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Tuesday - January 31, 2006

Counting down the days

First pitch in 3 days. Whew. There's a nice article in today's Dallas Morning News that previews UT's pitching and gives a nice round-up of what they're expecting from the rest of the Big 12. The link: Baseball preview: UT the chief of staffs by Brian Davis.

Posted by Joanna at 12:03 PM | Permalink

Saturday - January 28, 2006

Alumni Game

Alas, I ended up missing the Alumni game. I did drive by after the rain eased up at around 11:30 and saw several hundred people (clearly more than 1,000) waiting in line to get into the stadium so they could get autographs from the current players. But, it was still awfully wet and I'd told my parents I'd go visit them so that's what I did. They've posted a report on the TexasSports.com site. Do make sure you check out their photo gallery to see some really nice photos. My favorite:

[Photo of Sam LeCure]

Hook 'em!

Update (Jan. 30, 1:00 PM). A couple of articles reporting on the game:

Posted by Joanna at 11:03 PM | Permalink

Somewhat off-topic: New Photo Blog

Remember the photos I posted of the #1 Tower last summer? After the football team won the Rose Bowl, UT lit the tower up and left it lit up for 10 days. I took a lot more photos. Some people might say I became a wee bit obsessed. But, I wanted to get just the right photo. So, I went out, night after night. And, I got a lot of good shots. But then, what to do with them? I finally decided to start up a new photography blog. As things get started, it'll be dedicated to photos of the tower. I'll add other photos as time goes by, though. But, in the meantime, if you want to see more Championship Tower photos, that's the place to go. Hook 'em!

Posted by Joanna at 8:50 AM | Permalink

Thursday - January 26, 2006

New Start Date - more thoughts

Brian, at Big Ten Hardball, asks in the comments of his post:

"Are college sports about college or athletics?"

I started to answer in the comments but realized I was getting awfully long-winded so decided I'd post over here and let him know I'd continued the discussion elsewhere. And, so, I repeat his question:

"Are college sports about college or athletics?"

That's something the NCAA really needs to come to terms with. Many of the NCAA rules just don't make any sense. Schools should just go ahead and give stipends to athletes the way they do to graduate students -- especially in the revenue-generating sports. That would certainly get rid of a lot of the problems they currently have with all of the under-the-table stuff that goes on.

One of the professors in my department was very upset about the way Coach Brown and others here at UT have reacted to the fact that Vince Young decided to go pro. They seem to be supporting his decision. The professor thought they should be encouraging him to stay in school and get his degree. But, is that what college is about? Getting a degree? Or is it about getting a student ready for the next phase of his life? Can he be ready without a degree? It certainly seems that there's not much more UT can do to get Vince ready. Vince is an education major. Does anyone really think that if he doesn't make it in the NFL, he's going to turn around and become an elementary school teacher? No. He wants to be an NFL quarterback. Another year playing at UT probably would mean he'd be a better player by the time he got to the NFL. But, would he be better enough to risk staying? What if he got hurt before he cashed that big signing bonus check? So, is it about college or athletics?

Anyway, back to the subject at hand (the baseball start date). I agree that the current baseball season isn't fair to the northern schools. Oregon State fielded a very good team last year, despite their location on the map. And, Nebraska (sorry to be bringing them into the conversation after the Alamo Bowl and all but...) seems to do a good job year after year with their baseball team. Granted, Nebraska isn't as far north as Michigan but they deal with bitterly cold winters and spend a lot of time on the road early in the year. The fact is, different schools concentrate on different sports. Baseball seems to be more of a priority for Nebraska than it is for Michigan. We don't have ice hockey here at UT. There are probably people who think it's completely unfair that Michigan fields a team and UT doesn't. But, if it was a priority, UT would build a facility or forge a partnership with the Ice Bats to use theirs. If baseball were more of a priority for Michigan, maybe they'd build a dome or spend more on their indoor facilities. It doesn't seem to make financial sense to do that, though. And, it doesn't make sense (financial or otherwise, for that matter) for UT to field an ice hockey team. UT did spend a lot of money creating an indoor practice field for the football team...so that they have somewhere to practice where they can get away from the heat when it's just too hot to play here in Austin. Michigan could do something like that for the baseball team if they wanted to even the playing field a bit. So to speak. But, the incentive doesn't seem to be there.

Clearly, there are no easy solutions. I think the solution the NCAA came up with for the baseball start date is acceptable, though. Frankly, I don't enjoy sitting in the stands at Disch-Falk in early February with the wind whipping around on 40-degree days. Yeah, there's no snow. But, it's cold. And, you feel it deep down in your bones by the time a 3-hour game is over. I really don't want to see them reduce the number of games, though. So, I hope the NCAA stops here on this issue.

UPDATE (Jan. 28, 8:40 AM): Brian posted a thoughtful follow-up post on his blog.

Posted by Joanna at 5:53 PM | Permalink

Wednesday - January 25, 2006

Alumni Game News

The Alumni roster for this weekend's game has been posted on the TexasSports.com site. Thirty-four former players have committed to taking part in the game: 3 coaches and 31 players. The Alumni coaching staff consists of Spike Owen, Burt Hooton, and Bill Bethea.

The roster:

     J. Brent Cox, Yankees          David Maroul, Giants
     Will Crouch, Diamondbacks      Jesen Merle, Independent
     Scott Dunn, Angels             Tim Moss, Phillies
     Brandon Fahey, Orioles         Danny Muegge, Dodgers
     Ryan France, Nationals         Tommy Nicholson, White Sox
     Matt Goodson, Red Sox          Jeff Ontiveros, Red Sox
     Beau Hale, Orioles             Omar Quintanilla, Rockies
     Brad Halsey, Diamondbacks      Ryan Russ, Dodgers
     J.P. Howell, Royals            Justin Simmons, Dodgers
     Robby Hudson, Mariners         Josh Smith, Yankees
     Seth Johnston, Padres          Clayton Stewart, Phillies
     Brantley Jordan, Red Sox       Taylor Teagarden, Rangers
     Brooks Kieschnick, Orioles     Curtis Thigpen, Blue Jays
     Ben King, Independent          Todd West, Independent
     Sam LeCure, Reds               Kyle Yates, Blue Jays
     Dustin Majewski, Jays

The two most glaring omissions, I suppose, are Roger Clemens and Huston Street. Huston is apparently going to be in New York to get his AL Rookie of the Year award. I don't know what's up with Roger but he didn't come last year or the year before so that's not as much of a surprise.

And, looking back at last year's line-up, I see that Ryan Hubele, Calvin Murray, Stephen Randolph, J. D. Reininger, and Eric Sultemeier are also missing. This is the first time I can remember Calvin Murray not coming. Or Stephen Randolph, for that matter. That's pretty sad. It's cool to see Sam LeCure's name on the roster, though. It's also cool to see Tommy Nicholson. He'd disappeared on me in August and I hadn't seen another word about him online. Does this mean he's back in the White Sox's organization? I wonder...

I'm not sure if I'll make it out there or not. I'm gonna wait and see what's up with the weather. As often happens on Alumni game weekend, the forecast is calling for rain. It might clear out in time but you never know. And, if there's no game, I'm not gonna bother with the Fan Fest part of the day.

Posted by Joanna at 9:51 PM | Permalink

More awards

It's been a busy day 'round this blog, eh? Anyway...

The Round Rock Express is holding its (are holding their?) Sixth Annual Winter Baseball Banquet this weekend. It seems that they'll be honoring several Longhorns. Among those being honored:

According to the article, Huston won't be in attendance because he'll be in New York getting his AL Rookie of the Year Award. Which probably explains why he's not on the roster for this weekend's Alumni game.

Posted by Joanna at 8:10 PM | Permalink

NCAA Approves Uniform Start Date For 2008

The NCAA approved a proposal to set a uniform date for the first regular-season games and first day of practice for all NCAA-member schools fielding baseball teams. Starting with the 2008 season, the start date is the Friday that falls 13 weeks before the selection of the 64-team NCAA tournament field, which takes place each year on Memorial Day. Usually, that will correspond to the last Friday in February. The new rule also states that teams cannot practice before February 1st and fall practices are limited to 45 days during the months of September, October, and November.

So, in 2008, the season will start on February 22. Looking at this year's schedule, the Horns will already have 11 games under their belt (all but 2 played away from UT, ironically enough) by the 22nd of Februrary. There's no mention in the article cited above on whether or not the new rules affect things like the Fan Fest scheduled for this weekend. I did check the NCAA site for the rule on that sort of thing and don't think it will be affected by the new rules changes.

When the proposal was first being bandied about, I was against it. I didn't see how they'd manage to get a full season of games in without pushing the season back...meaning we'd be playing the CWS in July. Pushing the date back was supposed to ease the hardship the northern schools currently face since they're forced to play most of their games on the road in February due to poor playing conditions at home. Thus my "ironically enough" comment above as Coach Garrido and Company seem to have gone out of their way this year to make UT's season start on the road. But, what about the hardship for the southern schools to be playing in extreme heat in the summer months while the northern schools enjoy balmy weather those same months? In addition, it could hurt athletes drafted during the MLB draft. Any athletes still competing in tournament play would be forced to push their Minor League report dates back...or leave their college teams early to report. There were a couple of other things as well. But, I suppose it's all water under the bridge now. Particularly so since they don't seem to be pushing the CWS back at all.

There's an additional proposal to reduce the maximum number of regular-season games from 56 to 52. That's still being debated, though, and we should hear about that in April.

I went digging around on the NCAA site and found a Word document listing the proposed changes to playing and practice seasons for all sports. According to that document, the rationale for the baseball change is as follows:

This proposal promotes competitive equity by establishing a uniform start date for practice and competition in the championship segment. It reduces the gap between the first opportunity to compete at home for "northern" and "sunbelt" institutions. Because home teams win approximately 60 percent of their contests, the extent to which early season disparities in number and location of contests can be reduced and will enhance competitive equity. [...] A reduction in the number of contests (ed. note: this part of the proposal is still up for consideration) is intended to avoid compaction of the schedule with the new competition start date and should positively impact the time demands on and academic performance of baseball student-athletes. The proposal may not be ideal for all constituencies, but it is a compromise thought to be in the best interest of the sport and intended to be fair to all constituencies. The 45-day limit in the nonchampionship segment eliminates the opportunity to practice or compete during the months of December and January; however, it gives all institutions the opportunity to practice and compete with each other during the same time frame.

Hat tip: Big Ten Hardball.

Posted by Joanna at 12:56 PM | Permalink

Alumni News: Brooks Kieschnick to be honored

On Thursday evening, Brooks Kieschnick will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Corpus Christi Hooks at their South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet. Brooks is the second Longhorn to be so honored; last year, Burt Hooton received the innaugural award. So, two awards, two Longhorns! Cool.

Link: Lifetime honor to Kieschnick by Beorge Vondracek, Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Do be sure to check out the article.

Posted by Joanna at 8:11 AM | Permalink

Monday - January 23, 2006

Alumni News: Ty Harrington

Dad called yesterday with some sad news he'd read in the paper. Ty Harrington's parents were killed in an automobile accident on Thursday. Sincere condolences to Coach Harrington and his family.

Posted by Joanna at 8:20 AM | Permalink

Wednesday - January 18, 2006

2006 Schedule

I finally got around to posting my version of the 2006 schedule and will start updating it as soon as the boys start playing. Here's to a fantastic 2006 season! Hook 'em!

Posted by Joanna at 6:35 PM | Permalink

What's old is new again

Last week...or maybe the week before...I went to the TexasSports.com page to see if there was any news on the volunteer assistant coach for the upcoming season. Greg Swindell was still listed as holding the position. Which was a surprise 'cause I was pretty sure I'd read he would not be back this year. I checked again today and lo, he is out. 'Turns out, Rob Penders has come back to take the job. He previously held the position in 1999 and 2000.

And, in other news, the team received its third preseason #1 ranking. The Horns have a preseason #1 ranking from Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Hook 'em!

Posted by Joanna at 4:57 PM | Permalink

Alumni News: MVP 06 NCAA Baseball

Roger Clemens and David Maroul are featured in a PR Newswire news release about the new MVP 06 NCAA Baseball video game (I posted about the game last month). You need a high speed connection and Windows Media player to see the video spots. They're kinda neat. Check it out.

UPDATE (Jan. 19, 11:00 PM): I just noticed that they posted something about the video game on the TexasSports.com site. It includes more screen shots featuring the Horns at Rosenblatt and at Disch-Falk. Cool.

Posted by Joanna at 1:29 PM | Permalink

Monday - January 16, 2006

Alumni News: WBC roster news

Roger Clemens and Huston Street have been named to Team USA's provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic. The initial roster includes 42 players and must be cut down to 30 players by March 2nd (link).

See my earlier post for more info.

Posted by Joanna at 11:37 PM | Permalink

Thursday - January 12, 2006

Alumni News: Kieschnick and the Orioles

The Orioles have invited Brooks Kieschnick to spring training camp (link). I'd been wondering about what was going on with the Astros. 'Guess now we know.

Posted by Joanna at 8:36 AM | Permalink

Tuesday - January 10, 2006

Are you ready for some baseball?

The weather has been so nice that it's hard to believe that the Alumni game will be played in just over two weeks, isn't it? Traditionally, the weather takes a turn toward bitterly cold just in time for the Alumni game. That didn't happen last year. It was cold but not bitterly cold. I was out taking photos of the Championship Tower this evening, though, and got quite a chill. I guess that means it's almost time! Heh. I have no special insight on the team this year. I wasn't able to make it to any of the fall practices or Fall World Series games and really haven't seen much about the new players. The team did snag a #1 preseason ranking, though. I'm hoping that means good stuff for the upcoming season...despite the rather dismal home schedule. I would certainly love to see back-to-back Championships!

Anyway, links to a few news releases recently posted on the TexasSports.com site:

Hook 'em!

Posted by Joanna at 11:12 PM | Permalink

Alumni News: White Sox sign Randolph

The White Sox signed Stephen Randolph to a Minor League contract and invited him to spring training (link).

Posted by Joanna at 10:50 PM | Permalink

Sunday - January 8, 2006

Alumni News: LeCure update

There was a nice article in the Dallas Morning News last week about Sam LeCure. I missed it at the time but managed to catch it this evening. Quote:

LeCure was drafted by Cincinnati in the fourth round and was sent to the Reds' rookie club in Billings, Mont. He made six starts, 13 appearances, and went 5-1 with a 3.27 ERA. In the instructional league last fall, he was voted the Reds' top pitcher.

[...]

LeCure hopes to spend most of the coming season in high Class A, then move to Double-A in 2007 with a possible September call-up to Cincinnati.

And he said he included in his contract free tuition at UT for three semesters in order for him to graduate.

"If you're aware of my academic prowess," LeCure said with the laugh, "I'm guessing it'll take me longer."

Heh heh. Go, Sam!

Link: Ex-UT pitcher finds degree of success as Reds farmhand by Jeff Miller (The Dallas Morning News)

Posted by Joanna at 10:53 PM | Permalink

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