The Distiller’s Dozen
13 things that crossed my mind today in no particular order.
1- I HEARBY WANT COLLEGE BASEBALL TO STAY “SMALL TIME”
Went on a radio show this week with Bryan Eubanks in Jackson, Mississippi and was asked if I liked the increased exposure of college baseball from outlets like ESPN, the Fox channels, The Mtn., etc.
I told him I was glad to see it. The Thursday SEC games and Monday ACC games were a great addition, along with the weekly College Baseball Live on ESPNU. But I also told him that I don’t ever want it to get as big as college football or basketball. Mainly ‘coz our sport doesn’t need the type of shadiness to it like we get from the ne’er-do-wells in football and basketball. And of course, I’m not just referring to the coaches and agents, it’s also the shadiness of the players that is so crushing as a fan. There are just too many bad seeds that sour football and basketball.
Of course, one of the saving graces to our sport of college baseball is that there is a minor league which high schoolers can go directly into, especially the dumb ones who have no want or effort to further their education. I mean come on, don’t you love how in the College World Series post-game press conferences you always have guys who know how to talk and sound somewhat educated. Pains me to see football and basketball press conferences.
2- LOVE THE SMART BOYS
This subject also brings up another facet of college baseball that I love; the fact that “smart” schools like Stanford, Rice, Cal and Vanderbilt can all be national powers year-in, year-out AND be some of the toughest academic institutions in the country. Because they are so handicapped in football and basketball and their lack of high numbers of academic-athletic top tier guys, it’s rare to see these teams maintain top 10 seasons, or winning seasons period.
3- KP IS GOING TO THE BOOTH, MOFO’s!
Those of you who have followed me over the years know how badly I’ve wanted to have our own Kyle Peterson in the booth doing color commentary during the College World Series instead of down in the dugouts doing on-field interviews and whatnot. Wellâ€¦ it’s happened.
KP finally got the call up to work the booth at the CWS for 2012, no more wasting his time and talent doing fluffy shit on the field.
After years of our having to withstand all these ex-major leaguers who badly mispronounce names and fill their stints with draft-heavy talk and of how every player in the College World Series will do as a pro, we finally get a guy who understands our game better than anyone.
Congrats to Kyle and to the sport of college baseball.
4- THE SEASON IS ALREADY OVER.
Sad to say, but teams in the Ivy League and the Patriot League who aren’t involved in their post-season playoffs have already seen their 2012 seasons come to an end. Yep, finis. Dartmouth and Cornell face each other in the Ivy’s best-of-three and Army, Navy, Holy Cross and Lafayette all made it to the PL playoffs. So that means, Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Yale, Bucknell and Lehigh have all seen their seasons come to an end.
I talked with Dartmouth coach Bob Whelan a couple years ago about the early end to their Ivy League seasons and he told me that every coach in the league HATES how early their season ends and wishes the Ivy League would rescind the rule that all athletic seasons must end when the spring semester ends.
So there’s yet another reason I’d like to see the college baseball regular season extend into summer so that the Ivies and Patriots could play into the summer school sessions and take advantage of good weather.
5- WHEN YOUR SON PLAYS AT A SCHOOL FAR FROM HOME.
One of my good buds in Omaha has a son playing baseball at George Mason in Virginia. I appreciate a child who has the wanderlust and wants to go off to school away from home and use that as a growing experience. (Though I’m sure dad isn’t so crash-hot over those out of state tuitions). But the down side of it is not being able to have your parents see you play on a day-in, day-out basis.
Here’s a Facebook status which struck me from the mother of Patriot catcher Jake Leonardoâ€¦
You get the idea that it’s tough to be a parent of a player far away.
6- HOW VALUABLE IS COLIN MORAN FOR NORTH CAROLINA?
In his first game back after being out with a “punchers’ hand”, the All American candidate went 2-for-4 with a home run and RBI single in the 2-0 win over Winthrop on Wednesday.
The Doctor of College Baseball was at The Mike Fox Show in downtown Chapel Hill on Monday night and when he asked about the key to Moran’s return, coach Fox responded with, “Well, we need to keep him away from mahogany doors.”
So we can assume that was what he punched to break his hand a few weeks back.
7- A GREAT FREAKIN’ CATCH.
Utah Valley’s SID Clint Burgi forwarded me a great video clip from the Wolverine’s 14-11 win over BYU on Tuesday. Here’s a video wrap-up of the game, but be sure to check out the home run-robbing catch made by right fielder Billy Burgess.
By the way, also note on the clip the huge crowd for the game. That was due to a school-record of 5,456 at Brent Brown Ballpark, not bad for a mid-week game, right? Niiiiiice. Oh, and in case you’ve forgotten, UVU has now won a nation’s-best 24 straight games to go to 31-11 on the season. With a No. 72 RPI, you think they’ve got a chance at an at-large?
8- JEREMY MILLS AND KYLE PETERSON ON THE NATIONAL SEEDS
During tonight’s Florida-Kentucky game, ESPNU showed a graphic which had Jeremy Mills’ top eight National Seedsâ€¦.
Kyle Peterson commented, “Here’s the National Seeds as of today from our good friend and Bracketologist Jeremy Millsâ€¦ Right now, you’ve got to figure Florida State and Baylor are locks for national seeds. But the rest of the spots are wide open. The last three weeks of the regular season are going to be the deciding factor for the other six.”
9- THE NINTH QUESTION:
Hypothetically speaking of course, who do you think deserves an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament more, an SEC team with an RPI in the 40s, or a mid-major with an RPI in the low 50s?
10- GOOD WIN FOR THE GATORS TONIGHT.
Hudson Randall returned to the starting rotation after having some “tired arm” issues, and went 6.2 innings, allowing six hits, three runs and one walk, while striking out four. Preston Tucker parked an 0-2 pitch from Kentucky starter Taylor Rogers in the 1st inning to give the Gators a lead they wouldn’t relent. Tucker ended the game 2-for-4 with 2RBI and two runs scored to lead the UofF offense.
11- USD GETS A LEG UP ON THE WCC.
Thank God for BYU-TV (channel 374 on DIRECTV, in case you were wondering). The Mtn. Network may be going away, but at least former MWC member BYU will always have its own networkâ€¦ unless conference expansion bleeds into religion and the Mormons join the Methodist Conference or something nutty like that. Tonight, San Diego won a slugfest over the Cougars by a 14-7 score to take game one of their weekend series. It’s a big loss for the Coogs since they were only a game and a half behind the WCC-leading Toreros going into the three games. Kris Bryant led the bomb squad by going 2-for-5 with 4RBI, including a 3rd inning yard call.
12- WHAT DEAD BATS? I’M CALLING B.S. ON THAT.
You can’t tell Arkansas-Little Rock that these *new* bats are much deader and perform more like wood. In a 16-12 loss to Kansas on Tuesday, the Trojans got a pair of dingers from Nick Rountree to help establish a new single season school record for home runs with 52. Rountree went 4-for-6 with 6RBI in the game as both teams rapped 17 hits in the game. And true to their pre-2010 ways, this game between the Trojans and Jayhawks lasted 3:34 in time.
13- THE REST OF WHAT WE LEARNED IN THE MONTH OF APRIL.
In the ESPN weekend preview, I did the usual end-of-the-month feature where I stated the 10 things we learned from the previous month. But the ESPNers only included five of them in the preview.
To review, they were:
1- Baylor and Florida State had the best month
2- There is no heavy favorite for the national title.
3- Report of the demise of the defending champions are greatly exaggerated.
4- The Big 12 may be stronger than we though.
5- The Six Pac is back.
So for your enjoyment, here are the remaining five things we learned from the month of Aprilâ€¦
6- Florida is human.
Florida was the near-consensus pick to win it all heading into this season, but this past month showed how vulnerable they are. The Gators have gone 9-9 in April, mostly due to bumps and bruises on the mound, and now, if they repeat that April performance in May, are we looking at the Gators actually losing a national seed?
7- April has been a bad month for injuries.
As mentioned above, Florida’s pitching staff has been held together by duct tape and bailing wire and we’ve also seen some bad losses for teams like Louisville losing Adam Engel for a few weeks, North Carolina being without best-hitter Colin Moran, Stanford’s Lonnie Kauppila being lost for the year, and Miami losing Peter O’Brien, which has handcuffed the Hurricanes’ offense more than imagined.
8- Miami’s post-season streak is in jeopardy.
The Hurricanes have been to the NCAA post-season every year since 1972. They started the month of April at 21-7, but have gone just 6-10 since then, having lost their last eight ACC games. They have Wake Forest and Georgia Tech remaining, two teams who sit squarely on the bubble right now.
9- Purdue should’ve started building their new stadium earlier.
As the month of April went on, it became more and more apparent that the Boilermakers were going to be serious contenders to host a Regional in June. For this reason, a big thumbs down to the builders of new Alexander Field, who were supposed to have the new digs completed in time for this 2012 season. Instead, it’s still not done and the Boilers are left to scramble for a facility to play a Regional in.
10- This year’s crop of mid-majors isn’t as strong as we thought.
Though Purdue is a likely one-seed, the Boilermakers should be the only No. 1 seed among the mid-majors. So the TCU’s and Coastal Carolina’s of recent seasons aren’t in high numbers. But heed this warning, teams like Louisville, San Diego, Sam Houston State, Appalachian State and even this year’s version of TCU and CCU could be pretty dangerous two-seeds.
Have a good college baseball weekend. Lots of good games goin’ on so get out there and go see one.