Thursday, May 25, 2006

Big Ten Tournament: Day 2

I enjoy the casual atmosphere of batting practice. There is, however, something about batting practice in the morning that I find serene. I don't know what it is about morning BP that I find so comforting, but it is. I think the world would be a better place if I could watch batting practice each morning. Well, fine, my world would be a better place.

Tomorrow, I'll get to enjoy that experience even earlier than I have the last two days. The fifth game of the tournament--Minnesota vs. Michigan--was postponed this evening and re-scheduled for 10am Friday. I guess I'll need to haul my lazy behind out of bed earlier. Of course, there is still plenty o' rain in the forecast for Friday, so the entire schedule tomorrow is dicey.

As for what did occur today, Purdue bounced Illinois, 10-5. Mitch Hilligoss went 3 for 4 with a homer and Spencer Ingaldson was 4 for 6 with three runs scored for the Boilers. Jay Buente (6-4) went the distance giving up all five runs on ten hits.

The Illini got two RBI a piece from Ryan Hastings and Trevor Huisinga. Illinois finishes the year at 29-29.

In the second game, Ohio State stomped on Northwestern, 9-0. Jedidiah Stephen hit a three run homer and Ronnie Bourquin went 3 for 3 with three runs scored to lead the Buckeyes' offense. Eric Fryer also homered for the Buckeyes.

OSU managed to plated six runs on Pitcher of the Year, NU's Dan Brauer. (Only three were earned runs, though.) Brauer lasted eight innings giving up ten hits and not fanning a single OSU batter. Brauer's performance reflected what seemed to be the Wildcats opening game jitters.

Buckeye starter Cory Luebke pitched eight innings allowing only three hits. Rory Meister came in to close out the affair.

Now, if I am correct, which I admit is the minority of the time, we have a quadruple header on tap for Friday. I suspect the weather may force more games into Saturday and, possibly, Sunday, but I'll try to get to Ray Fisher Stadium early just to see if anyone is in action around breakfast. (Technically, by ten in the morning I'm on breakfast number two, but that's a story for another day.)

Oh, remember those tournament t-shirts I lamented not seeing yesterday? Well, lo and behold, they arrived promptly around the ninth inning of game one today. (Note: I'm not taking credit for this development.) Of course, yours truly was nearing the end of his cash supply, so I have to wait for tomorrow to live up to my end of the deal. Hey, if they were there yesterday, when the tournament began, I would own one now.

I have now seen five games at Fisher Stadium in three days (I was at last Saturday's contest between Iowa and Michigan), and there is a theme that is repeating. The fans don't like the umpires. No, not personally. Every group of fans think their guys aren't getting the calls. Every fan base believes the officiating in Big Ten contests is poor, at best. I don't care which Big Ten school you support, all can agree--the umps stink.

My initial reaction to this is two-fold and completely contradictory. First, as I think the Big Ten dismisses baseball in general (which is the topic of another post I need to get to), there might be a very good chance that they don't hire quality umpires or just don't care about how well they perform their jobs. Since baseball is not a revenue sport, why should they care? (See also: If an ump is lousy, but no one is there to see it, does it really matter?)

The opposite thought is probably one you've heard before. If I hate the officiating because I think my team is getting screwed. And you hate the officiating because you think your team is getting screwed is it possible that the officials are actually just calling it even? Or, possibly, calling it accurately?

Sure, the critics could argue that bad umping, even it is equally poor for both sides, is still bad and should be unacceptable. Point taken. However, to think they are all bad across the board seems like stretch, doesn't it? See, I told you I had conflicting thoughts on this.

Well, that's all for tonight edition of BTH. If you are at the tournament, stop by and say hello. I'll be the guy at the t-shirt stand looking dumbfounded trying to figure out whether to get the long sleeve or short-sleeve model.