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 CWSOmaha.com. 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 CWSOmaha.com 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.

And The Nominees Are....

It's award time around college baseball. Like every other sport, there is no shortage of hardware being distributed. Let's get a look at some of college baseball's award nominees.

The Roger Clemens Award goes to the top pitcher in the game. This year's finalists are North Carolina's Andrew Miller, Houston's Brad Lincoln, Rice's Eddie Degerman and Washington's Tim Lincecum.

The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association hands out the Dick Howser Award. The Howser is given to the Player of the Year in the collegiate ranks. The aforementioned Mr. Lincoln (Houston), Mr. Degerman (Rice) and Mr. Lincecum (Washington) made the Howser final cut, as did outfielder Kellen Kulbacki (James Madison).

The NCBWA has already handed out one award. Don Czyz of Kansas was named the Stopper of the Year. Which, as the name implies, goes to the top closer in college baseball.

As mentioned here before, or at least it had better have been, Jeff Kunkel of Michigan is amongst the three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award. Miami's Eddy Rodriguez and East Carolina's Jake Smith are the other two backstops nominate to be given the Catcher of the Year nod.

The Brooks Wallace Award is another Player of the Year honor. The semi-finalist list, issued in late May, is lengthy. Click here for a PDF list of all those included. In addition to those players repeatedly mentioned above, Ohio State's Ronnie Bourquin made the list. Again, unless I slacked off, this probably got mentioned at BTH prior, but there's nothing wrong with repeating myself when the conference gets some baseball attention.

Putnam Avoids Surgery

Michigan freshman Zach Putnam doesn't need surgery on his elbow. According to Antoine Pitts of The Ann Arbor News, Putnam does not have a tear and will begin a rehab program that should allow him to rejoin Michigan's rotation at the start of next season.

Lots Of Yard Work

I was watching the Super Regional between South Carolina and Georgia and saw the Gamecocks jack out five consecutive homers. Yes, five in a row. I have to echo Joanna's sentiments, I have never seen anything quite like it.

All this yard work was done in a hurry. Nine pitches, five homers. It was like BP. Or Home Run Derby. The poor Dawgs even changed pitchers and the new guy immediately saw his offerings land on the other side of the fence. These were not cheap taters, either. Several of these landed a county or two away. They were those majestic, no-doubt-about-it types. In all, the Gamecocks clubbed eight homers. It's was an incredible offensive display. Needless to say, SC won.

Georgia Tech and Clemson have advanced to the CWS. Other than Tech avoiding adding to their recent string of post-season disappointment, there is no shock that either program is Omaha-bound.

I'm watching game two of Alabama and North Carolina. I like this picture-in-picture I can do with MediaPlayer. I can blog and watch. Very cool. Hat tip to ESPN and the NCAA for providing the feed online. Smart move all the way around. Oh, 'Bama is up, 3-2.

Hey, can the Big Ten work out a deal to get games broadcast online? Somebody call the conference office and make a suggestion. Oops, I forgot. It's football season in the Big Ten, now. Can't be bothered with baseball. (Did I say that out loud? Was that sarcasm? Sorry about that.)

Back to the Supers, I'm hoping to see the Stanford vs. Oregon State game tonight. Truth be told, I like the Stanford program. Although, I wasn't all that impressed with this year's squad. They've surprised me by getting to the super regionals. I guess the traditional powers are traditional powers for a reason--even in down years they are pretty good.

I have to admit that with all this college baseball action on the tube (and online), I'm ready for the next Big Ten season to get underway today. Too bad I have to get through another winter and an overdose of football first.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Freshmen All-America Team

The Big Ten is well represented on this year's Freshmen All-America Team. The team, chosen by Collegiate Baseball, has five members of the Big Ten on it. Conference champion Michigan placed two first year players on the squad. Zach Putnam was named as a pitcher and Adam Abraham, coming off being named the Outstanding Player of the Big Ten Tournament, was tabbed as a multiple position player.

Another multiple position honoree is Ohio State's J.B. Shuck. The Buckeye standout was also named the conference's Freshman of the Year. Two outfielders round out the Big Ten's selections. Matt Nohelty of Minnesota and Ryne White of Purdue were also amongst the best freshmen in college baseball this year.

On To The Pros

Major League Baseball held it's annual draft earlier this week. I would have gotten to it sooner, however, between my priorities and Blogger being down most of last night, I could get to it until today.

I'm fairly pleased with the number of Big Ten players chosen. Does it rival the baseball rich conferences? No, but there is some indication that the guys at the next level believe some of the players in the Big Ten are good enough to get a shot. Here is a list of the Big Ten players chosen.

Prior to the draft, Iowa closer Tim Gudex signed with the Chicago Cubs and Michigan catcher Jeff Kunkel inked a deal with the Detroit Tigers.

In the draft, the Tigers tabbed another Michigan product, lefthander Paul Hammond. Minnesota lefty John Gaub was chosen by Cleveland. A pair of Northwestern hurlers were drafted, as well. George Kontos went to the New York Yankees while Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Dan Brauer was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Three Ohio State Buckeyes heard their named called during MLB's First Year Player Draft. Big Ten Player of the Year Ronnie Bourquin went in the second round to the Tigers. Jedidiah Stephen will begin his professional career in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Cory Luebke was selected by the Texas Rangers.

Purdue managed to beat the Buckeyes by one, as four members of the Boilermakers were drafted earlier this week. Shortstop Mitch Hilligoss will join the Yankees minor league system, Milwaukee grabbed closer Chris Toneguzzi, Jay Buente went to Florida and Dan Sattler was selected by Texas.

Penn State lefty Alan Stidfole signed with Toronto after the draft and will join his brother in the Blue Jays' system.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Vanderbilt 5 Michigan 4

The score does say it all. Vanderbilt was just a bit better today and they eliminated Michigan from the NCAA Tournament with a 5-4 triumph. Outstanding Commodore 3B Pedro Alvarez and RF Ryan Davis each went yard against the Wolverines for the second straight game.

Doug Pickens and Nate Recknagel countered with some yard work of their own, but it wasn't quite enough. Chris Fetter did start for Michigan and took the loss. The win went the Nick Christiani

Again today, Michigan did have opportunities to prevail against Vandy, but just couldn't close the deal. For the second straight year, Michigan's season ends in the Atlanta Regional after going 1-2. I've said this before, and I'll say it quite a bit more, but Big Ten teams have to start advancing in the tournament.

This Michigan side certainly had the right mind set--that just being in the field wasn't enough. Unfortunately, that didn't translate into wins. In spite of their elimination, you cannot convince me that Michigan is significantly worse than Vanderbilt. Yes, the SEC team prevailed, but it was hardly a beatdown.

It's not going to stop all the typical fan banter, or common belief, that the north cannot compete with the traditional southern/western powers. I hope that with the continuing commitment to baseball by many snowbelt programs that college baseball's playing field might be getting a bit more balanced.

Hopefully, next season more than one Big Ten team gets into The Dance, they can host a regional and advance. (I'm not asking for much, am I?)

The win gives the Commodores a second shot at host Georgia Tech in the championship of the Atlanta Regional. The loss not only ends the year for Michigan, but concludes play for all the representatives of the Big Ten Conference.

It's been another fun year of baseball in the Big Ten. From Northwestern's improbable run for a conference crown to the emergence of freshmen throughout the conference to Michigan's double championships and tournament appearance, it's been an enjoyable, unpredictable season.

This year, I got to meet some of those directly involved with the baseball programs at Big Ten universities, met some great fans and got to attend the entire Big Ten Tournament. I hope to do more of the same in 2007.

So, what am I going to do here next? I think I'll save that for my next post.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Michigan Bounces Stetson, 11-1

Michigan avoided elimination today by pounding Stetson, 11-1. Paul Hammond started for the Wolverines and tossed a complete game six hitter. Hammond fanned six and walked only one. CF Eric Rose paced the offensive assault by collecting three hits, three RBI and scoring three runs. Sophomore 1B Nate Recknagel also drove in three on a bases clearing double.

The Wolverines (43-20) stay alive in the Atlanta Regional and now await the loser of tonight contest between host Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt. (Note: Tech is leading 7-3 in the ninth inning.) Michigan's next game is scheduled for 1pm Sunday. I'm going with the assumption that Chris Fetter will be Michigan's starting pitcher. Comcast Local is scheduled to broadcast the game.

Update: The Yellow Jackets did beat Vandy, 7-3. The Commodores and Michigan will meet for the second time in this regional tomorrow afternoon. However, on Sunday, it will be an elimination game.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Bourquin Named All-America

Ohio State thirdbaseman Ronnie Bourquin was named to Collegiate Baseball's third team All-America squad. Bourquin who paced the Big Ten in a number of categories, including batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage, was the only Big Ten player to receive All-America recognition.

Manhattan Pulls Off Upset Of Nebraska

Manhattan pulled off a major upset this afternoon dropping #6 Nebraska, 4-1. The Cornhuskers entered the game not only ranked sixth nationally, but were one of the eight national seeds in the tournament (think one of the four #1 seeds in the NCAA hoops tourney), were 7th in RPI and sixth in Boyd Nation's ISR's. They were also playing at home.

Conversely, the Jaspers came into the field of 64 unranked, with an RPI number of 142 and an ISR of 181. Basically, nobody on Earth, not even Manhattan's faithful, figured they could win today. Mathematically, it was nearly impossible, as well. Whip out your cliches here, but that's why they play the games.

Those who have covered this game much longer than I might disagree, but this has got to be one of the more surprising results in tournament history. To me, it's equivalent to a #15 seed beating a #2 in the NCAA basketball tournament. The big difference, of course, is that the Cornhuskers have not been eliminated from the tournament. They just fall into the loser's bracket, another loss away from being finished.

Strike up a win for the little guy and one for schools in the north. Congratulations, Manhattan.

Michigan Falls, 5-2

Vanderbilt's power was too much for Michigan this afternoon. Behind the strength of three homeruns, the Commodores beat the Wolverines, 5-2. Michigan did have opportunities to climb back into the game, they left eight runners on base, but couldn't muster enough offense to keep pace with Vandy's longball attack.

Drew Taylor came on in relief of the injured Zach Putnam (6-2) and pitched pretty well. Taylor did, however, give up two homers in the fifth to extend Vandy's lead from 3-2 to the final score. Matt Buschmann (6-4) tossed a complete game for Vanderbilt.

Pedro Alvarez, Brian Hernandez and Ryan Davis all went yard for the Commodores. A.J. Scheidt had a solid game driving in both Michigan runs and playing some fine defense at thirdbase. Adam Abraham scored twice for the Wolverines.

The loss knock Michigan into the loser's bracket where they will play the loser of tonight game between host Georgia Tech and Stetson. Michigan's next game in the Atlanta Regional will take place tomorrow at 1pm. For those in southeast Michigan, Comcast Local is scheduled to air the game.

I have not heard whether regular number two starter Chris Fetter will take the hill Saturday or if Paul Hammond, who got bumped from starting today, will pitch in the elimination game tomorrow.

Putnam Out; Vandy Up 3-1

It's only the bottom of the second inning in Atlanta, but Vanderbilt is already up 3-1 over Michigan. To compound the Wolverines dilemma, starter Zach Putnam has just been removed from the contest with an arm injury. Drew Taylor is going to replace Putnam with two Commodore runners on base.

Putnam, the highly touted freshman, has struggled from the very first batter this afternoon. He has been unable to locate the strikezone and was finally pulled with what appears to be a problem with his forearm.

Putnam had just returned to his role as Michigan's number one starter after spending several weeks lower in the rotation due to what was then labeled a tired arm. You have to wonder if today's issue is the same problem Putnam has been battling for the last several weeks.

It is only the second inning, but things are not going well for Rich Maloney's squad early on.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Putnam To Start Tomorrow And Other Michigan Links

Antoine Pitts of The Ann Arbor News reports that Zach Putnam will start for Michigan in tomorrow's opening game of the NCAA tournament. Paul Hammond had replaced Putnam several weeks ago as the Wolverines number one starter when Putnam had experienced a sore arm.

I'm not terribly surprised at the switch, as Hammond wasn't terribly effective in the Big Ten Tournament, and Putnam only lost his job due to injury. The strength of Michigan has been it's starting rotation and nearly all the parts have been interchangable. This change shouldn't throw off the team in any way.

Mr. Pitts also explains why the Michigan team's Big Ten Tourney celebration was understated and discusses the emergence of transfer Nate Recknagel.

Michigan's Jeff Kunkel is named as one of the three finalists for the 2006 Johnny Bench Award. The Bench Award is presented annually to college baseball's top catcher.

Baseball America previews the Atlanta Regional.

A look at the Wolverines first round opponent, Vanderbilt, courtesy of Bryan Mullen of The Tennessean.

Links! We've Got Links Here!

I'm almost past my baseball hangover. My sunburn is healing. I think I might be able to enjoy a hot dog, again. I'm able to form partial sentences. On occasion. With that in mind, how about I let some others do the writing for me? Here are some links you might find entertaining.

SEBaseball.com's Mark Etheridge tells us what to look for this weekend at the tournament. Mr. Etheridge also gives us a peek at the mythical NIT Baseball field.

Kendall Rogers, of the Rosenblatt Report, previews the Malibu Regional.

Boyd Nation breaks down each regional in his Breadcrumbs Back To Omaha column.

Beesball let's the Michigan, and Big Ten fans, get a look at Georgia Tech from their perpsective.

Kendall Rogers, who this time appears at the new Rivals.com College Baseball site, offers this look at the Lexington Regional, the Houston Regional and the Austin Regional.

The entire tournament gets a once over from Will Kimmey and the gang at Baseball America.

BA.com also provides the brave with a NCAA Baseball Tournament Bracket Challenge.