Saturday, December 29, 2007

Five Make Louisville Slugger's All-America Squads

On Christmas Eve, Collegiate Baseball released their pre-season Louisville Slugger All-America Team. Five players from the Big Ten have earned recognition from CB. Michigan landed three players with P/DH Zach Putnam gaining a second team nod as a utility player. Putnam's teammates, SS Jason Christian and 1B/C Nate Recknagel, each landed on the third team.

Penn State closer Drew O'Neil and Purdue 1B Ryne White were the final two Big Ten players receiving All-America status from CB. Both were third team selections.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Michigan Cracks Ping! Top 30

Ping! has issued their pre-season Top 30. The University of Michigan checks in at number twenty-one. Arizona State is Ping's pre-season number one. (Just for the record, I'd select ASU, as well.)

In addition to including Michigan in their Top 30, Ping! has submitted a preview for the Wolverines.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Michigan Checks In At # 10

Collegiate Baseball has issued their pre-season poll and the University of Michigan is ranked number ten in the nation. No other Big Ten squad made the initial list, although both Ohio State and Minnesota did receive votes. Arizona was voted as the pre-season # 1.

It's great to see a Big Ten team in the polls, especially one in the top ten. It will be interesting to watch Rich Maloney's team in the position of having an even larger bullseye on their back. It's one thing to have everyone in the conference looking to dethrone you, it's another to walk into that month-long road trip with the number ten ahead of your name.

Update 12/22/07: That trip to the eye doctor may need to be bumped up. I missed seeing Penn State in the "Others Receiving Votes" space. Now, how I missed it when they come before either the Gophers or Bucks is beyond me, but I got a heads-up from a PSU fan in the comments. My thanks to psu4ever. My apologies to the Nittany Lions and BTH readers for missing a layup.

On a positive note, I'm glad to see four Big Ten teams get some degree of pre-season love.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter Links

A day after our first significant snowfall of the winter, I'm providing a few baseball links to help keep our minds on warmer thoughts. I toss in a ongoing rant to help melt the ice, as well.

First, there's top Midwest programs. The Big Ten manages to land three of the top five places. (Yes, I'm going to make you click on the link to see which three and in what order. Sorry.)

Rivals also mentions the Michigan/Ohio State baseball rivalry.

Michigan's Jason Christian is "On The Radar" of Doug Kroll's list of top returning shortstops.

I can't recall if I posted this one before, but Rivals Baseball Editor Kendall Rogers also offered up this piece on Michigan's success.

In keeping with BTH unwritten policy, here is the link to CSTV's Kroll's blog about the Wallace Award Watchlist. (The unwritten BTH policy states that if you mention this blog, and I know about it, you get a link here. Oh, and it helps if you say something positive. Negative comments are generally just emailed to me.) As Doug points out, a number of lesser known baseball programs landed multiple award nominees.

Here, again, is my problem. No, not being obsessive-compulsive. That's a different problem. The issue I'm typing of is one where Southern Illinois lands three Wallace Award nominations and Michigan gets only two. Ohio State has only one. So, SIU has three players as good as Nate Recknagel, Jason Christian, J.B. Shuck and Jake Hale, all of whom got overlooked. It's lunacy.

Not only do noted baseball programs like Brown and Delaware land two players -- just as many as the Wolverines and one more than Ohio State, "my" Oakland University can't get a single nod? Seriously, are any of the three, yes, three Appalachian State players selected mathematically more likely to win the Wallace Award than Golden Grizzlies Andrew Stafford or Justin Wilson? The simple answer is no. So why not honor the kids and help the program by including them?

Don't get me wrong, I say let the Salukis have three nominees. Give Brown and Delaware as many spots as seem deserving, but don't leave out the other players that warrant a pre-season nomination. If you are worried about the list being too big, then, perhaps, you pass out the honor a bit too loosely. As it stands now, over 200 names make the watchlist. What's a few more going to hurt? Your reputation?

The College Baseball Foundation -- overseers of the Wallace Award -- either needs to modify their standards to keep the list smaller or expand the list to include everyone worthy of the recognition.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rivals Previews The Big Ten

Kendall Rogers at has released his 2008 Big Ten Baseball Preview. Go check it out.

Iowa Feature On Kevin Hoef

The University of Iowa has released a feature entitled 24 Hawkeyes to Watch. The objective is to introduce one athlete from each of the university's 24 sports. For Jack Dahm's baseball program, SS Kevin Hoef is the Hawkeye to Watch.

As the release indicates, and I've been mentioning around here, Hoef had a strong summer with the bat in the Cape Cod League and looks ready to emerge as one of the Big Ten's top performers in 2008.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Putnam Gets NCBWA Nod

The University of Michigan's Zach Putnam was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association 2008 pre-season All-America Team yesterday. The Michigan junior was selected to the NCBWA first team as the utility player.

Last season, Putnam hit .330 with eight homers and fifty-nine RBI while going 8-5 with a 3.87 ERA as Michigan's Friday starter. Putnam was the only Big Ten representative on any of the three All-America teams the NCBWA chose.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

2008 Michigan State Schedule

Michigan State University released their 2008 baseball schedule (.pdf file) late last week. The Spartans season will begin in Florida with a three game series in DeLand. On February 22, Coach Grewe's nine will face the host, Stetson. That game will be followed by a Saturday match-up with Missouri before closing out the visit with a Sunday tilt versus Connecticut.

From Florida, MSU travels to Texas. The Spartans will be in Beaumont from February 28 - March 2. The opposition will come from Lamar, Kansas State, Arkansas State and KSU again in the finale. Then its a hop over to Baton Rouge where Michigan State will play two against Louisiana State beginning on March 4.

After the two game stop in Cajun Country, it's back to the Lone Star State for three games in Houston. Western Carolina, Rice and Creighton will take on the Spartans on successive days beginning March 6.

The pre-season road trip comes to a close in Greenville, South Carolina where MSU will play a three game series against Quinnipiac, March 14 - 16. Once that's over with, Coach Grewe and the boys come home to Kobs Field and host Oakland University. The Golden Grizzlies will be in East Lansing from March 21 - 23.

Once OU leaves town, the Big Ten season kicks off with a visit from Illinois. The other home conference series feature Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana. The Spartans will host the Saturday doubleheader with Michigan as part of their annual home and home and home series.

The road series for MSU are at Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue, as well as the single games against Michigan on Friday (April 18) and Sunday (April 20).

Other highlights of their schedule include a game against the minor league Lansing Lugnuts as well as a two games versus Central Michigan -- one in East Lansing, one in Mt. Pleasant. As always, check the official schedule to see the complete list of games and times.

With this release, I believe we now have the schedules for all ten teams in the conference. All that's left is to get through winter.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wallace Award Nominees

The watchlist for the 2008 Brooks Wallace Award has been released. For those of you new to college baseball, and as the hits are up, I'm guessing not all of you are familiar with this stuff, the Wallace Award is one of 265 college player of the year honors.

The good news about the '08 Wallace Award watchlist is that a number of Big Ten players have been nominated. Here's the list:

Zach Putnam, Michigan
Derek VanBuskirk, Michigan
Nate Hanson, Minnesota
Matt Nohelty, Minnesota
Jake Owens, Northwestern
Justin Miller, Ohio State
Drew O'Neil, Penn State
Matt Bischoff, Purdue
Ryne White, Purdue

All fine selections. I congratulate all of them on the recognition. However, and you knew there was going to be an "however", a couple of players got left off the list. Actually, more than a couple. I'll begin by hitting the obvious ones out of the park first.

Michigan's Nate Recknagel and Jason Christian were omitted. Big, honkin' boo-boo by those that make the list. Yeah, I know. You already had two Maize and Bluers, can't have more than that. Someone might think those northern boys can play.

Another glaring omission is Michigan State's Chris Roberts. I know Roberts is only a sophomore, but he hit cleanup as a freshman and should be ready to explode in his second campaign.

Then, we come to a pair of Indiana second year standouts. Both Matt Bashore and Josh Phegley got overlooked. Two more enormous mistakes.

Are you kidding me? Where in the world are Ohio State's Jake Hale and J.B. Shuck? No sign of either and that's simply hard to imagine.

That's seven huge and I mean HUGE errors of omission. Several somebodies were asleep at the wheel during this nomination process. Now, if I were asked to submit a list, here are some other names that I'd be pondering.

Spartans Kyle Day and Steve Gerstenberger, as well as, Illinois' Tanner Roark, Ryan Hastings and Brandon Wikoff.

Two more Hoosiers in the form of Andrew Means and Evan Crawford, plus Iowa's Kevin Hoef who just tore up the Cape Cod League. Jake Goebbert of Northwestern got hosed in this process, as well. As did Joe Blackburn of Penn State.

All this makes you wonder if anyone from the Big Ten submit a list? It's also indicative of the general lack of knowledge about Big Ten baseball amongst those who are "in the know" around college baseball.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

CSTV Links And Shameless Self Promotion

In addition to his football beat, CSTV's Eric Sorenson has been cranking out monthly baseball columns this off-season. In October, Eric mentioned yours truly and this little piece of cyberspace while discussing the stadium projects underway around the conference.

Now, saying nice things about BTH doesn't get you a link in return. Well, come to think of it, yeah, it does get you a link. However, it doesn't necessarily get you a timely one. (Sorry, E. I've been watching a little basketball and enjoying the off-season.)

This month, Eric reviews his 2008 Omaha predictions and stops to ponder a certain Big Ten program.

While I'm plugging CSTV employees, Doug Kroll has his list of top returning firstbasemen and Michigan's Nate Recknagel gets an "On The Radar" mention. That places Recknagel in the top ten returning firstbasemen. At a position that's traditionally loaded, that's high praise.

Recuriting News

Here are some links to each program's official press release regarding those high school players who signed a letter of intent during the early signing period. Translation: here's a recruiting update. Enjoy.

Illinois signs four.

Hoosiers get four, too.

Iowa's class gets ranked.

Wolverines sign seven.

Spartans' class ranks top in conference.

Minnesota signs five.

2008 Minnesota Schedule

The University of Minnesota has released their 2008 baseball schedule. (No, I did not copy and paste that line from the OSU schedule post and change Ohio State to Minnesota. I actually typed the whole thing over again.) The Gophers begin the new season in Oxford, Mississippi with a three game series against Ole Miss. The opening weekend is February 22 - 24.

After the Rebels, Minnesota will host the Dairy Queen Classic at the Metrodome. On Friday, February 29 the Gophers will take on TCU. The next day Coach Anderson's nine will face Tulane. Pepperdine will be the last opponent for Minnesota on March 2. The weekend after the DQ concludes, the Gophers will host another tournament at the Metrodome.

New Mexico, California and Northern Iowa will face Minnesota on consecutive days beginning March 7 in the new, and aptly named, Metrodome Tournament. Once that series wraps up, Minnesota will head west to take on Pacific in a three game series opening on March 14.

The California trip is brief, as it's right back to indoor ball as the Gophers will play seven straight non-conference games at the dome starting March 18. North Dakota State (2 games), South Dakota State (3 games) and Missouri (2 games) all come calling. The protracted home stand will finish with a four game visit from Indiana to open conference action.

Illinois, Michigan and Penn State will all be on the home schedule for the Gophers in '08. Road trips include Ohio State, Northwestern, Purdue and Iowa.

Yes, I've left out a handful of non-conference games. I will note that ND State, SD State and Northern Iowa all pop back up on the Gophers schedule after their earlier visits.

2008 Ohio State Schedule

The Ohio State University has released their 2008 baseball schedule. The Buckeyes will open the year in Millington, Tennessee with a three game series. Arkansas State, Memphis and Seton Hall will provide the competition from February 22 -24. Then, it's three at College Station, Texas.

Host Texas A&M, Louisiana Tech and Arkansas will be on the docket from February 29 - March 2. From the Lone Star State, OSU will finish their winter road trip with a stay in Florida. Air Force, Maine and Connecticut will take on the Buckeyes in West Palm Beach from March 7 -9. OSU will then travel to Bradenton to play their Spring Break schedule from March 15 - 21. The opposition for those dates has not been announced.

Coach Todd's side opens the home slate with a visit from Pittsburgh on March 26. The Panthers will be the lone home opponent before Big Ten play begins. OSU will host, in order, Penn State, Minnesota, Purdue and Illinois. The road series will be at Michigan State, Northwestern, Michigan and Iowa.

As always, I'm leaving out a few non-conference games. I do expect you to click through and check the whole schedule, if you are so interested. (I will mention that the Central Michigan game on April 9 could be interesting. Well, interesting to me anyway.) It's also important to keep in mind this is a college baseball schedule, thus it is not only subject to change, it's almost a sure thing.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cape Calls Three From Ann Arbor

It appears three of Michigan's players will be in the lineup for Hyannis in the Cape Cod League next summer. Adam Abraham, Jeff DeCarlo and Erik Katzman are all penciled in on the 2008 Hyannis Mets roster.

As is the case with all this early summer league data, it's subject to change.

A hat tip to Codball is in order, as well.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hoosiers, Hawkeyes Heading To The Cape

Courtesy of a link at CodBall, I've found number of players from Indiana and Iowa will be playing in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2008. The Bourne Braves have the Hawkeyes' battery of sophomore C Tyson Blaser and freshman P Zach Kenyon while the Hoosiers are sending P Matt Bashore, C Josh Phegley and OF Kipp Schultz to the Wareham Gatemen.

As it's a long, long time before summer, it's best to keep in mind that this is all tentative. However, it's good to see a number of Big Ten players already getting interest from the highest profile summer league.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kroll's Top 25 - Fall Edition

Deep breath in.


Another deep breath in.


Forgive me. I'm trying to calm down. I was doing rather well until I came across CSTV's Doug Kroll's fall Top 25. Kroll does admirable work and I figured this off-season list would give me an idea where the national media perceived Michigan stood a few months removed from a Super Regional appearance.

I started to look for where Kroll had Michigan ranked. I zipped past the top five. Then, the top ten. Fifteen came and went and still no sight of a team that beat number one overall seed Vanderbilt to capture a regional title.

The top twenty disappeared before I finally stumbled upon Rich Maloney's troops at number twenty-two. Twenty-two? Twenty-freakin'-two?!?!?!? A team that returns nearly all of its players from a regular season conference title, a regional tournament crown and a super regional appearance can't get a ranking above twenty-two?

Now, this alone might have me cranky. However, the topper for me was Kroll's summary of the Wolverines:

22. Michigan (42-19, Lost In Corvallis Super Regional)
Winning the
Big Ten is always the goal for the Wolverines, so knocking off No. 1 seeded Vanderbilt in the Regionals last season was icing on the cake. Two-way star Zach Putnam is back for his junior season to lead Big Blue.

Breath, Brian, breath.

Yes, winning the conference is a goal for Michigan. It's also a goal for Ohio State, Minnesota, Illinois, Penn State and the other five teams in the Big Ten. Of course, I'm thinking that winning their conference crown is also a goal for Texas, Louisiana State, Stanford, USC, North Carolina, Oregon State and any other elite baseball program in the land.

Suggesting that Michigan or any other Big Ten program only has eyes on a conference title sounds more like football talk from the Seventies than current baseball thinking around the Big Ten. (The conference office notwithstanding.) This just in: This ain't football, Bo and Woody aren't coaching anymore and the Seventies are thirty years in the rear view mirror.

I'm not sure how many times I've heard Coach Maloney speak, but he rarely goes on for very long without mentioning Omaha. The college baseball media may believe it's folly, but the goal for Michigan is to play in the College World Series. That's not just the prevailing thought in Ann Arbor, either.

Does anyone think that Ohio State and Penn State have spent all that money building state-of-the-art ballparks just to host a Big Ten conference tournament? I've talked to people at both programs and they can't wait for the chance to host a regional. (In the Buckeyes case, another regional.) Does that sound like anybody's ultimate goal is the conference crown?

What of the other programs? Well, let's see, Michigan State, Purdue and Indiana are either renovating, building new or have plans to build new parks. Illinois is currently remodeling and hoping to lure a Frontier League team to partner with them, so they can upgrade even more. Minnesota, a program with plenty of CWS history, recently announced the outline for a new Siebert Field, as well. This increased financial commitment to facilities speaks to a goal that exceeds just a Big Ten banner.

It's not only shortsighted to believe that Big Ten programs have smaller goals than the schools in college baseball's power conferences, but it was unfair to the Michigan players and coaches to dismiss their regional victories over Vanderbilt as "icing on the cake". One would have hoped that Michigan would have garnered some respect after dispelling all the media's preconceived notions prior to the Nashville Regional.

By placing a veteran Michigan team so low in the Top 25, it only affirms that most of the college baseball media still view the Wolverines regional triumph as little more than a fluke. Never mind those regular season wins over programs like Mississippi State and Oklahoma. Forget the one-hit, one-run loss in the Super Regional opener at Corvallis against defending national champion Oregon State. (As if anyone played OSU better, let alone in their building.) No, that Nashville performance had to be luck.

I'm probably more upset about this than normal because Kroll is usually more balanced in his assessment about northern programs than most of his media brethren. (Sans fellow CSTVer Eric Sorenson, of course.) To see his general underwhelming preview makes me pessimistic about what the rest of the college baseball media is going to say about the Big Ten and Michigan heading into 2008.

2008 Illinois Schedule

The University of Illinois has released their 2008 baseball schedule. The Illini open the '08 season in Edinburg, Texas at the Al Ogletree Classic. The tournament will be held from February 22 - 24. None of Illinois' three opponents are known as of yet.

Coach Hartleb's side then does a little two-step over to Waco for that Quala-T Imprints Baylor Classic. (Hey, at least, they got a sponsor, right?) That series opens on February 29 with a game against the host, Baylor. The next day is Stephen F. Austin and the finale features the Blue and Orange versus Illinois-Chicago. (UI goes all the way to Waco to play UIC. Gotta love it.)

The next weekend features a rare four game road test against Texas Tech at Lubbock. (Hopefully, the team will visit the college baseball hall of fame.) The last series in the Lone Star State concludes on March 9.

After the Texas, the Fightin' Illini head for Florida and their Spring Break Trip. Beginning on March 14, the Illini will play Eastern Kentucky, Miami (OH), Akron, UMBC, Kansas, Northern Iowa and Central Connecticut State. The only day off will be March 17.

The Illini head north to play Indiana State in Terre Haute on March 25 before launching the Big Ten season on the road at Michigan State. The weekend in East Lansing begins on March 28. The other road opposition, in-conference is Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio State.

While the home opener is April 2 against Saint Louis, the first Big Ten home date in April 11 when Michigan comes calling. Penn State, Northwestern and Purdue are all visiting Champaign-Urbana in 2008, as well.

Per usual, I'm leaving out a few midweek, non-conference tilts, but I did leave you a link to the entire schedule after all. Besides, we'll have plenty of time down the road to discuss the quality of everyone's non-conference slate.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Big Ten Schedule

I have pieced together the 2008 Big Ten baseball schedule. It wasn't a terribly difficult process, as six of the ten teams have their schedules posted already and, as I mentioned in a prior post, all the schedule makers did was turn the 2007 schedule upside down (so you start '08 where you finished '07) and flipped all the home dates for road dates (and vice versa).

If you are totally confused, not to worry. Here is what the '08 conference schedule should look like:

March 28 - 30
Indiana @ Minnesota
Iowa @ Michigan
Northwestern @ Purdue
Penn State @ Ohio State
Illinois @ Michigan State (*)

April 4 - 6
Illinois @ Indiana
Purdue @ Iowa
Michigan State @ Northwestern
Michigan @ Penn State
Minnesota @ Ohio State (*)

April 11 - 13
Iowa @ Indiana
Minnesota @ Northwestern
Penn State @ Purdue
Michigan @ Illinois (*)
Ohio State @ Michigan State (*)

April 18 - 20
Indiana @ Penn State
Northwestern @ Iowa
Purdue @ Ohio State
Michigan vs. Michigan State
Illinois @ Minnesota (*)

April 25 - 27
Michigan @ Indiana
Iowa @ Michigan State
Ohio State @ Northwestern
Penn State @ Illinois
Minnesota @ Purdue

May 2 - 4
Purdue @ Indiana
Minnesota @ Iowa
Northwestern @ Illinois
Michigan State @ Penn State
Ohio State @ Michigan

May 9 - 11
Indiana @ Northwestern
Iowa @ Penn State
Michigan State @ Purdue
Michigan @ Minnesota
Illinois @ Ohio State (*)

May 15 - 17
Indiana @ Michigan State
Ohio State @ Iowa
Northwestern @ Michigan
Penn State @ Minnesota
Purdue @ Illinois

The (*) indicates that it's a meeting of two teams that don't have their schedules released. Basically, I can't confirm those games as neither party has made an official announcement, but as we have the other schedules and we know the formula for this year's pairings, I think it's safe to call even the asterisk games a sure thing.

As usual, I could have screwed something up in the process here. If I have, I'm confident one of you will let me know.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rivals Fall Power Rankings

Kendall Rogers of has issued his autumn power rankings. These are not team rankings, but for individual players. The rankings include the following positions: Pitcher, catcher, firstbase, middle infield, thirdbase, outfield and head coach. Rogers lists the top 15 players in each category.

I have to admit, Mr. Rogers' poll surprised me. First, I suspected there would be no more than one Big Ten player. By my count, three made the field. Three?!?!?! That's almost enough to make you would think I wrote the list.

The one player I suspected might merit inclusion was Michigan's Zach Putnam. Near as I can tell, I was wrong about that, as well. No sign of Michigan's All-America P/DH. I'm not sure quite what to make of that, but if Putnam's not in the top 90 players in college baseball, I'm the Batman.

In fairness to Mr. Rogers, he may have had a positional problem with Putnam. He might not view Michigan's Friday starter (you know, the guy that one hit national champ Oregon State in their house) as a top 15 hurler. And as there wasn't a utility position, perhaps, Rogers didn't have a place to put Putnam. (Putnam was the Wolverines DH most of last year.) I'll spot him that, but if Putnam's not on a bunch of first team All-America lists in the pre-season, we will be left to assume that the college baseball media is not subjected to drug testing.

Who did make the list? Two Big Ten representatives managed to make the loaded firstbase position. Purdue's Ryan White checked in at number fourteen. The Boilermakers top hitter was followed by Michigan's Nate Recknagel. Again, I'm floored.

A pro-southern beat writer selects two Big Ten players in his Top 15 at a loaded position? Nope, I didn't see that coming. Kudos to Mr. Rogers for thinking outside the box. Or waking up and smelling the coffee, depending on your perspective in life. (I'll take the former, as I'm not always that cranky.)

The other Big Ten player to sneak into the fall power rankings is Michigan SS Jason Christian. Rogers not only selected Christian as the 11th best middle infielder in the land, but called him "One of the rising stars in college baseball". I'm nearly speechless. He combines the shortstop and secondbase slots and a Big Ten guy still makes the top15? What a difference a year makes.

Hopefully, this kind of very early, very positive media attention will open the door to more recognition for the players in the north in 2008. I also hope it might indicate a willingness on the media's part to give these players some All-America consideration at year's end.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Illinois Goes To Turf

Field Turf is now being installed at the University of Illinois. I'm not crazy about plastic, rubber or any other kind of artificial surface, but I understand why so many opt for it.

As an aside, isn't this the same stuff Oregon State plays baseball on? I remember watching the Super Regional from Corvallis last spring and all the grounders kicking up sprays of old tires. It was very odd to view on television.

Hat tip: Tom at The Baseball Zealot via Illinois' official site. (Note: Tom at TBZ also covered the Blue and Orange series.)

Penn State Releases '08 Schedule

Penn State University has officially released their baseball schedule for next season. The Nittany Lions will begin the 2008 season with a three game set against High Point in North Carolina on February 22. From there, PSU ventures south to Dothan, Alabama for a three game series. The Lions will play Troy, Kennesaw State and Wake Forest on consecutive days beginning on February 29.

Penn State's pre-conference schedule road trip heads even further south with their participation in the Papa John's Palm Beach Classic. PSU will be in action from March 9 - March 15 in West Palm Beach versus competition yet to be determined.

Friday, March 21st marks the first date of 2008. Lehigh will open Medlar Field will a three game series. The following weekend is the opener of Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions will head to Columbus to take on Ohio State. The remaining road trips in conference are against Purdue, Illinois and the season finale at Minnesota.

The first home Big Ten series features a visit from Michigan, April 4 - 6. Other Big Ten teams visiting the Lions' shiny new park are Indiana, Michigan State and Iowa.

Per usual, I'm skipping past the non-conference midweek affairs, but you can check those out by clicking on one of the link above.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Michigan's 2008 Schedule

While the University of Michigan still hasn't posted their 2008 schedule on their website, copies were available at Sunday's intra-squad game. I'm going to presume the schedule distributed is correct with the caveat that this is college baseball, thus changes are almost inevitable. Keeping that in mind, let's review what we know.

As previously discussed, Michigan's season will begin with three games in Port St. Lucie, Florida against Villanova. The opening series is February 22-24. After the Wildcats, Michigan will play a game against the New York Mets. Most readers will recall that Mets' owner Fred Wilpon is a Michigan grad and made a significant donation towards the renovation of the baseball and softball complex.

After the exhibition game in Florida, the Wolverines travel west to play in a tournament hosted by Arizona State. Regular readers will recall I posted the link to Hawaii's schedule which indicated the field included ASU, Michigan, Portland and UH. Michigan will play each team once beginning on February 29. Nothing new here.

What we didn't know was that Michigan and the Sun Devils will also play a single contest on Thursday, February 28. That means the Wolverines will get to play ASU -- who should be highly ranked in the pre-season polls -- twice. (Will somebody please broadcast these games? Big Ten Network? CSTV? Anybody?)

As was rumored weeks ago, the East Carolina tournament and Coastal Carolina stop are on the schedule. ECU hosts a tournament with Georgia Southern and Pittsburgh rounding out the field. Michigan will play GA. Southern, ECU and Pitt in that order. That series begins March 7.

The Coastal Carolina tournament includes games against Presbyterian, Ball State and two-in-a-row versus the hosts, Coastal Carolina. The first CCU encounter is the back half of a Saturday doubleheader that opens with Ball State. That tournament runs March 14-16.

Michigan, as has been the case for several years, opens the home portion of the schedule with three games against Oakland starting March 21. (Just don't ask me who I'm rooting for, OK?)

The Big Ten schedule isn't all that difficult to figure out, especially if you know last year's slate. The conference took the 2007 schedule and swapped home games for road dates and flipped the schedule upside down in '08. Example 1: Last year Michigan opened with Northwestern in Evanston. This year, NU will end the year at Michigan. Example 2: Michigan ended last year at Iowa. In 2008, Iowa will be the first Big Ten team at Ray Fisher Stadium. Got it?

In addition to Iowa and NU, Ohio State will visit Ann Arbor next season. Penn State, Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota will be road series for Michigan. Of course, Michigan State will be a home-and-home-and home series with the Saturday doubleheader in East Lansing.

The annual contest versus Notre Dame will be on May 13 in Grand Rapids. I've got to make that game one of these years. There are a few other non-conference games on the docket that I'll save to review as we get closer to the season.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Northwestern's 2008 Schedule

Northwestern University became the fourth team in the Big Ten to release their 2008 baseball schedule. The Wildcats, whose announcement follows those of Iowa, Indiana and Purdue, will open next year's slate with a three game series at Cal State Northridge, February 22-24.

From California, NU will travel to Florida to play three games against South Florida (February 29-March 2). After three with the Bulls, comes a trip north to play College World Series participant Louisville. The 'Cats and Cards will begin a three game set on March 7.

Then, unless my eyes deceive me, NU will head back to Chicago to play Illinois-Chicago. Three games in Chicago beginning March 13? That's brave. Or optimistic. Or crazy. I'll let you decide. Let's just hope they get them in.

Upon concluding the trio of mid-March contests in the Windy City, NU will venture back to the warm Florida for what seems like their annual Bradenton trip. While the opposition remains TBA, the games will begin on March 21 and conclude on March 26. The Wildcats will play everyday.

The final weekend in March will mark the opening of Big Ten play for NU. The 'Cats will travel to take on Purdue from March 28-30. The home opener in Evanston is the following weekend when Michigan State pays a visit.

Minnesota, Ohio State and Indiana round out the home portion of the conference schedule. The remaining road series, after visiting West Lafayette, include Iowa, Illinois and the season finale at Michigan.

Their are a few non-conference midweek affairs I'm overlooking, but you more than get the idea.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


The folks at Ping! have come out with Pingipedia! Just as you might guess, the Ping! staff has used the same software as the gang at Wikipedia to develop a college baseball only database. I have to admit I'm not much of a Wikipedia user, but I can see where this concept would help spread the word about college baseball. For that reason alone, I'm sold.

So, BTH readers, go ahead. Write about your school. Add an entry for your student/athlete. Players, you may as get a jump on everyone else and give yourself some love now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Globe Feature On Roblin

Former University of Michigan player Brad Roblin was featured in an online story in The Boston Globe. Roblin spent his summer playing for Traverse City (MI) in the Frontier League. I'll let you read the rest.

Hat tip to Brian Foley of the College Baseball Blog for sending along this link.

Illini To Share Field With Pro Team

The University of Illinois announced a partnership with the Frontier League, National Sports Services and team ownership to bring a professional independent league franchise to Champaign-Urbana.

The guess here is that UI is looking for additional revenue streams to keep Illinois Field on par with all the other programs in the conference. If, in fact, this is an attempt to generate some funds to put back into the ballpark, UI would become the eighth team in the Big Ten to make some kind of renewed commitment to facilities.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fisher Stadium Renovation Photos

Both before and afternoon the awards presentation, I passed by Ray Fisher Stadium. Here are some of the renovation photos I took. (Remember, I am not a photographer.) The top picture is the primary entrance. It's the area right behind homeplate. (It's the shot you get when you visit the live webcam of the construction.) Photo #2 is the thirdbase line. The offices, batting cages and other buildings are taking shape. Photo #3 is the exterior of that side.

Photo #4 is the pressbox and primary seating area. It's the inside view of the first picture. For those unfamiliar with the setting, that's Yost Ice Arena in the background. The last photo is of one of the walkways alongside the primary entrance. (This portion of the park reminds me of, cover your eyes OSU and Michigan fans, the Buckeyes yard.)

I was told today that the planned "Green Monster" like wall scheduled to be built in rightfield will be changed to leftfield. In addition to having a higher wall in left (or right, again, if they change their minds), the wall will be brought in. I'm not sure I'm crazy about this idea, but I'm willing to give it a chance.

Michigan Award Ceremony Pictures

It's a bit like Christmas. Here are all the championship rings still unwrapped. One Michigan player was kind enough to let me take some photos of his ring, but, alas, they didn't turn out very well. Apparently, a setting needs to be adjusted for taking that kind of photo. Who knew? I'm a blogger not a photographer. My apologies to all. (Trust me, the rings are nice.)

Michigan Award Ceremony Pictures

The 2007 Big Ten Championship Trophy and, I believe, the Coach of the Year Award won by Coach Maloney.

Michigan Award Ceremony Pictures

The University of Michigan's awards for Player of the Year (foreground) and Pitcher of the Year (background). Both honors were given to All-American Zach Putnam.

Michigan Award Ceremony Pictures

The 2007 Big Ten and NCAA Regional Champions.

Wolverines Award Ceremony

In my previous post, I mentioned that I received quite a bit of email this week. One of the things that arrived in my inbox was a notice about the University of Michigan's baseball award ceremony scheduled for today.

Presented with spending a Saturday afternoon either doing those mundane, but necessary household tasks -- painting, replacing washers in a faucet, yardwork -- or fighting the 100,000 plus Michigan football fans invading Ann Arbor at the same time I needed to be there, I opted for the logistics nightmare that included college baseball over the boring work around the house. Proving, once and for all, that my priorities are completely out of whack.

I know, I know. Stop whining and get to the baseball stuff. Coach Rich Maloney addressed the gathering and spoke about last year's team and about the expectations for the 2008 squad. Not surprisingly, the expectations for the new year are high. Real high. Rosenblatt high.

Coach Maloney also mentioned that the university was going to market the team more this coming season and that a season ticket package is going to be available -- both interesting concepts. We will see if either has an effect on attendance. Of course, winning frequently tends to create interest and Michigan should be in a position to do that in '08.

The schedule was still not available, and no one in an official capacity spoke about it, but it's rumored that the season will begin in Florida, once again. Some of the teams that I heard might comprise the non-conference schedule include Villanova, Coastal Carolina and East Carolina. Yes, the Arizona State field trip is on the docket, too. Oakland University (yes, "my" Golden Grizzlies) will open the Wolverines home slate at renovated Ray Fisher Stadium.

Somewhere between Coach Maloney's opening comments and the post-event chatter was the purpose of the gathering -- to distribute the 2007 awards. Individual awards were presented and each member of last year's team got their Big Ten Championship rings.

I had a very pleasant afternoon and have even have some pictures to share. I'll get to those in a moment. First, I have to thank some people. I'll start with the Michigan baseball community for their kindness. Like so many around the conference and really throughout college baseball, the Wolverine baseball family has been very good to me. I sincerely appreciate their support of this endeavor.

And since I'm talking about support, I have to thank Mrs. BTH. She drove your blogger into Ann Arbor, headed off to meet some friends in a neighboring community, and returned to pick me up. I appreciate that as well.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Inbox Filled With Gophers News

My email inbox yielded some unexpected news about baseball at the University of Minnesota. First, a BTH reader sent along the link to a column by Sid Hartman in today's Star Tribune. Amongst the things Mr. Hartman shares is news that The U has announced plans for a new 3,000 seat Siebert Field. The long-awaited and much needed facility will be on the same site as the current ballpark.

Most regulars here realize that I have been subtly (and not so subtly) pushing for this. At a time when seemingly everyone else in the Big Ten was making a commitment to upgrade their baseball facilities, it was ridiculous for one of the conference's best programs not to keep pace. Minnesota has now made that first step.

We are still quite a long way from completion, as 85% of the money needs to be raised before building will begin, but it's a start. A long overdue start, but a start nonetheless. Thanks to the BTH reader for the tip.

My next email came from old friend Brian Foley of the College Baseball Blog. Brian shared an email from Patrick Ebert (Perfect Game USA, PG Crosschecker and who sent along the 2008 schedule for TCU. Now, why is this news for the Gophers? Well, the Horned Frogs' schedule reveals that they are playing in the 2008 Dairy Queen Classic, which is hosted by Minnesota.

In addition to TCU, next year's field includes Tulane and Pepperdine. I'm not going to pretend to know where these three schools will be ranked in the pre-season polls, but I think it's safe to say there is a strong field for the '08 DQ Classic. The annual tournament will be held from February 29 - March 2 in the Metrodome.

Thanks to both Brian and Patrick for passing along this information.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Putting In A Transfer

Baseball America has provided a list of players that have transferred. It appears the Big Ten has lost two players. Pitcher Billy Kitchen has left Indiana for Wright State. Joe Mercurio, catcher, has departed Illinois for Maine. I hate to see kids leave the conference, but I wish both of them success at their new schools.

On the other side of the coin, three players have transferred into Big Ten universities. Penn State -- which did a great job with transfers a year ago (think Drew O'Neil) -- has added two players. Wes Borden, a middle infielder formerly of (cover your eyes Michigan fans) Appalachian State, and Jack Greenberg, a corner infield who played at Rhode Island last year, are now Nittany Lions.

IU also added infielder Michael Earley. Earley transferred to Bloomington from Cincinnati.

Still No Badgers

On the heels of Oregon's return to the college diamond, CSTV's Doug Kroll wonders about the remaining BCS programs not fielding a baseball team. His column includes a few comments from Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez. Suffice to say, the return of Badgers baseball isn't on the horizon.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Indiana's 2008 Schedule

The University of Indiana has released their 2008 baseball schedule. The Hoosiers open up the new season in Baton Rouge against Louisiana State. The three game set versus LSU is followed by a trip to Clarksville, Tennessee for a tournament hosted by Austin Peay. A single game with Indiana State is followed by a protracted stay in Fresno, California.

Coach Smith's side will play FSU twice before participating in a tournament hosted by the Bulldogs. Opposition in that field consists of Gonzaga, New Mexico State, Utah, Portland, the hosts, Fresno State and one TBA. A single game at Evansville will be the last game on the road. Back-to-back affairs with IPFW and one contest against Xavier will mark the first games in Bloomington.

Conference action starts with a trip to Minnesota. The remaining Big Ten road series include: Penn State, Northwestern and Michigan State. The home portion of the conference slate features Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Purdue. Midweek non-conference games are highlighted by home and road dates with College World Series participant Louisville.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

ABCA Hall Selects Gophers' Anderson

University of Minnesota head coach John Anderson has been selected to the American Baseball Coaches Association's Hall of Fame. Anderson, who is entering his twenty-seventh year at the helm of the Gophers baseball program, will be inducted in a ceremony on January 8, 2008.

Congratulations to Coach Anderson on a well deserved award.

Friday, August 31, 2007

New Captains In Ann Arbor

Leif Mahler, Derek Van Buskirk and Adam Abraham have all been named captains for the 2007-2008 edition of the Michigan baseball team.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Assistant Coaching Carousel

There have been a few new assistant coaches hired across the Big Ten. Ohio State promoted Eric Parker to a full-time coaching position. Parker had been the Buckeyes volunteer assistant the last three seasons.

Purdue hired Spencer Allen as an assistant. Allen, who was most recently a scout for the Detroit Tigers, will work with the Boilers' hitters and catchers.

Matt Middleton has joined Tracy Smith's staff at Indiana. Middleton, a former Ohio State player, comes to IU after a coaching high school baseball in Ohio.

Also joining IU's coaching ranks is Sheldon Watkins. Watkins comes to Bloomington after coaching high school ball in California. He will be the Hoosiers volunteer assistant.

O'Neil Returns To State College

The 2008 Penn State baseball team just got better. Closer Drew O'Neil didn't sign a professional baseball contract and will return to Nittany Lions. O'Neil, who was a first team All-Big Ten selection this past season, is PSU's all-time single season save leader and is closing in on the career mark. His emergence as the Nittany Lions' closer was a major reason for the team's success in 2007.

As the PSU's press release indicates, O'Neil should be given All-America consideration in '08. He should also be on the pre-season shortlist for both the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award as well as the Roger Clemens Award.

Note: I should also point out that Penn State, like Ohio State, has changed their URL since the '07 baseball season concluded. Here is the new link. I've adjusted the link in my sidebar accordingly.

Boilermakers Release 2008 Schedule

Purdue has released its 2008 baseball schedule. The Boilermakers open the year with a three game tilt at Baylor beginning February 22. On February 29th, it's off for another three-gamer against Western Kentucky. Staying the in Bluegrass State, Head Coach Doug Schreiber's side have a four game series with Kentucky. That's a pretty impressive and darn challenging way to begin a new year.

The Boilers will then take on Ohio (three games), Western Illinois (the first home stand which is three games) and Valparaiso (one game) before opening the conference portion of their slate.

Purdue starts the '08 Big Ten season at home versus Northwestern. Before traveling to Iowa City for their second week of Big Ten play, the Boilers will play one game against College World Series participant, Louisville. The remainder of the conference action contains home series versus Penn State, Minnesota and Michigan State. In addition to Iowa, the Boilermakers will visit Ohio State, Indiana and Illinois.

Purdue generally plays one of the toughest schedules in the Big Ten and the 2008 edition looks to uphold that tradition.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Pickens Signs With Cleveland

Michigan's Doug Pickens has signed a professional contract with the Cleveland Indians. The university's announcement is here. As the press release indicates, Pickens started at a number of positions during his stay in Ann Arbor, but was the team's primary catcher last season.

One would assume that Chris Berset and possibly Nate Recknagel would be in the running to take over the catching duties in 2008.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Illini's Hastings To Return

University of Illinois 2B Ryan Hastings appears ready to play one final season of baseball. Hastings has a year of eligibility left after getting a redshirt season two years ago. Tom of The Baseball Zealot has this story covered.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Buckeyes In Aggie Baseball Classic

If this 2008 Arkansas schedule is correct, and I believe it is, Ohio State will be part of the Aggie Baseball Classic from February 29 - March 2. It appears as though OSU will get a first hand look at the Hogs, Louisiana Tech and the host, Texas A & M.

After last season's disappointing non-conference slate (at least disappointing to me), I'm glad to see OSU play in this very strong tournament.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cape Cod League All-Stars

Four Big Ten players were named to the Cape Cod League All-Star Game. Michigan State's Kyle Day, Indiana's Josh Phegley, Purdue's Josh Lindblom and Iowa's Kevin Hoef were all selected as All-Stars in the most famous summer league of all.

Michigan: "Rising Program"

Kendall Rogers of is ranking his "Rising Programs". The University of Michigan has come in at number eight on his off-season list.

I give Mr. Rogers credit for admitting he and the rest of the college baseball media (sans Eric Sorenson, of course) have overlooked the work Rich Maloney has done in Ann Arbor. He also comes clean on underestimating the Wolverines heading into the Nashville Regional.

Rogers goes onto suggest that the Wolverines are set for a College World Series run in 2008. First Aaron Fitt at Baseball America, now Rogers at Rivals are using Michigan and Omaha in the same sentence. I think it's safe to say that the Omaha hype has officially begun.

(Editor's Note: Yet another hat tip to Brian Foley at the College Baseball Blog.)

Friday, July 20, 2007

2008 Iowa Schedule

While it still has a few TBD's on it, the University of Iowa has released its 2008 baseball schedule.

Iowa will open in the year in Florida in a tournament hosted by Notre Dame. The Hawkeyes follow that with a tournament in Nashville hosted by Vanderbilt. Then, there's a three game set at Missouri State before the Spring Break Tournament in Orlando. Coach Jack Dahm's side finishes the prolonged season opening road trip against Stetson in Deland, Florida.

The Big Ten portion of their slate begins with four at Michigan. Purdue will visit Iowa City the following weekend. It's then at Indiana, home to Northwestern, at Michigan State, home to Minnesota, at Penn State and the conference season concludes with a visit from Ohio State.

The most notable non-conference midweek game is when Nebraska comes to Iowa City April 8.

Kudos to Iowa's Sports Information Department and the baseball staff on making this information available so quickly.

Wolverines, Gophers Head West In '08

Scanning the globe for off-season college baseball news, I've found that the University of Michigan will be playing in the Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise, Arizona next season. According to this link to the University of Hawaii's 2008 schedule, the tournament appears to feature Portland and Arizona State in addition to the Warriors and Wolverines.

A match-up with potential pre-season #1 Arizona State would certainly make for an interesting contest. If the Wolverines and Sun Devils do cross paths, I hope someone would televise it. Of course, it would probably end up on CSTV or ESPNU and I couldn't watch anyway.

The University of Minnesota will have a three game set against Pacific University according to the Tigers' 2008 schedule. The Gophers will take on Pacific March 14 - 16. Yes, I'd like to watch this series, too.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Letting Others Do My Work

Let's take a moment and see what the programs around the Big Ten are saying about themselves. Commentary on my part is probable.

* Minnesota 3B Nate Hanson was named the MVP of the Northwoods League All-Star Game.

* The "U" also provided some final notes on the 2007 season.

* The Gophers also inked another recruit. A question to those running the Gophers website: "Do you have any other picture of Coach Anderson?" It's not a bad photo, it's just that I've been looking at it for months. The guy is an icon up there (or should be), you've got to have another pic lying around somewhere.

* It's time to talk recruiting class in East Lansing. A review of Michigan State's newcomers is now posted. Coach Grewe gets points for landing kids from out-of-state.

* Danny Lopaze is a new assistant coach for the Spartans. Lopaze was formerly a volunteer assistant. It's always nice to see a volunteer land a regular paying job in coaching.

* Where in the wide world of sports did Ohio State's website go? My link, the one I've used all season, is clearly dead. After this post, I'm going to search for the Buckeyes new URL.

* Michigan's Rich Maloney was named a regional coach of the year by the American Baseball Coaches Association.

* Here's a breakdown of where the Wolverines are playing summer ball. I probably missed one or two in my overviews.

* For those wondering about the progress of Ray Fisher Stadium, here is the link to the webcam. I hadn't checked on the progress in weeks, but the place is starting to take shape.

* Iowa catcher Ben Geelan made the Northwoods League All-Star Game.

* Indiana has added three new recruits. The young Hoosiers get even younger.

* I can't recall if I mentioned this before, but IU also broke ground on their numerous facility upgrades. The baseball complex is scheduled to be completed by November 2008. How about a webcam?

* Dominic Altobelli, Ben Reeser and Aaron Martin of Illinois were all named as Coastal Plains League All-Stars.

Update: What once was lost, now is found. The Ohio State University apparently dumped their CSTV association and went solo. Their new site is simply The baseball link, which I've changed in the sidebar is here. The new place gets an initial thumbs up. We will see how I feel about it once the season is underway.

Keeping with my theme in this post, the Buckeys review their summer league participants.

Oakland Lands Coach, Media Attention

(Editor's Note: Most of you know that I had the academic equivalent of a cup of coffee at Oakland University. As such, I follow their athletic program. This habit occasionally leads to me posting something about OU baseball here at Big Ten Hardball. This is another one of those moments.)

Oakland has hired a new head baseball coach, John Musachio. Musachio was elevated to the head coaching gig after being the program's hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. He replaces Dylan Putnam who resigned.

If the stats are any indication, Musachio did an excellent job with the hitters. OU batters appeared amongst the conference leaders in nearly every major offensive category this past season. Often times, more than one Golden Grizzly was in the top ten in a category. (You are going to have to take my word for that as the new Summit League website didn't cough up any stats when I clicked on the link. Let's be honest, though. Who else would know that much about OU's hitters?)

On the heels of Musachio's promotion comes a column from Pat Caputo of The Oakland Press. The veteran journalist, and BBWAA, member suggests that OU's baseball program has big-time potential. Not surprisingly, I concur with Mr. Caputo's thesis.

It's not often I get to talk about OU baseball, let alone something positive, so please indulge me this blatantly partisan post.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Visting Baton Rouge

Louisiana State has released its 2008 schedule. Why is this important? Because the Tigers open their season with a visit from Indiana University. Coach Smith's side will be in Baton Rouge February 22-24. The Hoosiers aren't the only Big Ten squad to come calling at Alex Box Stadium, either.

Michigan State appears on the LSU schedule next year, as well. The Spartans will have a pair of midweek games against the Tigers, March 4-5.

One thing is certain -- IU and MSU will earn some early RPI points.

Hat tip to Brian Foley of The College Baseball Blog for emailing me the LSU schedule. Good thing one of us is working this summer.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Michigan Is Fitt For Omaha

Baseball America's Aaron Fitt takes his guess at the 2008 College World Series field. Fitt suggests that Michigan will be in Omaha next June. We've got Aaron's vote for the Wolverines and Sorenson's vote for the Buckeyes as 2008 CWS participants. Amazing, amazing stuff. Two national writers predicting different Big Ten teams in Omaha? Oh, how things have changed in 365 days.

I'll be interested to see if any of this end-of-the-year euphoria about northern baseball translates into the pre-season polls (and predictions). Regardless, I'm more excited than normal for next season. The big questions now is "Where in Omaha am I going to stay?"

Hat tip to BTH reader Chuck for pointing me towards Fitt's predictions.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Other Ping! Awards

I was so floored that Lars Davis got a first team selection that I failed to mention the other Big Ten players that got recognized. (Not that Lars didn't deserve it, mind you. I'm just surprised a college baseball source actually recognized a Big 10 player.) Ohio State's Cory Luebke got a third team All-Ping! nod. Purdue's firstbaseman Ryne White and Michigan's Zach Putnam, who was nominated as an utility player, both earned honorable mention.

Congratulations to all.

Davis Named All-Ping!

Illinois catcher Lars Davis was named first team All-Ping! catcher. Congratulations to Lars and kudos to the Ping! staff for tabbing a northern player with a first team selection.

Buckeyes In Omaha

You read that correctly. CSTV's Eric Sorenson is predicting that Ohio State will be in the 2008 College World Series. (No doubt they are forming a posse in Ann Arbor as I type.) Don't take my word for it, go read his his column.

I have to go rest now. I've apparently got two more weeks of intense blogging on the docket for '08. I also need to figure out how I'm going to get to Nebraska next June.

Fun In The Sun

While we are all contemplating holiday plans, the collegiate summer league season presses on. The scouts haven where all the boys trade in composite bats for wood bats is still going on. A few players around the conference of choice here are performing admirably in this environment. I want to take this pre-Independence Day to highlight a few of them.

Much like my preview of summer league rosters, this review of those having strong summers may require an additional post. (Or, perhaps, two.) Please be patient. Even better, if you or someone you know is having a great wood bat season, drop me an email.

Iowa's Kevin Hoef is pacing the Cape Cod League in batting average (.396), hits (21) and on base percentage (.508). Also on the Cape, Ryne White of Purdue is hitting .359 which is fourth best overall. Indiana's freshman catcher (should I call him a sophomore yet?) Josh Phegley is hitting .333. Michigan's Zach Putnam is at .364, although in limited at bats. (That post-season run cut into the summer league schedule.)

Also on the Cape, Josh Lindblom, White's Boilermaker teammate, is tied for first in wins with three. J.B. Shuck of Ohio State is 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA. Big 10'ers are doing pretty well in the most famous summer league of all.

Closer to home, Tony Kennedy of Ohio State is having a fine season in the Great Lakes League. Kennedy is hitting .351 (6th), slugging .574 (5th), has an OBP of .467 (5th) and is second in doubles with six. Indiana's Evan Crawford in second in runs scored with 16 and fifth in steals with 7. Ryan Dew, another Buckeye, is tied for fifth in RBI with 13.

OSU's Jake Hale, who may not have signed a pro contract yet, is second in the league with an ERA of 0.64. His .125 batting average against is the best in the GLL. Purdue's Matt Bischoff is second in batting average against (.133), fifth in ERA (1.23) and fifth in strikeouts (20). Eric Best, yes, another Buckeye, leads the GLL in K's with 27. Best also is fifth in opponent batting average at .178.

In Hawaii, Northwestern's Kenneth Avila was named to the league's All-Star Game. Avila is hitting .389 with seven RBI and 12 walks.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Few Signings And A Draftee I Missed

Indiana breaks ground on, amongst other projects, their new ballpark. The Hoosiers also announced another recruit has committed to Coach Smith's program.

Michigan added a pitching recruit.

Minnesota inked a recruit, too.

I failed to note that Gophers' 1B Bryan Jost was drafted in the 44th round of the MLB Draft. My sincere apologies to Bryan and the Jost family. (Hey, couldn't one of you Gopher supporters contacted me about this oversight?)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Things I've Been Meaning To Say

I have to admit that I'm not particularly pleased with myself. While this is true for any number of reasons, the vent here is because I didn't post nearly enough about the College World Series. However, for the first time in years, I was a bit let down by the time Omaha rolled around. Oh, I did root for Cal-Irvine, but once they got bounced, my less-than-normal enthusiasm drained even further.

I attribute this decline to two factors. The first was Michigan's post-season run. After dropping #1 Vanderbilt in the regional and watching Zach Putnam toss a one-hitter at Corvallis, it looked like a Big Ten team was good enough to play at Rosenblatt in June. When the ride ended, I crashed. It just wasn't quite the same without a team I watched all year. It was still fun. Some of the baseball was remarkable, those 'Eaters were a tough lot, but my focus was lost.

Combine this emotional let-down with the usual engagements and responsibilities summer brings and I was knee-deep in everyday life the minute Michigan bid adieu to the tournament. I hardly had time to see the first few games of the CWS, so I started behind the ol' eight ball. This combination of events kept me from the keyboard, the twenty-four hour Rich Maloney saga, notwithstanding.

As such, I'd like to take this chance to crank out a few quick thoughts I've had since the CWS began and I stopped blogging at the same rate.

Pesky Beavers
I should begin with Oregon State. Congratulations to the Beavers on their back-to-back championship. They played like a tough, experienced group. Which, of course, they were. Coach Casey deserves tons of credit for filling in the holes after last year's title run.

The Beavers success should continue to be a source of optimism for all northern programs. While Corvallis isn't quite as wet as we think nor do they get as cold as we do here, the Beavers still built a program where no one thought it was possible. Apparently, it is possible. Congrats, Oregon State.

Welcome To The Party
One of the things I find most entertaining about the post-season is the number of media types that find themselves talking college baseball after spending the entire season having not paid a moment's attention to the sport. This is particularly true of announcers. What they know about the two teams in question, and about the season in general, they've learned since arriving at the venue. This lack of knowledge is revealed almost immediately and, usually, repeatedly.

During the super regional game that followed Putnam's one-hitter at Oregon State, I heard the announcer reference the performance saying something like "that Michigan pitcher had a good game today". It was obvious the poor play-by-play guy, who was getting cash to make comments, didn't have a clue who Michigan sent to the hill that afternoon. He didn't study for that super-regional, after all.

This type of ignorance, and I mean that in the nicest way possible, about the college baseball landscape is prevalent. As ESPN brings in their talking heads, it's gets worse. I doubt too many beyond Kyle Peterson and whomever they have in studio -- someone from Baseball America most likely -- have any idea about what's happened during the year. It's not their fault, they've been doing other things, but it doesn't help the quality of the broadcast.

Reflecting the sport's growing popularity, this year's display of ignorance took another giant leap. The ESPN talking heads were at in studio across the franchise. From SportsCenter to Around The Horn to PTI, college baseball got some love. It proved three things. First, ESPN will cross-promote everything. Second, college baseball is gaining some media momentum. Third, very few of these guys and gals have a clue.

I completely understand where college baseball falls on the sports totem pole. It's down there near the bottom, so I don't begrudge the reporters who are getting paid to analyze the premier events. However, to watch Jay Mariotti spout off about Oregon State's great coaching job and how they filled the roster depleted by graduation made me laugh. Does anyone believe that there are more than two or three national media personnel who could have spouted that information off without a rehearsal first? Did Mr. Mariotti, or anyone else enlightening us this past week, know squat about this stuff prior to the first game in Omaha?

Again, I'm not looking to hammer Mr. Mariotti or anyone else. Writing, contrary to popular belief, ain't all that easy. These ladies and gents aren't getting coin for sitting in frozen ballparks (without pressboxes) to cover teams that may not even finish in the top half of their conference let alone make an Omaha appearance. They are getting paid to share commentary on sports the masses crave. I'm good with that. In fact, I welcome them to the fun that is college baseball.

Yet, that's not going to get me to stop chuckling when I hear the nation's top sports writers (or a broadcast team thrown together in the last week) toss about college baseball data as if it were common knowledge, when they didn't even know it a week ago.

Michigan Baseball Hits The Blogosphere
Today, when I visited friend Ian's blog, Sweaty Men Endeavors, what do I find? A post about Rich Maloney's new contract at Michigan. This is the latest in a number of Maloney related posts in the Michigan blogosphere. If the administration needed anymore evidence that Michigan baseball is gaining some much needed support and coverage, you needed to look no further than Maloney's brief flirtation with Tennessee.

It bears noting that blogs such as MGoBlog, MaizeNBrew and Michigan Sports Center gave the Maloney saga some attention. Not only that, but the story got ink at the Detroit Free Press, as well. The same Freep that barely provides scores during the season was on top of the rumored move to Knoxville. Suddenly, someone other than the Ann Arbor News, Michigan Daily and me are writing about college baseball. I can guarantee you that wasn't happening ten years ago. It might not have been happening three years ago.

What I find most encouraging is the bloggers' response. If these diehard Michigan football fans care about retaining their baseball coach, something is up. When these same big guns of the U-M blogosphere take time to write about baseball at their university, there is ample evidence to suggest an attitude change underway on Maloney's watch. Baseball is slowly making strides on campus and off. If Maloney can keep the winning going, always a difficult proposition, he might see one of his dreams fulfilled -- a packed house each night.

The Big Ten Schedule
You may have heard that the Big Ten is considering moving from their current four game weekend series to a three game set. I'm not sure if the change has been approved, but nearly everyone feels it's going to happen. The change might occur as early as 2009.

The reasons for the change include taking stress off of pitching staffs, aligning the Big Ten with the same conference format as most major conferences and, in the view of some, giving the schools a chance to increase their RPI or strength of schedule.

Those who promote that last notion feel that adding another midweek game against higher ranked non-conference opposition will do more to improve the conference's (and each programs') RPI than another seven inning affair against a lower rung Big Ten program.

An emailer asked me my thoughts on this after I mentioned this in an interview I did (more on that in a minute). I'm going to have to ask smarter people than myself about the affects, but I think it's a circular argument. I guess a majority of the programs could play two midweek games against higher RPI teams from the Mid-American Conference, as an example, and up their SOS and RPI. However, what happens if they don't win? Sure, their RPI won't fall so far, but playing better competition increases the odds of losing, doesn't it?

If Big Ten programs don't get close to the forty-win plateau is a better RPI or SOS going to offset that? What about programs like Minnesota and Iowa that struggle to find quality, RPI friendly competition within a reasonable driving distance now? Who are they going to play in the midweek to up their RPI? How far will they or their opponent have to travel?

As to the conference portion of the revised slate, if you need two really good starters to compete for the regular season conference title instead of three, doesn't that bunch up the field and create more losses? Will we have more Cinderella teams and take away the advantage depth creates? Does the conference really want Cinderellas instead of their best teams advancing?

Like every other change, there's an upside and a downside. I'd love to see Michigan State or Ohio State play two midweek games against programs like Louisville and Kentucky. Both close by, both having success in recent years (UL in this year's CWS and UK last year's SEC champs). I'm just not sure those kind of match-ups are going to result from the change in scheduling. I also dislike those Saturday seven inning double headers, so their departure I greet with a hearty "Good riddance".

Again, if this change becomes official, I'm sure I'll post more about it. I'll also start quizzing folks around the conference about their opinions and see what they think. More to come in the months to follow.

CornNation Interview
I believe I failed to mention that I did an interview at Corn Nation. The Nebraska site does a fine job of covering college baseball, Jonathon actually wrote about the CWS, and asked me to join an illustrious group of previous interviewees. If you are interested, here is the link to my blathering.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Summer League Rosters, Part II

I've received some email about Part I of my review of summer league rosters. It appears BTH readers demand more, so here's Part II.

Alaska Collegiate
Chris Cullen, MSU, Matsu Miners

Northwoods League
Caleb Curry, IOW, Alexandria Beetles
Mike Wilson, MIC, Alexandria Beetles
Drew O'Neil, PSU, Battle Creek Bombers (*)
Lars Davis, ILL, Duluth Huskies (*)
Joe Bonadonna, ILL, Duluth Huskies
Allan Donato, PUR, Madison Mallards
Jordan Comadena, PUR, Madison Mallards
Daniel Webb, ILL, Madison Mallards
Chris Roberts, MSU, Madison Mallards
Dusty Napoleon, IOW, Madison Mallards (*)
Eric Nielsen, PUR, Madison Mallards
Adam Abraham, MIC, Mankato Moon Dogs
Tim Ryan, MIN, Mankato Moon Dogs
Ben Geelan, IOW, Mankato Moon Dogs
Jeff DeSmidt, MIN, Mankato Moon Dogs
Nate Hanson, MIN, Mankato Moon Dogs
Jason Christian, MIC, Mankato Moon Dogs
Alan Oaks, MIC, Mankato Moon Dogs
Craig Lutes, ILL, Rochester Honkers
Derek McCallum, MIN, St. Cloud Riverbats
Eric Van Matre, PUR, Thunder Bay Border Cats
Scott Shaw, ILL, Waterloo Bucks
Tanner Roark, ILL, Waterloo Bucks
Michael Giller, ILL, Waterloo Bucks
Steve Gerstenberger, MSU, Wisconsin Woodchucks
Justin Potes, MSU, Wisconsin Woodchucks

Texas Collegiate
Cory Wine, PSU, McKinney Marshals
Jon Kibler, MSU, Weatherford Wranglers
Mike Monterey, MSU, Weatherford Wranglers

Clark Griffith League
Chris Berset, MIC, Vienna Senators

Coastal Plains League
Aaron Martin, ILL, Fayetteville Swampdogs
Dominic Altobelli, ILL, Fayetteville Swampdogs
Ben Reeser, ILL, Fayetteville Swampdogs
John Schlichter, ILL, Fayetteville Swampdogs
Brandon Doherty, MSU, Petersburg Generals
Michael Lorentson, PSU, Petersburg Generals
Peter Wolff, MSU, Petersburg Generals
Tyler Cox, IU, Spartanburg Stingers
Mike Powers, MIC, Wilmington Sharks
Nate Recknagel, MIC, Wilmington Sharks

Atlantic League
Brian Ernst, PSU, Kutztown Rockies
Joe Blackburn, PSU, Kutztown Rockies
Rob Yodice, PSU, Metro NY Cadets

California League
Nolan Moody, MSU, San Luis Obispo Blues

Mountain League
Kyle Knudson, MIN, Fort Collins Foxes
Jon Hummel, MIN, Fort Collins Foxes

Valley Collegiate
Justin Brauer, IOW, Harrisonburg Turks
Jon Moore, PUR, Harrisonburg Turks
Mike Dufek, MIC, Winchester Royals
Josh Edgin, OSU, Winchester Royals
Justin Miller, OSU, Luray Wranglers

Hawaii League
Kenneth Avila, NU, Kuai Menehunes
Landon Nakata, PSU, Waimea Waves

I believe this will conclude my preview of summer league rosters. Although, I admit I could have inadvertently missed an entire league. (New ones are popping up all the time.) I also believe there's a great chance I've missed an individual player or seven. Or ten. Along the way, some individual team webpages didn't open, some didn't easily provide me with the data I was looking for and then there are the times my eyes got blurry scrolling down pages and pages of names.

If you notice I've made an error or overlooked someone, please drop me a note. My thanks to those who have already contacted me with updated information.