Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year

From a Big Ten Hardball perspective, I almost hate to see 2006 end. This year has been remarkable for myself and this blog. In almost every way imaginable, BTH has exceeded my expectations in '06.

I attended more games than ever before, including every contest of the Big Ten Tournament. Although, I nearly had to go into rehab for baseball addiction afterwards. It took weeks to adjust to not having games to watch before lunch. Needless to say, I crashed pretty hard when the conference tournament concluded. Going cold turkey was difficult, but I'm much better now.

For the first time, I promoted the blog some in '06. The results have been measurable. More on that in a minute. This year, I also found more college baseball related sites to link to and received more links from others than ever before. That's not only good for Big Ten Hardball, but it's good to see more information about college baseball available.

In 2006, I got to meet -- either in person or via email -- many people associated with the game. I've crossed paths with sports information directors, radio broadcasters, writers, booster club members, parents and fans. I've been very impressed and rather humbled with the courtesy those I've come in contact with have exhibited. It appears college baseball fans tend to embrace their fellow college baseball fans. Birds of a feather, I guess.

In particular, the people around Big Ten baseball programs have been very gracious to me. They have shared insights on their team, the game and the occassional darn funny story that I cannot repeat. While a handful have been regular readers for nearly two years, the majority of these folks have stumbled upon Big Ten Hardball in just the last 365 days.

Which leads me to, perhaps, the most surprising fact of 2006 -- the number of visitors to BTH. In May, propelled by the conference tournament, BTH climbed above the 1,000 visitor mark for the month. While that's a rather small figure in comparison to blogging's big boys, for a lightly promoted blog covering a non-revenue college sport in a region of the country that supposedly doesn't care about it, 1,000 hits in a month caught me completely off-guard.

While the hit total did diminish in the summer months, September saw BTH have its second highest traffic volume. Even more astounding, is that the hit total has increased in each month since. Increased traffic to a Big Ten baseball blog in the middle of football season? I never would have envisioned that. I doubt all those who dismiss college baseball, especially college baseball in the snowbelt, would have guessed that, either.

More hits than I ever dreamed of, meeting people I never thought I would meet, going to more games than ever before, posting more than I ever thought I would, is it any wonder I hesitate to relinquish 2006 just yet? However, I am encouraged about what lies ahead for BTH. I'm hoping to build on what occurred in 2006 and, hopefully, make Big Ten Hardball better in the new year.

I thank each you for making 2006 such an unexpected success. Here's hoping you visit often in 2007 and the Big Ten gets at least two teams in the NCAA Tournament. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

TBZ Interviews Illinois' Roof

University of Illinois shortstop Shawn Roof is interviewed on Baseball Zealot Radio. The Baseball Zealot is clearly comprised of some diehard Illini baseball fans. I'll be adding a link to their blog as soon as I can figure out where to put it amongst my sidebar options.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Michigan, OSU Make Top 40

Collegiate Baseball has released it's initial poll for 2007. Two Big Ten programs have made CB's Top 40. The University of Michigan checks in at #38 and Ohio State is the last squad in at #40.

The rankings reveal that both teams, bolstered by experienced pitching staffs, should have high expectations for the upcoming season. The trick then becomes living up to those expectations.

Other items of note: Notre Dame is sandwiched right in between the Wolverines and Buckeyes. The Fighting Irish are ranked #39.

A third Big Ten school, Minnesota, also received votes in the first CB poll of '07. If poll is acccurate and three Big Ten schools are in amongst the top 60 or so programs in the country, this should be one of the strongest Big Ten fields in recent memory.

A pair of MAC schools received votes, as well. Central Michigan and Ball State both garnered some pre-season recognition. Again, if there are this many quality schools in the north, 2007 should be a banner year for baseball in the snowbelt.

Oh, I almost forgot. Who is #1? Rice University was tabbed as college baseball's top team.

Spartans Release Schedule

Michigan State has released it's 2007 baseball schedule. In non-conference action, MSU faces some good opposition from South Florida, Central Florida, Stetson, Auburn and a three game set in Norman versus Oklahoma. The season begins for Coach Grewe's nine in Florida at the Coca-Cola Classic on February 23 versus South Alabama.

The Spartans open up Big Ten action on the road at Indiana. MSU will also travel to Minnesota, Ohio State, Michigan (in their home and home series vs. the Wolverines) and close the regular season in Champaign against Illinois.

In East Lansing, the Wolverines will make their half of the annual home and home visit, while Purdue, Penn State and Northwestern all come calling in 2007. Both games against Michigan and three of the four versus NU will be at Oldsmobile Park. The Spartans home date of their two game encounter with Central Michigan will also take place at the home of the Class A Lansing Lugnuts.

With Michigan State's announcement of their 2007 slate, every school in the Big Ten has now made their schedules available.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Reviewing Expense Reports

This is the time of the year when many of our expenses increase. Cards, gifts, meals, office parties and traveling combine to increase our outgoing cash flow. With that in mind, and with a dearth of notable baseball information floating around, I figure this might be as good a time as any to review some Big Ten baseball expense reports.

I stumbled upon this data rather accidentally. In reading Kyle Whelliston's superior blog/website/hoops haven, The Mid-Majority, I found he had data on athletic department expenses for each school. It made me wonder two things: First, where did the data come from? Second, was there any baseball information to be obtained?

Being the professional he is, Mr. Whelliston provided a link to another site entitled Equity in Sports. It's a government site, which I presume is keeping track of such things in order to enforce good old Title IX. At the U.S. Department of Education site, I found the numbers I am about to share with you.

Unfortunately, the site doesn't breakdown spending beyond providing a total. What precisely "expenses" entail is left to our imaginations. By saying that, I do understand expenses in a general sense. (Hey, I have expenses, for crying out loud. If anyone should know about expenses, it's a guy whose paying for a vet's new hardwood floors and my plumber's World Series tickets.) I realize that bats, balls, uniforms and travel would fall into expenses. However, does maintaining the field fall into the baseball budget or is that a seperate facilities cost? Do scholarships factor into the totals? Does providing a stipend to opposing schools fall into the expense column? Do accounting practices vary between institutions? These are the types of questions that I can't seem to find answers to.

I should also toss in one other note before proceeding. I began looking at these figures several months ago. Between the original time I collected the data and now, the numbers at the site changed. I found that the majority of expense figures had increased. All of the numbers, however, were different from my first visit.

This led me to one semi-logical conclusion. Well, I think it's semi-logical, anyway. The first set of numbers were for the 2005 season. The new, and generally larger, totals are for the 2006 year. Expenses go up each year, right? So, if the first set of numbers was smaller than the second set, the first set must be for the prior year, the second set for the most recent season. See, semi-logical.

Keep my rationale in mind when reading. I'll refer to each set of numbers as '05 and '06 without knowing for certain that's the case. If anyone can shed any light on the differing figures, including proving my hypothesis utterly inaccurate, my email is in the sidebar and you are always welcome to leave a comment. (A late secondary note. Be sure to read the Equity in Athletics Cautionary Note, their caveats and fine print. Maybe you'll unearth something I missed.)

One item that stayed the same between both sets of numbers was that the University of Minnesota had the highest baseball expenses in the conference. In the numbers I perceived to be from 2005, Minnesota had $320,713 in expenses. That figure was topped in '06 as the Gophers expenses rose to $344,056.

Once again, not knowing what constituted the criteria for "expenses", I do wonder if Minnesota got hit with providing it's opposition in the Dairy Queen Classic with a stipend for participation. Again, I don't know if they even offer the other schools a monetary reimbursement or how much of that tournament's overall cost is picked up by DQ. However, if any additional money is needed from the Gophers baseball expenses to fund the event, that could explain why Minnesota topped the Big Ten both years.

Of course, one could also argue that you get what you pay for. Minnesota had the highest expenses, but are arguably the best baseball program in the conference. The theory that says "those that spend the most, win the most" is also backed up by the programs with the next two biggest expense reports.

After the Gophers, Michigan and Ohio State had the highest expenditures. In 2005, Michigan's baseball expenses were at $263,751. Last year, they came in at $310,801. The Buckeyes 2005 expenses were $234,428. While in '06, the Bucks shelled out $292,765. The Wolverines finished second in spending, OSU third in both years.

Again, one could argue that spending directly correlated to winning. A strong case can be made that the Gophers, Wolverines and Buckeyes are the three best baseball programs in the Big Ten. A look at conference titles, Big Ten tournament wins, NCAA berths and other factors would only back up that assertion.

In looking at all the 2005 totals, we see Minnesota was first, Michigan second, Ohio State third. Then, in a bit of a surprise to me, Indiana came in fourth. The Hoosiers' expenses two seasons ago were $230,804. Michigan State followed at $205,123. The bottom half of the Big Ten began with Illinois at $204,958. The Illini were followed by Purdue $194,483, Northwestern $172,410, Penn State $170,944 and Iowa $143,287.

In '06, the Gophers ($344,056), Wolverines ($310,801) and Buckeyes ($292,765) finished one-two-three in expenses, again. The fourth place program was Michigan State. The Spartans expenditures rose to $237,915. In fifth place, was Illinois at $234,254. The Wildcats of NU came in next at $219,151. Seventh spot belonged to Indiana at $200,614. The Hoosiers spent almost exactly as much as Penn State which paid out $200,070. Purdue was next at $186,619. Iowa rounded out the group at $183,293.

I don't want to make too much about these figures. They are interesting fodder for a mid-December night, but like all numbers should be used more for illumination than support. Any number of factors could alter the totals. A sharp decline in travel costs could lower a program's expenses. That doesn't necessarily indicate an administrations lack of interest or support of the baseball team.

Conversely, when you see Minnesota spend almost twice as much as neighboring Iowa, you do wonder why the gap is so large. You might also wonder how the Hawkeyes can compete against schools that appear to have significantly larger baseball budgets? All fair questions, but we aren't going to reach any conclusions here.

I encourage all interested and, perhaps, uninterested parties to review the Educational Department's site. It makes for some very interesting reading. I may breakdown these numbers further at a later date. I might even get brave and look to see what college baseball's big boys spend and compare that with what Big Ten programs expenses look like. For now, though, this should give everyone something to ponder and actually provides me with some topical material to post.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Clemens Award Watchlist

Three Big Ten hurlers were named to the initial watchlist for the 2007 Roger Clemens Award. Ohio State lefties Dan DeLucia and J.B. Shuck and Michigan righthander Chris Fetter were named to the pre-season list. The Clemens Award is presently annually to the top pitcher in college baseball.

For a complete look at the list, click here. (It's a .pdf file.)

Hat tip: College Baseball Blog.

Gophers Land Nine

The University of Minnesota added nine (yes, nine) high school players to their 2008 team. Thus far, the Golden Gophers freshman class is the largest amongst the Big Ten programs. Coach Anderson suggested "It is probably one of the most talented groups we have brought into the program since I have been here."

Five New Hawkeyes

Iowa baseball coach Jack Dahm recently announced that five players have committed to play for the Hawkeyes beginning in the fall of 2007.

Gibson, Mulder Help MSU

Michigan State University's "New Life For Old College Field" project is being headed up by Kirk Gibson and Mark Mulder. The former Spartan standouts are the national co-chairs of a fundraising effort designed, in part, to help bring MSU's on-campus baseball facilities up to the next level.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wallace Award Watchlist

The watchlist for the 2007 Brooks Wallace Award has been released. Five players from Big Ten institutions have made the initial list. Dan DeLucia and J.B. Shuck of Ohio State, Eric Rose of Michigan, Antonio Mule of Northwestern and Minnesota's Matt Nohelty have all been selected as nominees.

Spartans Recruiting Results

Michigan State has announced it's recruiting class. The Spartans have landed seven student-athletes only one of which hails from Michigan.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Recruiting Notes

Here is a recap of some of the recruiting news around the Big Ten. (My apologies to those visiting in hopes of finding football, basketball and/or hockey news on the subject. I'm only forwarding the baseball recruiting notes. Thanks for stopping in, though.)

Illinois adds the top player in the state. (Always a good idea.)

Indiana's next freshman class is announced.

Six players sign on to play hardball at Michigan.

Another half dozen sign on at Ohio State.

Penn State adds five to next year's class.

Friday, November 17, 2006

It's Almost Spring

There is a running joke going on in the BTH household. A few weeks back I mentioned to Mrs. BTH that "spring was right around the corner". She half laughed, half scoffed at this notion as we are faced with the realization that we have a long Midwestern winter ahead. (As we get older, neither of us is particularly endeared to snow and/or cold.) However, as I pointed out to her, there is reason behind my optimism.

As we all know the holiday season is, basically, upon us. (It's not just the retailers trying to get us to shop earlier this time, we really are less than a week from Thanksgiving.) We also know that once the holidays arrive, the months of November and December tend to fly past.

In addition, by late December, winter will officially arrive. While that doesn't sound very spring-like on the surface, that first day of winter will mark the beginning of the return of daylight to the north. Slowly and steadily we will see more minutes of daylight each day. A sure sign of spring, if there ever was one.

Another sign of spring has been filling my email box. I'm getting 2007 schedules, pre-season All-America team announcements and recruiting notes from BTH friends far and near. While the warmth of the sun is still a ways off for us snow-bound college baseball fans, the season is approaching once again. The "ping" won't return for a few months, but preparations are underway and that's a comforting thought -- even if we haven't really started winter yet.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Rose, DeLucia Earn Honors

University of Michigan centerfielder Eric Rose and Ohio State University pitcher Dan DeLucia were both named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association pre-season All-America team. Rose and DeLuica, both seniors, were tabbed for third team honors and were the only two Big Ten players selected.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Illinois Signs Four

The University of Illinois announced the signing of four players to letters of intent. All four will be part of the Fighting Illini squad in 2008.

IU Names Captains

Indiana University named four captains for the 2007 season. Ben Greenspan, Doug Fleenor, Jon Fixler and Joe Vicini were given the honor by head coach Tracy Smith.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

DeLucia Brothers Featured

Matt Gottfried of The Latern writes this piece on brothers and Ohio State teammates -- Dan and Brian DeLucia.

Update: Here's another write-up on one of the DeLucia boys. Dan gets some love (and home cooking) courtesy of the official site of The Ohio State University.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Michigan Joins The Schedule Parade

The University of Michigan has released its 2007 schedule. Highlighting their non-conference competition are games against Mississippi State, Oklahoma and their annual tilt versus Notre Dame. The defending Big Ten Champions also have dates against Bethune-Cookman (3), Central Florida, Troy (2), San Diego, San Diego State, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Toledo and East Carolina(3).

Rich Maloney's team opens the home portion of their season with a three game series against Oakland followed by a single game against another Mid-Con foe, IUPFW.

Their Big Ten slate features home series versus Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois and Penn State. Michigan will travel to Northwestern, Ohio State and Iowa. Of course, the annual home and home and home series versus Michigan State remains as well. The Spartans will host the Saturday doubleheader in '07.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Penn State's 2007 Schedule

Penn State's baseball schedule for 2007 is available. However, it's not exactly readily available. First, you go here. Then scroll down to the future schedules and past results section. Change the 2006 entries to 2007 and you'll get a look at the Nittany Lions opposition for next year.

We already knew about the games against national runner-up North Carolina, but PSU also has a series against a Wichita State squad that will most likely be ranked highly and is harboring dreams of Omaha. PSU's pre-conference slate also features multiple match-ups with Kansas State and Centenary, single contests against Oral Roberts, Pittsburgh and OU. (At my house, OU is Oakland University. Nationally, OU is Oklahoma. However, I don't think the Sooners are visiting State College in March and I don't recall the Lions appearing on the Golden Grizzlies slate, either. So, which OU they are referring to is a mystery.)

A three game home series versus Central Connecticut State rounds out PSU's pre-conference schedule.

In the Big Ten, Coach Wine's squad will open at home against Minnesota. The rest of the home conference opposition consists of Northwestern, Purdue and Ohio State. Trips to Iowa, Michigan State, Indiana and Michigan comprise the road portion of the schedule.

Penn State recently revamped its website a bit and I like the changes. They just have to make the 2007 schedule easier to find.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tournament Format

Kendall Rogers of College Baseball is reporting that the ACC is about to change the format of their conference tournament. Following the lead set forth by the Big XII, the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament is going to change from double elimination to a pool format.

In pool play, the tournament opposition is split into two groups and the teams with the best record in each pool advance to play for the tournament title. This avoids the two-and-bbq result, as teams would always play more than two contests. It also helps easy the strain on pitching staffs.

Now that we have two conferences, and two power conferences at that, making the move to pool play, I wonder if the powers-that-be in the Big Ten would consider such a change?

Captains In Columbus

Seniors Dan DeLucia and Jacob Howell along with juniors Matt Angle and Eric Fryer have been named captains of the Ohio State University baseball team for 2007. In their comments about the upcoming season, I noted a repetitive theme -- defense.

It would be interesting to know if the players felt '06 was a poor defensive year or if Coach Todd is stressing defense this fall with the loss of two big bats (Ronnie Bourquin and Jedidiah Stephen) and the team's strong returning pitching.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

2007 Schedule Out For Ohio State

The Ohio State University has issued its 2007 baseball schedule. As mentioned here before, the Buckeyes will begin the year hosting their own tournament in Tampa, Florida. James Madison, Kansas State (doubleheader) and Seton Hall will all take on Bob Todd's squad February 23-25. The remainder of the pre-conference action is void of a national powerhouse.

In Big Ten play, the Buckeyes open at Bill Davis Stadium against Iowa. Other conference foes visiting Columbus next year are Michigan, Indiana and Michigan State. OSU's Big Ten road series are against Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota and Penn State (to close out the season).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Losing The Recruiting Battle

Aaron Fitt at Baseball America rates the Top 25 recruiting classes in the country (subscription required). While it's no surprise to see Big Ten teams missing from the list, it's more than a bit disheartening to see that both Kent State and Evansville made the list.

Anyone at a Big Ten baseball program care to explain how Kent State and Evansville hauled in a better recruiting class than you did? Oh, I realize the rankings are just one guy's opinion. I also am aware that Evansville has been building a strong program and Kent State's coaches work as hard as anyone else, but getting better players than Ohio State, Michigan and Minnesota? That just doesn't seem right.

It would be different if the small baseball programs of the south and west were beating the Big Ten for players. I understand (and grudgingly accept) that schools with smaller athletic departments in places like Texas, Florida, Louisiana and California are signing better baseball prospects than the universities of the Big Ten. I don't like it, but such is life in college baseball.

However, let's forget the Central Floridas, Stetsons and South Alabamas for a minute. How in the world do Evansville and Kent State get tossed on a list with college baseball big boys like South Carolina, Clemson, Southern California, Miami (Florida), Cal State Fullerton and Texas when there isn't even a rumor about a Big Ten school on the list? How do Evansville and Kent State out-recruit Big Ten programs right in their own backyard?

It's baffling to see smaller athletic programs in the heart of Big Ten country beat the likes of Penn State, Purdue and Illinois for high school baseball players. It should also be disturbing to any of us (or both of us) that care about status of baseball in the Big Ten. At a time when many Big Ten programs either already have or are planning large scale renovations or completely new stadiums, it's remarkable to consider that the kids of the Midwest are opting to play baseball in the region, but at much smaller institutions.

The baseball coaches of the Big Ten have to overcome far greater obstacles than their brethren to the south and west -- a protracted road trip to begin each season, inclement weather at home, an inability to get college baseball's super powers to schedule a series in the north, a lack of revenue and tepid fan interest. To see them lose the recruiting battle to smaller conference baseball programs in the same geographic region is not something that should be added to the list. Nor should it be accepted.

Iowa, Northwestern Release 2007 Schedules

Both the University of Iowa and Northwestern University released their 2007 baseball schedules. Amongst the Hawkeyes' interesting pre-conference action you'll find, a three game series in the Stetson tournament. Including a game against the host, the Hawkeyes will face powers Notre Dame and Nebraska. The Cornhuskers will also play host to Iowa later in the season.

From Deland, Texas, Jack Dahm's squad travels west to Fresno, California. Iowa will face Fresno State in a two game series prior to playing in the annual Johnny Quick Classic where the Hawkeyes will have two more contests versus the Bulldogs. Dallas Baptist will be the other Johnny Quick opponent.

Iowa will begin conference play at Columbus against Ohio State. Minnesota, Northwestern and Purdue will be the Hawkeyes road competition in the Big Ten. At home, the Hawkeyes get Penn State, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

Northwestern will begin the season in Texas. Texas Tech is first on the slate followed by a three game series with Notre Dame. NU has a three game visit to Beaumont, TX (Lamar, Arkansas State and Creighton) before moving to Arlington to take on UT-Arlington for three more prior to the Florida swing. Unfortunately, the Bradenton, Florida road trip remains a bit of a mystery as the opposition is TBA. However, we do know what Big Ten play will look like for Coach Paul Stevens' side.

Michigan will open the Big Ten season for NU at Evanston. The Wildcats also get Illinois, Iowa and Purdue at home in '07. The in-conference road series feature Indiana, Penn State, Minnesota and Michigan State.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Purdue's '07 Schedule

Purdue is the latest Big Ten program to release its 2007 baseball schedule. We already knew the Boilers were going to take on some tough competition in the pre-conference portion of their slate, as when Georgia and Auburn announced their '07 schedules each had dates with Coach Schreiber's team. Western Kentucky, UAB, Samford, Western Illinois and Ball State round out Purdue's pre-conference opposition.

The baseball Boilermakers have home dates in the Big Ten against Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State and Iowa. On the road, Purdue will face conference foes Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State and Northwestern.

There is the usual assortment of local and MAC competition on Purdue's midweek, in-conference schedule highlighted by a game with Notre Dame in South Bend. Check out the full details on the Boilers 2007 schedule by clicking on the link above.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Follow The Boilers' Black And Gold Series

The final two games of Purdue's Black and Gold Series will be available online via GameTracker. Unfortunately, for those of us interested in following such things, the next to last game was played this afternoon. However, the finale of the Boilermakers fall ball campaign will be online tomorrow afternoon.

It's a good sign to see Big Ten fall scrimmages getting some live online coverage. Perhaps, with Big Ten Television in the offing, we will get to see some of these midweek practice sessions live in the near future.

Mahler, Rose Named Michigan Captains

Head Coach Rich Maloney announced that SS Leif Mahler and CF Eric Rose will be Michigan's captains in 2007. The players, both seniors, were selected by their teammates.

The Michigan press release also revealed that the Wolverines will open the '07 campaign at the New York Mets facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The opposition will be provided by Bethune-Cookman (two games) and Central Florida (a single contest). The rest of the Michigan schedule, not including the Big Ten portions we can piece together be examining other schools schedules, remains a mystery.

Aaron Hepner was also named as a volunteer coach. Hepner was a student assistant at Dayton in 2006.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Gophers Release 2007 Schedule

The University of Minnesota released its 2007 schedule today. In addition to hosting the annual Dairy Queen Classic (Arkansas, The Citadel and Mississippi visit the Metrodome), the Gophers pre-conference slate features a trip to California. Once out west, John Anderson's squad will play two games against UC Santa Barbara and three games at Pepperdine.

In conference action, Minnesota will open the season at Penn State in the Nittany Lions brand new yard, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The road trips include Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. Home dates in the Big Ten will be against Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio State.

My Apologies

I accidentally posted some general sports stuff here instead of at my other blog, Beyond Boxscores. Apparently, I've spent so much time here, I can't imagine being anywhere else. My apologies for boring you with my Tigers rant and my assumption about MSU coach John L. Smith's fate in East Lansing.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Indiana To Build New Baseball Complex

Add Indiana to the list of Big Ten baseball programs that are building new facilities. Indiana's Board of Trustees approved the building of a new Hoosier Baseball Complex. In addition to a new playing surface, pressbox and indoor practice facility, the new structure will also provide for new locker rooms and offices for IU baseball.

The Hoosiers focus on upgrading their baseball facilities falls in line with several other programs in the Big Ten. Penn State will begin play in a new stadium, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, next spring. Michigan is in the process of a two year renovation project at Ray Fisher Stadium. Michigan State and Purdue are raising funds for the updating/renovation of their baseball facilities. Of course, Ohio State has been the clubhouse leader in the stadium upgrades for over a decade with their commitment to Bill Davis Stadium.

This is not only good news for Coach Tracy Smith, IU baseball and the Big Ten, but college baseball in general. IU's financial support to baseball, especially in light of the others in the conference making similar moves, reveals the desire of some in the Big Ten to compete at the next level and shows the game's growing popularity.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Oakland University Releases Schedule

Why on Earth would I mention Oakland University's baseball schedule? OU is in the Mid-Continent Conference for crying out loud. Why bother with them? Well, in the interest of full disclosure, your local blogger attended the Rochester, Michigan university. (What? I can't watch more than ten schools at once?)

Besides, there is a Big Ten connection. OU will make what is becoming an annual trek to Ann Arbor to face Rich Maloney's defending Big Ten championship team. It will also mark the latest meeting between Michigan pitcher Zach Putnam and his brother Dylan, who is Oakland's head coach.

There is also a tie between the two programs as Michigan firstbaseman Nate Recknagel transferred to U of M from Oakland. See, there's plenty of viable Big Ten related information to be had by sharing Oakland's 2007 schedule.

I am a bit surprised that OU isn't taking on Ohio State in '07. Seems like the two schools have run into each other in the past, but the Golden Grizzlies don't have OSU, or Michigan State, for that matter, on this year's docket.

The Golden Grizzlies also have a few interesting non-Big Ten games. I kid you not. OU will be in Lexington to face the defending regular season SEC champ, Kentucky on February 27. On April 3rd, Dylan Putnam's side will be in South Bend to take on Notre Dame. Finally, Oral Roberts, who is probably the conference's baseball power, will make the voyage to Rochester to visit OU in May.

Michigan Travels South

As other institutions announce their 2007 baseball schedules, we learn more about the schedules of Big Ten teams. East Carolina released their 2007 slate and I see that Michigan appears on it. The Wolverines will be in Greenville to take on ECU from March 16-18.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

EMU's Long And Winding Road Trip

In surfing for college baseball information, I came across the 2007 schedule for Eastern Michigan University. The Eagles not only have a daunting pre-MAC schedule, but I'm hoping they have frequent flyer miles. EMU faces, in successive three game weekend sets, Tennessee, Texas Tech, South Carolina, Arizona and Coastal Carolina.

A quick preview of the Eagles' road trip looks like this:

Ypsilanti, Michigan to Knoxville, Tennessee (433 miles)
Knoxville, Tennessee to Lubbock, Texas (1,030 miles)
Lubbock, Texas to Columbia, South Carolina (1,194 miles)
Columbia, South Carolina to Tucson, Arizona (1,729 miles)
Tucson, Arizona to Conway, South Carolina (1,844 miles)

If my math is correct, and that's always questionable, the Eagles will travel 6,230 miles to play in these five series. 6, 230! This supposes, of course, that EMU doesn't head home between each series or add dates to their 2007 schedule. The latter seems most likely as this is college baseball and schedules are not always worth the paper they are written on. Regardless, EMU will have a ton of mileage under their belts before taking on a single MAC opponent.

EMU also has three Big Ten opponents on it's schedule for next year. The Eagles will travel to Columbus to visit Coach Todd and Ohio State. David Grewe will bring his MSU Spartans into Oestrike Stadium in May. The Eagles will also have two games against the defending Big Ten Champion, Michigan. The Wolverines (in April) and Eagles (in May) will each host one game.

Friday, September 22, 2006

OSU, PSU Schedule Notes

While neither Ohio State or Penn State have released their schedules for 2007, I can pass along a bit of information about some of their opposition next year. The first nugget comes from Ohio State. The Buckeyes are hosting their own tournament at the New York Yankees complex in Tampa, Florida (the tournament announcement comes amidst a review of the OSU freshman class). The dates are February 23-25 and, in addition to the Bucks, the field is comprised of James Madison, Kansas State and Seton Hall.

JMU posted a 38-21 mark last year and can boast of 2006 co-National Player of the Year, Kellen Kulbacki. Kansas State was 31-20 a year ago and Seton Hall went 21-34.

Thanks to a tip from my friend at the College Baseball Blog, I've learned about one road trip for Penn State in '07. The Nittany Lions are going to travel to Chapel Hill to take on the University of North Carolina. While the Heels have suffered some losses to the professional ranks, UNC can still field a challenging lineup featuring All-America SS Josh Horton and 1B/3B Chad Flack.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Illinois' 2007 Schedule

It's got plenty of "TBA" spots, but the University of Illinois has posted it's 2007 baseball schedule. Even with an incomplete list of non-conference foes in front of us, it's safe to say that the Illini tackle some better than average competition outside the Big Ten. Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas-Arlington certainly aren't cupcakes. If the remainder of their pre-conference slate maintains that level, Illinois should be plenty tough come Big Ten action.

In conference, Dan Hartleb's squad will visit Purdue, Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan. Ohio State, Minnesota, Indiana and Michigan State all travel to Champaign in '07. Midweek contests against Illinois State, Western Michigan, Bradley, Eastern Illinois, Southern Illinois and Missouri round out the "conference" portion of Illinois schedule.

Obviously, there is going to be more news on this as we learn who will comprise the remaining pre-conference schedule, but for now it's good to get a look at a second schedule from a Big Ten program.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Answering The Call For Stats

In my last post about summer league stats, I asked that if anyone could provide more data to email me. Well, ask and ye shall receive. Checking the BTH email today, I find a note pointing me to Purdue University's summer league stat recap. Here are some of the highlights of the Boilers' wood bat experience.

Ricky Heines went north to Alaska and posted a 4-0 record for the Peninsula Oilers. In 30.1 innings of work, Heines fanned 21 and posted a sharp 2.08 ERA. Purdue firstbaseman Andy Preston was Heines' teammate in Alaska and was named to the league's All-Star Team. The Oilers captured the Alaska League title.

Andrew Groves, another Purdue hurler, played in the California Collegiate League and also had a fine season against the wood bats. Groves threw 27.2 innings going 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA.

Jordan Comadena stole 17 bases and scored a tremendous 41 runs while playing for Madison in the Northwoods League. Comadena was a NWL All-Star selection.

For a look at all the Boilermakers' summer fun, click on the link above. (Note: it's a .pdf file.) Thanks to the BTH reader for bringing this recap to my attention and for stopping here. If you have any summer league numbers from Big Ten players, I encourage you to do what this fan did and pass them along.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Reviewing Summer League Numbers

I've been meaning to scan over the summer wood bat league stats for a while now, but just got around to it today. I am positive I overlooked somebody from the Big Ten, those fonts on the stat pages can be pretty small, the information rather incomplete and I just don't have every player's name memorized, so I ask for forgiveness in advance. If I missed your son, teammate or even you, please don't hesitate to email me and point out my oversight.

Starting in the Cape Cod League, Minnesota's Cole DeVries posted a 3-2 mark with a 3.31 ERA in seven starts. The Gophers' Friday starter (a presumption on my part) tossed 49 innings while fanning 50 batters. That total was good enough to tie DeVries for third place in the Cape in K's. I'll hazard a guess here and suggest that DeVries will contend for the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Award in '07.

Also in the mix for top pitcher next year will be Ohio State's Dan DeLucia. (You can make a very convincing argument that DeLucia, OSU's Friday starter in '06, was the top pitcher in the Big Ten last year.) The Buckeyes' lefty went 2-3 on the Cape. DeLucia had a 3.55 ERA in 38 IP.

Fellow Buckeye southpaw, and yet another potential Player of the Year in '07, Cory Luebke, started six games, going 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA.

Ohio State sent more than just a couple of arms to the Cape. Matt Angle had a fine summer with eventual champion, Cotuit. Angle's .292 average was good enough for 8th in the league. His .412 OBP was the third best on the Cape. Angle also managed to steal 14 bases this summer. (If Angle posted these numbers in the prestigious Cape League while playing for a university a bit further south, he's mentioned as a potential All-America in 2007.)

Buckeye backstop Eric Fryer played at Harwich. The righthanded hitting catcher/outfielder hit .250 with two homers and nine RBI.

Another multi-position star, Michigan's Doug Pickens, donned a Chatham uniform. Pickens, as usual, played the outfield, secondbase and catcher on the Cape. He drove in 13 runs while hitting .215.

The Cape League totals show a Dan Sattler working only five innings going 0-1, I'm assuming that's Purdue's Dan Sattler. Not sure what led to the limited work--jumping to another league, lost in a number crunch, injury?

One Big Ten player who did appear in two leagues is Iowa's Travis Sweet. Sweet played in the Cape League and the Central Illinois League, as well. While with Falmouth on the Cape, Sweet hit .176, but was 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in 8.2 IP. Sweet also spent time with Quincy in Central Illinois, where he hit .302 with two HR's and 12 RBI. The Hawkeyes' righty went 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA in the Central Illinois league.

Ohio State's Josh Hula spent time in the Great Lakes and Cape Cod Leagues this summer, as well. Identical to Purdue's Sattler, Hula didn't get large amounts of playing time at either stop, so it's another case of wondering what limited his action this summer.

Penn State infielder Matt Cavagnaro was a star in the Texas Collegiate League. Cavagnaro's 60 hits paced the league as did his five triples. His 37 runs scored were the third best mark in Texas. Cavagnaro was a two-time player of the week. His strong summer may be a precursor to All-Conference recognition in 2007.

Big Ten Freshman of the Year J.B. Shuck picked up right where he left off. The top newcomer in the conference had such a strong summer in the Great Lakes Collegiate League, Shuck was named by Baseball America as the top pro prospect in that wood bat league. The Ohio State star hit .364 and stole 11 of 16 bases this summer while going 2-0 from the mound with a dazzling 0.95 ERA. I think he's going to be on everyone's short list as pre-season All-Conference and Player of the Year Awards. After an impressive summer, All-America nominations aren't out of the question, either.

Michigan had it's own prized freshman perform dual duties in the Great Lakes League. Adam Abraham, who was selected as the Big Ten Tournament's Most Valuable Player in his inaugural season, hit .287 with 12 RBI in the GLL. The Wolverines righthander also had a 2-2 record and a 2.89 ERA. Abraham will be on some pre-season watch lists, as well.

Michigan's Mike Wilson didn't post eye-popping summer numbers (an ERA over 7.00), but his live arm got scouts attention. Baseball America's staff has him ranked as the 7th best prospect in the Great Lakes League this summer.

Michigan State pitcher Mark Sorenson's GLL season went so well, he also made Baseball America's list of top ten pro prospects in the the league. Sorenson's 6-0 mark and 1.71 ERA was impressive to more than a few.

Fellow Spartan, Kyle Day played for Hays in the Jayhawk League. The MSU catcher hit .371 with 7 HR's, 27 RBI and 31 runs scored. His strong bat earned him a ranking as the fifth best pro prospect in the league according to, you guessed it, Baseball America. (I really should not be paying for that subscription as much as I toss their name around here.)

Posting big offensive numbers was also the norm for Purdue's Ryne White. The Boilermakers slugger hit .329 with four dingers 28 RBI while slugging at a .475 clip in the Central Illinois League.

Other players whose names I found included Ohio State's Jacob Howell (.284 in the Great Lakes League), Wes Schritzinger (.282 in the GLL), Jason Zoeller (.209 in the GLL), and Trey Fausnaugh (2-2, 2.95). Shawn Roof of Illinois (.268, 20 sb in the Coastal Plains League). Northwestern's Tommy Finn (.205, Central Illinois), Michigan's Kevin Cislo (.276, GLL), MSU's Steve Gerstenberger (.247, 13 RBI in the GLL).

Again, I encourage you to contact with the names of the players I didn't recognize here. I'll add to this list or create a new post, if I find more data.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Buckeyes Pace Attendance, Again

Ohio State fans, this post's for you. Well, in part, anyway. The Buckeyes' faithful get a tip of the ol' ball cap as they, once again, led the Big Ten in attendance in 2006. Ohio State not only lead the Big Ten in fans in attendance, but came in 24th overall in college baseball.

Their national ranking is made more extraordinary when you realize that the Buckeyes played far and away the fewest home games of the universities in the top 25. OSU played a mere 17 home dates, while the next closest team was Notre Dame with 24 home games. Bob Todd's squad averaged over 2,000 fans per game.

As is often the case in Big Ten matters, Michigan also can boast a bit. According to Boyd Nation's breakdown, the Wolverines are amongst the best teams to invite to town. Rich Maloney's team was ranked as the 19th best team to increase attendance. Go check out Mr. Nation's work and get a look at '06 attendance figures.

Ohio State's Shuck Earns Praise

Baseball America has been reviewing the collegiate summer leagues and OSU's J.B. Shuck garnered some recognition. Shuck, the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year in 2006, pitched and hit in the Great Lakes Summer League. You can read up on Shuck's summer here. (Scroll down past the league reviews.)

Visting The Big Boys

While only IU has released it's 2007 schedule, in reviewing the slates of non-conference schools, we can see that a few Big Ten institutions are taking on some of college baseball's big names next year.

Purdue leads the charge with a tour of The Peach State. The Boilermakers will visit the Georgia Bulldogs from February 23 - February 25. Little over a week later, Purdue continues it's tour of the SEC with a stop in Alabama to take on Auburn, March 9 - 11.

Coach Schreiber and the Purdue Atheltic Department deserve some extra credit. Their non-conference schedule has been rather impressive in recent years. The Boilers administration isn't afraid to visit anyone. In the position the Big Ten schools find themselves in, especially in terms of RPI, it's very important for the conference's schools to schedule quality non-conference opposition and Purdue has done that as well as anyone in the Big Ten.

Illinois isn't ducking the elite schools, either. The Illini are loading up the bus (or plane) and heading to Knoxville to play Tennessee from March 2 - 4.

Finally, last year's conference Cinderella, Northwestern, is going to the Lone Star State to play Texas Tech, February 9 - 11.

Now, if we can just get some of the traditional big boys to dig out their jackets and travel north.

(Hat tip: College Baseball Blog.)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Technical Difficulities

I'm in the process of making the switch to the updated version of Blogger. This has lead to a number of technical issues--things like this site not appearing. My apologies to all, especially both of my loyal readers and those making their initial visit courtesy of Skilton's Baseball Links.

I expect these matters to arise until the Blogger folks get a handle on the migration process and work out all the associated bugs. Thanks for stopping in and being patient.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The DQ Lineup

It appears the 2007 Dairy Queen Classic field has been set. According to the University of Arkansas' official site, The DQC will feature the Razorbacks, The Citadel, Mississippi and, of course, Minnesota. The Gophers host The DQ, one of the country's top tournaments, at the Metrodome from March 2 - March 4.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Indiana's 2007 Schedule

Here is Indiana's 2007 baseball schedule. The Hoosiers pre-conference slate isn't completely filled in, but that three game visit to Florida State seems daunting enough.

Kudos to the IU's sports information department for being the first university in the Big Ten to publish their '07 slate.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Transfer Market

The Big Ten has a number of players opting to apply their craft elsewhere this summer. Baseball America has published the list of athletes opting to transfer and the Big Ten is far too well represented.

Perhaps, the most notable departure is Troy Krider leaving Michigan State. Krider has gotten plenty of playing time with the Spartans -- playing in all 56 MSU contests while batting .355 -- and I suspected he would be in the running for an All-Conference selection in '07. Alas, Mr. Krider has chosen to leave East Lansing, although he hasn't decided where he is headed yet.

The other player whose name jumped out at me is the previously invisible Cameron Satterwhite. The Indiana OF/DH is headed to Cincinnati after playing only briefly for the Hoosiers in 2006. Satterwhite was really starting to look like an offensive force when he suddenly disappeared from IU's roster in the middle of the conference schedule. This is the first most of us have seen or heard of the slugger since.

Also on the list of those transferring out of the Big Ten are Ohio State's Dan Barker (RHP) and Josh Hula (C), Indiana's Jon David and Jason Drew, MSU's pitchers Mike Takashima and Matt Trausch.

The only player heading into the conference is Josh Lindblom. Lindblom is leaving Tennessee and taking the mound for Purdue in 2007.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

August's # 1

It's August. It's also about as far away from the start of the next college baseball season as you can get. However, what have I been thinking about? If I were a member of the voting media, who would I vote as the number one team in the country heading into 2007?

My answer is South Carolina. The Gamecocks impressed me last year and have a number of players returning in '07. I guess that makes South Carolina my pre-pre-season number one.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cape League Complaints And My Solution

John Manuel, of Baseball America fame and fortune, writes that scouts weren't terribly impressed about the Cape Cod League All-Star Game. Seems a number of the quality arms in the league couldn't pitch due to a variety of factors. That left a series of less than top flight pitchers for the scouts to evaluate. Our scouting friends were so up in arms, pardon the pun, that they will probably complain back to their Major League employers who will take the summer wood bat league to task for not providing them with the talent they anticipated seeing.

My thought is that the scouts should complain about their employers as they are part of the problem. This is going to run over a sacred cow or two, but let me pose a philosophic question anyway. Do we really need the Cape League? Or wood bat summer leagues, in general, for that matter?

Yes, the college players do need a place to play during baseball's peak time of the year. From that perspective, I understand the need for all the summer leagues. Yet, why should MLB scouts get so up in arms over one all-star game? What has made these summer leagues so important? The reason is simple--wooden bats.

When the college kids leave campus, they leave all the metal bats behind. In the summer, scouts get to evaluate both hitters and pitchers in a setting that more closely resembles MLB action. Thus, when the kids they want to see play against each other don't participate, scouts get a bit edgy. They have a very small window to look at the nation's collegiate stars in this environment. When your livelihood comes from making proper recommendations, it's understandable that you get cranky when your opportunities to evaluate are hampered.

Let's also realize that MLB is footing a portion of the bill in many, if not most, of the summer wood bat leagues. MLB is helping cover the cost of the bats, presumably, so they can judge their prospective future employees in the optimum setting. Again, not having your best players play comes off as biting the hand that feeds you. Which leads me back, in part, to my original question.

What if MLB decided to stop funding the summer leagues and sent the money to the NCAA? What if, instead of a few weeks of wood bat action in the summer, college players got to play with wood bats all year long? I'm not looking to destroy the summer wood bat leagues, but I am curious why they can get money from MLB and the NCAA cannot? Even if their is some archaic rule in the NCAA that prohibits such a move (and who would believe the NCAA has archaic rules on the books?), if MLB offered the money, couldn't the NCAA really just re-write the rule?

Such a move would really be a win-win for both MLB and the NCAA. MLB would get several extra months, if not years, to evaluate talent using and facing wooden bats on a regular basis. Wouldn't this create plenty of scouting chances? Might proper evaluation lead to less drafting errors and save money--in theory anyway? (Hey, I'm selling a concept here, play along.)

The NCAA also gains as one of the biggest complaints I hear about the college game from general baseball fans is the "ping" of metal bats. It doesn't faze me, obviously, but it clearly keeps some from embracing the game. If attendance and interest rose in the college game, players in the NCAA might become more recognizable and fans might get more interested in things like the MLB Draft. Again, how this hurts anyone is beyond me.

(As an aside, I also figure some minor league teams might get a bit anxious at the thought of the NCAA using wood bats. Some kids, although not a significant amount, might opt for two years of college baseball (minimum) instead of heading off to the big league farm system straight from high school. From strictly a budgetary standpoint, would having fewer minor league franchises save MLB money? Again, this is just a thinking-out-loud moment.)

I realize that if MLB stopped funding the use of wood bats in college, the summer leagues prestige may fall. Some would probably fold. While I'm not looking to crush this cottage industry, I think it's time to take another look at this entire set-up. Clearly, the best case scenario would be one where MLB steps up to the plate and funds both the NCAA and the summer wooden bat leagues so they can evaluate the players from March until August.

Providing your potential future workforce with the tools of their job at a younger age? Expanding the game's popularity at lower levels? Getting more time to evaluate players? Why, again, is this not a good idea?

Update (8/2/06): I emailed someone with far more knowledge about this subject than I--which I realize could be just about anyone--and learned that one possible issue may be Title IX. The theory is that because of Title IX, if MLB tossed money at the NCAA and equal amount would have to go to women's athletics. That does provide a rather large obstacle. I'd say an unnecessary one, but that might get me in trouble.

There is also the matter of whether or not there really is enough wood bats out there to supply all of D-I. I'm going to be the last guy to encourage stripping our forests to make bats, so if it's even debatable, it's probably not a good idea. I would like to think that some of these companies are actually re-foresting (if that's the proper term for planting more trees), but I don't really care to ponder that, either.

The last point is one of the bat manufacturers and their "relationship" with the NCAA. I leave that statement for you to read between the lines.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

An Indiana Stats Question

I received an email from fellow baseball fan Steve Guthrie. Steve has asked for some assistance. As I couldn't give him a definitive answer, I'm tossing this one to BTH readers. Here's Steve's query (with my editing the email into paragraphs at different points, as it didn't exactly copy and paste well; my apologies to Mr. Guthrie):

2006 is the second season I will have made a Big Ten card set available free to people for use on the APBA table baseball game. I get my data almost completely from team websites and have never seen anything like the way Indiana handled their 2006 stats.

The batting stats for three players are included in the 2006 Indiana team totals on their website but are not listed as individual players; hence the player totals don't add up to the team totals. I have never seen this kind of data expulsion done before. There are two pitchers left out of their pitching table, too. None of the five are listed on the fielding table on the Indiana site. (The Big Ten website has all players listed only in fielding tables - the five missing ex-Hoosiers are all listed there.) I did some work to dig up the data for the missing players in the Indiana boxscores.

These player situations really call out for explanations.1) Brett Sager batted 6th starting Game 1 as the Hoosier second baseman. He went 0 for 2, booted his first fielding chance, and was substituted for after six innings. He pinch-ran for the catcher in Game 3 and never appeared again. His stats are gone. 2) Steve Head started 35 of Indiana's first 43 games as their thirdbaseman. He made only one more appearance (in Game 47) going 1 for 2, scoring twice. He never appears again in the last nine games. His stats are gone. 3) Cameron Satterwhite didn't play until Game 16 but soon made an impact as the Hoosier DH. After the team's 37th game, Satterwhite was batting .386, slugging .516, and on base 42.6 percent of the time as the cleanup hitter. He never appeared in a game again. His stats are gone.

What happened to these players? Web searches turn up nothing. I will e-mail 2006 Indiana Batting and Pitching tables as Excel spreadsheets that include the five dropped players to anyone that might want them.

Again, I can't provide Mr. Guthrie with any solid information. I suspect there is a combination of youngsters that dropped out, were dismissed from the school or opted to transfer elsewhere, but that's all speculation. It's also doesn't explain the stats being erased from IU's records.

If anyone has an answer to Steve's inquiry, feel free to post it here or drop me an email. I'd leave Steve's email address, but it would just get filled with all the spam I get now. Thanks to any and all that can shed some light on this matter.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

MSU's Grewe Profiled

Much to my amazement, there is a link to a feature about a college baseball coach on the homepage today. Even more astounding is the fact that the baseball coach profiled is from the Big Ten--Michigan State's David Grewe. It's the off-season and a Big Ten baseball coach gets a story on the Worldwide Leader's website? Go figure.

Regardless, it's great for the conference, in general, and for Grewe and the Spartans, specifically.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cavagnaro's Texas Two-Step

Penn State's Matt Cavagnaro is tearing up the Texas Collegiate League. For the second week in a row, Cavagnaro was named the league's Player of the Week.

Penn State's New Yard

The New York-Penn League, via Minor League, takes a look at State College's new ballpark, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Penn State, which is sharing the new facility with the State College Spikes of Class A, begins playing at Medlar Field in 2007. I definitely hope to visit the new park next season.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Oregon State Raises The Bar

Oregon State's College World Series triumph should have ramifications in the Big Ten. Why? Because the Beavers' title run makes it that much more difficult for teams from the north to complain about their spot on college baseball's totem pole.

If the Beavers can play in consecutive College World Series and win one, why on Earth can't schools in the Big Ten? Or the Big East? The lament many--myself, first and foremost--point to in regards to the north's disadvantage in college baseball is weather. Why Corvallis isn't as rainy as we might think, they get less rainfall than Chicago according to the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce, it's not exactly the warm, enticing weather of the souths-east and west.

We always hear that high school players want to play in Texas, California and Florida because of the ideal weather conditions and the baseball tradition of college's super powers. Well, if kids are willing to go to Corvallis to play baseball, where the weather isn't perfect and their history is ancient to the average high school senior, they should be willing to try Columbus, West Lafayette or State College.

Then there's Oregon State's overall image. Ask anyone to name the best schools for athletics and I suspect that three Big Ten universities--Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State--would be mentioned before Oregon State by everyone who responded to the question. Another five to six Big Ten programs also might get the nod before the Beavers. That might not be an accurate portrayal of how Oregon State's athletics actually perform on the field, but it's a perception of success.

Again, if high school players are going to attend a state university to play baseball, there is no reason to believe that Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State can't compete with Oregon State for recruits, if their image is better or equal to the Beavers, which I believe it is.

Consider revenue streams, as well. Does Oregon State have more money to spend in it's athletic budget than anyone in the Big Ten? Do they have more alumni to solicit funds from? Do they have more former or current pro players (in all sports) to hit up for cash than the schools in the Big Ten? It's difficult to argue finances when Oregon State's probably not bringing in the same capital that many Big Ten schools are.

The Beavers also overcame a disadvantage no one in the Big Ten has to--competition. Oregon State is playing in one of college baseball premier conferences. Pac-10 baseball powers Stanford, USC, UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State are regulars in the NCAA Tournament field. If the Beavers can climb to the top of the ultra competitive Pac-10 while playing in a less than ideal climate for baseball, there is no reason the Big Ten can't produce a few programs to compete with the nation's elite baseball teams.

Certainly, Oregon State does have some advantages over northern schools. Just showing up to play each week versus a fellow Pac-10 opponent increases their RPI. Win or lose, they get points. They also get to play three games on the weekends, not four like Big Ten programs do. And, yes, the weather isn't quite as bad as some might believe. (Even if it rains, that must mean it's too warm to snow, right?) However, there is no solid reason that several Big Ten programs can't match Oregon State's success.

For at least the last decade, only Ohio State has pushed the envelope, in baseball terms. In building Bill Davis Stadium, in pacing the conference in attendance, in hosting a regional, the Buckeyes have attempted to make the next step. Ohio State has slowly forced other Big Ten schools into keeping pace. I doubt if Penn State or Michigan would be making stadium changes if the folks in Columbus hadn't done so first. Now, Oregon State's emergence has raised the bar even higher for Big Ten baseball programs.

If Big Ten programs don't begin to rise as a baseball powers, it will simply be because neither the conference or the individual institutions have the will to do so. All the other necessary tools are at their disposal. Oregon State has set the bar, let's see if anyone in the Big Ten is willing to aim that high.

Thoughts On The CWS

Let me share a few random thoughts I have about the just completed College World Series.

* I admire the toughness of Oregon State, emerging from the loser's bracket and dropping the first game of the CWS Championship round, but is it too much to think that North Carolina's sloppy defense handed the title to OSU?

* At what point do college coaches have a responsibility to their pro prospects in regards to limiting pitch counts? As a Detroit Tigers fan, I was more than a bit concerned over the number of pitches (over 300) Jonah Nickerson threw over the two weeks in Omaha. Didn't he pitch on three or less days of rest twice?

Nickerson wasn't the only OSU hurler to get an excessive workload, but he seemed like the most visible. As kids like Nickerson harbor professional dreams, don't college coaches have some responsibility to make sure they can succeed in their careers like any other instructor would? Doesn't throwing that often increase the odds of arm injury and shortened careers?

* I like Mike Patrick and Harold Reynolds in the ESPN booth, although with their other obligations, I doubt they spend too much time prior to June 1 paying much attention to college baseball. As a result, they do stumble around a bit. In spite of this, Patrick's CWS work is far better than his football work. He seems much more at ease and his work more fluid. Maybe he broadcasted baseball originally?

I like Reynolds' personality, always have, but I can't get past his comments in 2003 about contracting the Detroit Tigers. He does a solid, if unspectacular job in Omaha. Like Patrick, you do get the feeling he likes the work and that's half the battle.

I'm a big Kyle Peterson fan. The ex-Stanford pitcher does cover the college game year-round and played in the CWS. I'd like to see ESPN expand Peterson's role. Studio host, perhaps? Maybe they have given him more responsibility on ESPNU, but, alas, my cable provider doesn't offer The U. Regardless, Peterson should get more airtime.

Erin Andrews is fine. Easy, boys, I mean she does acceptable work. I'm not thrilled about these in-game coach interviews--the college baseball equivalent of the worthless exchange with football coaches heading in/out of the lockeroom at halftime--but, it's not like Andrews came up with the idea. She's just doing her job. I'm just not crazy about sideline reporters, so I'm biased from the start.

* I'm sad to see another season depart, but Oregon State is a deserving champion.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Cavagnaro Grabs Honor

Penn State's Matt Cavagnaro was named the Texas Collegiate League's Player of the Week for June 22. The Nittany Lions' infielder is pacing the summer wood bat league in hits with 26 and is amongst the leaders in runs scored (13) and on base percentage (.522).

Sunday, June 25, 2006

More CWS Posts

SI On Campus has a couple of posts on the College World Series this week. The first is entitled "Why You Should Watch The College World Series" and the second is "Field of Dreams" which gives you the feeling of the party surrounding Omaha this week. Brief entries, but worth reading.

Last week, SIOC, pondered the question that has befuddled millions, why isn't college baseball more popular? Some of the response are stereotypical--aluminum bats, lack of television coverage, quality of play, blah, blah, blah. However, solid observations were made, as well. Check them all out.

Friday, June 23, 2006

DeLucia Is Player Of The Week

Ohio State's Dan DeLucia was named the Cape Cod League's Pitcher of the Week. DeLucia is doing for Coltiut in the Cape what he does for the Buckeyes--win ballgames. DeLucia is 2-0 and has already tossed a complete game shutout while pacing the premier wood bat summer league in innings pitched. (Correction 7/1/06: According to the Cape's stats page, as of June 30, DeLucia does not have a complete game or a shutout. I'm fairly clueless in general, but I must have obtained that data from somewhere. However, that's twice in a week that I've flubbed something, so it must be me. Regardless, my apologies to Dan, his family, the OSU fanbase, Cotuit, the Cape League, myself and anyone else potentially offended.)

Other Big Ten stars playing on the Cape include Buckeyes' Matt Angle, Cory Luebke (1-0) and Eric Fryer. Michigan's Doug Pickens, Iowa's Travis Sweet and Minnesota's Cole DeVries (1-0). (I apologize if I missed anyone. Feel free to leave a post or email me if you know of any other Big Ten players in the Cape Cod League.)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

CWS Championship Set

The College World Series championship will come down to a three game battle between North Carolina and Oregon State. Game One between the Tar Heels and Beavers is on Saturday night. I'll skip predictions--as I really have no idea who is going to win and I don't want to give the kiss of death to either program.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

On The Dotted Line

Iowa CF Nate Price has signed a contract to play in the Chicago Cubs organization. Another former Big Ten star to sign on with the pros is Ronnie Bourquin. The Ohio State standout, and conference Player of the Year, was a second round choice of the Detroit Tigers.

Tennessee Transfer

Purdue University has announced that pitcher Josh Lindblom is tranferring from Tennessee. The West Lafayette native will be a part of coach Doug Schreiber's 2007 rotation.

Official Recaps

The Big Ten Conference has compiled a list of all the Big Ten players selected in the Major League Baseball draft. The only two I might have missed from my coverage were Michigan State's Jeff Gerbe (Detroit) and Ryan Basham (Toronto). I had heard Gerbe got picked, as I get plenty of Tigers coverage, but the Basham selection eluded me.

The official conference site also reviews the 2006 season. Northwestern University's stellar '06 Big Ten campaign is relived here.

Big Ten Television Network

According to a published report, the Big Ten will announce tomorrow the creation of it's own cable television network. The new network will begin in 2007 and it's coverage will probably be comprised mostly of non-revenue sports.

I think it's safe to assume this means Big Ten baseball might get some consistent air time. Of course, the baseball programs will be vying with softball and other spring sports, but it's still an opportunity for additional exposure.

I'm cautiously optimistic about this proposed network. I clearly excited about the possibility of getting to see some additional games without a road trip. It would make covering the conference easier. Of course, it might make the ol' blog obsolete, but only time will tell.

A big hat tip to Ian of Sweaty Men Endeavors who gave me the heads up on this one.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

CWS Time

There is a good chance I won't be posting here again before Sunday, so I had best get in anything I have to say about the College World Series now.

The Rosenblog, Baseball America's blog from Rosenblatt Stadium (and beyond), is already in full swing. Time to note that I have to get to Omaha for the CWS.

Another site you should visit is It's a standard link in the right hand column, but it can't hurt to give it some extra attention right now.

The folks attending the championship game are going to receive this poster. Three Big Ten players made the poster--Ohio State's Steve Arlin, Michigan's Barry Larkin and Minnesota's Dave Winfield. Yes, boys and girls, there is a history of baseball success in the Big Ten.

Of course, I'm presuming CSTV is going to continue it's fine tournament coverage, as well. I'm also hoping someone will be blogging from Omaha.

If you are wondering about the magic that is the CWS and Omaha, you need look no further than this re-printed column by Joe Posnanski courtesy of and The Kansas City Star. Great, now I want to go even more.

There is no reason to believe this tournament won't provide it's usual array of memorable moments. I hope all of are able to enjoy the CWS.

Miller Grabs BA Honor

North Carolina junior Andrew Miller was named Baseball America's Player of the Year today. Miller, the sixth overall pick in the amatuer draft, went 13-2 for UNC and posted a 2.11 ERA.

Miller also heads BA's All-America team for 2006. No players from the Big Ten were selected to any of the three star squads.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New Blog, New Photos

I've stumbled upon this blog about Rice baseball. Take a look at some of the photos of the super regional between the Owls and Oklahoma.

Ronnie Bourquin: All-America

Ohio State thirdbaseman Ronnie Bourquin collected another post-season honor today. Bourquin was named a first-team All-America selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Bourquin not only grabbed first team honors, but was the only member of the Big Ten to be named to any of the first three All-America squads announced today.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Flack Powers Heels To Omaha

I left the computer long enough to watch the last few innings of the Alabama vs. North Carolina game on television. UNC trailed, but plated four runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 6-4 lead. The big blow was a three run home run off the bat of Chad Flack. In the top of the ninth, 'Bama answered with a three run jack off the bat of Alex Avila to give the Tide a 7-6 lead. "Roll Tide" was ringing throughout the park.

In the bottom of the final frame, Mr. Flack stepped to the plate once again with one runner on base. I'm watching this transpire and thinking to myself "What if this kid homers, again? Wouldn't that be incredible? Alabama would not only lose the game, but suddenly their year would be finished. If Flack could somehow go yard one more time not only would the Heels win, but they go to Omaha." Then I thought "Isn't this why we watch? Isn't this what the tournament is really all about--the anticipation, the possibilities, the tension?"

I had all those thoughts just moments before Flack hit a walk-off home run and gave UNC an 8-7 triumph. It was amazing. What a swing in emotions, on both sides of the field. Carolina thought their eighth inning might be enough, only to have Alabama respond. Then, the Tide supporters must have figured it was their night after Avila's yard work and UNC fans had to be pondering another game tomorrow, but then came Flack's second bomb in as many innings.

In just the eighth and ninth innings, Flack went yard twice and drove in five to send the Heels to Omaha. You have to be impressed with UNC's multiple comebacks, however, having spent several days watching the seasons and the careers of a number of Big Ten teams and athletes come to an end, I feel worse for 'Bama and their supporters. It's difficult to lose, but to be so close--including regaining the lead dramatically in the top of the ninth--and still fall short is probably more heartbreaking.

An outstanding game, though. One that neither UNC or Alabama fans will forget.

I can't seem to get the Oregon State vs. Stanford feed online and ESPN2 is broadcasting the Fullerton vs. Missouri affair, so no trees for me apparently. Fullerton is winning as are the Beavers, but it's early. Although at 5-0, CSF appears to be in complete control. OSU is up 3-2, so I'm considering that game still up for grabs.

Check out CSTV's on-site blogs the rest of the night. CSTV's thirsty baseball maven Eric Sorenson is stationed at the Fullerton Super Regional, while Lindsay Schnell is in Corvallis.

Update: Stanford has tied it at 3-3.