Site Adjustments and Twitter

February 28, 2009

I’ve adjusted my tags a little bit to make the site a bit more navigatable.  I switched all baseball posts that go else where as “varsity blue posts” as most will end up at varsity blue.    Everything else should fall under some sort of “posts” category, whether it be “suck posts,” “not suck posts,” “former.ly.cious,” or “umpiring.” This way, people won’t be notified twice of my posts that go to VB as well.

I’ve also created a twitterfeed for the “posts” category and another for the “baseball” category at Varsity Blue, as much of these posts are mine, at least up until we start home games.  I may send Paul out to a few games, as he enjoys them anyways.  This way I can get the notifications of new posts sent right to my twitter and out to those people who follow me.  I’m going to try this for a while and see how it goes with the twitter page.

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The Baseline

February 28, 2009

Today I went to umpire a double header in Galveston, a good 43 mile drive each way, so really good mileage. Anyways, I get there to find that the schedule changed last minute. We no longer had a double header, and the first game had the teams switched around so that Friendswood’s sophomore team would face Galveston Ball’s sophomore team. I thought to myself, “Great, I drove an hour and twenty minutes to see a game last an hour. Awesome.” The game lasted just about an hour and fifteen minutes. It’d been shorter if Friendswood would have just scored another run in the fourth. They were up 15-1, but you need 15 runs for the run rule to come in to effect that early in a game during tournament play. So we played an extra 10 minutes.

Anyway, to the call that stood out in the game. I have a runner going from second to third on a dropped ball by the cut off man from the outfield, just to the third base side of the mound. It was stupid to run as the cut off man was much closer to third than the runner, but he did. The player had just rounded second base, so he had established a wide baseline, from deep behind second to third base. Well the tag was upcoming, and the base runner juked, taking one step toward home, ole’ing the tag, and reaching untouched.

The coach immediately came out to argue the runner out of the base path. To me, the runner only stepped one step out of his direct path, which seems to me, to be within the 3 feet to either side of the basepath. The kid was within the 3rd base radius of dirt, and never crossed the line of grass if it had been extended to the foul line. I called him safe, the coach gave me crap.

He came out to argue, first looking at my partner. My partner just shook his head and pointed in my direction. I go over to talk with the coach, tell him the guy took one step left, didn’t even make it off the dirt, he was within the baseline.

The coach then tried to quote me as saying “the dirt is the basepath, all of it.” That kind of pissed me off, but whatever. The kid was safe, if his player would have been in the right place and not running so hard to the outfield, he wouldn’t have run right past the play.

The fans got into it too. The next play at third base, one which my partner was covering, someone yelled “he’s out of the basepath! he’s safe!” It was pretty funny.

The play had little outcome on the game. Galveston was beat 15-1 and we all went home early. I’m off from umpiring until Tuesday when I have a freshman game at Santa Fe.


Preview: Akron

February 28, 2009
Image from
baseball-almanac.com

Akron
10:30am – March 1, 2009

John Session Stadium (Jacksonville Campus)
Jacksonville, FL
Media: Live Stats and Live Audio
Home Team: TBA
Probable Pitchers: Kolby Wood (0-0) vs Andrew Brown (0-0)
Michigan Record vs Opponent: 0-0
Last Series/Game: This is the first

Overview

The Akron Zips of the MAC Eastern division have been a young team the last two years who are finally getting experienced veterans at the starting positions. Last year marked the first year since 1997 that Akron finished above .500 (25-24), with a final RPI of 148. This year they look to improve on that record with strong senior leadership and experience on the mound.

Akron was chosen to finish 5th in the Eastern Division this year, well behind nationally ranked Kent State. So far this season they have gone 0-6, facing a variety of competition. They have lost two close games in this tournament already, including a 9-7 loss to UW-M and a 6-4 loss to Jacksonville.

Offense

I’m going to shorten this section for teams we only face once. I don’t think you need to know much about the batters that don’t appear to be a huge threat, even if they may have an explosive game against us. So if I skip a player and he for some reason goes 6-6 with a cycle and 3 home runs and 14 RBIs, the guy just didn’t catch my eye based on his long term stats.

The Zips are lead by senior shortstop Kevin Haas. Haas lead the team with a .347 batting average, scoring 52 runs and hitting in 30 RBIs. Haas had a mix of average and power, shown in his 11 doubles, 3 triples, and 2 home runs. Haas is currently batting .346 with 4 runs and an RBI.

John Turk will start behind the plate for Akron, who a year ago hit .313 with 30 runs scored and 28 RBIs. He was able to catch 11 of 34 stolen base attempts against him, which isn’t that great. This year Turk is currently batting .350, with 3 runs and 4 RBIs.

The most improved fielder so far this year is Phil Bednar at second base. Last year, Bednar hit only .252 with 21 runs and 39 RBIs. This year, Bednar is leading the team with .474 average (9/19) and three doubles.

In the outfield, Brandon White has taken over starting duties after getting spot starts last season. This year has seen him hit .429 with a team leading 7 RBIs. He and first basemen Kyle Hallett (.412) have been hitting very well behind Bednar, offering him great protection.

Pitchers

Andrew Brown is the probable starter for this game. He is a right handed freshman checking in at 6’2″. This will be his second appearance of the season. The first came in relief against Wake Forest, going 2.1 innings and giving up 6 hits, 5 runs (3 earned), on 2 walks, a hit-by-pitch, and a strikeout. There isn’t much we know about him yet, so this will be a learning experience for everybody.

The relievers haven’t really done that poor of a job this year for the Zips. Three relievers ( Bassitt, Fawcett, Fleming) still hold a 0.00 ERA over a combined 6 2/3 innings pitched. Danzinger has 8 innings with 8Ks with 4 runs given up. After that we start stretching to guys who had one bad inning.

Outlook

I’m not really certain about this one. Akron has been hit or miss (quite literally), but still can’t managed to pull out a W. Either way we need to salvage a victory just to keep face with some of the pollsters. We hopefully prove a little something to Coach Alexander of Jacksonville (one of the members of the coaches poll). I’m just not overly optimistic about it for some reason. Perhaps its the loss from Friday lingering? I don’t know.

Semi-Relevant Reading

I got nothin’


My Day Recapped

February 28, 2009

A couple events of note on the day as I umpired a double header in Klein and then went to the college classic.  We’ll try to stick to chronological order.

8:20am – hit snooze for the first time

9:00am – got out of bed

10:00am – left the house for klein

10:10am – Whataburger for the most delicious fast food breakfast tacos ever

11:30am – made it to klein.  nice field

12:00pm – start the game, Conroe vs Langham Creek

This game matched up two pretty good teams.  It was JV level, so the pitchers could actually throw strikes consistently.  I was on the field for this one.  My partner has been doing umpiring for 2 years now.  It doesn’t show.  The guy dances behind the plate as he fears being struck by the ball.  He was consistently making calls while unable to see the pitch.  You could tell he was turning his head and closing his eyes when a pitch was a little high or hard.

His other mechanics were poor.  He called pitches before they made it to the plate, then made calls after the pitcher already had the ball.  He was all over the map.  His strike zone was at least consistent despite its inaccuracy.  He called the high strike just because he didn’t see the pitch until the catcher framed it.  He called the low pitch because he was jumping out of the way to protect his very well protected legs.  This guy had some overkill of gear.  Big thick shin guards.

He was definitely a football/basketball ref out to try to make some extra money.  The guy didn’t pay attention to any of my signals from the field.  He was signaling his calls funny too.  He’d make a fist with his left hand and stick it out, which technically means delayed dead ball.

He definitely screwed up at least 4 pitch calls because he just thought too long.  The crowd was ready to jump down his back.  He was making the game last so much longer than necessary, which really killed me.  Between innings, pitchers returning to the mound are supposed to get 5 pitches.  Well, they were getting 15-20.

Another thing that got me was him calling time after a walk without allowing the batter runner to touch the bag.  That is a huge mistake.  I intentionally called time abot 45 seconds into the coach’s conferene at the mound just to make a point… which he totally didn’t catch.

The only controversial call in that game, minus my partners crappy work behind the plate was a ground rule double.  I sprinted into the infield and thought I saw the ball dying into the outfield.  Well the wind picked up the ball and it carried.  I had my back to the play as I thought the ball was dropping and I was watching the runner touch first.  After he touched, all I saw was the ball outside the fence.

My partner didn’t see the ball path at all.  He called ground rule double.  I can’t blame him.  The field we were at doesn’t have a solid fence, so all he saw was the ball bounce, not knowing if it was in front or behind the fence.  We confered and stuck with his ground rule double call.  It didn’t really matter as the kid was hit in by the next batter.

The game was really quick in terms  time.  Langham Creek run ruled Conroe in 5 innings.  The game was over more than an hour early.  It was a great relief to get my partner out from behind the plate.  He was embarassing me for having to work with him.

2:30pm – Game 2

The second game featured Klein Collins and Nimitz.  This had run rule written on it from the time I heard the two teams.  Nimitz is a semi-inner city school.  Not so good at the baseballs.  The coach even mentioned he expected a quick exit.  He  had four guys already listed as ineligible for academics and had another player who just stopped showing up to practice and games 2 weeks earlier.  The kid is still in school, he just stopped coming.

Well, the game started, and in quite suprising fashion.  After one inning the score was 0-0.  The pitcher for Nimitz threw pretty slow and with just enough accuracy to get the Klein Collins batters to swing too early and miss.  The Klein Collins pitcher, on the other hand, was good.  I’m really surprised he wasn’t with the varsity team.  The kid threw in the 80s and with pretty good location.

The second inning, things went to more what I expected.  Despite getting 5 base runners, Collins only managed 3 runs.  The next inning, 4, the next inning was 3 more, then 4 in the fourth.  Unfortunately, the run rule is 15 after 3, so they fell one short of ending it there.  That meant we had to play one more inning.  Well that inning opened the flood gates.  Collins scored 8 that inning.  I tried to open the strike zone just to move the game faster, but it didn’t help.  Collins would swing just so they could do something.  Nimitz missed fly balls and booted easy grounders.  It was just ugly.

Also, as a side note, my drive to the school lasted longer than either game I umpired.  Just sayin’.

4:30pm – after getting my paper work filled out, i head to whataburger

5:00pm – delicious… now to minute maid

7:00pm – i get in just in time to hear the national anthem.

Rice and UCLA, both top 10 teams faced off in the night cap of the tournament.  The turnout was pretty good.  I would think there were at least 2-3,000 in attendance, including a good 100+ UCLA die-hards.

The game started with a hitting frenzy.  UCLA only plated one run in the 1st despite multiple runners on base (that’d be a theme).  Rice answered back with a 3 spot in the bottom half of the inning.  UCLA battled back scoring one in the second (where I was thinking the final score may be somewhere in the 20s for each team) and one in the fourth.

After that, the game went really quickly.  Both teams were getting baserunners here and there, but no one was scoring.  I enjoyed sitting right behind home plate, right behind the 3rd base dugout (UCLA) in the third row, right behind the 1st base dugout (Rice) in the 2nd row, and then up higher behind home plate on the Rice side.

There were a ton of scouts at the game.  The entire center section behind home plate was roped off for them.  Each new pitcher brought out all 75 or so radar guns.  It was fun to watch the scouts go “up with gun, down with gun, write, repeat.”  Big weekend for all of them I’m sure.

So it was tied going into the 8th at 3-3.  UCLA came out and had a couple hard knocks to the wall scoring a run.  You could sense the crowd’s dismay.  But it was resolved in the bottom half of the inning as Rice managed to get the run back.

Lots of runners were stranded for both teams.  UCLA definitely had it worse, most notably due to Rice Starter Qjada’s 11 K’s in the first 6 innings, a personal high and College Classic record.  Many times UCLA would get two men on, then leave them out to dry.  Rice did a great job on defense, especially at third base.  The third basemen for rice made two blue star plays, one fielding a hot shot then gunning a player at home, and another laying out fully extended toward the line, then making the throw to first just in time for the out.

Speaking of plays at first that are close… the umpire there was awful.  He blew four calls at first, all in UCLA’s favor.  It was ugly, and he was giving the other two umpires shame for it.  Every call by all three of the umpires was ridiculed due to the first base umpire’s miscues.  It was pretty bad.  Fortunately for him, he got one close call right in the 9th inning.  One of the Owls clearly beat the play and he was called safe.  It almost decided the game, but he ended up stranded at third.

The stadium was rocking despite being 90% empty, mainly in the last 3 innings (8-10).  The Rice crowd was loud and fiesty, as always.  In the end, it turned out well for them.  In the tenth, the lead off batter walked, then was balked (a call missed at least 3-4 times before it was called, and almost let go in this situation) to second.  The next batter was their leading hitter, who is batting .578.   I really questioned Wayne Graham here, which is something I hardly ever do as Graham is a baseball genius.  He chose not to use his best bat handler to bunt the runner to third.  This would have had a runner on first with one out, and easy sacfly situation.  Instead he gambled that his hitter would get the base hit.  I disagreed with this and thought it would have been the downfall of the game.  The hitter popped up to second base, wasting the at bat.

The next batter was intentionally walked to set up the double play.  The next batter struck out.  Two outs, bottom of the tenth.  Runners at first and second.  The batter works the count to 1-2.  He takes the next pitch and dribbles it to the second baseman, who just needs to flip to second or toss to first, and we would continue.

Well, he booted it.  The runner from second scores.  The game is over and Rice wins.  The place exploded as soon as the ball bounced from the second baseman’s glove.  It was awesome.

11:00pm – I get home to see these comments about the Michigan game… to repeat my reaction:

I came home to this? [many expletives]

Wow.  I’m not even going to look at the stats until tomorrow.  I had such a great time at the Classic that I don’t even want to deal with that tonight.  I’m not that distraught with it.  As I’ve said, I think the team was ranked a bit too high anyways, this loss should put us back where we belong… tettering on the edge of the top 30s at the highest.

It’s now 12:30am tomorrow.  I’ve still got to shower and get the clothes in the washer for a 11:00am game on the island.  Woo quick turn around.  I’ll have a photo album like post with classic posts sometimes soon, as well as some more thoughts about the classic.  I’m not certain I like having it at the pro stadium.  It makes the atmosphere too hollow and there are security guards hushing the “lewd” comments.  More on that later though.

oh and woo looking like i’m sunburned from my eyes down… yay hats!

formerlyanonymous out.


Preview: Jacksonville

February 27, 2009

Three things:

  1. I’ve got way too much work this week, cutting into my preview time for the weekend.
  2. Jacksonville’s website wasn’t very conducive for digging up information.  So some areas are kind of light.
  3. As mentioned in a comment, it’s the Minute Maid College Classic in Houston this weekend, so I’m going to be at Minute Maid Park watching 5 top 10 teams (and UHouston) face off in the tournament of DEATH!  Blood sport style.  Posting will be light and I may or may not get the Akron Preview done.

Enjoy the weekend, -FA

Image from
jacksonvilledolphinsfans

@Jacksonville, Doubleheader
3:30 & 6 pm – February 28, 2009

John Session Stadium (Jacksonville Campus)
Jacksonville, FL
Media:  Live Stats, Live Audio, and  Live Video ($)
Media (Game 2):  Live Stats, Live Audio, & Live Video ($)
Home Team:  I believe Jacksonville will be home both games
Probable Pitchers (Game 1):  Chris Fetter (0-0) vs Billy Schlee (RHP, 0-1)
Probable Pitchers (Game 2):  Eric Katzman (0-0) vs Carson Andrew ( , 1-0)
Michigan Record vs  Opponent:  0-1
Last Series/Game:  9-2 L @ Jacksonville on 2/29/2000

Overview

Jacksonville is another middle of the road Atlantic Sun (woo they have pay per view for baseball!) team much like UNF during the midweek game.  Jacksonville was picked to finish 5th in conference by the preseason coaches’ poll. They were 27-29 last year finishing with an RPI of 134.  In conference, the Dolphins were 13-20, good for 10th of 11.

This year Jacksonville started the season with a three game series at Florida International.  The Dolphins emerged 1-2 after the series, losing the opening two games by scores of 4-3 and 20-1.  They did managed to pull out the last game however, by a score of 9-3.  Florida International isn’t that good of a team for those wondering (finished 158 last year).

Offensive Stars

The leader of the Dolphins is catcher Jeremy Gillian.  Gillian is all preseason Atlantic Sun for his efforts last year, hitting .377 with 60 RBIs including 9 homeruns and 10 doubles.  He also is a force behind the plate, throwing out 17 runners last year.

The second leading hitter for Jacksonville last year was second baseman Chuck Opachich.  Opachich hit .323 last year, only scoring 28 runs and 18 RBIs.  That seems pretty low for that batting average.  This year he is the lead off man, and he’s done alright in limited playing time.  He’s 2/7 with a K in 2 games, only one a start.

Hitting in the two hole will be returning left fielder Kyle Fleming who is 2/7 with a run and RBI, and 2BBs this season.  Last season he hit .313 with 40 runs scored.  He’s the one setting up Gillian with RBIs.

Pitching

Billy Schlee is a closer converted to starter for the Dolphins.  Last season he was 0-1 with a 6.91 ERA with 6 savees.  He only had 12 appearances for 14.1 innings where he gave up 17 hits and 11 runs, while striking out 11.  In one relief appearance this season he went 3.2 innings, he gave up 3 runs on 3 hits, a walk, and striking out 5.

Carson Andrew was the second starter for the Dolphins a year ago, going 5-3 with a 4.61 ERA (2nd on team).  In 18 appearances (11 starts) he logged 70.1 innings while giving up 53 runs (36 earned, which tells you about their fielding last year).  Andrew did collect 7.67 K’s-per-9-innings which is respectable, and only walked 26.  That’s pretty solid for college starters.

This year Andrew had the start in the team’s only win.  He lasted 4 innings giving up 4 hits and 2 runs.  He walked 2 and struck out 3 in the win.  His statistics appear to point to him not lasting long into games (only about 5 innings per start).

There isn’t enough information about the relievers, and the 20-1 loss last week has all their numbers looking pretty poorly.

Semi-Relavant Reading

Got nothin’.


Busy Day

February 26, 2009

Today is a waste in terms of content. I had a pair of mid-day games at Bellaire (who doesn’t have an outfield fence). Summary: Westbury’s sophomore team is awful. They made 4 outs the entire game. Bellaire’s freshman team just let them come in and bat after scoring 10-12 runs each inning. We got 2.5 innings over 2 hours. I think the final was 28-0. Thank god for time limits.

Game 2 was a bit better. North Shore’s JV team played the same Bellaire team. I don’t know what the final score was, but I believe the Cardinals (Bellaire) won by a run or two. The North Shore team just looked pitted against each other. Their short stop was just moved down from the varsity team for poor fielding. He seemed like a poison to the rest of his infield.

We did have blood, too. The North Shore second baseman tried a Snoopy catch and was cut along his jaw. He ended up okay, I just think it’s odd that every other game I’ve umpired has had a kid leave the game due to injury. I certainly don’t remember people getting hurt that much growing up. Weird.

College Classic Weekend

Living in Houston does have some perks outside of just having 80 degree weather in February. One of these is the surplus of college baseball in the area. Outside of Rice and U of H, Houston also is the host of the Minute Maid College Classic. This year the 6 team field includes 5(!) top 10 teams. THAT’S AWESOME! I’ve got a couple games tomorrow (10am & 12pm), but as soon as I get out, I’m headed to the ball park to see some of the top teams at work.

Unfortunately, this will put me a little behind in terms of getting my previews and recaps out, but I think it would be beneficial to a future post I have planned discussing how Michigan compares to the rest of the nation. We’ll see.

For now I have a girlfriend I need to call. Catch up with you guys tomorrow.


Mid-Week Recap

February 25, 2009

Pictures will be added when they come through.  Probably making the big site tomorrow around noon.

Midweek games are the traditional trap games that really haunt the top ranked teams in college baseball.  You generally schedule cupcakes, throw whatever you have left that resembles a starting pitcher, a few of your backup players to earn experience, and pray like hell the other team just doesn’t have one of those nights where they’re hot.  College baseball, even more so than college basketball, has a much more even playing field.  Teams like #3 Texas A&M (NBCWA Poll) can fall to teams like Centenary College.  The midweek game is where depth is exposed.  The underdog throws out the best they got to topple the Goliaths.

Michigan 9, North Florida 8
Box Score
Win – Wilson (1-0)   Loss – Lott (0-1)    Save – Burgoon (1)

Michigan just missed their first weeknight upset at the hands of the North Florida Osprey.  In front of 762 fans in a meh attempt at a White Out, Michigan prevailed by the narrow margin of 9-8.  If it weren’t for North Florida’s pitching collapsing a bit in the 4th inning, Michigan would have lost this game pretty badly.

Game Summary

North Florida jumped out to a early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on three straight singles and a sacrifice fly.  Brandon Sinnery, in his first career start, managed to escape the inning from a great throw and relay, Urban to Cislo to Lorenz to get a runner taking too aggressive of a turn around third base.  Chris Berset also had a throwing error in the inning trying to catch a runner stealing.  His throw got away from him, but the runner would have scored anyways.

Sinnery was yanked after giving up a double in the 2nd inning with two outs.  His final line was 1.2 innings pitched, 2 ERs on 6 hits with a strike out.  That’s not what Maloney was looking for by any stretch.  Hopefully the freshman picks it up when the midweek games pick up during the conference season.

Gerbe, who replaced Sinnery, pitched the next 1.1 innings, giving up a single, double, and sacrifice fly in the 3rd inning.  He managed to only give up the single run but he was done for the night.

Michigan came in to the top of the 4 down 3-0.  Ryan LaMarre lead off with an infield single to short stop; it was a slow roller that the defender had no shot at making a play with.  With a full count, LaMarre went with the pitch, and Dufek grounded to the second baseman, who had no play on LaMarre.  One out.  McLouth then knocked a pitch to left field toward the line.  LaMarre slipped rounding third, but probably wouldn’t have scored anyways.  The throw went to the plate, allowing McLouth to advance to second.  After an Urban fly out, the UNF pitching staff walked the next three batters forcing in two runs.  With the bases still loaded, Kevin Cislo knocked a three run single to center.  Cislo advanced to second on a passed ball then stole third, setting up a Toth RBI single.  Michigan was up 6-3.

Michigan would tact 3 more runs on in the 5th inning.  McLouth knocked his second home run of the season out to lead off the inning.  After a Nick Urban single, Chris Berset knocked his own homdinger.  That put Michigan up 9-3, to what one would think would be a safe lead.

Well not so fast my friend, North Florida added a run in the 6th from a pair of doubles.  In the 7th, Michigan started with an error on Mike Dufek – its never a good sign when you give up an easy out to start an inning.  Its worse when you walk the next batter, which we do.  Wilson gets a ground ball that looks to be a double play, but we only manage to get the out at second.  After giving up another single, Mike Wilson is pulled for Matt Miller.  Miller gives up a walk and a single before striking out a batter.  Enter Burgoon.  After a walk and a hit by pitch, Burgoon finally gets Michigan out of the inning with a fly ball.  It’s 9-8.

From here on out, it was pretty quiet.  Michigan stranded a runner on third in the 8th.  The Osprey just couldn’t get anything going against Burgoon down the stretch.

Well that was closer than it should have been.

Positives

  • We didn’t get caught stealing in either of our two attempts
  • Nick Urban extends his hitting streak to 5 games
  • A win is a win
  • This is the best start we’ve had to a season since 1991

Negatives

  • Mike Wilson was Mike Wilson yeah of 2008
  • Kenny Fellows ends his hitting streak at 4 games (still batting .412)
  • Mike Dufek continued his struggles going 0/5 with 3 runners left on base
  • That was way too close for comfort

Notable Players

  • Chris Berset – 1/2 2  Rs, 2 RBIs, HR, 2 BBs
  • Jake McLouth – 2/5  R, 2 RBIs, HR
  • Kevin Cislo – 2/4   R, 3 RBIs, 2B
  • Tyler Burgoon – 2.1 IP, H, BB, K

Next game:  Friday @ 1pm vs Wisconsin-Milwaukee at the Jacksonville tournament.  Preview will be out later today.