Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The NCBWA And Me

You might be wondering what's with the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association logo in the sidebar? Well, last year I submitted my application to join the NCBWA. While I've yet to receive instructions on the club's secret handshake, my decoder ring or even my membership card, I have been assured that I am in. (The guy who cashes the checks say so and that's good enough for me.)

Now, what does this mean? Well, it means I get to vote on stuff. Not in the weekly poll, but other things of varying degrees of importance -- the Dick Howser Trophy (Player of the Year), Regional Players of the Year and All-America Teams. So, if you need to find a voter to unload swag on, submit tons of PR to or need to buy a vote, look no further. I'm your man. (Of course, I'm kidding. I was a fan of Dick Howser's and I consider the chance to vote on an award bearing his name to be an honor. I intend to take all my voting responsibilities seriously.)

I'm sure this new found association with the NCBWA will lead to fame, fortune and, perhaps, if I play my cards just right, the media buffet at the Big Ten Tournament. That or I'll just get to vote. Either way, it looked like an interesting opportunity, one that might even help the blog grow, so I signed on the dotted line.

Watch Tournament Highlights

CSTV has provided some video highlights of the 2006 Big Ten Tournament. Here is Game #10.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Stricklin Speaks To CBB

Kent State head coach Scott Stricklin did a Q & A with the College Baseball Blog. Congrats to CBB for landing the interview. BTH readers should go check out what Coach Stricklin thinks of the upcoming MAC season and his team.

Sorenson's First Pitch

CSTV's Eric Sorenson provides his First Pitch Observations. In addition to commenting on the first weekend of action, Eric spends a paragraph lamenting the loss of USA Today's Baseball Weekly and its regular college baseball feature. I could not agree more. In fact, I've probably complained about the demise of Baseball Weekly and the loss of Dana Heiss-Grodin's college baseball column here before.

Take a few moments to enjoy Eric's review of the college baseball landscape, one week in.

More New Hoosiers

Apparently, there a ton of new faces on the 2007 Indiana baseball team. The list of newcomers just goes on and on and on. Here are links to the latest batch of players profiled on the university's official site.

Jason Ferrell

Brad Henke

Billy Kitchen

Brian Lambert

Jake Lowe

Meet The Wolverines

The University of Michigan will hold its third annual "Meet The Team Night" on Monday, February 19. Click here to read the press release.

Friday, January 26, 2007

And They're Off

Yes, boys and girls, we have college baseball once again. Last night, Oregon State opened the season with a bang. The defending national champions beat Hawai'i-Hilo, 5-0, behind a combined no-hitter. A great start for OSU. Of course, I'm just pleased to have the new baseball year underway.

The Coaches Poll

The very first USA Today/ESPN coaches poll of 2007 has been released. It's not a surprise to see that Rice sits atop the pre-season standings. The Owls have gotten plenty of number one nods this winter.

No Big Ten programs garnered enough votes to make the Top 25, but both Michigan and Ohio State did receive votes. (I should point out that Minnesota head coach John Anderson is one of the voters.)

USA Today also backed-up the initial poll with an article about college baseball's parity and a brief preview of each of the Top 25. That's quite a bit of ink and/or cyberspace dedicated to college baseball. Let's hope USA Today can keep up this pace all season long.

New Blog On The Block

Baseball America has begun it's very own college baseball blog. Looks like a daily read to me.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Now, It's Michigan's Turn

In the ongoing previews of their projected NCAA Tournament field, yesterday, CSTV's Eric Sorenson previewed Ohio State. Of course, that can only mean that today he looks at Michigan. Can't have one without the other, right?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Big Ten Preview At SCS

My friends at Southern College Sports have published their preview of the 2007 Big Ten baseball campaign. You'll have to read (OK, I guess you can scroll past) Eddie's analysis of the Conference USA field first, but he does provide a brief look at each squad, an all-conference team as well as his prediction of the outcome.

Sorenson Previews Ohio State

CSTV's Eric Sorenson is in charge of providing the previews to their projected tournament field. (See my previous post for more on that.) Amongst his regional previews, Mr. Sorenson takes a look at Ohio State's upcoming season.

While I hesitate to say too much about Ohio State right now, as I hope to crank out some type of conference preview next month, I will go so far as to completely agree with Mr. Sorenson's opinion about OSU's non-conference slate. The lack of upper level programs on the Buckeyes pre-conference schedule is going to hurt their RPI and, in turn, damage their at-large tournament hopes.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Projecting The Tournament Field

It's never too early to start wondering if your school is on the bubble. Mark Etheridge, of SouthEastern Baseball fame, has taken a stab at filling out the sixty-four team NCAA Tournament field. In his exceptionally early educated guess, Mr. Etheridge has two Big Ten teams in the tourney.

He foresees Michigan claiming the Big Ten Tournament crown and getting the conference's automatic bid. Mr. Etheridge also projects Ohio State making the field as an at-large selection. If your curious about his thought process (and why wouldn't you be?), Mr. Etheridge also shares that analysis.

OSU # 30, Michigan # 43

PG Cross Checker has submitted its Top 100 rankings. While we saw Minnesota (80) and Purdue (100) linked earlier, we now have two more Big Ten programs in the rankings. Ohio State is the top ranked school in the conference at number thirty and Michigan finds itself slotted at number forty-three overall.

Check out the entire Top 100 here.

Tip Of The Cap And Big XII Baseball Links

In checking the blog's Sitemeter data, I found that Corn Nation referenced a post I made about the use of wood bats at the college level. I'm happy too see Ryan at Corn Nation has stopped by here and thank him for linking folks back here. As Corn Nation covers all things 'Hukers, including their fine baseball program, I'll add them to my sidebar shortly.

In reading the responses to Ryan's entry, we find that Kansas fans follow college baseball, as well. Ok, at least the Kansas supporter who runs Rock Chalk Talk does. JQ provides us with a multi-part review entitled College Baseball 101. It includes the following:

The Season And The Tournaments
Quality Of Play And The Conferences
College Baseball vs. Pro Baseball
Going Pro
A Kansas Baseball Preview

I encourage all, especially those new to college baseball, to read JQ's efforts. As the "College Baseball 101" title implies, he provides a solid introduction to the sport. It's safe to assume that anyone who spends this much time writing about college baseball merits a link in the Big Ten Hardball sidebar, too. You should see links to both Big XII flavored blogs on the BTH blogroll soon. Don't wait, though. Go check out both today.

Year Three, Four Days Late

My third year of blogging about college baseball and the Big Ten's entries, in particular, started rather silently this past Tuesday evening. Not that I'm above patting myself on the back, as this post clearly affirms, no, it's because since Tuesday I've been battling a computer virus.

I had been noticing the old PC had some squirrely behavoir last weekend only to find myself faced with an outright attack by Tuesday. So, my timely anniversary post was left aside in favor of downloading anti-spyware software and hoping to remove the malware in question.

As irritating as it was, I'm thankful that it wasn't any worse. With the help of the installed spyware, the virus and it's attached adware, spyware, malware, silverware, evening wear or whatever-other-ware all seem to be history and I can move my internet baseball diary forward.

With this, hopefully, all in the rearview mirror, allow me to welcome to year three of Big Ten Hardball.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Getting To Know You

Indiana University is running a series featuring newcomers to the Hoosier baseball squad. Here are the players profiled thus far.

Tom Devero

Matt Bashore

Eric Arnett

Jarrett Casey

Reid Briglia

Evan Crawford

Collegiate Gold Gloves

Rawlings is going to begin awarding Gold Gloves to collegiate players in 2007. Click here for the CSTV.com story.

Gophers, Boilers Preview

PGCrossChecker.com is issuing a top 100 pre-season list. Teams 76-100 have previews available. Two Big Ten schools fell into that set. Minnesota is ranked number eighty in the country and Purdue rounds out the list at number one hundred.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rice Tops NCBWA Poll

The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association have released their pre-season poll. In this initial effort, the list was expanded to include thirty-five teams. Normally, the weekly NCBWA rankings are limited to a Top 30. The number one team according to the writers is Rice University. To get a look at the entire list, click here.

Two Big Ten baseball programs did receive votes, although neither cracked the Top 35. Michigan and Ohio State continue to be the consensus pre-season Big Ten favorites and garnered the only votes from the NCBWA members. (For the record, I am not amongst the voters.)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Where The Boys Are

Perfect Game has released a list of its national showcase players and their college choices. A few of PG's Top 100 chose to attend Big Ten universities. Illinois Nick Chmielewski, Iowa's Nicholas Jensen and Michigan's Travis Smith all participated in PG's annual showcase event.

Hat tip: College Baseball Blog.

Michigan, OSU In BA Top 50

Baseball America has issued a sneak peak of the 2007 college baseball season. (It's a .pdf file.) Included in the pre-preview is their Top 50 poll. Michigan is the highest ranked Big Ten squad checking in at number forty. Ohio State also made the poll. The Buckeyes find themselves at number forty-seven.

This is more evidence that those around the country have some expectations for both Big Ten programs. With the general lack of respect northern schools not named Notre Dame get, to see Michigan and Ohio State either ranked or on the fringe of a poll indicates that both schools are perceived to be pretty good.

In his online chat, Baseball America's Aaron Fitt suggested the Big Ten was a two team race between the Wolverines and Buckeyes. Fitt also stated that Minnesota could find themselves in the mix. To read all of Mr. Fitt's comments, click here.

All-America Teams

Collegiate Baseball released it's pre-season All-America Teams. Unfortunately, not a single member of the Big Ten was able to crack one of CB's three squads.

How About A New Siebert Field?

I see that the University of Minnesota has released the artwork for its new football stadium. It looks great, but here's my question. Where are the upgrades or new digs for the Gophers baseball team?

I can't blame the university for the desire to move their home football games out of the Metrodome. The Metrodome's two primary tenants, the Twins and Vikings, don't want to play there, either. Yet, if UMN is going to toss around some building capital, why not show Coach John Anderson's team some love?

Now, perhaps, there is a plan on the table to upgrade Minnesota's existing facilities. If not, the decision to only send money towards the football program comes at an interesting time. Four Big Ten schools -- Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue -- either have approved plans for new parks, have renovations underway or are raising money to make significant changes. A fifth Big Ten baseball team, Penn State, will open a brand new yard this spring. When you factor in Ohio State's conference leading baseball complex, that's six of the ten programs in the conference either already playing in or planning to improve the setting for their teams. Why not Minnesota?

In light of the Golden Gophers outstanding baseball tradition -- certainly amongst the best in the conference and arguably amongst the best in the nation -- and the push by a majority of the rest of the conference to upgrade their baseball homes, one wonders why UMN's administration isn't pushing harder to keep pace with the others in the Big Ten?

The hope here is that with the Gophers football team exiting the Metrodome for a new building that the Minnesota baseball team will follow suit. A state of the art baseball complex would be appropriate for a school with such a rich hardball tradition. However, a major renovation of the current on campus site would seem to be the least the university could do.