Baseball Links: July 4th Weekend Edition

I’ll get to the current players in a post out either today or tomorrow.  A few things to catch up on with the alumni first. -FA

Hall of Fame.  As mentioned a few weeks ago, former UM shortstop Barry Larkin is being inducted into the College Hall of Fame tonight in Lubbock, Texas. From the initial release in May:

Michigan’s Barry Larkin was a two-time first-team All-American shortstop. He was the first two-time Big Ten Player of the Year and in 1983 he was the Big Ten Postseason Tournament MVP. He twice led the Wolverines to the College World Series and finished his career with a .361 batting average.

Former Michigan coach Branch Rickey is also being inducted in the “vintage class.” His accomplishments aren’t really for his college resume as they are for baseball as a whole. Rickey was a key part of getting Jackie Robinson to break the color barrier. Breaking the color barrier at the highest level opened the door for desegregation at every level of baseball including college. For what its worth, he was 69-31-4 as Michigan’s head coach from 1910-1913, and coached players like George Sisler.

Chris Fetter threw his first two professional starts.  In his first start at Class A Short Season Eugene Emeralds (GO EMs!), he lasted just 2 innings giving up 1 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, and 3 K.  His second start went 5 innings with 1 ER, 3 H, and 6 K.  He gets his 3rd start of the season tonight.  It’ll be against the same team he faced last time as the two teams close out a 6 game series in Eugene.

Chris Getz steals home.  Former Michigan player Chris Getz stole home for the White Sox during a game against the Cubs (which makes it even better for me) on June 28th.

With Wise at the plate, Getz broke for home as Zambrano began his delivery of a pitch that sailed outside and past catcher Geovany Soto. The stolen base made it 4-0, and on the very next pitch, Zambrano hit Wise.

He becomes the 4th player this season with a straight steal of home, 8th player to steal home overall.

Jake Fox gets first career homer in Detroit.  While I may not like the Cubs, I guess I can root for Jake Fox.  The former Wolverine knocked his first career home run against the Tigers on June 26.  Fox is making his second stint with the major league club this year after hitting .409 with the AAA Iowa Cubs.  You’d have to think the Chicago front office will be looking to relieve some of that salary by the end of the season and make room for Fox as a full time starter in the outfield (I don’t see him overtaking Ramirez at third anytime soon).  Then again, how long can he hold up a .903 OPS?

Mike Cervenak & Bobby Korecky named AAA All Stars.  Former Wolverine Mike Cervanak, UM ’99 was named to the AAA All Star Team out of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (International League).  This is the 2nd consecutive time he’s been named to the AAA All Star team, but last year he was unavailable as he was called up with the Phillies just before the game.  Bobby Korecky, UM ’01 also made the roster (although for the Pacific Coast Leauge).  He’s 2-1 with 12 saves for the Rochester Red Wings (as well as 5 appearances at the major league level this year).  You can catch them on ESPN2 on July 15th during the Pacific Coast vs International League All Star Game.  The game is slated for a 10:05 EDT start, as its being played in Oregon.

Putz, Richards, and Hill do their thing on the mound.  None have been particularly noteworthy, nor very good of late.  It happens.

Posted under Baseball

Opening Day 2009

Guaranteed to go better than football! –FA

Tribute to the Season, Images from Blue Cats and Red Sox's flickr
Tribute to the 2009 Season,
(most)Images from Blue Cats and Red Sox’s flickr

Spring is in the air. The sun is shining, snow is melting, birds are chirping, and the ping of aluminum bats can be heard in the air. It’s baseball season.

Today marks Opening Day 2009 for your Michigan Wolverines. These guys have been toiling in Oosterbaan, challenging the cold at Ray Fisher Stadium, and studying like crazy, preparing themselves for the next 94 days. In 94 days, we will have a Big10 champion crowned, and maybe, for the fourth year in a row, that champion will be Michigan.

The Wolverines lost a lot this off season. They lost their do-it-all star, Zack Putnam. They lost the biggest bat they’ve had in years, first basemen Nate Recknagel. They lose their captain, short stop Jason Christian. They lose Leif Mahler at second.

But they return the top pitcher north of the Mason-Dixon line, Chris Fetter. They return one of the top senior second basemen in the region, Kevin Cislo. The leadership is there.

They return the entire outfield with Ryan Lamarre, Kenny Fellows, and Alan Oaks. They have the familiar face of Mike Dufek retaining his place at first base. They welcome back the once injured Anthony Toth at shortstop. The defense is solid and the offense loaded.

The expectations are high this year. Some would say too high. Baseball America ($) goes so far to pick Indiana. To quote Alan Oaks,

“Guys see that and are really kinda pissed off about it, actually,” …

“It’s definitely a slap in the face,” fifth year senior tri-captain Tim Kalczynski said … “Especially after we’ve proven ourselves for the past three years. There’s definitely going to be fire in our bellies when we’re playing … It’s going to be good motivation for us.”

Now that’s what you want to hear.

The Challenge

Image from bigeastbigtenchallenge.com

The team starts today at 1pm in Clearwater, Florida witha clash of conferences. The Big10 faces off with the other big time mid major of the north, the BigEast, or at least most of that conference. While the Big10 is sending all 10* of its teams, the BigEast is sending only 8 of 12. #16 Louisville** is the one program missing that I really wish would have made it in the bracket. While it hurts to be missing such a good team in the Challenge, the competition is still much better than the last few opening weeks Michigan has had recently (Villanova, Bethune Cookman, and Troy/South Alabama/Alabama-Birmingham).

The Challenge is in its first year and it will be interesting to see how long it lasts. The timing of the event should work in its favor as it occurs the weekend before the MLB teams start their scrimmages. Those who show up for pitchers and catchers reporting will have a chance to make it out. Some of the alumni invited to Grape Fruit League camps can stop into Tampa pretty easily too. Ticket prices are pretty good too. $10 gets you a full pass to every game. $5 will get you a full day pass. Not bad at all.

Unlike the ACC/Big10 challenge in basketball, the BigEast/Big10 Challenge has teams facing multiple opponents. Each team will face three opponents from the opposing conference. The Big10 teams have also added a game against conference opponents as well just to help the teams get in extra games while helping schools reduce the cost of traveling.

Big10 teams facing each other are picked based on the unbalanced conference season schedule. Each Big10 team misses one conference opponent each year. The opponent rotates every two years, much like the football schedule, but with only one team instead of two. This year, like last, we drew Purdue.

Michigan has drawn South Florida, Cincinnati, and St. John’s on the Challenge schedule. We were lucky to draw such quality competition. The three teams are all expected to finish in the top 5 places in their conference (along with Louisville and Notre Dame). Michigan has a good chance at defeating all three opponents, but you never know in college baseball, especially this early in the year.


Jim Abbott,
Image from mgoblue.com
  • Formerly on Maizenbrew:  BTN baseball viewing schedule, players lost from 2008 season, offensive players returning, pitchers returning,  new(er) faces and a guess at the lineup/rotation.
  • If you’d like to download the Michigan Baseball Schedule for Outlook, Google Calendar, or any other calendar program, go here, copy this file into a Notepad/.txt file. You can import it into your calendar program and every day Michigan plays, you’ll have it on your calendar. For other D1 teams, here’s the full list.
  • Team captains Chris Fetter, Tim Kalczynski, and Kevin Cislo are blogging throughout the season. Week One and Week Two were everyday, but it’s slowing to every other week for the rest of the season. Kalczynski is hilarious, Fetter is appreciative of his coaches, and Cislo bounces back and forth. Their latest post describes Coach FungoMan, the ground ball hitting machine.
  • Jim Abbott is having his #31 jersey retired this season (hence Kenny Fellows changing #13). Jim Abbott is the greatest one handed pitcher ever to win the World Series. As a matter of fact, he’s the only one handed pitcher to play in the World Series. The guy was a Wolverine great, and if you ever get to see his biography, you should. The story about him facing the Cuban national team was inspiring.
  • The preseason weekly release is out (pdf). Interesting note that Alan Oaks does not appear to have earned the starting slot in right field. It lists Nick Urban (former backup second baseman) as the probable starter. Earlier this week I had guessed Oaks in right and Urban at DH. It looks like redshirt freshman catcher Jake McClouth will have a shot at DH’ing to start the year.
  • Alumnus Bobby Korecky (2002) was claimed by the Diamondbacks from the Twins. MGoBlue keeps up with the baseball alumni here.

*Wisconsin hasn’t fielded a team since the early 90s
**rankings from USA Today Coaches Poll

Posted under Baseball