Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Big 12 North Preview

I'm not going to bother going through each team's entire schedule, but I'll take a quick look at each North squad and run through its conference schedule to see how each team might fare this season.

In order of predicted finish...

1. Missouri: I know what you're thinking. You think this guy is an idiot for picking a team coached by Gary Pinkel. And, well, you're right. I am kind of an idiot. But at this point, I think this team has as good a shot as anyone to win the division. They should be loaded on offense, with Daniel, Temple (if he can stop fumbling), Coffman and Rucker returning. Throw in Will Franklin at WR, and this team will score some points.

Of course, other fans will howl that the Tigers have no defense. Indeed, they did lose a lot from a defense that wasn't all that stout to begin with. However, looking at the deficiencies of all the other North teams, I have more reasons to pick Mizzou than anyone else.

Predicted finish (7-1):
10/6, vs. Nebraska: Win for MU. They've won the last two against NU in Columbia, and I have no real reason to believe this year will be any different.
10/13, at Oklahoma: Loss for MU. I think OU is going to be further down than most do this year (they're preseason #7 in some poll), and they don't have a QB at this point, but I'm not sure MU is ready to win in Norman.
10/20, vs. Texas Tech: Win for MU. This game may end up 77-70, but I like the weapons MU has over TTU breaking in a new QB and replacing some of last year's players.
10/27, vs. Iowa State: Win for MU. ISU doesn't have the talent to compete right now, even with Gene Chizik.
11/3, at Colorado: Win for MU. I think CU will be vastly improved, but they have no homefield advantage and are still trying to get players in there for Hawkins' system.
11/10, vs. Texas A&M: Win for MU. This will be a huge game for MU. As I've said multiple times before, I'm not sold on Fran, and I can't pick the Aggies to win in a big road game (last year's win over UT in Austin notwithstanding).
11/17, at K-State: Win for MU. Kills me to say it, but I see our win steak in Manhattan ending. I do think the Cats have a good chance to take this game, given MU's past struggles here and the stength of the Lynch Mob going up against MU's offense, but I can't pick the Cats at this point. This is where we need a big Pinkel choke.
11/24, vs. KU (in KC): Win for MU. MU owns KU right now, and will have at least a neutral field at Arrowhead (if not homefield advantage).

2. Nebraska: Nebraska should be another strong offensive team this year, although not as strong as MU. The OL should provide good protection and run blocking. Now if they can just find someone to run behind it, after Brandon Jackson left, Kenny Wilson broke his leg, and Marlon Lucky landed in the ICU for some unexplained reason. It may be interesting to see who wins the alleged QB battle, although I'll be shocked if it's not Sam Keller. If he doesn't win it, Husker fans should be very worried about quality of QB play, not to mention team chemistry.

NU's defense should be decent, but not great. The LB position looks pretty strong with Ruud, Octavien and McKeon back. If NU can replace the four DL starters it lost, the unit could be pretty solid. If not, its undersized and outmanned backfield could get torched. Getting Zac Bowman back would help...

Predicted finish (6-2):
9/29, vs. Iowa State: Win for NU. ISU will be outmanned and doesn't have much chance in Lincoln.
10/6, at Missouri: Loss for NU. See my comments from Mizzou above. Hostile environment and a good team. If Pinkel stays out of his own way...
10/13, vs. Oklahoma State: Win for NU. This is a much needed game, but it will be very difficult. OSU ran NU out of Stillwater last year, and have a lot of key cogs back in what should be an explosive offense. NU better watch out in this one.
10/20, vs. Texas A&M: Win for NU. I may be at this one with some of my Aggie friends. Looks like another good game, but A&M couldn't get it done in College Station last year and, as I mentioned earlier, I can't pick Fran in a big road game.
10/27, at Texas: Loss for NU. Sure, you played 'em tough in Lincoln last year, but if you can't even beat the 'Horns in the snow, how you gonna beat 'em in Austin?
11/3, at Kansas: Win for NU. I'm tempted to pick this as my upset special of the year, especially given KU's bitch-slapping of NU last time they came to Lawrence. But I can't do it, because this KU team isn't as good as the 2005 version, and the 2007 Huskers are better than the 2005 team.
11/10, vs. K-State: Win for NU. Another game it kills me to predict, but this group of 'Cats isn't quite ready to win in Lincoln. I think this should be a tough game, especially if the Lynch Mob makes life hard on NU's offense, but I'm not sure if K-State can put up the points to win yet.
11/23, at Colorado: Win for NU. Another game I'm tempted to pick the Huskers to lose, but CU's still going to be a little down this year. If CU has a decent year, they should have a good (as in, intimidating) home field crowd in this one, but it won't be enough.

3. K-State: The success of this season depends on two things. First, the offensive line being able to protect the QB and open some running lanes. Second, Josh Freeman developing. I want to see the TD:INT ratio improve drastically, but even more I want to see better decision making and ball security. Several of Freeman's fumbles last year were totally preventable, because he held the ball too far away from him when he got rushed.

This should be a really good defensive unit, maybe the best in the North. Rob Jackson and Ian Campbell should be in a lot of QBs nightmares. The secondary has all kinds of returning experience, and Reggie Walker should be the anchor of a solid LB corps. Need to find a way to toughen up against the run though. If that happens, we'll be in every game simply because the other team won't score much.

Predicted finish (4-4):
9/29, at Texas: Loss for KSU. Ouch, what a crappy way to start the conference slate. In Austin, against a team that will be laying for us after last year's big win in the Little Apple. Here's hoping that early season trip to Auburn gets us ready for this game.
10/6, vs. KU: Win for KSU. This won't be an easy game coming off a tough trip to UT, but it's one we better pick up, especially at home. KU's defense will probably make it hard on Freeman again, but not as bad as last year, and our defense will be much better off against the beaks offense, sans Cornish.
10/13, vs. Colorado: Win for KSU. Handy road win last year, and a team that's probably somewhat improved this year, versus a horrible team from last year that has improved some, but not that much. Things starting to look good.
10/20, at Oklahoma State: Loss for KSU. Maybe not the toughest environment, but this team has some serious talent and had us on the ropes in Manhattan last year. We will need some serious defense in this one to hang in it.
10/27, vs. Baylor: Win for KSU. Last season's game in Waco was definitely the low point of the year. However, it occurred right as we were switching from Dylan Meier to Josh Freeman, and it was early in the year before things started to click. I don't give the Bears much chance against a team that is vastly improved from last year's meeting, and should be laying for them.
11/3, at Iowa State: Win for KSU. This could be an upset game, especially considering it comes right before our two biggest games of the year. But I think we have a much better team than ISU at this point, and should be able to manage a win in Ames.
11/10, at Nebraska: Loss for KSU. See comments above. Should be a good game, but I can't predict a win right now.
11/17, vs. Missouri: Loss for KSU. See comments above. Maybe I should pick a win here, but I can't.

4. KU: The beaks join NU as teams with QB controversies heading into the fall. Kerry Meier and Todd Reesing will battle it out, though I suspect Reesing will wind up the starter. However, Mangino may continue to pull his boneheaded QB musical chairs game, and never allow either one to get comfortable. Also, Jon Cornish is gone, meaning KU has lost its top offensive threat. The defense should be pretty solid this year, though I doubt it will be on a level with the unit of two years ago.

Predicted finish (2-6):
10/6, at K-State: Loss for KU. See comments above.
10/13, vs. Baylor: Win for KU. A battle of the two traditional doormats of the conference, with the North team coming out on top for a change.
10/20, at Colorado: Loss for KU. Sure, CU isn't that great. But KU has been downright wretched on the road in conference play, and CU should take them in Boulder.
10/27, at Texas A&M: Loss for KU. Ouch. The Aggies won in Lawrence last year, and I don't see much chance when the beaks step onto Kyle Field.
11/3, vs. Nebraska: Loss for KU. Again, I should pick the upset, but I won't.
11/10, at Oklahoma State: Loss for KU. The Cowboys have too much firepower for the birds, this one could get ugly.
11/17, vs. Iowa State: Win for KU. This could be an interesting game, but I still don't think the Clones are ready to compete with anyone in the conference. I could be proven woefully wrong if Gene Chizik proves to be a good coach.
11/24, vs. Missouri (in KC): Loss for KU. See above.

5. Iowa State: The good news is they have Bret Meyer and Todd Blythe. The bad news is...that's about it. I think Gene Chizik is a good coach who will get the most out of these players, but their most isn't going to be much. Look out for the Clones in a few years if Chizik and recruit to Ames.

Predicted finish (1-7):
9/29, at Nebraska: Loss for ISU. See above.
10/6, at Texas Tech: Loss for ISU. Chizik should know what TTU is up to and have a good idea how to stop them, but whether his players can execute is a whole other matter.
10/13, vs. Texas: Loss for ISU. No further comment necessary.
10/20, vs. Oklahoma: Loss for ISU. No further comment necessary.
10/27, at Missouri: Loss for ISU. See above.
11/3, vs. K-State: Loss for ISU. See above.
11/10, vs. Colorado: Win for ISU. See above.
11/17, at KU: Loss for ISU. See above.

6. Colorado: The Buffs should be much better this year if they actually have a QB who can throw the ball out of his shadow, and it appears Dan Hawkins' son, Cody, might be able to. Hard to know how much improved they'll be, but I'll take them to at least be better than KU and Iowa State.

Predicted finish (1-7):
9/29, vs. Oklahoma: Loss for CU. Bob Stoops could be the Buffs by himself.
10/6, at Baylor: Loss for CU. Last time the Buffs went to the shithole, they lost. This trip won't be much better.
10/13, at K-State: Loss for CU. See above.
10/20, vs. KU: Win for CU. See above.
10/27, at Texas Tech: Loss for CU. CU's woes in the Lone Star State continue (think 70-3).
11/3, vs. Missouri: Loss for CU. See above.
11/10, at Iowa State: Loss for CU. This is the Clones best chance for a win this year. They better get it.
11/23, vs. Nebraska: Loss for CU. See above.

If I feel like it, I'll do a (much shorter) prediction for the South sometime soon. Until then, enjoy the rain.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Week in Review, 5/28

This has to go down in history as one of the more disappointing weeks in K-State sports, certainly in K-State baseball history. Entering last weekend's series with Baylor, the Bat Cats had a legitimate shot to go to the NCAA tournament. Now, 10 days and a 1-5 record later, the Cats will be sitting at home, thinking about what might have been.

As mentioned previously, the Cats had a rough go of it against Texas in the opening game of the Big 12 tournament, losing 19-10. That still left the team with two chances at RPI boosting wins, with Nebraska and Texas A&M looming.

After the fiasco of a game with the Huskers and a 5-1 win for the Cats, the whole season came down to another matchup with A&M. Despite having played the Aggies tough in all three games (winning one) in the regular season, the Cats couldn't do much right and lost 7-2. It turns out it wouldn't have mattered much, because Texas beat Nebraska, meaning even a win against A&M would have meant our Big 12 tournament was done. However, a win against A&M MIGHT (probably not, but at least maybe) have been enough to make the NCAA tournament.

Now, on to what became the real story of the weekend, the Cats game on Friday against Nebraska. I have now seen the replay of the play in question, and a link to it is here. First, let me say this...I'm relieved Mitch Abeita was not seriously injured. I never wish harm on players from other teams.

Now, on to you crazy Husker fans. I've reviewed the play several times, and here are my thoughts. Jordan Cruz definitely took the full liberty of the baseline (which is not an infinitesimally narrow point of space, but rather a foot or two wide) in attempting to break up the double play. However, he was not, in my view, outside the baseline. Not to mention, he kept his spikes down (***Note: CornNation claims Abeita was spiked. In watching the video, it appears to me Cruz went in knees first, but whatever. They're Husker fans so I'm sure they're right. Not to mention, they later claim he was eight feet from the plate...he's got some long damn legs if that was the case.). He was not attempting to injure Abeita.

Some of you claim there's a pattern of this happening. Yes, Eli Rumler was ejected from a game against Missouri earlier this year for a late slide into second. However, if you read the comments from that game, Brad Hill fully acknowledged that was deserved and said "That's not anything we condone." I've met Brad Hill. He's as nice a guy as anyone I've ever met, almost to a fault. He doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, and doesn't swear. Really an upstanding guy.

Some Husker fans were calling for an earhole pitch on Cruz's next at-bat as retaliation for the slide. Really? So because a player makes a questionable play (that was uncalled, by the way, do you really think the umps are conspiring against you?), your pitcher should go for his head next time? I understand baseball, I know beanballs in retaliation are customary. ESPN had a great bit on Outside the Lines and SportsCenter this weekend about retaliatory pitches and pitching inside. It happens, and there's a place for it.

However, as the video says, there's no place for pitches above the neck. You're talking about throwing a baseball, at about 90 mph, at someone's head. You're not only endangering a guy's career (I know a guy who used to play at Wichita State whose career ended after a shot to the head), but potentially his life. Cruz got plunked against A&M, are you happy now you crybabies? Jeez.

Speaking of the A&M game, some of you claimed it was "convenient" that Cruz didn't start that game, implying it was Hill's punishment for an admittedly dirty play. It wasn't. Cruz played in 46 games, and started 30 (the Cats are 34-24 this year). Not to mention, A&M started ace David Newmann, who is a lefty. Cruz bats left-handed. Only makes sense to me to put Adam Muenster and Derek Bunker (two switch hitters) in the lineup instead of a lefty when A&M is putting a southpaw on the bump.

That's enough of dealing with Husker fans' problems. On to other news...

ESPN will be carrying five Big 12 games on Saturday nights. I've mentioned this before, and it looks like the league office has finally taken a positive step. That's five games FSN won't be broadcasting, which is always good. It also means the best-known sports broadcasting channel in the world will be showing some Big 12 action this year. Now, we just need the Cats to get one of their games on the channel. More to come on which games will be shown later, although Husker Mike has a pretty good breakdown of it already.

Anyway, because I'm always happy to give credit where it's due, especially to people I've dissed before, way to go Weiberg.


I'm going to have to start reading Tim Griffin of the San Antonio News-Express more often. He seems to cover the Big 12 as well as anyone, and his stuff is actually available online (are you paying attention, Tom Shatel?). Anyway, this week he had a good piece about Ron Prince upgrading K-State's non-conference schedule to get the program better competition and more TV appearances. Definitely worth a read.

Also, at the end of the column, there's a bit about the Big 12 programs with the best record against BCS conference teams. Guess what? K-State comes in second place, with a .615 winning percentage. Way to go Cats, let's improve that a little in the next few years.

Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

KC v. Omaha, and Husker crying

The Big 12 meetings are this week, hence the massive amount of articles about Big 12 sports in the KC Star this morning. The ADs from each school will be discussing a number of issues, chiefly where the conference football and basketball tournaments will be the next few years.

The contenders in football include Kansas City, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Here are my thoughts on this. The football game should rotate every two years between Kansas City and some Texas site. Why? Because KC is the only viable site in the North to hold the game, and it IS a viable site (more on that later). St. Louis is no good, it's not a Big 12 town. Denver? They've never asked for it that I know of, and anyway Denver isn't really a Big 12 town either. No other city in the North has a football stadium to accomodate the game. Thus, KC is the natural site in the North.

If I had my way, the game would rotate between KC and Dallas every two years, with San Antonio thrown in every once in a while. Dallas, at least as football goes, is a decent Big 12 town. Not only that, but they're building a $1 billion, 100,000 seat palace for football. Of course, that doesn't mean jack if they don't sell tickets for it, but I'm guessing they will, especially considering the town is almost guaranteed to have Oklahoma, Texas, or Texas A&M every time the game is played there.

You might be thinking to yourself, "Gee, TB, you live in Houston, why don't you want the Big 12 game there?" Personally, I'd love to have it there. I live near the stadium and could go to the game, especially if my Cats make it back. Problem is, as the Star notes, Houston is not a Big 12 town. It's not a town at all. It's a big goddamn city, and it's as much an SEC city as a Big 12 city. There's no strong Big 12 identity in Houston unless the Longhorns or Aggies are playing, and they don't give shit about the Big 12, as I've mentioned previously.

Now, on to basketball. Five freaking cities are vying for the mens and womens conference tournaments. Five. Yeah, that's ridiculous. The five are Kansas City (pictured above on top), Omaha (pictured above, below), Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Dallas.

There's no room for debate or rotation on this issue. The Big 12 basketball tournament should be in Kansas City EVERY YEAR. Yeah, that's right, every year. Why? If you have to ask that, I have to ask "Why not?" Look at Kansas City. It's 120 miles from K-State and Mizzou, and 40 miles from KU. It's a little more than 200 miles from Lincoln, and an easy drive from Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. The city loves it some Big 12 basketball. Further, it's built the $276 million Sprint Center, right in the middle of downtown, near a lot of good entertainment. And if that's not enough, there's still Gates BBQ.

What's wrong with the other cities? Let me count the ways.

Omaha: Are you kidding? Qwest Center Omaha is a nice facility, it really is, but Omaha is not a Big 12 city. It's a Nebraska Cornhuskers' city. Omaha likes to tell you how it loves its college sports and how great it is in supporting college sports, but it doesn't walk the walk (ask AJ). The reason people show up to the College World Series is for the party. I went to the CWS for the first time last year, and while I did go to the actual games, I was more concerned with drinking myself into a stupor on 13th Street. And don't get me started on the NCAA volleyball tournament there. It's easy to set record crowds when a Husker sports team is playing for a national title in Lincoln in December, because there's FUCKING NOTHING ELSE TO DO IN NEBRASKA IN DECEMBER! If the Husker women's volleyball team had lost in the third round of the NCAA tournament, the crowds in Omaha would have been roughly equivalent to, if not smaller than, the crowds at any average volleyball Final Four.

Dallas: Don't get me started. American Airlines Arena is the nicest facility in the mix for the tournament, but it's in the absolute worst city for the tournament. Let's see...have the tournament in a palace and play the games in front of 17,000 empty seats (Dallas)...orrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...have it in a beautiful new arena in front of a packed house for pretty much every game (KC)? No brainer to me. Dallas is a pro sports town, who loves its butter-fingered quarterbacks and Downy-soft "power" forwards.

Tulsa: Ummm...Tulsa has anything but golf courses? Could have fooled me.

Oklahoma City: OKC is the only other city that has a viable claim to having the tournament. The Ford Center is a nice facility, although it ranks third to AAA and the Sprint Center. The city did a good job of hosting the tournament, but we're talking about OKC here. Raise your hands if you prefer OKC to KC or Dallas? Ok, now we know which two of you need to be committed to the Betty Ford clinic.

As you can see, the basketball tournament needs to stay in Kansas City, permanently, period, end of argument and discussion.


The fighting Nebraska Crybabies fell in OKC tonight to the K-State Bat Cats, 5-1. This keeps K-State's conference title (and NCAA tournament) hopes alive after yesterday's dreadful 19-10 loss to Texas. NU fans have spent a half a message board's worth of crying about Jordan Cruz's alleged hard slide into NU catcher Mitch Abeita, not to mention repeated calling for an earhole pitch in retaliation.

Boo-fucking-hoo. First of all, let me ask how many of you bitches actually saw what happened, rather than hearing about it from Husker Information Minister Jim Rose (who is lower than a flabby hunk of whale shit). I'm guessing not very many unless the one TV station up there was showing a live feed from Bricktown tonight. Second, the main reason you were crying was it happened in the sixth inning when you were already down 3-1.

Look, it's baseball, it's not always a gentlemanly sport. And the fact that your dumbass head coach and pitching coach got tossed doesn't impress me at all. Those pussies get tossed in 1 out of every 4 games you play, whether they really got wronged or not. I didn't see the slide at issue, and I'm guessing none of you did either. You have no idea if it was a hard slide or if it was clean and you're dumbass catcher just had his foot in the wrong place. Suck it up and get ready for your ass-ramming against Texas. Not to mention the reality that we could beat Texas A&M and move on to the conference tournament finals.

Have a great weekend everybody. Sorry, no pics from the Royals game tonight, but I'll try to have some up next week.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Here's our chance

Ok boys, Nebraska beat KU last night, so the seedings are set for the Big 12 tournament. Here's our draw...

Wednesday, 1 p.m., Texas
Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Nebraska
Saturday, 10 a.m., Texas A&M

If we're looking for a chance to play our way in to the NCAA tournament, well, we got our shot. We get to play the #2, #10 and #26 teams in the RPI. Of course, that doesn't mean jack if we go 0-3, but let's remember, the Bat Cats beat each of those three teams once in conference play this year. Also, in the A&M and Nebraska series, the team was very competitive, losing two games by a combined three runs to A&M and two games by a combined four runs to NU.

Also, the format puts the teams into two pools for play. Our pool is us, UT, A&M and NU, with the teams with the top two records advancing to the championship rounds. Basically, if we go 2-1 in pool play, we're almost guaranteed to advance (it's possible for three teams to go 2-1, but that would require one team to go 0-3, which is highly unlikely if we are one of the 2-1 teams).

Of course, nobody knows what even two wins against our pool opponents would do for us. Maybe it would be enough, maybe it wouldn't. But there's one way to guarantee a tournament appearance, and that's by winning the whole thing, like that school to the east did last year. Unlikely? Sure, but anything's possible.

Go Cats.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The week in review, 5/20

What a disaster. A whole season's worth of good work by the Bat Cats has probably gone down the drain because of three days in the biggest shithole town in the world.

The Cats traveled to Waco needing only a win or a KU loss to be assured a spot in the Big 12 tournament. Win the series, and we would still likely be in the running for the NCAA tournament. By even managing one win in Waco, we could have kept our chances alive.

But that's not what happened.

After three days and 31 runs by Baylor (9-8, 13-7, 9-3), the Cats come back to Manhattan assured their second Big 12 tournament appearance...but little else. Getting swept at the hands of Baylor means the Cats take the eight seed and a first-round date with the Texas Longhorns in OKC. Wonderful. Especially condidering UT swept Texas A&M this weekend and looks to be on a roll heading into the tournament. Here's the final breakdown, assuming a Nebraska win over KU tonight...

1. Texas 21-6 (Swept A&M)
2. Missouri 19-8 (Swept Oklahoma State)
3. Oklahoma State 16-11 (Swept by Missouri)
4. Nebraska 14-13 (Beat KU 2-1 if they win tonight, if they lose, A&M is the four seed)
5. Texas A&M 13-13 (Swept by UT)
6. Baylor 12-15 (Swept K-State)
7. Oklahoma 11-16 (Beat Texas Tech 2-1)
8. K-State 10-16 (Swept by Baylor)
9. KU 10-16 or 9-17 (Playing Nebraska this evening)
10. Texas Tech 8-18 (Lost to OU, 1-2)

I hate to dwell on it, but this weekend was the single-biggest choke-job I've seen in a while. All season, we managed to hang with better teams, managing one win per series at least, winning several series, and playing tough, scrappy ball every night out. This weekend, outside of Friday night, this was not the same team. Maybe the realization that the team was on the brink of making K-State baseball history got to them. I sure hope so, because we were playing Baylor, not Rice or some other national seed. Coach Hill and the players better regroup quickly or next weekend in OKC will be the last action of the year.

The latest RPI, updated today, has us at #32. A losing record and an eight seed in the Big 12 tournament does absolutely nothing to help us. We needed to make it impossible for the committee to keep us out, and getting swept by a lower ranked RPI opponent was exactly the wrong thing to do. K-State is hardly a household name in college baseball, and becoming even more anonymous by getting swept by a mediocre league foe on the last weekend of the season does not help our image at all.

On the other hand, we do get a shot at Texas, which would be a big RPI and profile boost should we manage a win. And because we are guaranteed three games at the tourney, we should get other shots at resume boosting wins. The official brackets will be out tonight after the NU-KU game is over, I'll try to have a post up tomorrow looking them over.

Have a great week. I start my internship tomorrow, so wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A baseball update and retraction

I'll admit I rushed my weekly update a little bit this week. Despite that, I'm still an idiot for not checking out thoroughly the records of each team. Anyway, here are the updated (and corrected standings)...

1. Texas, 18-6 (Home to Texas A&M this weekend)
2. Missouri, 16-8 (At Oklahoma State)
3. Oklahoma State, 16-8 (Home to Missouri)
4. Texas A&M, 13-10 (At Texas)
5. Nebraska, 12-12 (At KU)
6. K-State, 10-13 (At Baylor)
7. Oklahoma, 9-15 (Home to Texas Tech)
8. Baylor, 9-15 (Home to K-State)
9. KU, 8-15 (Home to Nebraska)
10. Texas Tech, 7-16 (At Oklahoma)

Thus, we hold a 1.5 game lead over Baylor for the eight seed in the conference. Win one game against the Bears, and we are guaranteed to make the conference tournament. We probably need to take the series off Baylor to hang on to the six seed, because OU will almost certainly at least take the series off Tech, if not take a sweep.

If we won the series and KU took the series off NU, we could move up to fifth, but that's a long shot.

Currently, Rivals still has us as one of the last five teams in, playing as a three-seed at the Wichita Regional. As I've mentioned before, Wichita would be a good draw for us. It's close to home, so we should be able to put quite a few fans in the stands at Eck. Also, it would give us the chance to play the Shox, a team we've proven over the last few years we're not afraid of. Rivals currently has six Big 12 teams in the field, which is probably about right.

SEBaseball also has us as a last five team in, playing as a three-seed at the Fayetteville regional. They also have Wichita State in that regional, which would give us a first-round matchup with the WuShocks, but in a different location. Hmmm...


Not a whole lot else new in Wildcatland these days. Change of scenery for me, as I'm now looking at the world (temporarily) from the rolling hills of KC. Good to be away from the dickhead cops in Texas for a while...

More to come this week.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Week in Review, 5/13

Unfortunately, this week I'm relying heavily on outside sources for the news, because I've been in Omaha all weekend. First, a quick self-indulgent shoutout to my sister for graduating from college this weekend. A big accomplishment, and even more impressive because of other considerations. Way to go!

Ok, now on to the week in K-State sports...


It was the story of the season in one weekend for Coach Hill and the Bat Cats at Tointon this weekend. The #11 Texas A&M Aggies paid a visit to the Little Apple, giving the Cats a golden opportunity to solidify their place in the field of 64. And the team tried to do just that, but came up just a little short. On Friday, it was a hard-fought 4-2 loss. On Saturday, a bitter 2-1 defeat. But in typical fashion this season, the team didn't quit, and came alive in an 11-6 victory today to salvage the weekend.

It was again a light week in the Big 12, with only three conference series being played. Seems to me like each team should get one of the two weekends around finals week off, but that's just me. Anyway, here are the updated standings.

1. Texas, 18-6 (Idle)
2. Oklahoma State, 15-8 (Swept Texas Tech, 3-0)
3. Missouri, 15-8 (Beat Oklahoma, 2-1)
4. Texas A&M, 13-9 (Beat K-State, 2-1)
5. Nebraska, 11-12 (Beat Baylor, 2-1)
6. K-State, 9-13 (Lost to Texas A&M, 1-2)
7. Oklahoma, 9-14 (Lost to Missouri, 1-2)
8. Baylor, 9-14 (Lost to Nebraska, 1-2)
9. KU, 8-15 (Swept Chicago State in non-conference action)
10. Texas Tech, 7-15 (Swept by Missouri, 0-3)

That leaves us with one weekend remaining in conference play. Next week sees a full slate of conference action, with the following matchups:

Texas A&M at Texas
Missouri at Oklahoma State
Nebraska at KU
K-State at Baylor
Texas Tech at Oklahoma

That means there's a lot at stake at the top of the conference with the top four teams squaring off. Technically, Missouri and Oklahoma State both have a chance to catch UT for the regular-season championship. It would require them to sweep their series and have A&M sweep UT in Austin, which I doubt is going to happen. UT's magic number is 1 to win the conference. Looks like Mizzou and OSU will battle it out for the number two seed.

Texas A&M will likely be the number 4 seed, as its magic number for the four-seed is also 1 (although Nebraska could very well sweep KU and UT COULD sweep A&M, though I doubt it).

Nebraska stands 1.5 games ahead of K-State for the five-spot. By taking two from KU, the Huskers would assure themselves of that spot. It would be nice if the Cats could overtake NU for that five-spot, but just taking the series off Baylor in the hellhole will be hard enough. Our Cats stand only 0.5 games ahead of OU and Baylor for the six-spot in the league. OU has an easy series with Tech coming to Norman, so we can plan on them winning at least two. If we don't take the series off BU, we can plan on at least falling behind them.

K-State owns a 1.5 game lead on KU, who sits in ninth. That's huge, especially considering the beaks play Nebraska, who will likely take the series in Lawrence. It's probably more beneficial to cheer for Nebraska this weekend, because making sure KU can't pass us is more important than improving our seed.

Texas Tech stands 2 games behind K-State, so it's theoretically possible they could catch us, but unlikely considering they travel to Norman and aren't playing worth a damn right now.

So basically, it comes down to this: take the series off Baylor, and we're in the conference tournament, and also won't be the eight seed, which means we don't face Texas in the first round. Also, taking the series keeps us in contention for a spot in the NCAA tournament, which both Rivals and SEBaseball have us in as of last week.

Stay tuned...

Track and Field

Conference championship week in Lincoln brought some decent success for the Track Cats. The men finished 10th and the women 7th in the team standings.

Big congratulations to high jumper Scott Sellers for winning the conference crown in that event, clearing a height of 7'7.75", a conference record. That's damn impressive. Sellers could jump over Yao Ming.

In two weeks, those athletes who have qualified (I'll try to list them this week) will make a return trip to storied Drake Stadium for the Midwest Regionals. Those who perform in Des Moines will move on to Nationals at Sacramento, Calif.

Have a great week everyone. The updates should be more frequent now that exams are over.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

No news can be good news

There really isn't much happening in Wildcatland right now, which can make for a boring blog spot. However, I guess in a lot of ways, it's better than having a lot going on, as the Huskers can surely attest to.

I can only hope we get through the summer without having any of our athletes getting into the same type of trouble as Maurice Purify. As fun as it can be to make fun of black eyes on a program that considers itself the Americana of college football, we always have to remember it can happen to us as well. I spent three summers in Manhattan and had a great time, but really the only entertainment at night is to go down to Aggieville. Most of the athletes spend the summer in town, and I always saw them at the bars during the summer. Mixing young, potentially aggressive people with alcohol is always a volatile mix.

There has been some basketball recruiting news this week. Frank Martin and Co. picked up Jamar Samuels (from the same AAU team as Michael Beasley and Dominique Sutton), and Victor Dubovitsky, a highly touted European prospect. As you know if you read this page regularly, I don't put a lot of stock in recruiting rankings. Good prospects turn into good players if they put in a lot of work once they get into the program. Usually there's a pretty big step between whatever level the prospect has been playing at and the Big 12 conference level. Of course, I'd rather have supposedly good recruits than bad recruits...


Good article on today about the tornadoes in Greensburg. Essentially, it's about how sports may help the town pull through the tragedy and rebuild.

This really shows the spirit of small towns on the Great Plains. I've seen hundreds of them in Nebraska and Kansas. They're all unique in some way, but they're all the same in that they have a huge level of pride. It's really impressive that they want to rebuild considering the town is supposedly 95 percent gone. A 1.7 mile wide tornado swept through a town of 1,600, essentially destroying everything except the courthouse and the grain elevator, and the people want to rebuild.

And for Kathleen Sebelius (the governor of Kansas) and George W. Bush...shut up and take care of the situation. Ms. Sebelius, I agree, the war in Iraq has probably diverted some resources the state would ordinarily have at its discretion. But complaining about it isn't going to change anything. Just get the town the help it needs. And George, stop being so damn defensive about people criticizing you. I know you're a big tough Texan, but just realize that being criticized comes with the territory when you're the leader of the free world. Your war has caused some problems at home that we wouldn't have othersise had to deal with. Neither of those problems is going to go away because you're sparring about it, and while you do so, you could be providing help to the citizens of Kansas who need it.

Ok, that's enough political stuff. You read this blog for other reasons, I'm sure. Take it easy, wish me luck on my one remaining exam, and cheer on those Bat Cats this weekend against Texas A&M. A series win in this one would all but clinch an NCAA tournament berth.

Go Cats

Monday, May 7, 2007

Quick update

Sounds like the Track Cats did pretty well in Lincoln over the weekend, winning six events. You can read the full story here. Here's hoping the good showing in Lincoln creates some momentum for next week's conference championships in...Lincoln.

Thanks for stopping by. Don't expect me back until about Wednesday or so, the next few days are going to be pretty insane.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

(Short) Week in Review, 5/6

This will be very abbreviated because I have to get back to the world of actus reus soon.

The baseball team did exactly what it needed to do this weekend against that team from the east. Unfortunately, today's game was rained out by the same storm system that has caused death and destruction on the Great Plains. My condolences to all the people in Greensburg, Kan., who've lost everything they have and the families who lost relatives in the storm.

The Bat Cats continues their late-inning heroics on Friday by plating two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 2-1 lead. Sounded like a good pitcher's duel between Hutt and Smyth, and in the end closer Daniel Edwards finished it off with two strikeouts and a popout to end it.

No cardiac moments were needed on Saturday as the Cats scored four runs to chase Beak starter Nick Czyz after only 2/3s of an inning. The Cats then held off the birds before pushing across three insurance runs in the eighth for the 7-4 final tally.

It was a light week in the conference, with only three league series. Here are the standings at this point (assuming Missouri holds on against UT and projecting both possibilities for the outcome of tonight's Bedlam finale)...

1. Texas 18-6 (Lost 1-2 to Missouri)
2. Missouri 14-7 (Beat Texas 2-1)
3. Oklahoma State 13-8 -OR- 12-9 (Up 2-0 so far on OU)
4. Texas A&M 11-9 (No conference series, beat up on Dallas Baptist)
5. Nebraska 10-11 (No conference series, lost two to #19 Coastal Carolina in Lincoln)
6. K-State 9-11 (Beat KU 2-0, final game rained out)
7. Oklahoma 9-12 -OR- 8-13 (Down 2-0 to OSU)
8. Baylor 8-13
9. Texas Tech 7-13
10. KU 8-15 (Lost 0-2 to K-State)

That leaves us a full 2 games ahead of ninth-place Texas Tech with only six conference games remaining. Tech finishes with the two Oklahoma schools, while we will be host to Texas A&M next week before finishing up at Baylor. Finishing 3-3 all but locks up a trip to OKC, and we're also looking good to avoid the #8 seed, which would mean a first-round date with Texas.

I don't have time to grab the links right now, but both Rivals and Scout are projecting us to be in the field of 64 for the NCAA tournament. I believe one of them had us playing as a three-seed in the Wichita Regional. In my opinion, that would be huge for us, as we should be able to get a decent crowd in the park and have proven we can beat the Shockers this year.

Have a great week everyone. Sorry, the track team competed in Lincoln at the Nebraska Invite this week (if it didn't rain, that is), but I don't have the results.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Here is exactly why I hate FSN

The K-State vs. KU baseball game is supposed to be shown live nationally on Fox Sports Net today. All my listings here in Houston show "College Baseball: K-State vs. KU" at 3:00 p.m. on channel 31. I was psyched. I studied my ass off this morning so I could watch the game at 3. Then I turn the TV on, and I get...

The fucking Astros.

Not even their 13-0 ass kicking of St. Louis. The game was already over by 3. But freaking Astros live, which does nothing more than allow a bunch of 10th-rate announcers go on TV and talk to a bunch of pro baseball players for an average team in one of the worst divisions in baseball. Apparently we have to cover every aspect of today's yawner in STL. I can sum it up in 5 seconds, and I didn't even watch the game: The Astros played really well, the Cardinals played like smelly butthole. From the score, that's pretty much the gist of it.

And yet, a game that is supposed to be nationally broadcast is pre-empted in my area for a bunch of pointless coverage. This is exactly why FSN should not be the primary (or, God forbid, the sole carrier of Big 12 football games). I'd hate to think of the coverage of potential recruits we could lose if FSN Houston decides it's more important to show some preview of their shitty-ass NFL team's Sunday game rather than a college football game that might be worth watching. You know, it's not like there aren't a million good football recruits in Houston or anything...

And yes, I realize that even the piss-poor Texans are more interesting to the average Houstonian than a K-State football game. Certainly the Astros are more important to 99 percent of Houston than the Sunflower Showdown baseball game. That's not the point. The point is this is supposed to be a national broadcast, and yet in one very important recruiting market for K-State, our game isn't being shown because of our shitty TV deal.

Come on, Kevin Weiberg. Step up and get us a worthwhile carrier for our games. We can't wait much longer, unless we want the Big 12 to be considered on a level with Conference USA.

Thursday, May 3, 2007


The NCAA recently released its new Academic Progress Ratings (APR). K-State came out fairly well, only ranking below the "acceptable" range in two sports, men's basketball and baseball.

It should be noted that just about every respectable baseball program in the nation is below the standard in baseball. I don't know how you can't be. I don't know how baseball players even go to class during the spring semester. They play games pretty much every Wednesday and Friday-Sunday from mid-February on. I would guess they miss an average of three school days per week.

The lower rates for the men's basketball team is somewhat understandable. We had a lot of players transfer out of the program the last few years, which hurts our APR. On the other hand, every single one of our senior's this year graduated (Cartier Martin, Lance Harris, Serge Afeli and Akeem Wright).

Here's some information about APR. The NCAA claims the APR measures "elibigility, retention and graduation." That's where my problem with the APR comes in. It measures retention. Schools lose points for players who transfer, because those players are no longer making progress at that school.

That's ridiculous. Students in all areas of college transfer schools. I almost did, because I wasn't getting enough financial aid and the debt was piling up. Some people transfer because they pursue a new major. Some transfer because their personal situation changes (family, etc.). The average student can have millions of reasons to transfer.

Athletes have about two million reasons to transfer, when you consider they have all the reasons an average student does, plus coaches, facilities, playing time, and just about anything else. There's no shame in transferring. It can happen for a million reasons, and does not necessarily say anything about the instution being left behind.

You don't see the Society of Professional Journalists sitting around and saying, "Hmmm, students in journalism school aren't doing as well as we'd like. Let's institute sanctions on the school if the students don't do well! In particular, let's penalize them every time a student transfers, because that has to mean the school is doing something nefarious." C'mon. The target number is 925, which is somewhere between a 50 and 60 percent graduation rate. The USA Today article does a good job of explaining how APR is calculated: essentially, each player on each team can earn two points: one for staying at the school, and one for staying academically eligible. The NCAA expects each school to get 92.5 percent of those points, thus the 925 target, and a 50-60 percent graduation rate. Only about 56 percent of all K-State students graduate in SIX years. Just my opinion, but considering transfers count against a school, 92.5 is way too high of a percentage.

I'm usually the last guy to defend student athletes. They do put in a lot of work, but they get a lot of help, too. I have no problem with the NCAA trying to prod schools into improving the academic situation of student athletes, but if that's the goal, the means of accomplishing that goal should be substantially related to the ends. Penalizing schools for players who transfer out is insane. I can't find information about this aspect, but I've heard that players who transfer into a program and then graduate from that institution are not counted toward that institution's graduation rate. That also is insane. The school is doing exactly what it's supposed to, graduating students who enroll, and they get no credit. The NCAA has to be the most fucked up organization in the world.

But hey, the Royals won two out of four against the Angels. That's a good sign, right?

Wish me luck tomorrow (exam time!).

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Big 12 Civil War

Some of my recent posts have dealt with the horrible conference TV deal we've become stuck with. This has gotten some discussion among fans of the conference, and one strain I've seen is based on the following belief...

The Big 12 sucks.

If you notice the title of my recent post, I share that sentiment to some degree. But here in Texas, the sentiment is that the conference is terrible because the North is dragging the conference down. Now, that's undoubtedly true, especially in football, for the last three seasons or so.

But down here, it's more than that. It's because the conference is 2/3s (I count OU and OSU, because they were original Big 8 members) part of hemorrhaging Plains states that nobody cares about. 'Tis true that a lot of the schools are located in flyover territory, but there was a time when those schools were prominent. Remember Nebraska in the 1990s? Remember K-State between about 1998-2003? Colorado won a national title in the 1990s. In basketball, KU figures prominently in almost any national discussion, Iowa State won a couple conference titles, and Missouri (before Quin reduced the program to ashes) was a solid program. None of the Plains states are losing population, and as I mentioned before, the North has as many top 50 TV markets as the South (more, if you count St. Louis).

Part of this is due to the allure of the Big 12 South programs. Clearly, the most talent-rich state in the conference region is Texas. Recruits from that state would like to stay in state to play, if possible, just as recruits from anywhere want to stay home if they have a program that's worth playing for. That's undoubtedly true these days, considering UT's recent national title, and the resurgence of Texas Tech and (somewhat) Texas A&M (I'm withholding judgment at this point because I'm far from convinced Franchione is going to significantly improve that program from here on out). Now fans in Texas care about basketball at least at little more than they used to (it's hard to care less than zero) because of Rick Barnes and Billy Gillispie and Bobby Knight. And I will admit having schools in the state of Texas has helped the original Big 8 members by giving us a much larger TV presence.

But you Texans have a lot to be grateful to the original Big 8 for. I know humility and thankfulness aren't traits that run in a Texans blood, though, so I don't expect any thanks. But I will say this...

You're welcome for us bailing out your sorry-ass, scandal-ridden conference back in 1996. You're welcome for the exposure you got from playing some of the top teams in the nation in football during the early part of the conference's existence. And A&M fans, you're welcome for that goddamn conference title K-State gift-wrapped for you in 1998. UT fans, well, you're welcome for that 48-7 beatdown in 1997.

We appreciate your thankfulness, Texas schools. You're welcome for the conference having a noodle like Kevin Weiberg at the controls, who will do anything and everything to make sure you're happy. What does he do to make sure you're happy? Well for one, you can pretty much be assured you'll never have to play a North team when it's a little nippily outside. That's because since this conference began, out of 226 conference games played by South teams in the month of November, a whopping 15 of them were played at a Big 12 North school. And Baylor played five of those. Tech has yet to play in the North in November, and three of UT's five trips to the frozen tundra were played at KU.

Not a big deal, you say? I'm calling you on that one. I've lived amongst you Texans long enough to see how you deal with cold weather. Water freezes at 32 degrees, mercury freezes at -38 degrees, and a Texan freezes at 60 degrees. Hell, Oklahoma bitched about playing in Kansas City for the conference title game last year. Boys, football isn't a game that's supposed to always be played in beautiful weather. One of the best games I ever went to was Nebraska-OU in Lincoln, in the leftover snow and freezing cold temps (circa 1993).

You can also pretty much count on playing your conference opener at home. Out of 11 conference openers, K-State has played two in Manhattan. Yeah, two. The conference office claims that's coincidence, and that they do the schedules by computer. Not buying it. I don't have the time to do the statistical analysis, but considering it would be normal (given a 50/50 chance the opener will be at home) to have played five or six home openers at this point, I'm guessing two is a little beyond the standard deviation. KU has played all of three home openers. Only one North schools has played seven conference openers at home (Missouri), while three South teams have played at least seven (Tech has eight).

Maybe a conference opener at home isn't a big deal. I know this, it's a lot easier to win at home than on the road, and there are some tough venues in the Big 12. Making a statement that sets the stage for your season is a lot easier at home than it is on the road.

So go ahead, Texans. Tell us how much the Big 12 sucks, and is bringing you down, and how you deserve so much better. Fact is, you're here because of the North (plus OU and OSU). When the SWC imploded under the weight of its own corruption (SMU ring a bell?), you didn't have many places to go. The SEC might have been interested in UT and A&M, but it already had 12 teams. The Pac 10 could have showed some interest, but it doesn't make much geographical sense to skip across New Mexico to bring in a few teams. Basically, the Big 8 needed you, and you needed the Big 8. You gave us TV sets, we gave you a respectable conference to play in with better TV exposure than you could have hoped for otherwise.

Now you've aggrandized yourself at the North's expense. We sometimes play the conference basketball tournament in Dallas in front of 17,000 empty seats, rather than in KC where it sells out every single year. I'm not against rotating the sites, especially in football, but what financial sense does it make for the conference to play in an empty arena in Dallas or San Antonio, cities that don't give a damn about Big 12 conference tournament basketball games. Boo-hoo, so you have to travel to KC every once in a while if you want to watch your team play. Most of you will be shocked, but there actually is life outside of Texas.

I think deep down, most of you realize you could have ended up in the shoes of schools like SMU, TCU or UH. But those of us folksy northerners extended a helping hand. We're not expecting much, just a fair shake and a little gratitude.

I'm not holding my breath on the gratitude.