Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Baseball-itis.

Post-Injury 3-thumb-320x240
Don't Mess with TCU Baseball.
Love, Lance Broadway

After watching South Carolina make short work of UCLA in last night’s second and final game of the CWS Championship Series – the first Men’s National Championship of any kind of the Gamecocks - the questions came flooding back. Why wasn’t it us? Where did we make a mistake? If we could’ve had some base runners on for Holaday’s two homeruns Saturday, would that have swung the momentum for us? What did Gerrit Cole save the worst game of his career for Monday night? Is HGH really THAT illegal, and if not, why didn't we pump Matt Purke full of that stuff and ride him into the final? WHY DOES A TEAM THAT’S MOSTLY KNOWN FOR WHITE HATS BEARING THEIR NICKNAME ON THE HEADS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL BOYS DESERVE THE ULTIMATE PRIZE AND NOT US?!

Most importantly, though, I thought of next year and what it holds for the Frogs.

I’ll be honest – in a lot of ways, I’m a sore assed, pessimistic fan. This is probably a product of growing up a Cowboys, Rangers and Mavericks fan because when you’re dealing with all of those disappointments, you get used to looking towards the future on a pretty regular basis. So, even going as far back as Game 2 in Austin, I was anxiously studying the classification of all of our players and putting the pieces in place for next year, hoping that we would be gearing up for a repeat, but also keeping the possibility of an early exit in the back of my mind. Fortunately though, we made a significant run through the tournament, picked up a slew of new fans and, despite not winning it all, have generated tons of momentum heading into next year. Seriously, how many of you kind of forgot the Boise loss in the Fiesta Bowl, if only for a few moments? It was honestly the furthest thing from my mind over the past three weeks, and while a lot of that was the product of the conference expansion hoopla, I can honestly say that baseball was the biggest factor.

So without further ado, here’s an extremely premature look at the 2011 TCU Horned Frogs Baseball team. Like, extremely premature. Like, if David Peterson did a preview, it would be, "No honey, it's cool, it happens to everyone" premature while mine is No, Colt, it is NOT ok, and stop calling me Jordan!" premature.

Disclaimer: I’m definitely going to get some things wrong, and also make some assumptions about guys going or not going pro. Also, I have no clue about our new recruiting class – is there one yet? – so will not include any of that. My baseball knowledge is also "dumb assed" at best (i.e. I can't tell you why a certain guy is better for a starting or relief role or why one guy can play right field but not first base.)

Bottom Line: PLEASE correct me in the comments. For the love of the game.

*denotes MLB draftee

Pitching:

Key Returnees: Matt Purke, Kyle Winkler, Steven Maxwell*, Greg Holle*, Trent Appleby, Kaleb Merck

Key Losses: Tyler Lockwood*, Paul Gerrish*, Eric Marshall.

Alright, so above I’ve listed the best case scenario, which is that Maxwell and Holle opt to take one for the team and come back next year to exhaust their eligibility and make us a hands down contender for the entire season. But since both guys were drafted in the upper rounds a few weeks ago (Holle in the 11th to Milwaukee, Maxwell in the 12th to Minnesota), there’s a good chance neither guy will return. If they do, all three of our weekend pitchers from this year will be in the fold and Holle will continue to handle the midweek role. If both leave though? Well, F.

The good news of it all is that man crush 1a. Matt Purke and his Rookie of the Year arm will for sure be returning next year and could finish his career for the Frogs undefeated because he’s DEFINITELY gone next year barring some unexpected turn of events… like, say, giving him “total access” during Sorority Rush week for the remainder of his time at TCU. Sure, I suppose by signing a major league contract and becoming an instant millionaire the "hot girls will do whatever I command of them" situation is likely a self fulfilling prophecy, but why chance it, right?

In addition to Purke, Kyle Winkler will also return next year and should, despite a rough World Series, continue to be the dominant pitcher he was for most of the year. Winkler was truly the work horse of the staff, pitching a team leading 116 2/3 innings this year, and having him back will give us a consistent Saturday or Sunday option.

From there though? Things get fuzzy. As things stand, in one of the long relief roles should be Trent Appleby, who earned plenty of work this post season after pitching 23 innings of relief during the regular season, good for second best on the team. However, given his experience and the chance that we’ll be looking for two new starters next season, Appleby would likely take over one of these jobs. As for the other starter? Your guess is as good as mine. Basing the decision on last year, Erik Miller would look to be the man for the job as he pitched more innings than any of the remaining candidates, with his 4.67 ERA being the lowest. So with my minimal knowledge of the situation, I’m putting him in as the fifth starter/reliever.

Losing a closer of the caliber of Tyler Lockwood is painful, but after watching Kaleb Merck work this post season, we should all feel pretty confident that, like a Patterson trained linebacker, there should be no drop off in production at the position. With a total of 22 games in relief and 3 saves, Merck is, to this point, the clear cut favorite.

Our only other returnee with pitching experience is will be junior Walker Kelly, who sports a 6.28 ERA in 14.1 innings pitched in 14 appearances this past season. The numbers and experience leave a lot to be desired, but it was going to be very difficult to get any sort of playing experience on a staff as deep as the one this year. On the plus side? Those numbers are a lot better than Greg Holle’s.

So obviously the best case scenario is we return 4/5 starters from this year, insert Merck for Lockwood and just keep rolling. But, even if Maxwell and Holle both leave, with Purke and Winkler having another off season to get ready, plus being able to progress the talent we do have, things shouldn't be as dire as they might seem.

But, the fact remains: The structure of our 2011 pitching staff relies solely on the decisions of Maxwell and Holle. My completely uninformed gut feeling? Holle is for sure gone – when you get offered guaranteed big league money despite coming off of a season where you only went 2-1, had a plus 7 ERA and the only good thing the scouts are saying about you is that you “have the height of a solid MLB pitcher”… yeah, you ride that gravy train until the wheels fall off. Maxwell, though, is a more difficult case to ponder. On the one hand, he was the MWC pitcher of the year and possibly the ace of our staff during the regular season. That alone should give him the confidence that he’s ready for the next level. However, after a difficult playoff run where he lost both games he started, would he want to stick around one more year and fine tone his skills, knowing that by doing so his team is poised for another Omaha run? I doubt it. I think he takes the money, but hopefully I’m wrong.

Projected Starters: Matt Purke, Kyle Winkler, Trent Appleby, Erik Miller.

Projected Relievers: Kalek Merck, Griffin Davis, Tyler Duffie, Walker Kelly, Steven Murray.

Infield:

Key Returnees: Jerome Pena, Taylor Featherston, Jantzen Witte, Joe Weik.

Key Losses: Bryan Holaday*, Matt Curry*

So there’s two ways to look at this. One is that we return 3/5 of an infield, plus a DH that can play infield, that had one of the better fielding percentages in the conference and all batted over .300 for the year. The other is that, the two guys we lose were hands down the two standouts of the whole group, if not team, and one of them was the uncontested team leader. I’m going to go against my instincts here though and take the more optimistic route and say that we can overcome this.

We for sure know that we have FEatherston returning at short, Pena at second and Witte at third. More than anyone, Taylor Featherston – great baseball name, by the way – really came alive in the post season and is definitely responsible for a couple of wins on his own merit. This without even mentioning his defensive work, which not only earned him a web gem, but really helped kill a few potential rallies. Pena, too, really shined in his leadoff spot and, although he missed a few throws defensively, was a solid piece. Jantzen Witte was great as well – sorry, ran out of generic baseball descriptors to mask my ignorance.

But, despite what I said earlier, the two losses are still KILLER. Leadership aside, Holaday’s day in, day out reliability behind the plate will be sorely missed, as will his 17 homeruns and 53 RBIs. From what I understand, will be Senior Jimmie Pharr should fill in at catcher for the Frogs next year and, despite his inexperience, should be a fine addition. He only tallied 91 at bats this season, but of those, 7 were home runs and 21 drove in runs, good for a .363 average. If you want to do the math, and I do, Holaday had a little over three times as many plate appearances as Pharr, so at that rate, Jimmie would be good for roughly the same amount of homers, and even more RBIs. Let’s just hope the law of averages applies directly to the baseball diamond because he has some ENORMOUS shoes to fill.

As for Curry, well, we’ve seen what he can do. He was our best defensive infielder based on the percentages, and his team leading 18 homers and second place 65 RBI are tough to see go. While he will always be remembered for THE Grand Slam, we are going to realize what an all around force he really was next year when he’s suiting up in the bigs. As for his replacement? You guys are going to have to help me out here because I’m not really sure. Do you move in a more established guy from the outfield like Brance Rivera or Aaron Schultz? Do you fill in with Weik and move someone else to the DH? I seriously doubt you consider moving any of this year’s infield starters to first. Relly Mercurio has played a little at first, do you give him the starting role? I’m letting someone else make the call on this one.

Projected Starters: Jantzen Witte, Taylor Featherston, Jerome Pena, Jimmie Pharr, Joe Weik and ??

Outfield:

Key Returnees: Brance Rivera, Aaron Schultz, Jason Coats.

Key Losses: None.

Well, at least we know where we don’t have to worry about any attrition because we get all of these guys back, plus reliables like Josh Elander and Kyle Von Tungeln. As I mentioned above, I suppose there’s a chance that either Rivera or Schultz could make a move to the infield to replace Curry at first, but I’m genuinely unclear. Offensively, you’re getting back 28 home runs and 150 RBIs, led by Jason Coats and his 69. Defensively, well, you saw these guys in action, and if you need a reminder, Brance Rivera’s ribcage is still lodged somewhere along the outfield wall in Omaha. Really, there’s no need to worry about the outfield for next year. We cool.

Projected Starters: Brance Rivera, Aaron Schultz, Jason Coats.

Realistically, this year’s team was pretty once in a generation. A phenomenal pitching staff, great rapport, a true leader, big bats and just an overall, never say die attitude. So trying to compare next year’s team to this year’s is truly unfair. But, while it appears on paper that there will be some drop off, I don’t think you can count these guys out by any means. For one, Jim Schlossnagle is one of the best coaches in the game and, despite running a baseball team under the confines of a private institution, in seven short years he’s made TCU one of the envies of the baseball world. Besides that, he’s recruited top notch talent every single year, so the cupboards are always stocked with the next all-star that we have yet to hear about. Losing right hand man Todd Whiting to Cougar High – is this confirmed? – will hurt some, but have no doubts that Schloss will move quickly to fill that void.

As the off-season takes hold and even into next year, you’re going to read tons and tons about how much the Frogs will miss Bryan Holaday, and since we’ve already more than worn that story into the ground, I’ll abandon it, at least for the rest of this particular article. Truly, the biggest thing story we’ll have to watch over the coming month is whether or not Steven Maxwell decides to stay or go. As I said earlier, I think he goes – as do the handful of others I’ve asked about the situation – but, just like we thought Matt Purke was probably going to be a Ranger, you never know what kind of circumstances will unfold in your favor. My advice to you? Stop shopping at Target Stores and bankrupt the company, therefore causing the Twins to lose their new stadium sponsor, and hopefully forcing the team into bankruptcy as they struggle to pay their stadium bills, not to mention Joe Mauer. Or, better yet, pretend you're some sort of financial advisory and convince Tom Hicks to buy the Twins. I think he can easily run that franchise into the ground by the time Maxwell has to make a decision and having him gone from the Rangers, plus keeping Maxwell a Frog, would be the biggest sports win-win of the century.

A lot can happen between now and next baseball season and while it’s a bummer to think that we have to wait until next winter for the unveiling of the Schlossnagles 8.0, we can all rest easier at night knowing that, if we really need a diversion, I think our football team fires up their season in the interim, assuming any of you still care about those guys.

College Baseball. Who knew? Go Frogs!

Texas Tech Red Pederasts

Texas Tech Professor Rod Hicks

Calling someone a “jerk off,” while acceptedly insulting, has really become such an overused term as to become cliché. I mean, let’s face it – if Snooki from Jersey Shore is tossing the catchphrase around like most normal people would say “hello” or “goodbye,” it’s probably time to put it out to pasture. And while as TCU fans we’re apt to view our bitter rivals through this childishly derogative masturbatory light, in the case of at least one school, we’d apparently be correct.

As we all know, Texas Tech doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation for academics; if you’ve ever met a graduate of said school, you’ll understand that this observation isn’t even scratching the surface. And while you have to admire the school trying to take a “creative” approach to human anatomy and physiology classes, there’s one glaring issue that I feel the school needs to address:

This isn’t a human anatomy and physiology class, and even if it was, the teacher is usually not the guinea pig for demonstrations.

I’ve never had a teleconference class. It seems a bit University of Phoenix online to me, which, now that I think about it, is probably a more reputatable University than Tech, so perhaps they’re onto something. Regardless, it seems they still haven’t completely MASTERED the technique to completion.*

Last week, Texas Tech professor Rod Hicks - his name is even Rod, this is too easy - was leading one of his classes via webcam while at his home in Austin, and all was going swimmingly well until class ended and, after Rod RELEASED the class, he decided to RELEASE himself… except he forgot to turn off the webcam… and he broadcast to his students that he has even less control of his arousal than Al Gore at a massage parlor. Too bad he doesn’t teach his class IN Lubbock – with the morally casual attitude of the female student body, he’d never have to do it himself.

The best part though? Rod has apparently gone on the lam – he’s refused to return to Lubbock when summoned by the school and has stopped answering his cell phone. Apparently by running he thinks he can BEAT OFF termination.

Although it’s entirely possible that Tech students signed up for said class in order to watch their teacher rub one out after class and the school merely wants to give him a promotion. They are, after all, a bunch of jerk offs.

*-Admittedly, the story never actually mentions that Hicks completed the task at hand - zing! - but it makes for a much better story, no? Besides, why else would you be looking at such material via the interwebs?

Zvonko Buljan to the Mavs?

We've left one rumor-mongering shitshow (conference realignment...at least temporarily) and entered another (NBA free agency). Sure, most of the speculation is centered on Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, but could former Horned Frog Zvonko Buljan be headed to the Mavericks?

Well, probably not. But he did get a try-out for the Mavs' summer league team. I'm not holding my breath for him to make the regular-season squad, but hopefully he can make this summer team and impress enough to either get a D-League contract or perhaps improve his resume before heading back to Europe to play professionally.

Morning Dump




TCU baseball's strength coach pivotal to Frogs' success Star-Telegram

TCU catcher only knows one way to play Wichita Eagle

Yankees' rookies showing they belong Lower Hudson Valley Journal
-mentions Huffman's TCU roots

TCU commit Cron named to All-America Team MaxPreps.com


On-going Conference Realignment Drama:

Tech's Tuberville questions Big 12(-2)'s future ESPN Dallas

MWC's Thompson happy for no drastic changes Colorado Springs Gazette

Addition of Boise State the buzz of football luncheon Denver Post

Five ways conference realignment impacted TCU The Sporting News
-Spoiler Alert: It only names four ways...


Football:

Getting to know a draft pick: Marshall Newhouse Packers.com

Football camp revamps Oak Cliff park Pegasus News
-mentions brothers Terrance & Tim Maiden, who played at TCU

Big-Spending Ohio State Could Change Nickname to Bucks-Eyes Fanhouse
-article on spending, good mention of TCU


General:

TCU places 73 student-athletes from spring sports on Academic All-MWC Teams gofrogs.com

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Waiting for word on the stadium renovations...

It's been a constant topic of conversation all around TCU for years now: when are we going to update our aging football stadium? The first conceptual drawings leaked out a few years ago, along with whispers that the administration was looking towards doing something. Then came more drawings, along with reports that fund-raising was underway.

In the past few months, we've seen news stories informing us that the fund-raising efforts were nearly complete and that an official announcement was looming at it's end, which had a "deadline" of either June 30 or July 1 depending on who you chose to believe.

So now that we're at the brink of that deadline, what comes next? You would think that at this point, no news is bad news. The longer we go on with no word from TCU officials on the matter, the more likely that they eventually let us know that, because of the recession, the fund-raising threashold was not met and that the renovation will not happen. In that case, is it pushed back just until they meet that goal? How long will that take?

Or are we right on the verge of some grand announcement where we'll finally officially learn all of the juicy details for which we've waited so long? The school did just surpass their academic fund-raising goal for 2012 two years early- perhaps the fact that money is pouring in to the school right now is a good omen? And maybe we haven't heard much about this lately because all of the buzz has been about the baseball team.

Then again, the article (published on June 22) about the school meeting those academic goals did conclude with this vague sentence, which kind of makes me think we're gonna have to wait just a bit longer:

"During the remaining years of the campaign, TCU will continue to raise funds for several other areas, including a renovation of Amon Carter Stadium."

So be on the look-out for news on this issue, and hopefully soon...

CWS Hangover Meds



Mélissa Theuriau: Hot

Likes: Probably TCU
Dislikes: Definitely UT


I don’t know if this short film has already been posted…or what it even means…I do know that I just used it as an opportunity to introduce Mélissa Theuriau to Spitblood (or vice versa for those Spitblood readers who don’t pay the extra $20 a month to get French TV news). After the video, click the pic to enlarge and share your vote for best photo in the comments.

Thoughts on the Run to Omaha

It's taken me a few days to organize my thoughts after the Frogs' magical run to Omaha ended with Saturday's loss to UCLA. That wasn't the case, though, for David Peterson, who registered his opinions Sunday night on HornedFrogSports.com. Maybe he's more mature than me and takes losses better...or maybe he's a masochist like WWHD, who I found watching the post-game comments from the Fiesta Bowl when I got back home from that trip.

Anyways, here are the thoughts I came away from the whole experience with:

-They should retire Bryan Holaday's #16. Some have disagreed with me on this, saying there are other guys who should have this honor before Holaday. But I say as the heart & soul of the school's very first CWS team, he moves to the head of the line. I understand that he may not end up having the kind of professional career as some other former Frogs, but he's meant the most to the program during his time in Fort Worth.

-This team is ready for another run in 2011. Yeah, they lose some key pieces- Holaday, Curry, Lockwood, Marshall and possibly (probably?) Maxwell. But there's so much more returning, along with some great up & coming talent. They'll probably start out in the Top 5.

-I am very intrigued to see how this run affects the recent momentum that the fanbase has been building (ok, ok, bandwagonism). The excitement of 2008 football rolled in '09 baseball, which rolled into '09 football which continued at full steam ahead during baseball this spring. Will all of this TCU pride continue to result in big attendance numbers this fall? What about next spring?

-I wonder what the over/under for how many times I'll watch Matt Curry's grand slam on youtube before I die is. Gotta be 1,000, assuming the world doesn't end in 2012.

Morning Dump


Baseball:
TCU baseball takes a road trip like no other
Star-Telegram

Top TCU assistant candidate for Houston job
Star-Telegram

ABCA/Rawling honors four Frogs
GoFrogs.com

Catcher leaves TCU with great memories and impressive reputation
WFAA

Curry. TCU end season against UCLA
Waxahachie Daily Light

Facilities:

An inside video look at the Jane Justin Fieldhouse
GoFrogs.com

Monday, June 28, 2010

Koozies Flickr


Thanks to those who purchased koozies last week, I am shipping them out today. I started a Flickr so we can capture Spitblood Koozies around the globe. Get your koozies, put them to work, and upload your photos.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/spitbloodtcu

I'm still waiting for a Spitblood icing...

Morning Dump


Frogs hoping experience goes a long way next year Star-Telegram

TCU's greatest baseball season provides many memories
Star-Telegram

TCU enjoyed a banner sports year
Star-Telegram

Frogs receive huge welcome home
GoFrogs.com

Former first round-pick Matt Purke gets mixed reception from Rangers fans
Dallas Morning News

After a great season form our baseball Frogs, welcome to the worst time of the sports year. On the bright side it's only 67 days till kickoff.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Critics of Purke

Sure, Matt Purke is a goofy-looking kid. He wears his cap crooked and he wears glasses and he wears his heart on his sleeve out there on the mound (where he's been absolutely dominant this year). With a 15-0 record and the fact that he turned down millions as the Rangers' first-round draft pick, you'd expect a fair amount of sour grapes out there as people are jealous of the fact that he's helped bring the TCU baseball program to new heights.

But the following letter to the editor in this morning's Star-Telegram is pretty ridiculous:

I thought I found someone I could cheer for at the College World Series. Then after watching a few pitches of last Saturday's game, I had to quickly change my mind.

Maybe I have been out of umpiring and coaching for too long and things have changed, but what was that clown who pitched for TCU doing with the cap of his baseball uniform turned crooked? Where is the respect for his team uniform, his coaches, his school and for the game of baseball in general?

I am thinking that Texas Christian University, its coaching staff and its athletic director probably have let this go on clear through this clown's time at their fine university, so shame on them.

To the TCU school staff: This is particularly disappointing since yours is an establishment of a true Christian school. In addition to the general disrespect of the uniform, this young man's national TV display of vulgarity is especially disturbing. Perhaps you do not know the meaning of a baseball cap slanted to one side or the other. If not, ask around campus, and you will find out.

-Frank La Forge, Wichita, Kansas

Morning Dump


Omaha:
As underdog and newcomer, TCU is Omaha's team Star-Telegram

TCU's season hinges on freshman Matt Purke today in College World Series
Star-Telegram

Pena brings more than Omahawk to Frogs
GoFrogs.com

Purke again TCU's ace in the hole
Houston Chronicle

Purke making splash at CWS
Lufkin Daily News

TCU's Purke might make UCLA an underdog in College World Series
LA Times

CWS fan gives back grand slam ball
KETV-Omaha

Horned Frog homer become keepsake for player and CWS
Omaha World-Herald

UCLA's Rasmussen looks to act as closer
Whittier Daily News

UCLA taking next step against TCU
Orange County Register

Football:

Dalton's leadership puts him at no. 8 on non-AQ list
ESPN

Cheerleaders:

Cheerleader of the week: TCU's Jordan Daigle
Sports Illustrated

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Everyone Hates UT. Even God.

You know why this person has no face?
Because God has no face.

While I’m still trying to calm my thigh muscles down from the text message explosion that happened in my pocket after Curry’s bomb, I’ve been thinking a lot about how great the College World Series is, something that I never could have initially realized without having a dog in the fight, but more importantly how great it has been for our program. From the screaming jail bait getting behind the Frogs in their living room, to the constant stream of articles talking about how CWS vendors can’t keep anything purple in stock, it’s pretty amazing to think that a small, private school in Fort Worth, Texas is absolutely setting the sports nation on fire in any sport, much less something other than football. And it’s infinitely more amazing when you think about how quickly it’s all happened.

Consider, the TCU football team has been reincarnated and rock solid for nearly 15 straight years now and, while we’re getting SOME love these days – if you can count the non BCS-BCS Bowl as love – you can’t honestly say that we have resounding national respect. Of course, this is mostly due to the BCS system and all its inherent flaws, but with Utah recently moving into the Pac 10 and Boise State beating us in Glendale and likely entering the season ranked higher, it’s safe to say that we’re no better than the third most respected non-BCS team in the country, and fourth if you want to count Notre Dame. Not to mention a select handful mediocre programs from the Pac 10 or Big 12 will always have more respect, no matter how many times we dispatch them. And don’t even get me started on the Big Ten and the annual sack riding of Iowa, Ohio State or Penn State by the media before they lose to Northwestern or Appy State. The fact that said slurping is almost contractually obligated by ESPN as they televise most of their games is beside the point. And, again, Notre Dame. How?! Why!?

And while I’m well past worrying about whether or not TCU will ever be respected as a top tier football team or not, no matter the on field performance, the realities of the past two weeks are certainly pretty jarring when you think about how quickly they’ve manifested:

TCU is the most popular team in college baseball. And it’s not even close.

How likely is that? If we’re drawing comparisons, you’d say that the Schloss regime coming in and enhancing the baseball team is exactly like the Fran/Patterson regime coming in and bringing back the football team from the dead. But, by coming in 2004, Schloss spotted the football program six years and an infinitely wider audience, yet is lapping the field when it comes to national respect and attention. How did he do it?

One reason, as mentioned, is the post-season formats of the two leagues. Obviously the College World Series, a culmination of two weeks of playoffs giving the teams ample opportunity to prove themselves against the best of the best, is far superior to College Football’s much maligned political Championship. This isn’t debatable, and it’s really the only instance where Liberal “give everyone a chance” viewpoints are far superior to Conservative’s “Cash is King”. You can knock the Mountain West’s Conference baseball schedule all you like, but there’s no denying that the Frogs deserve a shot in Omaha after winning two playoff rounds including knocking off a national number 2 seed on their home turf in a three game series. College baseball’s expansive non-conference scheduling which affords more opportunities for a team to prove themselves against ranked competition doesn’t hurt matters either.

But in football, obviously Conference affiliation is the driving force no matter how badly you beat your opponents and no matter if you schedule the first, second, third and fourth ranked teams in the country in non-conference. If you play in the WAC or the MWC, you’re going to get bent over and Deliverance’d when it comes to the post season.

But there’s an even more important factor in TCU Baseball's meteoric rise, one that I was discussing with a few folks earlier that I think is the biggest contributing factor to TCU’s perception as “not good enough for a national seed’ to “your mom’s favorite baseball team.” I’m talking about something that, even though it may not always be at the forefront of the collective minds of college sports fans, can certainly make a difference when relevant. A factor that, more than anything, makes me wish that the we were in the Big 12 more than ever. What am I talking about?

Why UT Hate, of course. Sweet, unflinching, unbridled, caustic, combustive and alliterative UT hate.

Obviously we didn’t come into the CWS as a favorite – how’d that work out, Sun Devils? Just because we knocked off a Texas team that was arguably supposed to win the whole thing, doesn’t change the facts that, even though the BCS doesn’t apply to baseball, we will always be viewed through a BCS veil and therefore an unbiased fan would likely gravitate towards us. But, given recent circumstances and the location of the World Series in Omaha, how can you ignore the UT hater role in all of this?

Nebraska has always hated Texas since they crashed their Big 8 party in 1996 and has been looking for a way out. When they finally getting the Big Ten bid they have so coveted a few weeks back, all of that hate really came out in statements from the athletic department, none more vocal than deified AD Tom Osborne. But in truth, Nebraska didn’t so much want to go to the Big Ten as much as they wanted to get the hell out of a conference with Texas. Obviously the Big Ten was the preferred choice, but I have a feeling if the Pac 10 came calling, sans Longhorns, the Huskers would’ve jumped. So the locals in Omaha were going to be predisposed to backing the team that knocked off UT. Had Clemson been matched up with Texas in the Austin regional and taken it to the Longhorns, they would’ve been the favorites this year, with the Frogs getting the underdog vote. And while the underdog card is strong, I think the UT hate card is stronger; Now that we get to play both cards, we're pretty much immortal.

From my reading up on the topic, the Featherston triple from Monday night was one of the loudest crowd roars anyone has ever heard from Rosenblatt. If that’s true, I can’t even begin to fathom what it sounded like after Curry’s HR last night; probably not unlike sleeping with an exploding jet engine for a pillow. But would any of this have happened without Texas? I still think we’d have the crowd, but would a roomful of 12 year old girls in Omaha be attacking their furniture if they weren’t driven by their hate of all things Burnt Orange? If you held up a Burnt Orange cape in front of a person in a red hat with an N on it, would they charge you like a bull in Pamplona? Is Burnt even a word?

And on the Conference Expansion front, is this karma’s way of repaying us? Is karma no longer a bitch? Think about it: The MWC gets absolutely bitch slapped in the conference realignment game. No arguments there – we fully expected to take 10 steps forwards and ended up never leaving our chair. And while we may never get a leg up in football, by dropping us into the most volatile anti-UT environment outside of WWHD’s apartment for our first World Series, several weeks after Nebraska bolted the Big 12, and a week after we knocked off Texas to get there has to be some kind of fate, right? This journey was definitely cosmically constructed by a higher power than Jim Scholossnagle, or at least appears that way after last night.

So is God a UT Hater? I think I heard a church nursery rhyme once that stated “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world…except Longhorns.” Perhaps he learned that from his pops? It’s been said that the Dallas Cowboys are God’s team, but has Jehovah’s endearing hatred for Texas caused him to switch his allegiance across the Metroplex? No matter the root cause, the way things have been shaking out, it sure seems like… ok, I’ve gotta stop before I make an Angels in the Outfield reference.

Go Frogs. And F Texas.

More thoughts on Curry's Blast

Are we making too big a deal out of Curry's grand slam from last night? I mean, as David Peterson of HornedFrogSports.com pointed out, it was just one play in a long string of crucial events that made the inning so special. So credit has to go out to the whole team for completing the comeback.

But still...what other moment in TCU history can compare to the drama of that mammoth shot? I thought Aaron Schutlz's home run against UT was going to be the signature moment of this '10 team, but how can you say that two insurance runs in the Super Regional are better than a come-from-behind grand slam at Rosenblatt?

For all of the success that the football team has had, you'd think there would be something that would outshine last night, but I am having a tough time pin-pointing one specific moment. Louisville's game-tying field goal attempt in '03 hitting the crossbar as time expired was pretty sweet, as was The Great White Hit. But those were both more "sigh of relief" moments, because the Frogs had been in control for pretty much the entirety of both games.

Perhaps the only moment that can match it is Jamie Dixon's buzzer-beater to beat Texas and clinch the SWC title for the Frogs in 1986. I was a little too young to remember that, but watching that video really makes you wish we could have that kind of atmosphere for basketball games again some day.

So no, I wouldn't say we're making too big a deal of Curry's blast. It capped a comeback that showed this team's true colors and let every Frog fan out there know that our boys don't have an ounce of give-up in them. It took me a while to settle down enough to sleep last night, and even then I woke up to watch the highlights again at 3:30am. I must've dreamed about it, too, because I woke up with this fitting stanza from the Flaming Lips stuck in my head:

I've got a trick...a magic stick
That will make them all fall
We've got the power now, motherfuckers,
'cause it's where it belongs!

New Spitblood Koozies Available Now


I just got in the second generation Spitblood koozies today. We are selling them to raise money for promotional (free) AD For Heisman items. I had to take a picture with my iPhone so sorry for lack of clarity, they are light gray, with purple logo on both sides. There is a koozie button on the sidebar if you are interested. Hope you like the design.

Morning Dump




Omaha:

Curry's grand slam keeps career, Horned Frogs alive Star-Telegram

TCU grand slam sends Florida State home form World Series
Star-Telegram

TCU has its magic moments in College World Series win
Star-Telegram

Curry rallies TCU in grand fashion
GoFrogs.com

Featherston continues short stop tradition at TCU
GoFrogs.com

Tom Petty strikes again
GoFrogs.com

Frogs making friends in Omaha
Corsicana Daily Sun

Curry's blast helps Horned Frogs stay alive
Omaha World Herald

TCU rallies from 5 run deficit to eliminate FSU
Houston Chronicle

Frogs leap back from brink
Yahoo! Sports

Frogs drawn to a rally
ESPN

Mr. Clutch: TCU's Bryan Holaday
Sporting News

Whitting in the mix for UH job
My Fox Houston

Football:

Gary Patterson Foundation benefit sold out
GoFrogs.com

Fiesta Bowl executive: political reasons kept Iowa from Fiesta Bowl
Cedar Rapids Gazette

Frogs in the Pros:

Packers sign draft picks including TCU's Newhouse
Football News Now

Expansion:

Lingering realignment questions
Sports Illustrated

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

OMG!

I don't know who these girls are, but their reaction to Curry's bomb is not unlike my own:

Unreal comeback keeps season alive

I really don't even know where to start. I honestly don't know if I've ever been this excited after a TCU sporting event. Ever. For seven and a half innings, it looked like the end of the road for the 2010 Horned Frog baseball team, but then a legendary 8-run 8th inning gave this team a new lease on life as they came back to beat Florida State, 11-7.

So, where to start? Why not start with the climax of the whole thing, which was Matt Curry's absolute BOMB of a grand slam on a full-count with two outs in the inning. Was I the only one that saw the play in slow motion? At first, I thought it was gone. Then the FSU centerfielder completely faked me out, pulling up and looking as if he might be stopping to catch a ball that got caught up in the wind. But then I saw where it landed, and I ran down the hall of my apartment building, letting loose a string of euphoria-enduced expletives. They came back!

But then you have to think back to a few moments earlier in the inning, because the rally was basically over TWICE before that moment. Brance Rivera grounded into what appeared to be an inning-ending double play, but beat the throw to keep the side alive. Then Bryan Holaday looked as if he was thrown out stretching his hit into a double, but he somehow had the presence of mind to pull his left arm away, avoiding the tag. Without Rivera's hustle and Holaday's amazing situational awareness, Curry's dong never happens. Or Witte's, which was an awesome insult to the Seminoles' injury.

And how about the relief pitching by Tyler Lockwood, Erik Miller and Kaleb Merck? Absolutely fantastic to settle the FSU bats down and give the Frogs a chance to get back in it. I think you get my point...that was an awesome game. I'm sure we'll all be trying to figure out a way for the Frogs to get by UCLA twice, but for right now I just want to bask in the glory of this win, and kick myself for not recording it.

Go Frogs!

Homerism and its Affects on the Human Brain: A Study in Optimism:

I mean, how could this NOT be the image for this post?

With Monday night’s tough loss to UCLA still fresh in our minds, we must now change gears and look forward to tonight’s rematch with Florida State who are fresh off a dispatching of bitter rival Florida. And while we should all feel confident that we can beat the Seminoles, seeing as how we have once already on the exact same field, I am sure that everyone is still a bit hesitant to look forward to a Friday night matchup with UCLA. With that in mind, here are a few key things to consider and inspire confidence:

It's a Comeback game. So far this season, TCU has responded extremely well when coming off of a loss, having only dropped back to back games two times all year. The first of those – one run losses to BYU and Dallas Baptist – came early in the season, and were helped along by unearned runs due to errors and the up, but mostly down, pitching from Greg Holle, respectively. The second instance came a month later against San Diego State and Oklahoma, with the Frogs dropping both games by two runs a piece, and both losses were heavily influenced by stranded baserunners. The good news? In the Frogs seven single game losses during the regular season, the bats absolutely exploded the next outing. Seriously, in the immediate game after each of those losses, the Frogs scored 17, 15, 20, 15, 11, 26 and 5 runs, respectively. And while after the Frogs only loss during the post season – game 2 in Austin – the offensive didn’t exactly come out and overwhelm the Longhorns, the pitching and defense stepped up considerably to close out the series. So basically, we should fully expect the Frogs to come out knocking the ball all over the park, but if for some reason they don’t, have no doubt that another aspect of the team will step it up and keep us in this thing.

We're trotting out a rested Maxwell and Lockwood. Stephen Maxwell’s last in-game memory is getting shelled into the dugout by Texas two Saturday's ago. Don’t think this isn’t going to inspire him to come out and pitch the game of his life. And Tyler Lockwood hasn’t pitched in either of our two CWS games. So, needless to say, both guys are fully rested and both have to be absolutely chomping at the bit to pop their World Series cherries. With Maxwell definitely going tonight, and Lockwood potentially getting a shot in relief, I wouldn’t expect Florida State to put too many runs on the board. Our biggest problem Monday night, in my eyes, was that once we got behind, our batters were chasing pitches and swinging for the fences, trying to make the big play rather than putting the ball in play and beating them one run at a time. If Maxwell and Lockwood perform as we hope and assume they will, this shouldn’t be an issue. Now we just have to hope our bats wake up before the 7th inning, which considering we scored 8 on Florida State's ace and the pitcher tonight has a 5.53 ERA, shouldn't be a problem.

Rosenblatt is Lupton Stadium North. The Brance Rivera catch and the Taylor Featherston bases clearing triple are obviously the biggest positives we will take away from the UCLA game, but the thing that stuck out to me most about both of those plays weren’t the plays themselves, but the way the crowd reacted. Did you hear the roar when Featherston connected, and the roar +1 when the ball dropped in right over the Bruins’ center fielder’s head? Sounded like a bunch of drunk assholes cheering for a Tiger Woods birdie, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Seriously, I know everyone connected to this thing has beaten it into the ground, but was anyone not directly affiliated with UCLA rooting for the Bruins on Monday? The crowd support is absolutely unreal through television speakers, so I can’t imagine what it’s like on the field.

Honestly, when we pushed it to 3-5, even though there were two outs, and even though we were at the bottom of the order, and even though Gerrit Cole got right back on his horse, didn’t you have to believe that we were going to make a run? And even though we didn’t, and even though I’m kind of a pessimistic fan in those situations, the way the 20,000+ fans in the stands cheered us on until the last out had me on the edge of my seat until Orel Herscheiser could FINALLY stop focusing on that silly baseball game and get back to the more important business of bragging about his son. Don’t know how many of you were where you could clearly hear the commentary from the game, but holy HELL how does Mike Patrick have a job at ESPN? When you get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to ply your trade, shouldn’t you at least learn the rules of the game at the very least? And Orel wasn’t much more insightful, but at least he has street cred. But sorry for the tangent. Where was I?

Oh yes – so, just think: If the crowd was as behind us in

a game where our offense was absolutely anemic and, in all honesty, won't matter a damn bit if we make it through the weekend, can you imagine what it's going to be like in an elimination game situation?

Obviously the crowd can’t directly win you a game, but in any college sport where emotions can have an enormous effect on performance, expect us to have that going for us.

We've got Schloss, this year's coaching MVP. I feel like this kind of went by the wayside on this here blog, and correct me if I’m wrong about that, but, the man DID just win the coach of the year award which, I’m not sure where to find this, probably puts us in pretty rare air of having the top baseball and football coaches in the nation in the same athletic department. Not bad for the scourge of Texas colleges, as we’ve been made out to be by the big boys that we beat on a consistent basis. At least when they’re willing to play us.

It goes without saying that Schloss has done an unbelievable job as the head man, and I think my favorite thing about him is that he is probably the least likely of any of our head coaches to leave the program. Seriously, if Jimmy C ever turns the basketball program around, he’d immediately become a hot name around the country and would leave Fort Worth in a heartbeat

because, let's face it, he'd probably have to make some kind of deal with the devil for this to ever happen and it'd maybe be the greatest program turnaround in history.

Gary is obviously as committed as ever to being a Frog, but you have to think the MWC ultimately striking out in conference expansion weighs heavy on the best coach in college football. If 2013 comes and goes with the Frogs still in a non- auto bid conference and the right situation presents itself, Gary will have more than earned the right to ply his trade elsewhere.

But not Scholossnagle. The NCAA baseball tournament is quite possibly the fairest post season format in all of college sports, except for a few obvious asterisks when it comes to rankings, where a team like Cal State-Fullerton, who may or may not even play in a real conference, can win multiple titles and become one of the most well respected programs in the country. So it goes without saying that a team like TCU that recruits in the most baseball talent-rich state in the country and has one of the nicest stadiums to boot can and should be as good as anyone. And while there’s no denying the school’s commitment to bringing baseball back from the dead was a major factor in all this, without Schloss’s knowledge and recruiting prowess, we’re probably making first round exits each year on some other team’s field.

I honestly don’t know that much about the man. He’s obviously not the deity that Patterson is – yet – and he’s not as high profile or vocal. But the quiet confidence he exudes is obviously just what this team needs, and with the number of players from his teams that are playing in the bigs, he makes the program a remarkably easy sell. And while I don’t know his salary, as Patterson has proved, TCU and Fort Worth is a pretty great place to be. And as Schloss has no real competitive incentives to leave, I think he’s a lifer. And that’s the kind of man you want leading your team out of the elimination bracket in Omaha.

Bryan Holaday is Best Leader in the Tournament. But even after internet making out with Coach Schloss in the previous paragraph, I’m not sure there’s a bigger reason that we are where we are than Catcher Bryan Holaday. I mean, yes, you have guys like Matt Purke and Jason Coats who are the grease for the well oiled machines that are our pitching and hitting staffs, but can you even make an argument that either of those guys are more detrimental to this team’s success than Holaday? And would Purke be have come along as quickly if he didn’t have Holaday to throw to?

I’ve said it before – I’m late for the Frogs baseball parade. Despite my love for all things TCU, baseball is just one of those sports I never grew up absolutely loving, so I wasn’t predisposed. So in that respect, a lot of the information I have about the team is new to me but probably old news to some of you. But, as the season was winding down, easily my favorite player to read up on was Bryan Holaday and his passion for the Frogs and while I realize that the national media has pretty much beaten his story into the ground, each and every piece of information I’ve ingested about him has just made me that much prouder to be a Frog. Everyone loves a good leader and while Jason Phillips is arguably the strongest leader on and off the field that any of us have seen in recent years, I think if the baseball team had the exposure of the football team, Holaday would win in a walk off. /pun'd.

First of all, he’s obviously a great baseball player. His offensive numbers don’t lie, and he’s hit maybe the two most memorable home runs of the season. Not to mention he’s a candidate for the Johnny Bench Award, and he picks off base runners at a pretty remarkably clip – roughly 50%. Plus, he’s a seriously tough dude. Did you see that that 95 MPH fast ball he took off his elbow last night from Cole? Holy balls that looked painful. But, after a quick doubling over and wincing, he shook it off and sprinted to first, even outrunning the team trainer in the process. Obviously you don’t your key player going untreated after taking a shot like that – and he did have some work done in the dugout later, with the machine they used absolutely blowing Orel and Mike’s minds! – but the fact that he was far more interested in getting on base and letting the next guy hit shows that he’s a team first dude. The team as a whole has to be pretty distraught with the brutally slow start from Monday. No way any of them, but especially Holaday, lets it happen again.

And now we get to some dangerously forward thinking assumptions…

Rarely do we Lose to Same Team Twice: IF TCU is able to get by the Seminoles tonight for a rematch with UCLA, take heart in the fact that the Frogs have only lost to two teams twice this year, and one of them (OU) is in the World Series. Losing to Air Force twice is obviously the biggest sore thumb in this record setting season, but hey, like Augie Garrido said, even a Lion won’t eat if he’s not hungry, right? Along the way, the Frogs beat postseason teams like Texas, Baylor, New Mexico, Cal State-Fullerton at least twice without losing to any of them more than once. The Frogs also took care of a near Super Regional aggy team in their one game against one another. So, while the Frogs obviously have to win tonight to continue, the odds are heavily in our favor to take down UCLA in a rematch Friday night and leave Saturday up for grabs. And while beating the Bruins two games in a row is much easier said than done, my next point shows that perhaps we have a better opportunity than we think…

We've Never Lost a Weekend Series. While I’ve tried to make some pretty strong points, this is perhaps the one that gives me the most hope if we’re able to make the weekend. We’re all well aware that, at present, our three weekend starters have only lost four combined games, with the fourth only coming on Monday night. Stephen Maxwell and Kyle Winkler are both 12-2 on the year and Matt Purke – all praise to his name – is a perfect 15-0. And while there are various factors as to why our weekend games seem to go so smoothly – our easier games (read: conference) fall on the weekends, the team can familiarize itself with a team when they play them three straight days – those three guys are definitely the most important. I realize that, when you’re in the World Series, the whole weekend concept doesn’t matter because Purke, Winkler and Maxwell are likely going to start every game in some order, but IF, and I need to stress IF, we make it out of tonight’s game, then UCLA essentially becomes a delayed three game weekend series at Lupton Stadium because of the crowd. And while this would hands down be the most difficult weekend series of the season, don’t you feel better knowing that we’ll for sure have a rested Purke available and a, hopefully, rejuvenated Winkler? And, having become acquainted with the UCLA team, don’t you trust our coaching staff to make the right adjustments and exploit any tendencies that may exist?

But, despite the unbelievable jinx I just tossed out there by looking ahead, we’ve got to pick up this game tonight for anything to happen. I think we can do it, and I think coming out of the losers bracket isn’t as bad of a spot for us as it might be for other teams. We know we can beat this Florida State team, and we can reembrace the underdog role. By pulling out this win and knowing that we’ll (probably) have Purke on the mound in the next outing to keep the UCLA batters in check should be an enormous confidence boost for a team that’s probably still stinging a little bit from Monday night.

When I was researching some various bits and pieces for this story, I came upon this article that, albeit from 2004, still rings true today. The title of it is “How to Win the College World Series” and in it, it lists certain characteristics, most PAINFULLY obvious but pertinent nonetheless, that a team must possess in order win in Omaha, among them: quality starting pitching (check), a solid catcher who can command the game and throw out baserunners (ditto), a team batting average of at least .304 (check), the ability to knock at least five homers in Omaha (TBD), quality bunting (yep, haven’t seen a poorly executed one yet), aggressive baserunning (watch Featherston leg out that triple if you need affirmation, or especially his game changing triple from Austin), and solid defense (up and down this post season, but definitely did not cost us Monday). If the internet says it, it must be true!

So we’ve got a big one tonight. The Noles will be riding high after dispatching Florida, and TCU may be a bit sluggish after the tough loss. But I genuinely feel that we have to pieces in place to be more than a one win wonder. And I doubt that UCLA can get the best of us twice in three games.

And I think, no, I KNOW, the Frogs can still win the World Series.



Morning Scared Turtle Head Dump

Don't Force it, you could hurt yourself.

Typical dumper spitpurple is unavailable today, as is backup poo man lyle lanley, so you've got my out here half assing the news to your desktop. Have an over-written and ill-informed World Series post upcoming, so I'm making this quick.

And no, you're not getting categories.










Soccer is Officially Gay

"Dear, Gay Not Gay: Alexi Lalas- Gay?
Congrats to the USA on advancing to round 2, but The Onion calls calls it like they see it. Now can we please focus on the Frogs playing the biggest game of their lives and not whether or not the Dave Matthews replica can break a tie?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

US and A, part deux


While our Horned Frog warriors recover from TCU's first ever College World Series loss, I'd like to remind everyone the United States plays tomorrow in a crucial match against Algeria.

Similar to Slovakia, we're not supposed to have any real trouble pulling this one out, but we almost blew it against the Slovaks, and made it nearly impossible to move forward in the tournament.

There are a number of scenarios involving England, and thier game with Slovakia that could also dictate our future, but they are pretty boring and I'm not going into it.
Bottom line is we need to win - not only for points, but for an emotional boost as we look forward to the next round.

Couple of fun facts:

Established in 1014 AD, Algeria is located in North Africa (who knew?)

A community of anthropologists and other nerds have hypothesized that Algeria is the location and source of the birth of humanity, otherwise known as the home of Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, serpents, etc.

Ancient Algerians practiced Shamenism, which is a proponent of ingesting psychedelic mushrooms, and have a vast ammount of cave art, and other paintings to prove it.

Well, shoot...

After having won the Super Regional in Austin, I think we all thought that TCU had disposed of the best pitching staff in the country. Maybe they did, but I think UCLA definitely has to be entered into the conversation. Two days after Trevor Bauer and his kinetic antics shut down the Florida Gators, it was Gerritt Cole's turn to shut down the Frogs.

Not much you can say after a game like that, other than to congratulate the Bruins on a game well played. Cole was fantastic on the mound, and their hitters got the best of Winkler early- something we haven't seen much in his two years at TCU.

The positives from last night:

-Paul Gerrish and Kaleb Merck both looked fantastic in relief. If the Frogs are to come back and challenge for the championship, they'll likely need all the arms they can get, and those two proved they are up to the challenge of Rosenblatt.

-Taylor Featherstons's triple! Win or lose, that is one of the best moments in TCU baseball that I can remember. One more strike and the game is essentially over, but after that hit the Frogs were right back in it.

-Brance Rivera's catch in right field foul territory (pictured above). The announcers kept raving and raving about this catch all night long, and for good reason: it was a hell of a freaking play. Rivera has been a constant improvement over his two seasons at TCU, so good things are likely in his future.

Morning Dump

Omaha:

UCLA ace baffles TCU, Frogs one loss from elimination Star-Telegram

Schlossnagle doesn't like being miked for TV Star-Telegram

Gil Lebreton: UCLA's gamble leaves TCU out in the Cole Star-Telegram

Gerrit Cole's effort propels UCLA past TCU L.A. Times

Cole, UCLA bruise Horned Frogs Omaha World-Herald

From dirt to shirts, fans want it Omaha World-Herald

TCU falls to Cole, UCLA in College World Series Houston Chronicle

TCU's rally falls short in 6-3 loss to UCLA gofrogs.com

TCU's rally falls short, Bruins win 6-3 TCU Daily Skiff


Conference Expansion:

Expansion options abound for Big 12 Tulsa World


Football:

Bills' Schobel leaning toward not playing Associated Press

Cannon named to Outland Watch List Odessa American

Cannon, Kirkpatrick on Outland Watch List gofrogs.com

Carder, Johnson on Nagurski Watch List gofrogs.com

Fiesta Bowl shell shock?

OK boys...enough is enough...

MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Football Unis Released...Maybe

Not to take focus away from our epic game in front of us tonight, but...

If you trust the fine folks over at EA Sports, which I do because programming for NCAA 2010 started way before any off season workouts or practices, then here are the new unis:
(I can't reveal my source because if I type in their name on this site it will change to "Spitblood")




Let us know what you think in the comment section, along with a forecast for tonight's game.