I hesitate to make too much out of one weekend of conference play. Those that won this week could easily lose next week. However, if you held the belief that Michigan, Ohio State and Minnesota were the cream of the Big Ten crop, the first weekend of conference action did nothing do dissuade from that notion.
All three programs did what you would expect, win more than they lost. Yet, the other seven schools still have plenty of time to qualify for post-season play. With that in mind, here are some general observations that crossed my mind since Friday. (Limited to college baseball, of course.)
* If Michigan State continues to get the kind of pitching they displayed against Indiana this past weekend (11 runs in four games), they are going to be in the race all season long.
* Ohio State’s pitching is so good that even with All-Big starter Dan DeLucia missing a turn, they took three of four from Iowa.
* With thirty-nine runs in four games, the bats might have finally awakened at Michigan.
* Is it just me or does Michigan lineup look better with Doug Pickens in the outfield and Chris Berset behind the plate? Yeah, probably just me.
* It’s time to take notice of Michigan State second baseman Steve Gerstenberger. The junior from Fort Gratiot, Michigan is hitting a mere .425. He is slugging at a .550 clip and his on base percentage is .478. He must be doing something right, I’m not even looking his name up before I type it.
* Can we please get rid of these seven inning doubleheaders? It’s great to have fourteen innings of baseball on a Saturday, but between the inconsistent weather and the huge difference those extra two innings make, I’d just assume play one traditional game on Saturday.
* Speaking of the weather, and I do plenty of whining about it here, the early forecast from Columbus to Ann Arbor to Champaign is for winter to return within the next few days. Highs on Friday may be in the 40’s with the possibility for a rain/snow/sleet combo meal. It’s a holiday greeting card scenario. Alas, that picture is better suited for Christmas than Easter.
* Which position is more loaded -- centerfield or catcher? Your Big Ten centerfielders include Matt Nohelty (Minnesota), Eric Rose (Michigan), Matt Angle (Ohio State), Kyle Hudson (Illinois) and Travis Sweet (Iowa). The backstop list features Kyle Day (Michigan State), Lars Davis (Illinois), Eric Fryer (Ohio State), Doug Pickens (Michigan) and Dusty Napoleon (Iowa).
* Apparently, the Hawkeyes’ Napoleon is a pretty good first baseman, as well. My friends in Columbus tell me that the Johnny Bench Award nominee made three terrific plays at first on Friday night.
* Can we please get full names on box scores? Yes, I want the first and last names of every player on both teams. Even when the opponent is a non-conference foe. I have trouble remembering the names of every player in the Big Ten, I’m certainly not going to know every player outside the conference.
* Along those lines, when providing a box score, is it asking too much to have the columns lineup appropriately? Having the AB, R, H, RBI lines all over the place makes the box more than a bit difficult to read. Gang, I can’t relay what I can’t read. A little help, please.
* I mentioned this over the weekend, but OSU’s Jake Hale is looking like a Stopper of the Year candidate.