Archive for the ‘Nebraska Baseball’ Category

Nebraska Baseball Recruits in the MLB Draft

June 10, 2009

As if Mike Anderson needed any more headaches, two of his top recruits were drafted today in the MLB draft.

Geoffrey Baldwin (1B, 6’4, 195 lb.) was drafted in the 10th round (#302) by the Kansas City Royals.

– from Grand Junction High (CO) – is a left-handed first baseman that worked out for as many as 20 teams before yesterday’s draft began. Baldwin accepted a scholarship to Nebraska last fall and had this to say about the draft, “while it’s all projections right now, I am going to go by a money amount and not what round I’m selected. Things are looking good, but you really don’t know anything until they say your name.” Baldwin goes on to say, “I’m extremely excited for it. It’s crazy to think in two weeks I could be playing professional baseball.”

-was projected to go between the 4th and 6th rounds.

– for his MLB scouting video, click here.

Thomas Lemke (SP, 6’7, 205 lbs.) was drafted in the 10th round (#304) by the Texas Rangers.

– from Northwestern Christian High (AZ) -is a tall, lanky right-handed pitcher that has a fastball in the upper 80’s. Lemke was rated as the 97th overall player in the 2009 class by Rivals and chose Nebraska over North Carolina and Miami (FL). Said Lemke last summer, “right now I’m just concerned with having fun and winning. I definitely want to play big-time college ball and professionally.”

-a Mets blogger had Lemke ranked as his #115th overall right-handed pitching prospect.

– for his MLB scouting video, click here.

I’m sure Baldwin and Lemke’s decisions will be coming soon. Both would be huge assets to Anderson’s baseball program in 2009. However, their decisions will likely be solely based on the amount of guaranteed money thrown at them. Although I can’t find anything concrete, I believe they will be looking at a figure in the neighborhood of $100,000. It would take alot to convince me otherwise that both players would be far better served to attend school and improve on their draft status while getting a college education. I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I don’t like the chances of either one suiting up for the Huskers in 2010.

Tracking Husker Baseball: The Mort-O-Meter

April 23, 2009

After recovering from a 15-0 blowout loss at the hands of MVC powerhouse Creighton earlier this year, the Huskers rebounded with a 3-1 win in extras last night. As a side note, Spark-less Anderson’s team struck out a total of 15 times in those 12 innings. Spark-less also decided to work senior Eric Bird like a Tijuana street walker, pitching him 9 1/3 and 127 throws.

I guess it beats the solid performance from the past weekend at Texas A&M where the Huskers posted a performance that would make a little league team proud losing all 3, while being outscored 28-4. I can’t confirm this, but I’m guessing Bill Byrne was happy with his coaching selection from UNL.

No one on this year’s group puts the “under” in underachiever like one Jake Mort. The senior third baseman, who has been playing regularly since his freshman year is batting a whopping .237 after an 0-5, 2K performance last night. The Mort-O-Meter is quietly on its way to another sub-.250 year. How does Spark-less Anderson do it? How does he consistently take Division II talent and turn it into NAIA Division II talent? I would bring up DJ Belfonte, but his .243 average could be a career best.

Please Tom, I would never, ever ask you to use a quote from your predecessor, but remember when Stevey said he wouldn’t let the program gravitate towards mediocrity? This team passed that point about 20 games ago, with pathetic around the corner this weekend. Time to make a change.

The Wednesday Rant: Fire Mike Anderson

April 15, 2009

Nebraska defeated Iowa (11-21) on Tuesday night and improved their record to 17-18-1. The win stops a 9-game losing streak overall and an 8-game losing streak at home, which is the longest streak at home since 1964. The Huskers needed to get to 13 consecutive losses to break a school record. After being swept at home by Kansas State and Texas and with a 15-0 sandwich loss to Creighton, things won’t get any easier after Iowa leaves town. On deck are series at Texas A&M and at Kansas with a trip to Omaha to play Creighton in between. At least they beat Iowa.

It’s time. T.O., please fire Mike Anderson. Not even when the writers at DXP made the Nostradamus-like prophecy of Mike Anderson ‘Frank-soliching the Husker Baseball Program‘ back on March 3rd, well before the wheels fell off the bus, did they foresee this level of ineptitude.

It’s safe to say that after the 15-0 drubbing by MVC powerhouse Creighton, a team NU beat 3 times out of 3 chances last year, was the point where even the casual fan said to themselves, ‘Mike Anderson has Frank Soliched this team.’ It’s time to make a change. There’s no need to think there’s a chance Anderson saves himself with a win over Iowa and few down the stretch. It’s obvious that not even Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross could motivate this team. Screw the steak knives, Mike Anderson deserves the “third prize is your fired” now.

With a Big 12 record of 4-11, which is good for 10th place (out of 10 teams) in the league, and with series against ranked teams in Kansas and Baylor along with former #1-ranked A&M, there is a better chance I hit the superfecta in the Kentucky Derby May 2nd then the Huskers making the Big 12 tourney (no, not the NCAA tourney). That’s right, this team is so bad they will finish in the bottom 2 slots of the Big 12 missing the conference tournament.

How the mighty have fallen. As I noted back in March, Mike Anderson’s teams can’t hit. After failing to post a +.300 team average in the past 2 seasons, this year’s group of underachievers is posting a .286 average. At the same time, the pitching staff ERA resembles Ricky Vaughn’s before the corrective lenses. A team ERA of 6.52 is the worst for a Husker team since…..well, I’m not sure, but it’s before 1999. The staff is young and inexperienced, but could they maybe improve over their careers?

Don’t bet on it with un-Sparky Anderson at the helm of a ship sinking faster than a 88-mph Carlos Marmol hook. Take current 3B Jake Mort, for example. Forget that he belongs further away from a D-I program than Caylee Anthony does from a daycare. Look at how he ‘improved’ under Anderson’s tutelage. After a freshman year hitting .265, Mort followed up hitting .207, then .262, and is now currently batting .276. Bottom line: Anderson can’t “coach up” less talented players in a power conference. Dave Van Horn? That’s like comparing Gene Chizek to Bill Belichek.

And for the “we just lose all our awesome recruits to the draft” crowd, do you honestly think that EVERY other baseball program in the country doesn’t have to worry about this? You think that Texas just grabs 2nd and 3rd rounders and talks them into foregoing millions for a Longhorn career? If so, then I have a condo in South Beach to sell you.

Are we expecting too much to win every year? The answer is no. We aren’t expecting too much. Nebraska has one of the top 5 ballparks in the nation, has minimal recruiting competition, and has a massive fan support. We should own recruiting in NE, IA, CO, KS, MN, SD, ND, and every once in awhile land a prize out of California or Texas. Add the success that was led by a truly great coach in Van Horn and it’s time to give another coach a chance.

I am actually changing my prediction from last month’s post considering there is no chance Ohio U. would even consider hiring Melt-down Anderson. A new prediction: Mike Anderson, coming to a NAIA school near you. Doane perhaps? Tommie Frazier gives great recommendations.

Joba Chamberlain’s DUI Arrest Video

April 8, 2009

Leave it to The Smoking Gun to unearth this video clip from Joba Chamberlain’s DUI arrest in Lincoln back in October.

Trooper Michael Grummert was simply doing his job when he pulled over Joba, who was driving over 70 mph in a 55 mph zone with an open bottle of Crown Royal buckled into the passenger seat. However, that doesn’t mean Grummert couldn’t find time for a little one-on-one with the Yankee star.

Some of the Joba’s more interesting insights in the video regarding New York after buddying up to Grummert…

and I go (to Charles??), “hey do you wanna come hang out at my house and have a good time?” And he goes, “oh let me look at the schedules.” And I go, “well when are you going to know?” And he goes, “the only time that’s good is football Saturday.” I go, “what?” And he goes, “yeah I heard the only time in Nebraska is football Saturday.” And I go, “well football Saturday is great.” And he goes, “what else is good?”

the biggest thing I’ve noticed driving here from there is if you let somebody in they’ll open the window and say thank you. In New York, they might hit you. It’s a joke.

and Yogi comes in every couple days and he goes, I go, “Yogi, what the f*ck are you doing here?” … “You know what, it’s too cold for my old ass to be in here.” … And he goes, “why the f*ck are you next to the training room?” – that’s where they put me. No bullshit, he might not be as tall as the front of your door.

The reason MLB and the New York media is taking this story far beyond what it should is simply to take some of the heat off of more serious matters confronting baseball such as the performance enhancing drugs that Alex Rodriguez was shooting up with. Joba has already been sentenced and this story should be left behind for other more important matters. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the hell out of this video first.

Joba is scheduled to start this Saturday, April 11th, in Kansas City at 7:05. No word yet if Yogi Berra will be catching him.

Paging Rob Childress

March 31, 2009

You think Mike Anderson wishes Rob Childress was still around? I wasn’t kidding when I said Anderson would follow Frankie to a choking job, er, coaching job at Ohio U by 2012. But this pitching staff is looking more and more like the staff from the movie The Sandlot by the game.

In losing 2 of 3 to a good Oklahoma team, the NU staff gave up 37 runs, an inspiring 12 and third runs per game. Add in the solid pitching effort against Northern Colorado, giving up another 23 in those 2 mid-week games and the staff has allowed 60 runs in its past 5 games. Marissa Miller might actually have a lower ERA throwing against Northern Colorado.

Frank Solich-ing the Husker Baseball Program

March 3, 2009

It might be a little early to start making comparisons, but it’s starting to feel like Mike Anderson is ‘Frank Solich-ing’ the Husker baseball program. Yes, I know the Huskers have never finished outside of the top 4 in Big 12 play with Anderson at the helm. Yes, I know he is the only coach in Husker history to win a game at the College World Series. Yes, I know Mike Anderson has won the Big 12 regular season twice and the conference tourney once. Yes, that 2005 season was one for the history books with 57 wins, a Husker record likely never to be equaled. Yes, the guy has an all-time record of 255-116-1 as of this year (why does 255 wins sound so familiar?). Yes, we’ve made the NCAA tourney every year but once in Anderson’s tenure.

After all of those accolades, I’m still putting Mike Anderson on the Frank Solich watch. Why you ask?

No one has to be reminded of Frank’s rapid demise after playing Miami for the National Title after the ’01 season. We quickly digressed in the ’02 “Seagram’s” season going 7&7, sealing Solich’s fate. Although there are several reasons for the demise, recruiting is chief among them. Frank’s 1999 recruiting class is a good example of signing a group that, in retrospect, brought in too few contributors on the field. Now, let’s get back to the baseball program.

First of all, Dave Van Horn put this program on the map. If Ford and GM instantly turn a profit in 2009, that turnaround would pale in comparison to what Van Horn did at Nebraska. He inherited a program that went 7-23 in Big 12 play in 1997 and within 2 years won the Big 12 tournament an amazing 3 consecutive years. We are well aware of the 2 consecutive CWS appearances by the Huskers in ’01 and ’02 and the construction of one of college baseball’s best venues in Haymarket Park that followed this success.

Since then the program has become a model of consistency in the Big 12, having made the NCAA’s 5 of the past 6 years. So why call out Mike Anderson now? I see this program declining in the past few years. Expectations aren’t to make the CWS every year, which would be unrealistic for the northernmost team in the Big 12. But consecutive losses to Manhattan and San Francisco as a #6 national seed in 2006 is unacceptable.

The problem in the past few years for Anderson is the lack consistent hitting. Since the Huskers hit .310 as a team in ’06, the overall batting average has sunk to .288 in ’07 and .276 last year. By comparison, Van Horn’s teams went .338, .325, .334, and .314 in his final four years. If you can’t hit .300 as a team, history is not on your side. If Anderson can’t get guys to hit, it could be a long wait for another Big 12 title. This year’s group looks poised for another sub-.300 season, with little early indications of a team that has the ability to make the NCAAs.

In the ’05 season, the team barely hit over .300, but posted an insane 2.69 team ERA, the first sub-3.00 ERA in at least a decade which lead to a 57 win season. Joba Chamberlain, Johnny Dorn, and Brian Duensing lead that team with their arms and had Alex Gordon hitting .372. I can only hope we can lean on home grown Nebraska talent like that in the future, although that could be a once in a generation phenomenon. But since then, the team ERA has ballooned to over 4.00, not a bad number if you have some big bats, a luxury the Husker team has not had since the Van Horn days.

I get that it’s always going to be hard to get guys to come play in Lincoln. At best you are hoping for about 6 months a year you can even play outdoors and for pitchers throwing in Lincoln anytime before April, you have injury risks. That said, look at the field and the fan support. Rivals ranks Hawks Field as one of the top 10 venues in college baseball, along with powerhouses Texas, Rice, Florida State, and Arkansas. Nebraska should own recruiting in this region with no competition from bordering states such as Iowa and Colorado and a Big 10 conference that’s worse than the Sun Belt in the sport. This is where Anderson has followed Solich’s lead of poor results in recent recruiting efforts.

Recruiting in college baseball is tricky with the future plans of top players dependent upon the MLB draft, but still, we have to get some better talent. Last year’s group was ranked an abysmal 91st by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, behind powerhouses like Manhattan and San Francisco. Iowa was ranked ahead of us. Anyone know what the average attendance is at Iowa baseball games? I’m guessing 275 a game. We had 3,300 come out for a Wednesday game in late February against North Dakota. Last May, over 7,600 showed for a May series with A&M. How can you not recruit with that kind of fan support? Recruiting matters in more than just football.

As of March 1, Anderson and the Huskers are sitting at 5-3-1 on the season. Not so impressive when you consider wins against Louisiana-Lafayette, North Dakota, Missouri State, and Sam Houston State as well as losses to St. Mary’s, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Missouri State. After being predicted to finish 7th out of 10 teams in the Big 12 this season, it is definitely going to be an uphill battle to even make it into the NCAA postseason. Ouch. So, yes it’s early, but I’m going out on a limb and predicting Mike Anderson will be coaching at a MAC school near you by 2012. Does Ohio U. have a baseball baseball program? Yep.

Will the Real Joba Chamberlain Please Stand Up?

February 12, 2009

BELMAR, N.J. (AP) – He signed autographs, sweet-talked star-struck women and even scored free food and drinks at bars and restaurants by claiming he was New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain.

But in reality, he was 30-year-old Ryan Ward, a Toms River man who looks a lot like the Yankees star and claims he was just having fun.

Prosecutors weren’t amused and had tried to put him in jail. But under the terms of a plea deal, Ward pleaded guilty Wednesday to reduced charges of disorderly conduct, was fined $2,518 and was placed on two years’ probation.

“I had fun with it, and did a lot of things I probably shouldn’t have done,’’ he said outside the courtroom. ” It got out of hand. I wasn’t opening credit cards. This was just having fun with it.’’
Virtually everyone who encounters Ward acknowledges he is the spitting image of Chamberlain, the Yankees pitcher whose high-octane fastball and fist-pumping strikeout celebrations made him an instant sensation when the former Nebraska All-American joined the team in 2007.

“It’s apparent that he could be the twin brother of Joba Chamberlain,’’ said Belmar municipal prosecutor Stephen Schueler. “He bears an uncanny physical likeness to him.’’

“People were just star-struck, thinking I was him,’’ Ward said. “It was easy to become him. It was a switch I could turn on and off, and I did often.

“People like to be in the presence of celebrity,’’ said Ward, who said he was a “pretty good’’ pitcher as a teenager. “I always wore a Yankee hat, and I ran with it.’’

Patrons at bars and restaurants would send over free drinks and food to his table. He signed over 100 autographs, pretending to be Chamberlain.

Women were only too happy to spend time with him, thinking they were going home with a New York Yankee.

“There were many,’’ Ward said.

What first got him in legal trouble was an Aug. 1 encounter at a bagel shop in which Ward asked employees “Do you know who I am?’’ and pointed to a photo of Chamberlain in a newspaper. They gave him free bagels and a bottle of water.

“He was selling autographs for free beer and money at a bar here on a night Joba Chamberlain was pitching and the game was on TV,” said one local bar owner.

Other impersonations followed. Eventually, at least a few watering holes got wise and banned Ward from the premises. Then in October, he was arrested again, this time for yelling and carrying on while sitting on a bench outside a bar while intoxicated.

Two days later, Ward said, he checked himself into an alcohol-treatment facility. He said he recently celebrated 100 days of sobriety.

As part of his probation, Ward must stay out of all the restaurants and bars in Belmar, and complete his alcohol treatment. He currently lives in a halfway house.

First off, if there has ever been an uncanny resemblance, this is it. I honestly don’t think I have ever seen an instance when someone looks this identical to a celebrity. Sure, there are Las Vegas impersonators that undergo surgery, hours of make-up, and years of practice to nail down famous people such as Elvis and Madonna, but that takes a lot of work. For Ryan Ward, all that was required from him was to pound down a twelve pack and stumble down to the closest bar or restaurant for free food, free drinks, and all the women you can handle. In fact, Ward claims to have taken home as many as 100 women using his alias. He even goes as far to say, “I got slapped a few times and yelled at, too, but I’d say there were about 20 or 30 of them who had no idea who I really was.”

If only Ward could have remained somewhat sober during his crime spree, then just imagine how far he could have taken his God-given talent. Signing autographs for money the night Joba is pitching and then passing out on a park bench? Give me a break. If there is one thing Ryan Ward isn’t, it’s a smart criminal. Something tells me that after he has had some time reflecting on this whole situation while he is sober and on probation, he will be back for a more lucrative and scandalous crime spree.