Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 9 Mizzou Baseball Stories of 2012

9. Tigers on Deck

The 2012 season saw the creation of a new student fan group for Mizzou Baseball, Tigers on Deck.  Their goal is to develop a student section at Taylor Stadium and promote an SEC-type game day atmosphere. Theyy're already working on big plans to get the student body excited about the 2013 season.
8. Recruiting brings huge results for the Tigers.
Mizzou hung onto most of their 2012 recruiting class, losing just two draftees to the pro ranks.   But the hung on to 2nd round draft pick Alec Rash, who chose the Missouri Tigers over the Philadelphia Phillies.  They followed that up with a great 2014 signing class in November's early signing period.
7. Offensive milestones
Dane Opel led the Big 12 in home runs for part of the season; Blake Brown had the longest hitting streak in the Big 12 in 2012, with 21 consecutive games;  Brannon Champagne matched a Mizzou record by reaching base in 32 consecutive games; BEn Turner caught 93% of Mizzou's innings in 2012.
6. Jake Walsh comeback 
Jake Walsh's walk-on song was Eminem's Cinderella Man, a tribute to his rags-to-riches comeback.  In 2011 he was the ace pitcher on the Mizzou Club Team, and in 2012 he roared back to be one of the most reliable pitchers in the Tiger bullpen, posting the team's 3rd best ERA at 3.44, leading the pitching staff in appearances.
5. Gavin Stark's ESPN tumble
First baseman Gavin Stark made a play that landed him not only in the visiting Oklahoma State Cowboys' dugout, but also on the ESPN Top Ten plays.


4. 1.91 ERA

The Mizzou Bullpen's ERA in 22 games from from April 21 through May 27 was 1.91,  giving up just 19 earned runs in 89.1 innings.  The relief corp shined in 2012, led by senior Jeff Emens (now graduate assistant coach Emens).
3. Missouri Baseball returns to NCAA Regionals 
The good news:  Missouri notched its 8th NCAA Regionals appearance in the past 10 years.  The bad news: The Tigers went 1-2 for the weekend and were done.  The good news:  The Arizona Wildcats' buzz saw that chewed up and spit out the Tigers turned out to be the same juggernaut that tore through the entire post-season and claimed the College World Series title. 
2. Good-bye Big 12, Hello SEC
Missouri made their farewell tour through the Big 12, finishing in 6th place in the depleted 9/12 of a conference.  Along they way they also played a pair of their future SEC rivals, winning an early season series at Auburn and fropping a late-season pair to Arkansas.
1. Mizzou wins the Big 12 Tournament Championship
On their way out of the Big 12, Tim Jamieson's Tigers rode their late-season momentum to a hard-fought tournament victory at Bricktown, including a satisfying final run-rule thumping of the Jayhawks along the way.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top 9 Mizzou Baseball Stories of 2012: MU in the Majors & Minors

9. Aaron Crow speaks at First Pitch Celebration
Kansas City Royals pitcher Aaron Crow was the guest speaker at the 2012 First Pitch Celebration - actually more of a Q&A session with KOMU's Eric Blumberg. Asked if would like to be in the MU Hall of Fame, like Max Scherzer, Crow responsed: Sure, that would be great. " Hey, if Max can make it ..."
8. Ian Kinsler, All Star
Kinsler was one of several former D-1 ballplayers who participated in the 2012 MLB All-Star Game.  And in December it was announced that he will be joining Max Scherzer in the Mizzou Hall of Fame.
7. Nick Tepesch no-hitter
The high news-worthy point of Nick Tepesch's great season came when he combined with a reliever to throw a no-hitter for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
6. Four Tigers drafted, begin pro careers 
A quartet of Tigers heard their names on Draft Day and left Missouri for the Minor Leagues:  Blake Brown, 5th round, Atlanta Braves; Eric Garcia, 20th round, Atlanta Braves; Ben Turner, 21st round, San Francisco Giants; Blake Holovach, 27th round, Seatlle Mariners.
5. Matt Stites, All Star
Matt Stites was chosen by Baseball America as their Low-A All Star relief pitcher of the year 
4. Three former Tigers play in the Arizona Fall League
Matt Stites was also honored by being selected to play in the elite Arizona Fall League, as were fellow former Tigers Tyler Clark and Kyle Gibson.  Gibson's good showing in the AFL capped a summer that saw his successful rehab from Tommy John surgery, prompting high hopes that he will be playing in the Twin Cities in 2013..
3. Bond and Lollis reunited in Triple-A
Brock Bond had a great year with the AAA Fresno Grizzlies.  An added bonus for Bond was playing alongside his former Mizzou roommate Ryan Lollis, who also put up good numbers in his first season in Triple-A.
2. Max Scherzer pitches through the grief
In late June Mizzou Baseball fans mourned the death of Alex Scherzer, a fan of the Tigers and brother of former Missouri pitcher Max Scherzer.  Two days after his brother's death, Max pitched for his Detroit Tigers.

1. Max Scherzer pitches in the World Series
Max Scherzer's season saw many highs and lows, but at season's end he was where every baseball player wants to be:  Playing in the World Series.  It was a special and inspiring experience to watch Max on the mound on the national stage.

SEC Fan's Guide to Mizzou Baseball

Taylor Stadium
Photo by Ensign Beedril on flickr.com
MIZZOU BASEBALL HISTORY

Mizzou Baseball Roots

John "Hi" Simmons and the glory days of MU Baseball

1954 National Champions

Record-Setting 1964 Season

Coach Gene McArtor


MIZZOU BASEBALL TRADITIONS

Why "MIZZOU"?

kU Sucks

Other Rivals

TIM JAMIESON'S MISSOURI TIGERS

Tim Jamieson

 The Typical Tim Jamieson Team

♦ Johnny Wholestaff & Priday's Friday

Pitcher U



MIZZOU BASEBALL GAME DAY

Game Day : Getting to Taylor Stadium, Tickets, Parking, Concessions, etc.

Taylor Stadium @ Simmons Field

Simmons Field Weather

CoMo Culture

A Weekend in CoMo


MIZZOU BASEBALL MEDIA

♦ Missouri Baseball On the Air

Mizzou Online

MizzouTube


MIZZOU BASEBALL FUN

♦ You Might Be a Long Time MU Baseball Fan If...

♦ Fashion Police

Hater's Guide to Mizzou Baseball

Thursday, December 27, 2012

SxSE: Kentucky Wildcats Baseball, 1895-2012

Kentucky has yet to prove that they are a reliable NCAA Tournament program.  The 2012 season notwithstanding, they've been more of a hit-and-miss SEC Tournament program.  Based on their success this past season, I'll tag them as an  SEC Tournament program  and we'll all cross our fingers that Gary Henderson can build on 2012 and keep the momentum going.  Over the past 10 years the Wildcats have compiled an average annual record of 33-24


Kentucky has been playing intercollegiate baseball since 1895.

From 1895 through 1938, 18 different men coached the Wildcats.  Only two of them coached more than three years, and those two coached for 5 and 7 years.  None of those 18 coaches accomplished much of anything.

Harry Lancaster coached for 16 years through the 50s and 60s.  Apparently his .500 record was enough to keep him around for the longest tenure of any coach in the first 82 years of Vols Baseball.  Tells you something about the value the University of Kentucky put on their baseball program.

After Lancaster was done, three coaches combined for a 214-229-2 (.481) record from 1966-1978.

Keith Madison coached from 1979 through 2003.  He had some good years (40-15; .727 in 1987)and he had some bad years (63-102; .382 in his last 3 seasons).

Prior to 2006, the Wildcats made it to the NCAA Tournament just four times (1949, 1950, 1988, 1993).

John Cohen was hired as the the head coach in 2004, and he drug the program out of the doldrums for the first time in a century. NCAA Regional appearances in 2006 and 2008; an SEC Championship in 2006. And then Cohen left for Mississippi State.

Gary Henderson took over in 2009 and was keeping the program hovering around the .500 mark until 2012, when he found lightning in a bottle and the Kentucky Wildcats were competitive all year long in the SEC.

Notable Kentucky Wildcat Ballplayers
  • Sawyer Carroll
  • Sean Coughlin
  • Collin Cowgill
  • Ryan Strieby
  • Jeff Abbott
  • Brandon Webb
  • Terry Shumpert
  • Joe Blanton
  • Scott Downs
  • Doug Flynn
  • Jim Leyritz
  • Jeff Parrett

Kentucky Wildcats Baseball in 2012

Kentucky compiled a 45-18, 18-12 in the SEC.  They had the misfortune of being in the same NCAA Regional as Cinderella team Kent State, who beat the Wildcats twice on their way to the College World Series.

♦ Productive newcomers are key contributor in dramatic turnaround for UK baseball team (kyforward.com)
Little about the 2012 UK baseball season resembles Gary Henderson’s first three seasons as the Wildcats’ head coach.

Henderson’s first three UK teams failed to reach the postseason or finish with a .500 record in Southeastern Conference play. More than halfway through the conference season, the 2012 Wildcats are ranked in the top three in each of the four major national baseball polls, are ranked No. 1 in one poll and are leading the SEC.

Even the UK players and coaches have a hard time zeroing in on a singular reason for the improvement, but at least part of the change can be attributed to a crop of new players that joined the team prior to the 2012 season.
. . .
Newcomers account for 42 percent of UK’s total runs scored in 2012, 41 percent of the Wildcats total hits, 46 percent of their total doubles, 51 percent of their total home runs and 45 percent of their total RBI.

On the mound, newcomers have started 22 of UK’s 42 games this season.
. . .
Eight pitchers who were not on the 2011 roster have seen action out of the UK bullpen this season, including junior right-handed pitcher Tim Peterson who has a team-high 20 appearances and a 2.53 ERA.

Newcomers account for 48.57 percent of UK’s wins and 48.84 percent of the Wildcats’ total innings pitched, including 51.13 percent of the bullpen’s innings.
. . .
As UK looks to close out a SEC championship and earn a national seed in the NCAA Tournament, both newcomers and veterans are experiencing a pennant chase for the first time.

Asked if the team is just too young to realize the odds working against it during the turnaround, Cousino didn’t mince words.

“I don’t think we have any rhyme or reason to what we’re doing,” he said. “I think we’re all having fun.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

SxSE: Coach Gary Henderson' Kentucky Wildcats

Recruiting footprint:  Looking at the recent rosters, Kentucky tends to recruit their players from Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois and Indiana, California, Georgia, plus random players from SC, OR, WA, OH, UT, CO and Quebec

Gary Henderson named SEC Coach of the Year (SECBaseball, 5/20/12)
"There are a few things and one is that you have to have a group of returning players that want to have a better experience," Henderson said. "You've got to have someone in that returning group that wants to provide leadership from inside the program. We were fortunate that we had the group of guys and those types of individuals that wanted to provide that leadership.

"The next thing you do is you do the best job you can at bringing in enough pitching. If you can't pitch out of the bullpen in this league, you are not going to win. That is not an opinion. That is a proven fact. We did everything we could in the recruiting process to bring in guys that could help immediately."

On offense Kentucky ranked first, second or third in virtually every category. UK led the league with 117 doubles and 847 total bases and ranked second in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored, home runs and RBIs. In SEC play, UK led the league with 13 saves and ranked fourth in earned run average and total wins.

"Another thing that we really benefited from was playing so many freshmen last year. We have a lot of sophomore in the lineup. We really benefitted from having those guys get the experience last year and now they are very, very solid as sophomores. I think those are three things.
One-on-one with Kentucky’s Gary Henderson (yahoo.com, 2/23/2010)
You can’t say Kentucky coach Gary Henderson hasn’t seen the lay of the land.

The second-year skipper for the Wildcats has coached for programs on both sides of the country, including Pepperdine, Oregon State, Florida and now Kentucky.

Henderson arrived at UK six seasons ago with the idea of helping John Cohen turned the Wildcats into a consistent winner in the Southeastern Conference.

Henderson knew accomplishing that goal would be incredibly difficult. However, the Wildcats made a huge statement in 2006 by earning an SEC regular season title.

Just two years later, Cohen decided to head to Mississippi State, and Kentucky made the decision to promote Henderson to head coach. It was his turn to direct the program.
Weaker bats fit Cats’ style (kykernel.com, 2/14/11)
“I think some of the complaining from some of the coaches in our league is a bit overblown,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “You can still hit a home run, but you’ve got to hit it. You can’t cap it, you can’t get jammed, you can’t be out in front. You’ve got to hit it on the sweet spot.”

Henderson has always prided his teams on pitching and defense, and this philosophy stands to benefit the Cats when the new bats are introduced to live action this season.
. . .
Henderson remains adamant that pitching and defense are what wins ball games, and that the new bats won’t have a major effect on his job as a coach.

“The game calling won’t be affected,” Henderson said. “That part, I think- that shouldn’t get in the way, that piece of it … The feel is it’s going to be much, much tougher to get a five spot when you’ve just given up some. I think that- to me as a coach, that’s what I think of. You’ve got to be able to throw strikes, you’ve got to absolutely do whatever you can to keep the freebies to a minimum.”
More mature lineup has UK optimistic (catsillustrated.com, 2/18/2010)
Having a year under their belts with hitting coach Brian Green should also begin to pay large dividends. Green arrived after former head coach John Cohen left for Mississippi State and brought with him an offensive style predicated a little more on small ball than trying to fill the bases and pop a three-run home run. While Henderson wants that to still be part of the Cats' arsenal he and Green have strived to construct a more balanced attack.

"What it means to me is an offense that can win a game more than one way," Henderson said. "Don't get me wrong, I'm on record as saying I'm a big fan of the three-run homer but the reality of it is about once a weekend you're going to have a really hard time hitting a three-run homer, minimum, and it's called Friday night. Three-run homers are hard to come by so you really want an offense that has multiple weapons.

"I want to be able to beat someone in a game where you don't leave the yard and have our kids know they can manufacture a run late. By no means does that mean that's the only way we want to score but the teams that do well pitch well, play great defense and have the ability to manufacture runs when they need to. There is more to offense than just clobber it."

Friday, December 21, 2012

SEC Baseball Tournament Expands

SEC Announces Change to Annual Baseball Tournament (SEC Digital Network)
The 2013 SEC Baseball Tournament, which will be held in Hoover, Ala., at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium for the 16th consecutive year, will increase from 10 to 12 teams and will begin on Tuesday, May 21. Seeds 5-12 will meet in a single elimination format on the opening day of the tournament, followed by traditional double-elimination play Wednesday-Friday. The tournament will return to single elimination play on Saturday. The total number of games played will not change, remaining at 17.

More details HERE

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll

The College Baseball Preseason has officially begun! Collegiate Baseball newspaper is always the first to come out with a preseason ranking of teams, always the week before Christmas. The 2013 Preseason Poll was released today. And SEC Baseball is well represented.
The University of Arkansas has been ranked No. 1 in Collegiate Baseball's Fabulous 40 NCAA Division I pre-season baseball poll...
Ten SEC teams are in the Top 40, including five in the top 10. Mizzou is NOT in the Top 40 listing, but are the 59th team in the listing, putting them ranked 14th among the 14 SEC schools.

EMBRACE THE UNDERDOG

SxSE: Bat Cats

Photo by Amanda Rykoff 
Shively Field at Cliff Hagan Stadium
  • Opened: 1969, rebuilt in 2002
  • Capacity: 
  • Named After: Bernie Shively, former UK Athletic Director; Cliff Hagan, former UK basketball player

♦ New Kentucky Ballpark fare for the UK Wildcats Baseball - the Ballpark Hot Brown - Turkey Dog with Cheese Sauce, Diced Tomatoes and Bacon... actually healthier than the original hot brown!! funny that UofL didn't think of this first as it is Louisville food! (first-thoughts.org)

♦ This advice on going to a UK game at Cliff Hagan Stadium makes it sound very similar to a trip to Taylor Stadium at Mizzou (from ksrcollege.com):

If you are a student, admission is FREE!!! For everyone else single game tickets are $5 and season tickets are $55 for reserved seating and $35 for general admission (just pay the extra 20 bucks and get reserved seating). Complementary parking is available at Parking Structure 7 or behind the right field wall. Whatever you do, DO NOT PARK in the lot adjacent to the stadium!!! It is a trap set by the university parking service to ruin your day. One more piece of advice; dress warmly, epically for the early season games.
Catching up with Johnsburg's Jerad Grundy at Kentucky (Chicago Tribune)

The atmosphere at Kentucky home games is something Jerad Grundy had never experienced as a player.

The decibel level at Cliff Hagan Stadium does not approach that of Rupp Arena, but basketball isn't the only sport that has Kentucky fans excited these days.

Grundy, a Johnsburg graduate who transferred to Kentucky after stops at Miami and Heartland Community College, is a top-of-the-rotation pitcher for the Wildcats (25-1), who won their first 22 games and are ranked No. 2 nationally by Collegiate Baseball and No. 10 by Baseball America.

"It has been crazy," said Grundy, who is 3-0 with a 2.88 ERA in six starts. "People are noticing. When we played South Carolina, they had to turn people away. It is indescribable playing in the SEC. It feels like every game is like a World Series game. It is so intense and everyone on field is so talented."
UK is not KU

  • KU's legendary basketball coach was Phog Allen; UK's was Adolph Rupp.  Rupp actually played for Phog Allen at KU.
  • UK Coach Gary Henderson and KU Coach Ritch Price are both from the West Coast, Henderson from Southern California and Price from Oregon.
  •  UK's colors are blue and white; KU's are blue and red
  • UK's mascot is an actual animal that exists;  KU's mascot is a ridiculous imaginary dodo bird
  • UK fans' favorite cheer is a back-and-forth "Blue!" "White", which is is just as annoying but makes more sense than KU's nonsensical "Rock Chalk Jayhawk!"

  • UK recognizes the value of a geographic and historical rivalry with a team from a different conference. The Kentucky vs. Louisville rivalry dates back to 1912, somewhat short of the Missouri-Kansas rivalry.
    The yearly men's basketball game is called the Battle for the Bluegrass and the yearly football game is played for the Governor's Cup trophy. Many of the schools' other sports teams also play annually despite the fact that the teams are not in the same conference. (Wikipedia)
  • Mizzou fans have yet to form a strong opinion about UK.  On the other hand, KU still sucks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Missouri Baseball in the Majors: Kinsler in Hall of Fame

Kinsler named to Mizzou Hall of Fame (Dallas News)
Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler spent only one year (2003) at Missouri, but it was a memorable one.

The school said on Tuesday that Kinsler will be part of a five-person class inducted into the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame on Feb. 1. San Francisco defensive lineman Justin Smith, who has made three consecutive Pro Bowls, is also in the group.

Former Tiger Ian Kinsler Among Five Voted to Mizzou Athletics Hall (mutigers.com)

Ian Kinsler sure sounds like a leader (Chat Sports)
Texas Rangers infielder Ian Kinsler is now the longest-tenured Rangers player on the roster with Michael Young’s departure to Philadelphia.
. . .
What does it take to be a leader?

“You have to perform in the field and you have to perform in the clubhouse,” Kinsler said. “It doesn’t matter who it is. There’s no next in line. That’s not the way it works. It’s going to be a different club. We’re going to have some different people in our clubhouse. There’s going to be some subtraction. We’re going to have to figure out throughout the year what type of club we want to be.”

SxSE: Lexington, Kentucky

Thoroughbred Park
Photo by Bryan Sherwood flickr.com

Our South by Southeast virtual road trip heads into the home stretch, arriving at Lexington, KY, a several-horse town and home of the Kentucky Wildcats.

♦ Lexington is the 3rd closest SEC town to Columbia, 459 miles away (428 air miles).  Kentucky is in the SEC East Division.

Fun Facts about Lexington, Kentucky:
  • 2010 Population 299,803 (metro area 687,173)
  • Lexington is known as the Thoroughbred City or the Horse Capital of the World)
  • In 1833, 500 of the 7,000 residents died in a cholera outbreak
  • In 1958 Lexington became the first city to establish an "urban growth boundary", in order to protect the  many horse farms and bluegrass landscape that are key to the tourism industry.  This boundary is, not surprisingly, the subject of continual debate and tinkering by the city and county government.
Brady Deaton
Kentucky alum
♦ There are 5 Chik-fil-a locations in Lexington

Thoroughly Horse Crazy (visitlex.com)
There are many indicators that Lexington is Horse Capital of the World. Some are obvious. More than more than 30 national, state and regional equine organizations are head-quartered here.
. . .
But there are other, more subtle indicators. Here’s one recently discovered while trying to find a friend with the last name "Thornton" in the phone book: Lexington companies use “Thoroughbred” in their name, in many cases for no reason other than, well…it’s Lexington. There are the obvious companies related to the horse industry, of course-- like Thoroughbred Times or the Thoroughbred Center. But what about Thoroughbred Internet Services, presumably not meant to be internet services FOR horses, or Thoroughbred Barbershop, presumably not a barbershop for horses? You’ll find Thoroughbred Auto Sales, Thoroughbred Chem-Dry, Thoroughbred Energy, Thoroughbred Homes and Construction and Thoroughbred Masonry. Perhaps Thoroughbred Allergy and Asthma caters to people allergic to horses? And then there’s Thoroughbred Limousine, when your horses wants a night out on the town in high style. We have Thoroughbred Mortgage for horses wanting to refinance. Thoroughbred Painting (maybe that’s how the Visitor’s Bureau got their infamous blue horse) Thoroughbred Publications, Thoroughbred Restaurant…..well, you get the idea.
♦ The largest church in Lexington (78th largest in America) is Southland Christian Church (9,148 average attendance).  It's lead minister, Jon Weece, is from Columbia, MO (Rock Bridge HS), and grew up an avid fan of Mizzou. (Statistics from Hartford Institute for Religion in America)

♦ The Lexington Ice Center includes a miniature golf course featuring Biblical themes.

♦ Kentucky is the only state among the longstanding SEC states that did not officially secede from the Union at the time of the Civil War.  Like Missouri, Kentucky was a deeply divided border state.

♦ According to DumbLaws.com, in Lexington it is is illegal to transport an ice cream cone in your pocket

The SEC Guide to Kentucky's Home Turf offers several suggestions for feasting and relaxing in town, including this grammatically mangled list:
The must-do lists when visiting Kentucky: Keeneland during the Spring and Autumn meets. When dining at a local establishment, you order Bourbon, not whiskey. Try visiting local wineries, Kentucky is known for having the first commercial vineyards in America. Eat a Hot Brown. Visit the Bourbon Trail, to see how Bourbon is made and even sample a taste.




Monday, December 17, 2012

Southern Exposure: Mizzou SEC graphics, Gator Recruiting, BA Notes

♦ Check out this great SEC map poster by Paul Burkhart

Kevin O’Sullivan wisely gambles on recruiting (Gator Country)
Call him “Riverboat Sully” or "Lucky O'Sullivan" because Kevin O’Sullivan is a gambler.

Not the kind of gambling that gets Tulsa athletic directors fired. The Florida Gators’ baseball coach gambles on recruiting, but it’s a low-risk, high-reward bet. It’s really more of a “no-risk” gamble because coaches don’t have anything to lose.
...
While some college coaches try to avoid signing prospects that project to be high-round draft picks, O’Sullivan isn’t afraid of going all-in to sign an elite player.

“It’s only a good gamble if it works out,” O’Sullivan said Friday. “It’s a double-edged sword. If you don’t sign them, then you have zero chance of getting them to school.”

Read more (sbuscription only)
Baseball America's Aaron Fitt has random Notes from fall practice from coast to coast, including tidbits about Alabama's recruiting class, Auburn's pitching, Florida's starting lineup, a football player turned OF/1B at Kentucky, a speedy CF at Ole Miss, NOLA at LSU, and more about other SEC teams. Plus a look at the post-Kyle Zimmer USF Dons, who will play a series at Taylor Stadium this season.
A year after Kyle Zimmer was drafted fifth overall, the Dons have a chance to produce another first-rounder on the mound. Junior righthander Alex Balog showed flashes of brilliance last spring, and he was generating plenty of interest from scouts this fall.
SECRant.com has a message board thread full of photos of SEC Baseball Stadiums. Some really nice ballparks down south.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

SEC Fan's Guide to Mizzou Baseball: Hater's Guide to Mizzou Baseball


In a blatant but personally embarrassing imitation of the folks at Deadspin.com, this week's post is a Hater's Guide to Mizzou Baseball.

My vocabulary doesn't even include some of the potty-mouth words the Deadspin writers use, but my aim here is to give you permission to hate Mizzou Baseball, but in a semi-informed way. I say "semi-informed" because the following will adhere somewhat to the mantra of the Deadspin haters:
"As always, no research of any kind has been done for these entries. In many cases, I don't even know the name of the school's head coach. And that's because ignorance is the lifeblood of good hate. Without ignorance, we'd all be able to understand and sympathize with one another, and sympathy is for women..."  [Quote edited for sensitive and non-juvenile sensibilities]
There are plenty of people who hate Mizzou Baseball.

Kansas certainly does. They hate anything and everything about Missouri, except when they want to drive across the river and make idiots of themselves at the Power & Light District in Kansas City.

SEC fans, though, will have to find their own reasons to hate Mizzou Baseball.  Here's a few to try on and see if they fit your Dixie sensibilities:
Mizzou fans don't dress up for baseball games.  We wear whatever we feel like.   
Mizzou baseball attendance sucks.  I don't know why. 
Our ballpark, Taylor Stadium, is one of the smallest ballparks in the SEC, yet it averages an attendance at 25% capacity. Yes, attendance sucks. 
In spite of the fact that attendance sucks, getting decent parking is ridiculous unless you get there early enough to grab a spot at the top of the Summit.
The concessions are merely adequate.  Maybe that's why attendance sucks.  I don't know. 
There are entirely too many gingers on this team.  Recruiting Coordinator Kerrick Jackson must intentionally devote his time to searching out all the red-headed stepchildren he can find to fill out the roster.  If that's not bad enough, one of those carrot-tops is inordinately proud of his ginger-haired calves.
If you really want to develop a negative impression of Mizzou fans, spend some time lurking at Tigerboard.com, especially on The Shack board (aka "the cesspool").  Make sure you have plenty of antibiotics on hand before you go in, though.
Head Coach Tim Jamieson does not tweet on Twitter.  But his left knee does
Mizzou Baseball's first and last National Championship was in 1954, which was before even I was born.   This of course makes Missouri one of only four SEC teams to win the CWS,  tied with Georgia in third place for the most CWS championships (LSU 6, USC 2, UGA 1, MU 1) and 2nd in CWS runner-up finishes..

Paper Tiger
But here, read some entertaining Mizzou hate and Mizzou Baseball hate from highly informed people on the internet:

Missouri did more to destroy the Big 12 than Texas did (Cowboys Ride For Free)
Who started conference realignment? Who has whored themselves out to the most conferences since this started? (Word on the street is they have an invite from the NFL) Who overvalues their program the most? (Besides A&M) Who, out of all teams in the former Big 12, have the most to lose by moving? M-I-Z, Z-O-U. After news broke they were trying to seduce the Big 10 all hell broke loose. Seriously, if their officials could keep a God damn secret maybe we'd all still be one big dysfunctional conference. Listen up Tigers, I have news for your journalism school: In the Big 12 you would have had a shot at winning the conference, but you will never win the SEC. If you're in that conference 200 years, you will never win it.
Missouri has 63% more meth labs than the next closest state (Cowboys Ride for Free)
That's just a fact, you can't argue with that Tiger fans (well, **** like you probably could, but you just look stupid doing so). Misery is doing more to contribute to the decline of America than the Taliban. Maybe if y'all did less meth you'd realize that two of your claims to fame are lies, you don't have America's first football homecoming (Baylor, 1909), and you don't have the worlds first journalism school (Ecole Superieure de Journalism de Paris, 1899).
They banned strip clubs (Cowboys Ride for Free)
Until this bull***t get's repealed I will never travel to, through, or near Missouri. Seriously, I thought Oklahoma was full of bible thumping jerks, but ****, Missouri went too far. They banned fully nude (what the hell is the point of a titty bar if you can't have a errant pube fall in your beer?), banned alcohol, and require dancers to be 6 feet from the customers at all times. Really? I'm disappointed in America. If there's something wrong with getting a pair of tits in your face for cash, I don't want to be right.

Conference realignment: Is Missouri about to play the SEC’s fool? (Big Red Today)

The University of Missouri could be on the verge of making a stupendous mistake of impatience, borne out of a handful of university and state leaders wanting to wipe egg off their face from last year’s Big Ten debacle with a move to the SEC, a league that has neither the academic pedigree nor the competitive atmosphere suited for such a starchy Midwestern institution.

Mizzou in a ditch fight with SEC programs who embrace cheating and slippery ethics like a favorite uncle? The Tigers’ so-so fan base traveling to South Carolina, Georgia and Auburn? In trade for what? A little more TV money? Long-term security?

See, this is how powerful people get. They beg for one thing — the Big Ten — get shut down there, and figure there’s a better move to make outside of waiting. There isn’t. And I’m not going to go into some painful 3,000-word exegesis about this, either. Save exegeses for Occupy Wall Street or child welfare or something. This is a great school making a dumb move and all the Kansas City media and Mizzou alums will stomp and cheer and all the rest of it (the St. Louis media will pay attention when the World Series is over, thank you) while the SEC-centric college football sites that bloat and pillage my Twitter feed will write 4,000-word blog posts comparing this change to the conquest of whole plate of chicken and waffles in Memphis. Or whatever. It’s dumb. It’s the wrong play.

Sound Familiar? Georgia Baseball (And The Rest Of The SEC East) Will Enjoy An Easier Schedule With Expansion (SBNation Atlanta)
Oh, that puckish Mizzou. First they incense a few of their new SEC neighbors simply by existing - theirs and Texas A&M"s addition to the 2012 football slate bumped several "heavyweight" games like Georgia / Alabama off the schedule- and now they're benefitting Bulldog baseball and the rest of the SEC East in much the same manner. The gall!
. . .
Despite the two new schools, the SEC isn't expected to expand its 30 game conference schedule, which breaks down to ten, three-game series. That means every team will play one series against their division foes (six), and one against a rotation of four teams from the opposite division. Power schools like the Gators, Vanderbilt, defending CWS Champion South Carolina and yes, those lucky Bulldogs, will be guaranteed one series a year against Missouri, and less of a chance each season of drawing perennially ranked schools like Arkansas (No. 4 this year), LSU (No. 8) or Ole Miss (No. 22).

Say what you want, that it's a totally logical inclusion of new schools with accidental side affects on particular schools, but we side with South Carolina - this is all a dirty UGA conspiracy, and we're not fooled!
Mizzou is going to get donkey stomped in baseball (SEC Rant Board at TigerDroppings.com)
schlow mo: I don't think this should be overlooked.

They will be able to compete in basketball, they will be a level with us or a little below in football. Baseball is just going to be awful, they might not get out of the cellar for a decade.

When you can't be a better team in the big 12 in baseball, where I think about half the teams don't even play baseball, you are going to be awful in SEC baseball

Just trust me when I tell you when Mizzou starts a 30 game slate against the SEC they are going to cry Friday through Sunday for 10 straight weekends

Your stadium holds 3k which is just sad

Haven't been to the CWS since 64

Haven't won your shitty conference since 80

Yall are going to get curb stomped weekly

Bamainozarks: They will be the worst baseball team ever to dawn an sec uniform

Wildcatmike: Mizzou fans, your team will here me from the deck (not going to point out who I am) ..but from Leon Landry to Webb of USC had great times during games
Mizzou's SEC Application (click here to see the graphic at muckfizzou.com)

From muckfizzou.com

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pray

There's no such thing as "just" praying. Prayer is the most powerful force in the world. Not only does prayer move God, it also moves the people who pray, moves them to be God's hands and feet to "heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds", to be involved in the lives of people around them - especially the troubled people around them - which is the most effective way to affect change. Instead of shaking our heads, avoiding and dismissively labeling the troubled people around you, get involved in their lives. Change hearts one by one.

And Now, For Some Baseball Culture...



Thursday, December 13, 2012

SxSE: Vanderbilt Commodores Baseball, 1886-2012

After nearly a hundred years of futility on the diamond, Vanderbilt has become a solid NCAA Regional program: They can be reasonably expected to go to a Regional each season, and could go beyond.  As long as they continue to keep Tim Corbin happy, the future looks good.  In the past 10 years the Commodores have averaged an annual W-L record of 41-22.

Vanderbilt began playing intercollegiate baseball in 1886.  The Commodores had 19 head coaches from 1886 through 1967, none of whom was extraordinarily successful, and many of whom were quite unsuccessful.

Perhaps the most well known name among those 19 coaches is one Grantland Rice, the sportswriter, who led the team for a single season, in 1908.  (See Grantland Rice and Early Vanderbilt Baseball).  His team was an unspectacular .538 ballclub.

Bill Schwartz coached Vandy on three different occasions, in 1917, from 1924-1940, and again in 1952.    (Check out  Vandy's Bill Schwartz remembered)

Larry Schmittou coached from 1968-1978 and began the long rebuilding process, achieving a .548 record.

Roy Mewbourne took over from 1979-2002 and kept the 'Dores barely on the winning side, with a .518 record.  He played a large role in the building of Hawkins Field, which opened in his final season.

Tim Corbin took over the helm of Vanderbilt Baseball in 2003.  He has amassed a 410-217 record (.654).  The Commodores missed the NCAA Regionals in his 1st and 3rd seasons.  But in his second season, 2004, they made it to a Super Regional, and since 2006 they have an unbroken record of making it into the NCAA post-season.
In 2011 Corbin led Vanderbilt to the College World Series.

Notable Vanderbilt ballplayers
Vandy Baseball in 2012

The 2012 Commodores compiled a  35-28 record, 16-14 in the SEC.  They lost to Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament finals.  And they were beaten out by North Carolina State in the Raleigh, NC, Regional.

Postmortem: The 2012 Vanderbilt Baseball Team and Their Inability to Play a Boring Game After March (anchorofgold.com, 6/5/12)
Real fans held out hope, though. Every non-conference game was a chance to get this team's record closer to even. Every SEC showdown was an opportunity to prove that this team was no longer the bumbling gang of young players who seemingly couldn't get through two innings without committing an error. We kept telling ourselves that the growth that began in February would turn out to be exponential when April hit. And this underclassman-heavy squad rewarded that commitment.

That lingering sense of faith is what made this team, this coach, and this Vanderbilt sports dynasty, special. For all intents and purposes, this team's season should have ended in earnest on April 21st. That's when a Commodore team that needed to play lights-out baseball to qualify for the postseason lost their second game in a row to an Alabama squad that only won 21 games all year. That dropped Vanderbilt to 17-23 late in their season with some major showdowns looming.

To suggest the remaining schedule was a challenge would be understatement. This was a Vanderbilt team that was in danger of missing a 10-team SEC Tournament, and they still had series remaining against a pair of top 10 teams (LSU and Kentucky), their in-state rivals (Tennessee), a top 25 team (Ole Miss) and a game against their new rival/top 25 opponent Louisville. If they managed to survive that, they'd still need to tread water in the shark tank of the SEC Tournament where South Carolina and Florida waited. If you were anywhere else but Natchez Trace, things probably looked bleak.

But not at Hawkins Field. This young team rebounded with a resiliency that shocked college baseball. They rolled off a 16-4 run that carried them through the end of the regular season and into the SEC Tournament Final. . .

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mizzou Diaspora: Throwing Heat


♦ This will shake those MidWinter Baseball Deprivation Blues:
Local Baseball Player Has Great Potential (ksdk.com)
That anchor man should note:  That's not a Cardinals ballcap he's wearing.

Read more about Mizzou recruit Jake Brentz HERE

♦ And Max Scherzer is in the news in StL as well, being honored as one of the sports personalities of the year by the Missouri Athletic Club:

The St. Louis Post Dispatch has a writeup about the awards
Scherzer, 28, recalled going to Busch Stadium II right down to the seat he had – section 240, row 12, seat 12 – and the dimensions of the youth league field he called home in Creve Coeur. He said it was 315 feet down the line, and he recalled what it felt like as a teen to finally hit a home run there. 
He then said he wasn’t chronicling his boyhood highlights. He was sending a message. 
“It’s to the New York Yankees – move your fences back. Even a 13-year-old can hit a home run (to 315 feet),” he said. “I’ve given up four bombs there. All of them went 316 feet. That one hit at the heart.”
And check out this Max Scherzer audio interview on KMOX (stlouis.cbslocal.com):  Max talks about the World Series and about working out and spending time with his family in the off season

Mid-December College Baseball Deprivation Blues


Seasonal Affective Disorder (as in not-baseball-season) has hit me like a ton of linebackers, so here's some good reading to hopefully heckle my heavy heart into some starting day cheer:

Finally starting to feel like baseball season (College Baseball Lineup)
Now that the temperature is starting to fall it is starting to feel more and more like opening day here in Monroe. It is always funny to me that baseball players are referred to as the “boys of summer” when anyone who has been apart of college baseball can tell you that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is always that first cold day that lets me know that the season is approaching quickly. . .
ESPN leading a college baseball resurgence? (SEBaseball.com)
In the past few seasons, ESPN has improved their broadcast quality. Instead of a retired big leaguer who may not have seen a college game all season thrust in to call a postseason game, now the opportunity is there for an announcer to broadcast college games all spring. Some announcers are even college-only guys - dedicated to follow the sport and understand the nuances that make the sport different from the pay-for-play variation.

There is no coincidence that the commitment to a better college baseball product coincided with the bat and pace changes.

"The new bats are TV friendly," Rooney added. "It makes it easier to put on TV. You have to save a four or five hours versus three hours or less. And I don't think we have lost the excitement. The style of play changed but we haven't lost the drama."

Read more HERE

Revisiting 2008 recruiting class rankings (Baseball America) shows you really never know just how good any given recruiting class will be.


Distiller's Dozen: Maker's Mark made me do it (College Baseball Today) has lots of good links to other recent stuff on the web about college baseball.

♦ If you're really, truly, totally desperate for college baseball, you could fly to the Dominican Republic and watch this.

♦ And this will get your blood pumping...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

SxSE: Coach Tim Corbin's Vanderbilt Commodores


♦ Recruiting footprint:  Looking at the recent rosters, Kentucky tends to recruit their players from Tennessee, Massachusetts, Texas, Indiana, New Jersey, plus random players from LA, FL, PA, NC, IA, NY, AZ and MO.

The Tim Corbin Pyramid of Greatness (anchorofgold.com)

Vanderbilt skipper guided Commodores to College World Series with mentor's help (NashvilleCityPaper.com)
Ten years ago, however, Corbin didn’t see himself at Vanderbilt. He didn’t want to leave Clemson, where he was an assistant coach for nine years under Jack Leggett, arguably his strongest coaching influence.

“When I was there, I seriously didn’t think I was ever going to leave, to be honest with you,” Corbin said. “Being a head coach was not on my bucket list. … I was having so much fun. I enjoyed [Leggett] a great deal. We were very successful. We were working with good players. We had been to Omaha four times. He just created a very fun culture that made coaching and teaching a lifestyle.”
. . .
The Immediate Progression: Leadership (whenitstrikesme.com)
After taking over a long-suffering Commodore program in 2003, Coach Corbin has turned Vanderbilt into a national power. The team is well on its way to a 6th consecutive NCAA appearance and its 7th in his 9 years at the helm. In the process, he’s earned a reputation as one of the top program builders and recruiters in the nation. But he’s very much more than that. He’s an individual who builds around an exciting, high-energy environment driven by a disciplined approach that is anything but punitive. Commodore players work hard, do right and have each others’ backs not because of a stern hand, but because of a strong desire to run through walls for the man at the helm and for those around them. In other words, Coach Corbin has been everything Vandy hopes to have found in new Football coach James Franklin.
. . .
Coach Corbin has also adjusted his style of coaching with an acute awareness of how his team matches up on the roster card. While pitching has been a hallmark of all Corbin teams, that is largely due to the recruiting of Bakich and current recruiting coordinator Josh Holliday (with hefty input and participation from Corbin and Johnson) and DJ’s outstanding tutelage of pitchers. Similarly, Corbin teams feature defensive excellence that is part recruiting and part teaching, but he’s been willing to adjust his style of play offensively to match talents. This year, we’ve seen perhaps the most dramatic change with a move toward more small ball. While it’s no secret that I think we bunt way too much, I entirely acknowledge that that strategy is a reaction to the BBCOR era of the dead bat. While I still believe we would be more efficient offensively if we bunted far less, one cannot argue with the overall results of being aggressive on the base paths, hitting-and-running and, yes, even bunting in obtaining a 30-3 record and a 10-2 start in league play.

My Q & A with Vanderbilt's Tim Corbin (collegebaseballtoday.com)
  • Recruiting philosophy: I like athletes. I like baseball players, but I also like football players, I like hockey players. I don’t mind somebody who just plays baseball, but if I had my druthers, I’d get a guy who has played several sports, because they’ve practiced at being an athlete.
  • SEC Baseball:  It’s almost like major league baseball where everyone is so good in this conference, I just don’t think it matters. No matter how good your pitching is, no matter how good your hitting is, I just think someone’s gonna be better on a particular weekend and everyone’s gonna be close to .500, maybe a little bit above it, maybe a little bit below it. Those teams that used to stretch out to big leads in the standings like 10 or 15 years ago, those days are done.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Missouri Baseball Roster updated

♦ The official Mizzou Baseball Roster has been updated on mutigers.com.  The final roster for the 2013 season will be changed somewhat from that list.  There are 38 names on that roster, while the in-season limit is 35.

Mizzou Baseball in the Majors 2012: Aaron Crow


Former Missouri Tiger pitcher Aaron Crow didn't repeat as an All Star in 2012 and he didn't lead the Kansas City Royals to the playoffs this season.  He did begin 2012 as the guest speaker/interviewee at the Mizzou Baseball First Pitch Celebration in February, and closed out the year participating in Topeka's annual Christmas parade and helping to serve Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless.

Aaron had an overall good season. There was a lot of talk leading up to the season about moving him into the starting rotation, but that never happened and Crow was once again a part of the Royals' solid young relief corps. He had a schizophrenic first outing, when he struck out Albert Pujols as part of a 3-K opening inning, then came back for a second inning and completely went off the rails, giving up four straight hits.  But then he kicked it into gear quickly.  Kings of Kauffman named him the Royals Pitcher of the Month for April.

♦ Aaron contributed to a franchise record for strikeouts by Royals pitchers in 2012.

♦ Looking forward to 2013, Crow will be counted on to once again be an integral part of the bullpen staff, as described at Kings of Kauffman:
Aaron Crow (24): Another guy who is both valuable and can close if asked to do so but will be the primary bridge to the last guy on the list. Former All-Star Crow continues to improve with improve standing out most to fans from 2011 to 2012 and is one of the most important guy at the back-end for KC.
On the other hand, there is, once again, some talk about moving Aaron into the starting lineup.
What the Royals could do instead of trading a starter, is to grant either Kelvin Herrera or Aaron Crow the opportunity to start in 2013. Obviously, both of these pitchers have question marks that will likely deter the Royals from this route. Herrera has already lost nearly two seasons due to injuries. Aaron Crow was ineffective as a starter in his first professional season.


However, the incentive here is clear. Either of these starters, if they could transition successfully, could be a #2 or at least a #3 starter. Herrera has more front end stuff, but Crow has shown that he can handle the workload that a starter would require. If the Royals have a preference between the two, they could chose before camp. If the Royals aren't sure which would be a better fit, you let the two of them battle it out for the final rotation spot.
Aaron Crow tagged posts on tumblr.com feature a variety of photos, tweets and other comments.  Including this stoner shot.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

SEC Fan's guide to Mizzou Baseball: Mizzou Online

mutigers.com is the official website of the Missouri Tigers. It's pretty standard fare for a D-1 program. In the past couple of years the Mizzou Network video feature has ramped up their game, providing live and archived video coverage and plenty of features and interviews.

♦ Beyond the nuts and bolts and in-house videos of mutigers.com, you're looking at the best online source for Mizzou Baseball info online:  SimmonsField.com.  That's not so much a brag on my own blog as it is an acknowledgement of the fact that nobody else covers MU Baseball all that much.

Tigerboard.com is the most active message board for Mizzou fans.  Fans of the Tigerboard will tell you it's the best place to learn what's really happening in Mizzou athletics before it ever reaches the traditional media.  Critics of Tigerboard have been known to call it a "cesspool".  The Tigerboard All Sports Board is the most active forum for discussion of Mizzou Baseball, as well as all other MU sports besides football and basketball.  The other boards are also interesting and entertaining.  The Shack which is "off topic" board, can be entertaining, but is not for the faint of heart.

RockMNation is the SBNation site for Mizzou.  It's one of the best online sources for info and discussion of all things Mizzou.  They focus on football first, then basketball.  Of the other sports, they've come to focus on MU Softball more than anything else.  They do cover other MU sports, including Baseball.

PowerMizzou is the Yahoo/Rivals site for Mizzou.  If I were a big MU Football fan, I'd pony up the subscription price, because Gabe DeArmond and his writers have earned a reputation as being the most knowledgeable source for MU Football recruiting information.  But they don't pay much attention to Mizzou Baseball, so I don't pay them.

♦ Local media outlets online:
  • The Columbia Tribune is the independent evening newspaper in town.  The Trib has a beat writer, Matt Nestor, for MU Baseball and offers up game day reports and occasional features.  They now have a pay wall, so you're limited to how many articles you can read per month without paying.

  • The Columbia Missourian is operated by the MU School of Journalism, and is the morning paper for Columbia.  Being a vehicle for teaching student journalists, there is a new beat writer for MU Baseball every year.  It says something about the internationally recognized quality of the MU J-School that the beat writer of the year is almost always really good at it.  They often get the scoops and great features because they're eager and hungry for the by-line.  The Missourian also now has a pay wall, which limits all archived content to subscribers.

  • The Maneater is a student-run campus newspaper that is not directly under supervision of the J-School.  Because of that, it has been somewhat of a wild cannon at times of the years it's been in operation.  But over the past few years, their coverage of Mizzou Baseball has been remarkable.  In fact, over the past two years, I'd rank them as the best local media source for great MU Baseball news and features.

  • KBIA Sports Extra is the online blog platform for the J-School's radio station, 91.3 KBIA, an NPR station.  Depending on the season and the beat-writer of the year, their features are also pretty good.  They are known for some great photographs and unique analysis and graphics.

  • The major market newspapers in Missouri, The Kansas City Star and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, would have difficulty proving they are aware that Mizzou has a D-1 Baseball program, and demonstrate regularly that they are clueless about the growing popularity of college baseball.

  • The local ESPN radio affiliate, KTGR, carries the live stream (free) of MU Baseball play-by-play, and they also have a sports talk show every afternoon Monday through Friday and on Saturday mornings, which is available in live streaming.

  • KFRU, a local News/Talk station, has a sports talk show every afternoon Monday through Friday from 4-6 PM called The Closers, which is available in live streaming.  It's a good source for MU Athletics info and occasional interviews and discussion of MU Baseball.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mizzou Baseball in the Minors: Giant steps

Interview with Giants Second Baseman Brock Bond (Giants Nation MLBlogs)
GN: The last Giant to have Bond in his name hit 762 career home runs, how do you expect your MLB career to turn out?

Bond: I think it will turn out good. I play hard every game. I’m a little different than Bonds, because he hits home runs and my job is to get on base. I have been consistent in my minor league career and I hope that it will carry over to the show if I get a chance

GN: Favorite teammate from any season of yours?

Bond: Thats a tough question, I wouldn’t say I have a favorite but its been fun playing this past season with my old college roomate Ryan Lollis.
Read the rest of the interview HERE

♦ Speaking of Mizzou in the Minors, here's a Tip of the Cap to my friend Lindsey McGuire, a 2012 Mizzou grad and Mizzou Baseball fan, who got hired this week as Director of Marketing and Game Day Entertainment for the Augusta GreenJackets, the San Francisco Giants Affiliate in Augusta, Georgia (both Brock Bond and Ryan Lollis were once GreenJackets).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

SxSE: Vandy Baseball

♦ Hawkins Field
  • Opened:  2002
  • Capacity: 3,700
  • Name after: Charles Hawkins III, donor and supporter

 ♦ Vanderbilt is the only private school in the SEC, with a student body around 12,000. They do not have a separate Athletic Department. The sports program operates under the Department of Student Life.

♦ The Commodores are named for shipping and rail magnate "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided Vanderbilt its initial endowment in 1873 with a $500,000 donation.


♦ Vanderbilt and Missouri have never played one another in baseball.

Video: Vanderbilt Baseball Coach Derek Johnson on Recruiting (stack.com) sheds light on the unique approach required to recruit for a school like Vanderbilt.  There's also a video with Derek Johnson about what Vanderbilt Baseball has to offer.

♦ Good video tour of Vanderbilt Baseball's facilities:

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Northern Exposure: Succeeding at College Baseball Outside the Sunbelt


Missouri is not really a northern school, but faces some of the same challenges those teams face as they prepare to compete in the Southeastern Conference.  Here are some good reads about the state of college baseball in the winter wonderlands, offered up by the always informative Chris Webb (follow Chris on Twitter)

Q&A with ESPN college baseball analyst Kyle Peterson (b1gbaseball.com)
CW: While the Big Ten and northern baseball may never relive the glory days of true regionals, the current state of baseball in the region has to be the healthiest in many years and moving in the right direction, correct?

KP: I would agree. In the Big 10 in particular, you have significant money being spent at numerous schools to upgrade facilities. This is an important step, as it has proven to be vital across the country. Kent State and Stony Brook in the CWS last year is a greater indication of the state of the game across the country right now. Given the lower scoring games and importance of pitching/defense, parity will remain within the game for a long time. The national start date a few years back is a positive step as well. The revised RPI formula should aid northern schools starting this year. There will always be an inherent climate advantage with the southern schools but positive steps have been taken to lessen the gap.

Read the rest HERE
Inside the Numbers: Coaching Salaries (BuckeyeStateBaseball.com)
The extension increased Stricklin’s annual salary to $300,000, more than double the $145,000 salary his previous contract offered. Stricklin’s prior contract was not one that was out-dated, he entered it on July 1, 2011 after leading Kent State within one game of a Super Regional appearance -finishing as runners-up of the Austin Regional, but it was one that was necessary.

For the past three seasons, with every opening at a BCS school Stricklin’s name was instantly attached, whether or not he had any interest in the position. While Stricklin interviewed and was eventually passed over at Michigan State and Ohio State, the last three offseasons saw national scribes mention him at vacancies at Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Michigan.

Each successive season Stricklin guided Kent State deeper into the postseason, the pressure for an athletic department with a fat wallet and desire to revive its baseball program increased.

Read the rest, including a good analysis of comparative coaching salaries, HERE

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SxSE: Nashville, Tennessee

Traveling across Tennessee, our South by Southeast road trip moves on to Nashville.


You roll into Nashville and you know you're entering Music City USA center of Country Music and other kinds of music. Home of the Grand Ol' Opry, Ryman Auditorium and Music Row.

It's also the home of the Vanderbilt Commodores

♦ Nashville is the 2nd closest SEC town to Columbia, 433 miles away (359 air miles).  Vanderbilt is in the SEC East Division.

♦ The Nashville Mizzou Alumni Chapter is online at MusicCityTigers.blogspot.com

Fun facts about Nashville, TN
  • 2010 population: 601,222; metro area: 1,589,934

  • Along with other nicknames (Music City, Nashvegas), Nashville is known as Little Kurdistan, with the largest Kurdish population in the United States, around 11,000 (about double the population of Starkville and Oxford, MS, combined).

  • Sheri Lynn and Brenda Kay Jugg (sisters) run Nash Trash Tours.
    • Sheri Lynn and Brenda Kay Jugg take you on a hot pink bus all around Nashville, giving all the best gossip about country music stars. They serve "squirt cheese" hors d'oeuvres. You bring your own liquid refreshment (alcohol okay). The ladies are dressed in "trailer trash" outfits and do a bit of a show. Tour is 90 minutes of laughing your butt off. They spot people on the street and yell out country music singers names. Faces on the people on the streets are hilarious. (roadsideamerica.com)
    Fred Thompson
    Vanderbilt alum
    ♦ There are 4 Chik-fil-a locations in Nashville.  But there are 13 if you count all the suburbs

    ♦ According to DumbLaws.com no person in Nashville may own a cheetah as a pet

    You are so Nashville if . . . (Nashville Scene)
    There were some 1,300 entries to our 19th Annual You Are So Nashville If… contest.

    FIRST: You saw Kenny Chesney in a Kroger reading Out & About.

    SECOND: You accuse Al Gore of hypocrisy for exhaling carbon dioxide.

    THIRD: You’re bummed out by the fact that you won’t be able to smoke at your workplace, which sucks because you’re a topless dancer with a serious meth habit.

    And the rest...
    • You’ve loyally gone to Steeplechase for the last 25 years and have never watched a horse race.
    • Pacman Jones has spit on you.
    • You saw that Ted Nugent was booked at the Ryman and wondered just what the hell that place is supposed to be the Mother Church of now.
    • You remember when you could just say something, and no one would write a song about it.
    • Your first thought upon running into Reba McEntire in line at the local Chinese buffet is “That girl better not have eaten the last of the noodles!”
    • You’ve ever said, “Hey, I got a cut on your next record, I sure hope it goes platinum like your last one. Did you want sour cream and guacamole on that?”
    And the dark side . . .
    • You tell your spouse that you are thinking about “going Perry March” on her during an argument.
    • Your preacher’s wife keeps giving you the crazy eyes.
    • You get a wheelchair instead of a lap dance.
    • You were shot by your dog.
    • You’d rather be a child molester than married to Wynonna Judd.
    • You hope they don’t stop racing dragsters down Main Street just because of one little incident.
    • You pick on the homeless.

    ♦ Read about the history of the Nashville and Memphis music scene in A Strange Resemblance (Nashville Scene)
    Memphis may be only 200 miles from Nashville, but the musical sounds identified with these two cities are worlds apart. Nashville is apple pie and fried chicken, pickup trucks, starched jeans, straight spines, and Sunday school recitals. Memphis is barbecue sauce and bacon grease, pink Cadillacs, sharkskin suits, swiveling hips, and ecstatic shouts of amen. Nashville plays it slick, sweet, and a little ahead of the beat; Memphis plays it loose, sexy, and a little behind the beat.

    It’s not just the difference between country music and rhythm and blues, or the difference between contemporary Christian and rockabilly, that separates the cities. It’s the way each town does business, the way it treats music as a cultural commodity. In Nashville, music is driven by commerce and back-room deals; in Memphis, it’s driven by street-level expression and pure feel.
    HolyTurf.com's SEC Bucket List: Nashville
    #54 City House: The City House has a lengthy wine list and plenty of cocktails to choose from. Frequent diners at the City House will suggest you share several items with your fellow patrons. The pizzas are popular especially those with eggs on them, but the meat is where the City House separates itself. The pork meatballs are popular as is the iron skillet roasted chicken. The menu does vary, so keep an open mind.

    #80 Pancake Pantry: The Pancake Pantry is a Nashville tradition that can have lines out the door and the around the block that began in 1961 when Robert Baldwin opened the restaurant. According to their website, the special ingredients for the pancakes start with the specialty ground flours from East Tennessee.

    The menu offers a variety of dining options, but eating pancakes is a must with a bounty of pancakes options to satisfy even the most fickle pancake consumer. Yes, there are plenty of other items on the menu in addition to pancakes, and you can eat breakfast all day long.
    Perhaps the strangest Nashville story story this past year:
    A fugitive [William Todd] spent his bus layover in Tennessee allegedly committing 11 felonies in just 9 hours -- a bizarre crime spree that included Tasing bar patrons, lighting a business on fire and carjacking two cabs, cops said.
    . . .
    3:05 a.m.: Todd burglarizes a business, stealing a Taser, a revolver and a shotgun. He fires shots, steals a T-shirt and then lights the place on fire.

    3:30 a.m.: Todd finds four people at a local watering hole, holds them at gunpoint, Tases one, pistol whips another and steals everyone's cash.

    3:40 a.m.: He carjacks a cab and heads to Walmart to spend $200 on supplies.

    5 a.m. to 6 a.m.: Todd breaks into a law office, defecates on a desk and smears poo all over some framed law degrees.

    6 a.m.: Todd hits Hotel Indigo nearby, where he impersonates a female housekeeper and then steals $600 from a Canadian couple at gunpoint. He was crying the whole time.

    Some time later: He shaves his head and leaves.

    9 a.m.: Todd crashes his stolen cab into a parking garage.

    11:30 a.m.: He hails a new cab, holds the driver at knifepoint, and takes his new ride to Opry Mills shopping mall. He submerges himself in a vat of water until cops find and arrest him. (Huffington Post)