The tornado sirens are blaring tonight in Omaha during the College World Series postponing the games and flights from the local airport are even being evacuated.
Brian from College Baseball Daily uploaded this video of the sirens going off at the CWS tonight.
…and here’s a pretty nasty looking photo of the sky.
get somewhere safe everyone.
[update] looks like they are going to actually resume the current game tonight at 10:45pm.
When I grow up (yes I know, I’m 46), I want to be a sport photographer. That’s why it was it was especially fun for me to interview sports photographer Cary Frye. Cary specializes in shooting University of Illinois sporting events. He’s a regular at Illinois baseball games and that’s how we got connected.
You can read the interview over at Illinois Baseball Report.
All baseball history buffs know about Eddie Gaedel, the man who stood 3 foot 7 inches and was brought in as a pinch hitter for the St Louis Browns on August 19, 1951. It was a stunt by Browns owner Bill Veeck, known for his off-the-wall publicity moves. Gaedel walked, of course and his mark as the shortest man to ever play baseball still stands.
But I learned something the other day that kinda blew my mind. There is a descendant of Gaedel’s that is playing the game of baseball today. Kyle Gaedel is Eddie’s great-nephew and plays for Valparaiso University.
The irony of it all? Not only is Kyle Gaedel a fine ballplayer (he was drafted by the Rays out of high school in 2008) but he is a statuesque 6 foot 4 inches.
The Valparaiso University athletics web site did a spotlight on him last year.
I did an interview with former Illini shortstop Shawn Roof. I gleaned some questions from some of his Illini fans and ran them by him.
Roof has continued his success since leaving the Illini. This midseason, he advanced to Detroit’s AAA affiliate, the Toledo Mudhens. Once he got there, he caught fire hitting .354 for the rest of the year.
You can read the interview at my Illinois baseball blog, the Illinois Baseball Report.
I sat first row in Game 1 of the World Series today. Ok, maybe it was University of Illinois baseball’s annual “Orange and Blue World Series” but it was still a baseball game. The O&B WS is the Illini’s split squad series they play at this time of year.
I took some photos and did a write-up over at IllinoisBaseballReport.com if you want to see more details.
A week or so ago, I did an interview of Ben Taylor who’s an assistant Sports Information Director at the University of Illinois. He is responsible for coordinating publicity for the U of I baseball team. The resulting article is posted at the Illinois Baseball Report.
I correspond with Ben fairly regularly especially during the college baseball season and we have a pretty good relationship. So I threw him this slightly hard ball question.
IBR: As SID for college athletics, you act as a public relations guy for the team. Is there a fine line between providing as much information as possible about the baseball program to the public yet at the same time keeping the program in a good light? For example, we don’t hear too much about injuries and the like in official press releases. Is that University AD policy?
BT: Yes, there definitely is a fine line. Fans have become much more adept at sniffing out spin in the last decade, so most of them can tell when they aren’t being given the whole story. But as the official spokesperson for the athletic department, our office doesn’t release much in the way of injury updates unless it’s of the season-ending variety. Even then, it’s often up to the head coach because it can be construed as a competitive advantage for opponents. We realize that it is our job to portray the program and the university in the best possible light, so we try to focus on the positive aspects rather than injuries, suspensions, etc., but we also realize that in order to have credibility with our constituents (i.e., fans) we sometimes have to provide the less positive side of things.
All things considered, I like how Ben handled the question. He at least recognized that folks out are becoming more media savvy and recognizing “spin” when they see it.
You can read the whole interview at IBR.
Currently, colleges almost universally employ aluminum bats and its distinctive ‘ping’. Now, it looks like there might be a movement to get back to using the traditional wood bats. According to this article at the NCAA web site, Division II in particular is serious about contemplating the change:
Pitchers in high school or community college who are throwing the ball between 88 to 92 miles per hour typically are drafted into professional baseball, (Flagler head coach Dave) Barnett said, because scouts look initially for velocity. Those who either don’t sign or are not drafted who have that kind of speed will be scooped up by Division I. That leaves Division II schools being in more of a development mode, Barnett said.
That makes wood the right choice for Division II, Barnett said. He and his colleagues in the Peach Belt – especially since Brunk arrived – have talked about changing but are reluctant to do so unless the division acts collectively.
But is Division II the only level considering a change? Maybe not.
This month, the Big Ten Network posted a poll on its baseball page asking, “Costs aside, should college baseball move to use wood bats or stay with sweet "ping" of metal?”. Rather odd, considering the Big Ten is comprised of Division I teams.
As far as I’m concerned, the results aren’t incredibly important. If you’re interested, Wood has the edge 70.7% to 29.3% (surprised?? yeah, I was, too).
However, what IS important is that the poll is there at ALL. It tells me two things:
1) The issue is on their minds.. that it’s even an issue at all. By “their” I mean the Big Ten Network who certainly has the close ears of the Big Ten itself.
2) It’s a potential way to push the issue into the public’s minds (and by “public”, I mean the small subset of the public that follows college baseball. Polls can go both ways. Yes, they may be a good way to gauge opinion but they are also a tool to throw a wet noodle issue onto a wall and perhaps see if it sticks.
From the looks of it, Division II college baseball is on their way to discussing the issue of wood bats on the diamond. It seems those conferences have more to gain from it considering the development of the players involved. Still, it will be interesting to watch this story unfold.
Last Saturday, I had the privilege of meeting former MLB players, Donn Pall (left) and Darrin Fletcher. They’re both University of Illinois alums and they showed up for Alumni Weekend at Illinois Field.
They got a good show. Illinois starter Kevin Johnson shut out Purdue and Illinois won 7-0. See the full report at the Illinois Baseball Report.
Ozzie Smith has nothing on University of Illinois shortstop Josh Parr. Parr exhibits his own pre-game acrobatics last week before the Illini game against Butler by doing a full back flip.
The confidence must have been contagious. Illinois went on to defeat the Butler Bulldogs 19-0 that night.