with their teammates and doing what they do.” 
“I remember as a coaching staff we looked at each other and said, ‘We’ve got a different team here.’” 
That no-quit attitude has never subsided. Not through months of anguish, hints of reinstatement and promises of vanquishment again. Finally, in early April, the program got a boost when it was permanently brought back from lame-duck status.
South Carolina Head Coach Ray Tanner sums up what it takes to gain that EDGE:
One word- INVEST. If you want to get better, you have to invest. You have to put in the time that’s necessary to make it to that next level. Is that a guarantee that you will get a good return on your investment? No, but the guarantee is that if you don’t invest it’s not going to happen. That’s almost a definite. You can’t just say, I want to do this or I want to accomplish that. You actually have to live it. You have to show it. And if you do invest, than just maybe it comes to pass, but if it doesn’t work out, at least at the end of the day you can look yourself in the mirror and say, “You know what- I did the best I could.” (nextlevelballplayer.com)
Mizzou Baseball can be that kind of team that gains an EDGE in the SEC.  Tim Jamieson can be that kind of coach.  Conner Mach and Eric Anderson and Rob Zastryzny and Blake Holovach and every other player on the roster can be that kind of player.

is for Challenge
All the talk has been about what a challenge Mizzou faces playing against SEC competition.

@KendallRogersPG on Twitter: Joining the #sec gives the baseball program more challenges than it even had before. Not sure coach Jamieson should like this move. #mizzou

@BallPhid on Twitter: Mizzou joins SEC East baseball meat-grinder. Raises recruiting stakes. Jamison's 2 new Assts have big job

And that is no doubt true.

But the true challenge is for Mizzou Baseball to step up to the new level of competition.

Mizzou recruit Griffin Goodrich seems to be eager for the challenge:
"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."
Goodrich also is looking forward to the move as a sports fan. 
"Being an athlete, it will be great to play against great competition," he said. "But also being a student, to go watch those games. To come see Kentucky or Florida come to Mizzou for basketball, those are the top teams in the nation. Come see Alabama (football) take a visit to Columbia. That would be awesome to see. You're seeing the top teams in the country. It will be a great experience to watch and be a part of as well." (stltoday.com)

The only way for the Tigers to be a success against the SEC is to Bring the Challenge to our new opponents.  Challenge them to play up to Mizzou's level.  Challenge them on every pitch, every at-bat, every play.

Tim Jamieson and his team need to put the SEC on notice that the biggest challenge they'll face every season is to do battle with the Tigers of Mizzou.

Just as the Tigers need to make the small step up to compete in the SEC, the converse is also true"
“We've gotten better, but as I reminded the team there is just a few steps between the outhouse and the penthouse. You've got to play with heightened awareness all the time.” (Ray Tanner, Head Coach, CWS Champion South Carolina Gamecocks)
Only a few steps.

Perhaps the question should be this:
Is the rest of the SEC up to the Challenge?

To read the rest of our SEC Dixie-nary posts, click HERE

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Taylor Stadium PA Announcer

♦ Congratulations to Sedalia Bombers announcer James Abey on being named the new voice of Missouri Tiger Baseball. (@SedaliaBombers on Twitter)
James Abey (aka Jim Shorts) on the air
James Abey (@jimshorts923 on twitter) is a radio personality on 92.3 BOB FM in Sedalia, where he uses the on-air name of Jim Shorts. He has a "bio" page on the KSDL website. Unfortunately, there is no live streaming audio for the station.

Baseball America Pre-Season Top 25

No, Mizzou is not in BA's Preseason College Top 25 (Baseball America)
The Southeastern Conference, which produced three of the final four teams standing in Omaha last year and has won the last three national titles, looks strong again heading into 2012. The SEC accounts for three of the top four teams and six of the top 11 in the 2012 preseason rankings. The SEC leads all conferences with seven teams in the Top 25, followed by the Atlantic Coast and Pacific-12 conferences with five apiece.
Click HERE for the whole list

SEC Dixie-nary: Z is for Zero

Z is for Zero
  • Mizzou Baseball's record as an SEC team:  0-0

  • Mizzou Baseball's all-time losses against 4 of our 6 new SEC East rivals (Georgia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Tennessee):  0

  • Number of years Mizzou has failed to qualify for the SEC Baseball Tournament:  0

  • All-Time College World Series Championships by SEC teams other than LSU, USC or UGA:  0

  • CWS Championships for the SEC prior to 1990:  0

Check back in Thursday for the final installment of the SEC Dixie-nary

Monday, January 23, 2012

The First Boyd of Spring

College Baseball season is coming soon, as evidenced by the first 2012 season postings at BoydsWorld.com:

Team Schedule Calendars: Download an Outlook-ready Mizzou schedule for 2012

Intended Strength of Schedule Numbers
We've posted Strength of Schedule numbers here in the past few weeks, from our own calculations and then from a discussion on the Rivals.com College Baseball vestigial board.

Boyd Nation has his own numbers up now, which puts MU with the 47th toughest overall schedule and the 104th toughest non-conference schedule.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tiger Celebrities

What do Max Scherzer and Larry Wyatt have in common?  They're both Tiger celebrities.

Max Scherzer: From Tigers pitcher to game show host? (Detroit Free Press)
Max Scherzer asked the questions as they were handed to him in a trivia contest Friday. Mostly, the event required the power pitcher to lob softballs. But then he broke off a Dick Enberg curve.

Video of Max as game show host at Patch.com

'Super fan' brought his spirit to Missouri gymnastics meet (Columbia Missourian)
The lighting was dim as "Fight, Tiger" blared over the PA system; the crowd, subdued, but with one loud exception.

Proudly belting the words to Missouri's fight song, Larry Wyatt II was on his feet, clapping in rhythm. As the Tigers walked onto the Hearnes Center floor on Friday night, Wyatt remained standing, enthusiastically trying to pump up the crowd.

"Rip 'em up, tear 'em up, give 'em hell, Tigers!"
. . .

Big 12 Baseball Notes

Jordan Etier back with UT baseball (kvue.com)
Jordan Etier has been reinstated on the University of Texas Baseball team. He will serve a four-game suspension at the beginning of the 2012 season and will no longer receive an athletic scholarship. He was kicked off the team last fall after being arrested on charges of evading arrest and marijuana possession.

At the time, DPS officers say Jordan Etier relieved himself in public, then ran from officers before disposing of some marijuana.
Aggies looking for their own idol (theeagle.com)
The Texas A&M baseball team is searching for the first ever "Aggieland Idol" who will perform the National Anthem to kick off games at the new Blue Bell Park this season.

Area residents are encouraged to try out for the musical talent contest at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 26 at Burkhart Auditorium in Kyle Field.

Annie Stoltenberg, a spokeswoman for A&M baseball, said contestants will have one minute to showcase their abilities and performances can include instruments and be the song of their choice.

"A live National Anthem is an old-time baseball tradition and we haven't done them at every game in the past," she said. "It was something that Coach [Rob] Childress really wanted this year."

Childress will be part of a three-judge panel that also includes Candy 95.5 hosts Frito and Alli.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Big 12 Baseball Preview

♦ One man's Big 12 Baseball Preview and discussion at ShaggyBevo.com
Mizzou4215: Unless Platts or Graves are awesome. Mizzou should suck again. Not listed on your top returning pitchers, but Eric Anderson should be the Friday starter. He was pretty good after he came back from surgery last year. Mizzou won all of his starts until the Big 12 title game, where he was starting on 2-3 days rest.

Simmons Field Photo: 4 Weeks to Opening Day

Sal Belfonte

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2013 Mizzou Recruit: Jack Klages' early commit

Recruiting notebook: Vianney's Klages picks Mizzou (StLToday.com)
"I was overall pretty familiar with the program," Klages said. "I had been down there a lot to their camps, and I had gone down there on an unofficial visit in October. It was just for me. It was the right fit."
. . .
The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder, who lives in Affton, picked the Tigers over Missouri State, Michigan State and Texas Christian University.

Read more HERE

Read the SimmonsField.com profile of Jack Klages HERE

SEC Dixie-nary: Y is for YouTube

Current Major Leaguers share SEC Baseball Memories

Classic fake injury in

Pretty good 2011 Auburn Baseball Commercial
(Mizzou needs a good commercial like this)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Season Ticket Renewal

Season Ticket renewal forms are reportedly going out in the mail this week.

Mizzou Baseball in the Minors: Evan Frey

Catching up with Evan Frey (mlbogsreno.wordpress.com)
NJBA: We saw you getting to the park early seemingly every day to work on bunting with manager Brett Butler. How did that extra work improve your game?

EF: Bugsy is a great asset for me for the fact that we are very similar players. I went into a funk there for a little while with bunting and after we got out there and started working on some things I became very comfortable. It is at the point now where I look to bunt every time I step to the plate, looking to get on that way to have the big guys behind me drive me in and get some quick runs.

NJBA: You spent about a month in the Mexican League this winter. Tell us a little bit about that experience, and how it compares with playing in the States?

EF: The Mexican League was quite the experience. The fans are very passionate about their teams there and they expect production. That was my first time playing winter ball, and I really enjoyed playing along side those guys in their homeland. I have a new understanding for how the foreign players feel playing in the United States during our season. I would love to get the chance to play somewhere like that again.
More at http://mlblogsreno.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/catching-up-with-evan-frey/

The Draft: College vs. Pro

Chris Webb has a great story on ESPN about The benefits of choosing college over pros (espn.com)
Adding that college provides a bit of a buffer between developing as a person and being entirely independent, the crosschecker spoke to the social development and interaction that is gained by attending college. It's a setting that the NL scout believes benefits some to experience change in, rather than in the pros with their livelihood on the line.

“There is a lot of natural maturity and changes that takes place when you’re 18, 19, 20 years old,” said the scout. “Growth, where in some cases it is better kids go through that in college instead of with their career at that age.”

Ultimately, the decision to sign or go to college is one that is personal, and the pros and cons differ from individual to individual. In either case, the crosschecker offers the following advice:

“Whichever way they go, they need to make sure they’re committed to their decision 100 percent,” he said.
Read the rest HERE

Word on the Tweet: New Cap

@CoachPietro on Twitter:
Check out the new alternate cap for the '12 season! #MIZ #MIZ lockerz.com/s/175572462

And I promise the color on the front is not neon yellow as the photo makes it appear.... #OldGold #notglowinthedarktigers

2012 Tickets

According to the 2012 Baseball Tickets page at mutigers.com, ticket prices remain unchanged from 2011.

Season Ticket renewal forms are usually mailed out toward the end of January, beginning of February.

Also available is the Mizzou Spirit Pass. See below for details

2012 Season ticket costs
(Reserved/assigned seats)

Single Ticket: $60

Youth/Senior Citizen Ticket: $30

Family (2 adults + 2 children): $150

Mizzou Spirit Pass

The Mizzou Spirit Pass is an all-purpose pass to most sporting events at MU (excludes Football and Men's Basketball). It does not include reserved or assigned seating, and does not include post-season events

Individual: $60

Couple: $110

Family Pass:(2 adults, 2 kids) $200

Faculty/Staff Family Pass: (2 adults, 2 kids)$100

Individual Game Tickets will be for sale at the gate on each game day (I've never know there to be a complete sell-out).

The price for 2012 will still be $5 per ticket, with a discount price of $3 for children under 12 and for senior citizens.

Where can I get tickets?

By phone:
1-800-CAT-PAWS (228-7297)
or in Columbia
884-PAWS (884-7297)

Ticket Office:
Mizzou Arena, North Entrance
Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Closed on Saturday and Sunday

By mail:
Missouri Athletic Ticket Office
PO Box 675
Columbia, MO 65205-0675
You may also fax in an order form to 573-884-1677.

E-mail: tickets@missouri.edu

Offical MUTigers.com Tickets Page

Check out our SimmonsField.com GameDay FAQ for details on the seating chart of Taylor Stadium and other facts about Going to the Game (parking, concessions, etc.)

Official MUTigers.com Tickets page

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

MU in the Majors: Scherzer's Deal

Tigers agree to 1-year deals with Max Scherzer, Delmon Young, Don Kelly (Detroit Free Press)
Starting pitcher Max Scherzer, leftfielder Delmon Young and utility man Don Kelly -- the final three Tigers slated for arbitration next month -- agreed to one-year contracts with the clubs today.

Jon Heyman of cbssports.com reported the monetary terms for the deals as $6.75 million for Young, $3.75 million for Scherzer and $900,000 for Kelly.

2012 Baseball Roster

The Baseball Roster at mutigers.com has been updated since last week.  It still says 2011 Roster at the top, but the roster has updated to remove players who are gone and add in the new players.  Check it out.

I have also updated our running list of MU Baseball Jersey #s.  Take a look at who is wearing the number of your past favorite players.

First Pitch 2012 Speaker Announced

Aaron Crow to speak at First Pitch dinner (mutigers.com)
Join the Mizzou baseball program in kicking off the 2012 season as generations of the Tiger Baseball family will come together to recognize past and present achievements in a fun-filled afternoon on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Hampton Inn off of Stadium Blvd. The event will run from 4-7 p.m. and doors open at 3:30.

The 8th Annual First Pitch Celebration will include hors d'oeuvres, beverages for young and old, introductions of past and present players, a 2012 season outlook and a silent auction featuring prestigious professional and collegiate items. Make it a weekend by taking in the Tiger basketball game against Kansas at 8 pm on Saturday, Feb. 4th.

This year's guest speaker will be current Kansas City Royals All-Star pitcher Aaron Crow. Crow is one of the most decorated Tiger pitchers of all-time and is enjoying plenty of success at the Major League level as he was the Royals' lone selected to the American League All-Star team last year.

First Pitch Details and Ticket Order

SEC Dixie-nary: X is for X-Files

X is for X-Files
"Sometimes the only sane answer to an insane world is insanity." (Fox Muldur)
Minor League team lampoons SEC
Fort Myers Miracle to Poke Fun at SEC with Fake Diploma Giveaway (LarryBrownSports.com, 8/24/11)
According to MinorLeagueBaseball.com’s Promo Preview page, the Miracle will be saluting the Southeast Conference on Wednesday night with a series of promotional giveaways. Of course by saluting we mean completely patronizing the conference, but what’s the difference?

The celebration will include pregame tailgating, the Georgia Bulldog throwing out the first pitch, Tennessee whiskey available for purchase, and cowbells in honor of the University of Mississippi. Best of all, fake diplomas will be handed out to mock the notoriously easy educational requirements SEC schools are known for.
Fantasy College Baseball Camp

This past January, LSU hosted an LSU Baseball Fantasy Camp for adults. I'm not sure whether this is incredibly cool or a bit odd. What qualifies it for this X-Files list of SEC insanity is the cost per head: $1,600 for a two-day camp.
The camp will allow adults to experience what it's like to be an LSU baseball player for one weekend. Campers will occupy the Alex Box Stadium locker room, attend team meetings conducted by coach Paul Mainieri, and participate in the same practice and game routines that the current LSU players go through.

Campers will play two games in Alex Box Stadium complete with a fully operational scoreboard, public-address announcing and LSU-issued equipment with personalized uniforms.

Campers will be instructed by the LSU coaching staff the entire weekend. In addition, they will have access to the players' lounge and training room, and they will be fed pregame and postgame meals. All campers will receive an authentic personalized game jersey with their last name and preferred number, a camp T-shirt, batting gloves, wristbands and socks."
The socks alone make it worth the $1,600.

Christian Walker
2011 SEC All-Swag Team (collegebaseballdaily.com)
The SEC All-Swag Team, a team that consists of players who best exemplify the rare combination of confidence, style, appearance, apparel, and talent. 
1B: Christian Walker, South Carolina: Walker’s hitting song is the theme song of The Fresh Prince of Belle Aire, and the Gamecock fans move their arms left and right to the beat of it. That’s swag. Eye black never hurts, either. . . 
Mustache May continues at SEC Tournament (ArkansasNews.com, 5/11)
Mustache May. It’s a mantra most members of the Arkansas baseball team have adhered to, doing their best to sport mustaches the entire month.
. . .
The result made Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn admittedly cringe Monday.

“It’s not a pretty sight,” Van Horn said. “It really isn’t. It’s not just the mustaches. It looks like they’re doing a little dying of those things. I could tell you what I thought they looked like, but it might not be appropriate.
. . .
“And when we win a big game we call it the power of the mustache,” McKinney said.
Why is College Baseball so White? Where are Black players in the College World Series? (stuffblackpeopledontlike.blogspot.com)
Only 4.5% of all National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) baseball players were African-American during the 2004 season. This includes all divisions, in addition to the historically African-American colleges and universities. On the contrary, 42.0% and 32.3% of NCAA basketball and football players, respectively, were African-American in the 2003-2004 academic year (Bray, 2005).

When specifically examining one of the perennial collegiate conference baseball powers, the Southeastern Conference (SEC), only 4.2% of 2006 roster players were African-American, as noted in Table 1. The twelve universities that make up the SEC represent states with an average African-American population of 20.8%.
Lottery Scholarships
"Since 2000, SEC schools from lottery states have made 22 CWS appearances. SEC schools from non-lottery states have made one CWS appearance." 
"You can only have 27 (of 35) players receive a portion of baseball's allotted 11.7 scholarships. (And you have to get a min. of .30 or .33 scholarship if you're getting any for baseball). That means you could give an in-state kid x-amount of the scholarship (or even ZERO) and the state-picks up the rest of his tuition...which means he pays nothing out of pocket, compared to what he'd pay if he took a partial to say, Alabama. Thus, you can theoretically give a player less money, freeing up more of the 11.7 for other players (especially out-of-state guys)."
(both quotes from TiderInsider.com Dugout Forum
Arkansas Scholarship Lottery 
• Georgia Lottery HOPE Scholarships
• On the other hand:  Lottery Scholarships Will Not Make the Tide Roll or the Tigers Roar (Alabama Policy Institute