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.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Summer League Rosters, Part I

Per usual, a number of Big Ten players are participating in wood bat leagues this summer. Here is the first part of my look at summer league rosters. Remember, these are tentative rosters. Changes are not only possible, but probable. (*) Indicates a player selected in the MLB Draft.

Great Lakes League
Mike Kalina, NU, Anderson Servants
Brad Henke, IU, Anderson Servants
Billy O'Connor, IU, Cincinnati Storm
Tony Kennedy, OSU, Cincinnati Storm
Zach Hurley, OSU, Cincinnati Storm
Danny Rosenbaum, IU, Cincinnati Storm
Billy Kitchen, IU, Cincinnati Storm
Darren Sizemore, OSU, Cincinnati Storm
Cory Rupert, OSU, Columbus All-Americans
Ryan Dew, OSU, Columbus All-Americans
Jake Hale, OSU, Columbus All-Americans (*)
Evan Crawford, IU, Delaware Cows
Brian DeLucia, OSU, Delaware Cows
Mike Jacobs, Iowa, Great Lakes Mariners
Matt Gerbe, Mich, Great Lakes Mariners
Jeff DeCarlo, Mich, Great Lakes Mariners
Eric Best, OSU, Licking County Settlers
Joe Vicini, IU, Licking County Settlers
Eric Arnett, IU, Licking County Settlers
Matt Bischoff, PUR, Lima Locos
John Karr, PSU, Southern Ohio Copperheads

Cape Cod League
Kevin Hoef, Iow, Bourne Braves
Zach Putnam, Mich, Chatham A's
Ryne White, PUR, Cotuit Kettleers
Chris Fetter, Mich, Cotuit Kettleers
Josh Lindblom, PUR, Cotuit Kettleers
J.B. Shuck, OSU, Cotuit Kettleers
Kyle Day, MSU, Harwich Mariners
Josh Phegley, IU, Wareham Gatemen

Central Illinois League
Tony Sedlmeyer, PUR, Danville Dans
Connor Sestak, PUR, Danville Dans
Dan Black, PUR, Danville Dans
Kevin Cahill, PUR, Danville Dans
Johnny Lee, MSU, DuPage Dragons
Kyle Heim, Iow, Quincy Gems
Tyson Blaser, Iow, Quincy Gems
Ryan McFarlane, MSU, Quincy Gems
Wes Freie, Iow, Quincy Gems

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Maloney Staying

The Ann Arbor News is reporting that Rich Maloney is remaining as Michigan's coach. Good news for the Michigan program, although a total waste of my previous post.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Maloney To Tennessee?

Michigan head baseball coach Rich Maloney is rumored to have interviewed for the vacancy at Tennessee. Michigan AD Bill Martin has confirmed that permission was granted for UT to speak to Coach Maloney.

I don't really want to make too big a deal about this yet. There is quite a distance between interviewing and actually getting the job. Besides, the Tennessee gig is a good one, even if I thought Rod Delmonico got unfairly kicked to the curb, so I can't blame Coach Maloney for listening. (Again, listening and accepting are two different words for a reason.) I certainly cannot be mad at UT for calling Maloney. Getting a northern program to the heights Michigan has achieved in such a short time is impressive. Maloney's probably on everyone's short list, so the courting dance shouldn't surprise anyone.

As such, I should probably wait to see how all this pans out. There are any number of possible conclusions ranging from not going to UT to going somewhere else to returning to the Maize and Blue. However, let's keep two things in mind.

First, I'll be more surprised if Maloney doesn't get the Vols job than if he does. He's a good coach. He can sell a program. He's got a track record in the MAC and the Big Ten. How many other super regional coaches are going to be available? If he interviews, he's the front-runner in my biased mind.

Second, and clearly most importantly, there is not much Big Ten baseball news to chew on, so why not run wild with this? Look, I'm a blogger. As with all bloggers, I have a duty to ignore journalistic ethics, make pointless assertions and spread unverifiable information. (What's that? The regular media does this, too? Wait, does that mean I can get paid for this?)

With that as a backdrop, let me pose a (long) question in light of this news. What does it say about a program when your currently spending millions of dollars in facilities upgrades, you have won back-to-back regular season conference titles, you have won your first NCAA regional in over two decades, you are returning a team that might be in the top 10 next season at one of the most prestigious universities in the country and the head coach that has rebuilt your entire program is interviewing elsewhere?

From my chair, it affirms a the sentiment that the Big Ten will never be anything more than a mid-major in baseball. If Michigan can't keep it's head baseball coach with all the momentum that has been built under Maloney's guidance -- both on and off the field -- how in the wide world of sports are they going to keep the next guy? And, with apologies to all around the conference, if Michigan doesn't have either the courage, capital or clout to secure their baseball coach does anyone else in the Big Ten?

Seriously, if this identical situation were happening anywhere between State College and Iowa City, would any of those other nine programs shell out the money to keep their baseball coach? My gut and my brain both say "no". They would all go searching for a new guy. Doesn't that thought scream "mid-major conference"? (Can you imagine the outrage if this were football and Michigan was feeding SEC schools coaches?!?!?!)

Before Volunteers' fans sick a hound after me, I openly admit that the UT baseball job is higher up the food chain than Michigan's. However, I happen to believe that a few Big Ten programs can become big time jobs, as well. Michigan is one of those jobs. Now, if Maloney leaves after getting the Michigan program to this level, is he sending the message that he doesn't share my feelings about the long term future of Michigan baseball? Would Maloney's departure be saying, in effect, this is as good as Michigan and the Big Ten are going to get?

This also makes me wonder a little bit about Michigan's commitment. I say a little bit because the administration has put some dollars into baseball recently. The cynic in me would point out that quite a bit of the money came from a donation from New York Mets' owner and Michigan alum Fred Wilpon. That more negative side might also suggest that the money comes a decade after Ohio State built a state-of-the-art ballpark on campus and around the same time Penn State opened their new, fabulous yard. That was peer pressure more than a commitment. In spite of the administration's motivation, with all the money they've laid out, shouldn't keeping the man that restored their program be a priority?

Now, there is an obvious financial line in the sand that even I would not cross. If the folks in Knoxville, or anywhere else, want to make Coach Maloney a lottery winner, I can't blame Michigan's administration for saying "We wish you well". However, I'm hopeful that Michigan will not let a little bit of cash cost them their baseball coach. A whole bunch of cash? Well, ...........

That brings me to a final item for this evening's "brief" look at this developing story. Let's take this to the next logical step. Let's assume Maloney bolts Ann Arbor for Knoxville and financial independence, warmer temperatures and a desire for Creamsicles. Who gets the Michigan job? That's a great question. I wish I had a great answer.

Here is what I know about the job at Michigan. Or better phrased, here's what I think Michigan's coach should be. I believe you need to be young and energetic (although, I always presumed those two went together). You need to be willing to promote the snot out of program. You need to shake every hand. Attend every banquet. Accept every interview request. You need to elevate baseball without getting overwhelmed with football's status. Oh, by the way, you need to be a good baseball coach who can recruit and preferably with some previous head coaching experience. More preferable would be experience winning.

May I make a single, off-the-top-of-my-head suggestion? How about Scott Stricklin at Kent State? I don't know much at all about Coach Stricklin's background, so I put his name out there with an asterisk, but I think he meets all my perceived requirements. He's young at 36. He has shown a willingness to promote his program -- I've seen an in-game television interview and his interview with Brian Foley at the College Baseball Blog. He's played in the minors. Stricklin was an assistant at Georgia Tech. He's led the Golden Flashes to a 104-65 record in three years at KSU. (Another asterisk on his record at KSU. It's my math.) That includes a regular season title, this year's MAC tournament crown and he's got a coach of the year award, to boot.

That's not to say there's not another candidate I might like out there better, but my initial thought was Coach Stricklin. He might not want to leave his Alma mater, but there won't be too many better jobs available than Michigan's should it become open. He deserves an interview, if interested.

Perhaps, the most interesting thing to come out of a potential change of coaches will be what happens to the current players. By Maloney's own admission, Michigan could be a Top 10 program in the pre-season rankings next year. However, if he departs, how many of those players will exit, as well? Will a new coach be able to keep them in Ann Arbor and, if so, can he get them to the next step -- Omaha?

One does wonder if Maloney opts for greener (or more orange) pastures right now, if some in Ann Arbor will be left with bitter feelings.

Update: Michigan Daily's Courtney Ratkowiak talks with Zach Putnam about Maloney's interview.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Frosh Awards

Ping! has announced it's initial All Ping! All Freshman Team. Amongst the honorees are several Big Ten players. Evan Crawford, of Indiana, was a second team choice at secondbase. Ohio State's Cory Kovanda made honorable mention at the same position. Michigan State's Chris Roberts landed on the third team outfield. Purdue's Matt Bischoff was selected as a first team pitcher. Tony Sedlmeyer, another Purdue pitcher, made the honorable mention list.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Oregon State Ends Michigan's Season

As you probably know by now, Oregon State eliminated Michigan, 8-2, in today's super regional game. The loss ends Michigan's NCAA run and their 2007 campaign. The Beavers, the defending champions, will return to Omaha.

Honestly, it was not the way the Wolverines would have wanted to go out. In contrast to yesterday's sharply pitched and played game, today's effort was filled with giveaways -- wild pitches, balks, passed balls and, most damaging, walks.

Senior Eric Rose was the star for Michigan. The Wolverines' centerfielder hit a pair of solo homers. It was a fine performance by one of the best CF's in Michigan history.

While I'm disappointed for the players and, yes, myself, it was a fine season for Rich Maloney's side. They played well against a number of top ranked teams, won the Big Ten's regular season title and the Nashville regional. Those are all things to be proud of.

I tip my cap to the 2007 Michigan Wolverines. It's was a great ride.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Oregon State 1 Michigan 0

In a tremendous pitcher's duel, Oregon State beat Michigan, 1-0. Michigan's Zach Putnam and OSU starter Jorge Reyes were nothing short of spectacular. Reyes, with some help from the Beavers' bullpen, limited Michigan to just four hits. Putnam allowed one only hit, a two-out RBI single from Joey Wong in the ninth inning. Wong's hit proved to be the game winner.

Putnam worked 8.2 innings striking out eight and walking three before yielding to Michael Powers. Powers set down the lone batter he faced in the ninth. OSU's Reyes went seven innings giving up three of Michigan's hits and walking no one. Joe Paterson worked 1.1 innings giving up one hit. Eddie Kunz came in to get the last two hitters.

It was simply a masterfully pitched ballgame on both sides. With a combined five hits, there isn't much offense to talk about.

The two sides meet again tomorrow. The time has not yet been determined. It will either be 4:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. EST.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

No Game, Just Commentary

As the super regional between Michigan and Oregon State got washed out today, I've got no game action to review. As such, I've decided tonight's a good time to share some observations, suggestions and wild speculation with you.

As is usually the case around here, this material is in no particular order. A term paper or something for work gets days of organization and review. Blogging? A few hours, tops. It doesn't make me the world's greatest blogger, but it does keep my marriage on solid ground.

* We've got our first two College World Series teams. Rice and Mississippi State are headed for Omaha. No surprise the Owls return, but MSU? I'm thinking most of us didn't pick the Bulldogs in that portion of our bracket.

* While at the Big Ten Tournament, I was told that a couple of programs experienced a higher rate of broken bats this season. Sure enough, another bat bit the dust during the Big 10 tourney. The bat I saw crumble wasn't even from one of the programs complaining about the problem. Anybody have any insight as to why the bats are breaking this year?

* I believe I've mentioned this here before, but the Big Ten and Big East are hammering out the details to establish a challenge series like the Big Ten has with the ACC in basketball. The Big Ten/Big East baseball challenge should be on the docket by 2009. (I don't think they can get it into the '08 slate, but you just never know.)

Hopefully, this series will create some additional exposure for both conferences. I would expect to see the Big Ten Network pick-up coverage, but it's premature to announce anything concrete.

* In his Thursday Thoughts column, CSTV's Eric Sorenson mentions Vanderbilt's persistence in stomping on home plate. Not only did Vandy make a point of each run scored, but their firstbaseman spent all of Sunday night spiking the baseball each time an inning ended with the ball in his possession. Not satisfied to toss it or roll it back to the mound, he had to spike it like he scored a TD. Or, as Eric suggests, he's angry.

If those two ongoing theatrics weren't enough, I felt that David Price gave the Michigan dugout a stare down in Monday's game. After the All-American set down the Wolverines in the top of the ninth, it appeared to me that Price finished his jubilant cry with a brief, but direct look into Michigan's dugout.

Now, could I just be a pro-Michigan guy over analyzing this? Yep. Could it be I was just so annoyed by the other Vanderbilt antics that I was looking for more trouble? Absolutely. Could it be that I'm just an old guy that doesn't embrace all these new forms of on-field exuberance? Without question.

However, if you are the number one team in the land, at home, in a regional you are supposed to dominate, is it necessary or even appropriate to be quite so animated? Their actions just seemed over-the-top to me.

(I'll spare you the traditional "Where I come from, if you did that stuff you'd get knocked on your butt the next time you stepped in the box" speech. I'll also skip the story about walking to school uphill, both ways, in six feet of snow.)

* Surprisingly, Tennessee and Florida both have job openings. However, I wouldn't be surprised if a Big Ten or Big East coach is rumored to be on either UT's or the Gators' short list. (Or, for that matter, a Big West or WCC coach.) If a mid-major coach can get into the regionals, why not consider them?

* Wild Speculation Alert: Word has it Purdue is looking for the right piece of real estate to build a new ballpark on. Let's hope that's more than just a rumor.

* Friend and blogging ally Ian Casselberry and I were thinking of watching today's super regional in an Ann Arbor watering hole. Come to find out, only a few of them had ESPNU. When those that did were quizzed if they would have the Michigan/Oregon State game on most were tepid in their response. It was like "Well..... if somebody is really interested, we might".

Come on. This is in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Home of the University of Michigan. I know the Detroit Tigers and New York Mets game was running at nearly the same time, but it's the super regionals and your school is in it. Besides, it's a nearly perfect June weekend day. How many people are going to drag themselves into a sports bar in the middle of the afternoon on a day like this? Wouldn't you encourage us to arrive to watch the program's biggest game in twenty years?

Clearly, I haven't gotten everyone aboard the college baseball bandwagon yet. The blogging continues.

* For those who follow the other nine schools in this conference, I am starting to review summer league rosters and hope to post something outlining that within the next seven to ten days. Regardless, I would encourage you to check out the Summer League Blog.

* For the record, I'm in favor of the Big Ten having the conference tournament at a neutral site. I think the advantages (like knowing a year in advance where to book a hotel, playing in better facilities, making it look like the conference cares about baseball) out number the disadvantages (the regular season winner no longer having home field advantage). That said, I was told that conference and university officials remain opposed to the idea.

As it was explained to me, it's a problem of equity. If the Big Ten baseball championship is held at a neutral site, the coaches of the other non-revenue sports are going to ask for the same thing and no one is prepared to work out the logistics for every single sport having an off-campus event.

I guess I understand the equity issue. However, I believe one thing and one thing alone can toss the equity issue out the window -- money. If the Big Ten baseball tournament was a revenue producer, this wouldn't be a discussion. However, as the tournament probably costs them more money than they make, they aren't going to give them special consideration.

I would offer this objection to the conference's objection. The Big East hosts a neutral site baseball championship. So do a number of the power conferences. While the big boys of college baseball might make some cash in this process, does the Big East? If they do, is it because it's at a neutral site?

At some point, somebody in this conference needs to understand that perception is reality. If you treat baseball like a second rate sport, and the Big Ten does, then the public will react accordingly. It's a self fulfilling prophecy.

* In reviewing attendance at the Big Ten tournament, I'm convinced that I'm one of about only ten to fifteen people who actually paid to get in. Everybody else got in with credentials or freebies. It's no wonder it's a non-revenue sport.

* Nobody is happier with the way northern schools have played this year than I, but the question remains "Is this an anomaly or a trend?". I'm hoping for the latter, but it's just too soon to tell. It will be interesting to see if Michigan and Louisville, in particular, gain any recruits because of their tournament success this year.

That's all for tonight, boys and girls. I hope you enjoyed this rambling commentary. Remember tomorrow's super regional game is on ESPN. No U, this time.

Rain Out

Today's game between Michigan and Oregon State has been rained out. The two sides will meet tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Monday's game will be at either 4pm or 8pm. A Tuesday game, if necessary, is TBA.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Super Regional Previews And Picks

Jimmy at Southern College Sports.com offers this preview of Michigan's Super Regional encounter with Oregon State. The boys make some predicitions at the end, as well.

Brian Foley of the College Baseball Blog also previews the Wolverines match-up with the defending national champions and offers his prediction.

CSTV's Eric Sorenson looks at all the Super Regionals.

Baseball America's Aaron Fitt previews the Saturday Supers and today's Supers.

Kendall Rogers of Rivals. com provides his preview of the Corvallis Super Regional.

Gaining Momentum

Michigan's post-season success has garnered them some ink in the local fish wraps. No, not the Ann Arbor News, although they do report on Michigan baseball. I'm talking about the Detroit newspapers. The Detroit News ran this piece on Michigan's triumph this week and today the Free Press gave a profile of 1B Nate Recknagel.

Player profiles in the Detroit newspapers? Half the time they don't even report scores from the Big Ten let alone provide player features. Yes, boys and girls, that dramatic win over Vanderbilt has had its rewards for Rich Maloney's squad.

Keeping Up With The Draft

I'm attempting to assemble a list of all the Big Ten players selected in the 2007 MLB Draft, however, it's been a bit more challenging than I anticipated. (Let's just say that MLB.com's sort feature isn't working quite as well as I might like.) Regardless, here is the list I've compiled thus far. If I missed anyone, please let me know.

Let's also keep in mind that some of these players do have college eligibility left and may opt to return to school for another year of college baseball.

#63 Cory Luebke, P, Ohio State - San Diego
#102 Lars Davis, C, Illinois - Colorado
#219 Matt Angle, OF, Ohio State - Baltimore
#259 Drew O'Neil, P, Penn State - Cincinnati
#311 Eric Fryer, C, Ohio State - Milwaukee
#342 Andrew Groves, P, Purdue - Colorado
# 361 Gary Perinar, P, Minnesota - Detroit
#379 Scott Gaffney, SS, Penn State - Cincinnati
#430 Dan Lyons, SS, Minnesota - Washington
#434 Craig Clark, P, Penn State - San Francisco
#493 Mike Mee, OF, Minnesota - Arizona
#519 Jason White, SS, Iowa - Baltimore
#577 Kyle Day, C, Michigan State - Chicago (NL)
#591 Jon Fixler, C, Indiana - Houston
#600 Dusty Napoleon, C, Iowa - Oakland
#601 Andrew Hess, P, Michigan - Detroit
#625 Jake Hale, P, Ohio State - Toronto
#638 Matt Cavagnaro, 2B, Penn State - Pittsburgh
#891 Travis Sweet, OF, Iowa - Houston
#931 Jon Kibler, P, Michigan State - Detroit
#996 Caleb Fields, 2B, Northwestern - Pittsburgh
#1018 Shawn Roof, SS, Illinois - Detroit
#1394 Gary Amato, P, Penn State - Pittsburgh
#1444 Doug Pickens, C, Michigan - Cleveland

Congratulations to all that have been selected.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Luebke, Davis Taken In MLB Draft

Ohio State's Cory Luebke and Illinois' Lars Davis have both been selected on Day 1 of the Major League Baseball Draft. Luebke, the conference's Pitcher of the Year, was the first Big Ten player selected as the sixty-third overall choice to San Diego. Davis, the Big Ten's Player of the Year, was taken by the Colorado Rockies with the 102 pick overall.

These were the only two Big Ten players selected as I write. I suspect we will see quite a few more tomorrow.

Congratulations to both Luebke and Davis. I wish them well at the next level.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Purdue Pitchers Honored

Purdue's Matt Bischoff and Tony Sedlmeyer were named to Collegiate Baseball's Freshman All-America Team. The first year Boilermakers pitchers were the only Big Ten players selected to the annual squad. Congratulations to the Purdue stars on their much deserved acclaim.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Post-Regional Links

Michael Spath, of The Wolverine.com, reviews the regional championship game.

CSTV's Eric Sorenson passes out grades to all 64 teams.

Kendall Rogers, Rivals.com, gets a look at a stunned Vanderbilt side.

Baseball America's Aaron Fitt talks regionals and super-regionals.

Michigan's triumph has them back in BA's Top 25.

Detroit Free Press writer Mark Snyder recaps Michigan's win.

Bryan Mullen, ESPNU, files this report on the Nashville Regional.

The Michigan Daily's Courtney Ratkowiak thinks the Big Ten proved it's worth this past weekend.

Next Stop: Corvallis

Michigan's opponent in the Super Regional will be the defending national champions, Oregon State. The Beavers ended Virginia's year, 7-3, and will host the Wolverines beginning Saturday. Saturday's contest will begin at 3:00 p.m. Sunday's affair starts at 4:00 p.m. If necessary, a Monday finale will begin at 7:00 p.m. All times are EST.

ESPNU will broadcast Saturday's game. Sunday's game is on ESPN. The Monday game will be on either ESPN or ESPN2.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Michigan Stuns Vanderbilt, Wins Regional

Freshman Oaks lifts Wolverines past top ranked Vanderbilt, 4-3

It was the stuff of legend. It's the tenth inning. Scored tied, 3-3. Vanderbilt has their ace pitcher on the mound. David Price, All-America and probable first pick in the Major League Baseball draft, has come out of the bullpen an inning earlier. With an out recorded in the tenth, Michigan head coach Rich Maloney calls for a pinch hitter.

The righthanded bat Maloney summons is that of freshman Alan Oaks. Oaks enters the game hitting .188. What can you expect from a .188 hitting first-year player against the top ranked team, in their home ballpark, with a chance to advance to a super-regional on the line? Did I mention Price, the undefeated lefty is still on the hill? Did I mention Oaks is pinch hitting for Zach Putnam, Michigan's first team All-Big Ten pitcher and DH? (I'm still waiting word on why that switch occurred.)

Oaks hangs tough and works the count to 3-1. Price then throws what appears to be a fastball. Oaks swings and .......... the ball is still sailing. The light hitting, barely used freshman clears the left-centerfield wall, sends Price to the showers, ends Vanderbilt's season and lifts Michigan into the Super Regionals. The final from Nashville, Michigan 4 Vanderbilt 3.

I'm still stunned. Thrilled, but stunned.

I figured Michigan could hang with the 'Dores, as so many Big Ten teams have played well against college baseball's big boys, but win the regional in such convincing fashion? In Nashville to boot? Incredible.

The difference was starting pitching. Michigan's starters shutdown the Vandy lineup twice. Today, it was Chris Fetter's turn. Fetter was nothing short of terrific. The sophomore righthander gave up seven hits over seven innings, walked two and allowed only two earned runs. Adam Abraham relieved Fetter and got the win. Michael Powers came in to take over for Abraham and got a well deserved save.

Pedro Alvarez, a good a college baseball player as their is, took Fetter deep over the centerfield fence to give Vanderbilt their first run. Nate Recknagel countered with a monster solo shot of his own for the Wolverines. Recknagel had three hits in the game to lead Michigan. (Here's the box score.)

I'm sure the national media will explain away the Michigan triumph. The Commodores stopped hitting. They didn't have enough arms to play in this kind of event. Winning the powerful SEC took too much out of them. Vandy really should have won all three games versus Michigan. Yada, yada, yada.

Yeah, well, what happened to the easy regional, boys?

Seriously, Michigan could have just as easily won all three games against Vandy. In front of a hostile crowd, Mike Wilson and Fetter plain baffled the 'Dores and Michigan lost a slugfest by three runs in Nashville when Vandy had to win to survive. Michigan was the better team this weekend. How about we give the young men in Maize and Blue some credit? (And, yes, I'm a Big Ten homer.)

Michigan now awaits the winner of the Virginia/Oregon State game to see whom they will play in the Supers.

Congratulations to Rich Maloney and the University of Michigan on their regional championship.

OSU, Minnesota Ousted; Vandy Beats Michigan

Texas A & M eliminated Ohio State from the NCAA Tournament with a 10-4 win. The Aggies Blake Stouffer hit for the cycle to lead A & M past the Buckeyes. Stouffer had six RBI. Justin Miller and Cory Rupert each had two RBI for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes finish 2007 with a 38-24 record and a Big Ten Tournament Championship. The Aggies get another shot at Louisiana-Lafayette in the championship round of the College Station Regional.

Fresno State ended Minnesota's season with an 11-6 triumph. Brian Lapin homered and had two RBI for the Bulldogs. FSU catcher Ryan Overland had three RBI. Minnesota's Derek McCallum was a perfect 4 for 4. Bryan Jost had four RBI and a homer.

The Gophers finish the year at 41-18. Minnesota placed three players -- Derek McCallum, Bryan Jost and Dan Lyons -- on the All-Regional Team. Cal State Fullerton beat Fresno State to claim the regional title and advance to the super regionals.

Vanderbilt beat Michigan, 10-7, to force a Regional Championship Game. Commodores 1B Brad French drove in four to help keep their season alive. Michigan's Jason Christian also had four RBI. The two teams meet again this evening in a winner-takes-all contest.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Michigan Surprises Vandy, Gophers Send USD Packing

A pair of victories by Big Ten programs have sent two national seeds to defeat. Michigan dropped top ranked, and national number one seed, Vanderbilt, 4-3, very early Sunday morning. Kevin Cislo got a run scoring infield single in the top of the ninth to move the Wolverines into the Regional Championship series. Cislo's RBI came in the wee hours of Sunday morning as Michigan's game against #1 Vanderbilt got pushed back several hours by rain.

Nate Recknagel put Michigan up 3-1 with a three run double in the sixth. Vandy's Matt Meingasner tied it at 3-3 with a two-run homer in the eighth. Michigan answered right back in the top of the ninth. Adam Abraham singled to lead off the inning. Doug Pickens' sacrifice bunt advanced him to third. After an out, Abraham moved on to third on a wild pitch, which set-up Cislo's two-out heroics. Cislo and Abraham, who posted a save, each had two hits a piece. Recknagel led the way with his three RBI.

Mike Wilson kept Michigan in it by tossing 7.1 innings tough innings before yeilding to Michael Powers. Powers, who pitched two-thirds of an inning, notched the win. Abraham came on to pitch the ninth.

Michigan awaits the winner of today's Austin Peay/Vanderbilt game. Tonight's game will begin at 8:00pm.

Earlier in the evening, Minnesota sent more shock waves through college baseball, as the Gophers eliminated host San Diego, 6-5, in ten innings. The hero out west was freshman 2B Derek McCallum. McCallum's RBI single plated Kyle Baran in the 10th and kept Minnesota's season alive.

The Gophers appeared the have the upset clinched heading into the ninth. Minnesota led 5-0 before the final frame began. Mike Mee's homer and three RBI had paced the Gophers to the lead. However, San Diego, the national number eight seed, responded with a five run top of the ninth. USD's comeback was highlight by Logan Gelbrich's three run, game tying bomb.

Dustin Braebender pitched eight tremendous innings in a head-to-head showdown with USD All-American pitcher Brian Matusz. Matusz worked 7.2 innings giving up seven hits and four earned runs, walking no one and striking out seven. Braebender countered by scattering seven hits, a walk, two earned runs and fanning five. Gophers' closer Josh Oslin worked the last 1.2 innings to post the win.

The win kept the Gophers season alive and closed the books on 2007 for San Diego. Minnesota will play Fresno State Sunday night at 7:00pm.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Ohio State Bounces Le Moyne, 6-5

Ohio State eliminated LeMoyne from the NCAA Tournament with a 6-5 ten inning win. Matt Angle's single scored J.B. Shuck in the first extra frame and keeps Ohio State's season alive. The Dolphins year comes to a close.

Angle had two hits and three RBI. Jacob Howell had two hits (including a homer), two runs, two RBI and stole a base. Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Cory Luebke tossed all ten innings for the Buckeyes. The OSU lefty gave up nine hits, five earned runs, struck out seven and did not allow a walk.

Ohio State awaits the loser of the Texas A & M/Louisiana-Lafayette game.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Fullerton Drops Minnesota

Cal-State Fullerton defeated Minnesota, 7-1, in the opening game of the San Diego Regional. The Gophers now fall into the loser's bracket. Both Minnesota and Ohio State will be trying to avoid elimination tomorrow. Not the start I had hoped for.

Michigan Wins, Ohio State Loses

Michigan beat Memphis, 10-7, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Nate Recknagel homered, tripled and drove in three for Michigan. Doug Pickens also had three RBI. The Wolverines will play the winner of tonight's game between Austin Peay and #1 Vanderbilt.

Louisiana-Lafayette scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to beat Ohio State, 5-4. Nolan Gisclair went 4 for 4 with a homer and 2 RBI. OSU's Jacob Howell and Justin Miller each had three hits a piece. The Buckeyes will now get the loser of host Texas A & M and Le Moyne.