Friday, June 8, 2012

Spit Blood Predictions: TCU-UCLA

Am I the only one that pulled his lucky football season game day boxers out from their offseason vacation at the very bottom of my drawer for tonight's Super Regional opener against UCLA? While we've had a steady diet of it in recent years here in the Metroplex, the still relatively-new phenomenon of getting caught up in postseason baseball is one of the most exhilarating sports roller-coasters out there.  Needless to say, I am quite excited about tonight and the weekend ahead.

If you're looking to get together with a large group of fellow Frogs, there is no shortage of available watching parties.  The Pour House in Fort Worth, J. Black's in Dallas and Cedar Door in Austin are all hosting official, TCU Alumni Association-sanctioned events amongst less formal gatherings such as the newly-redone Oui Lounge and Buffalo Brothers in Funkytown, The Nodding Donkey in Uptown, America and some place that sounds deliciously seedy called The Handlebar for any of you Beaumonsters.  

But first, like before any big Horned Frog sports weekend, we need to record your official predictions.  If you want to read some scouting reports on the series that are more in-depth than my own effort from earlier in the week before speaking up, here are two from the interweb's leading college baseball sources:

-Super Regional previews by Aaron Fitt of Baseball America

-TCU-UCLA scouting report by Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game

Now that you're all caught up to speed, let's hear your thoughts on the weekend.  Who wins the series, Frogs or Bruins?  Which two games do they win to clinch it?  Who will take home MVP honors from the series?  Who will be the most outstanding hitter, pitcher and fielder for TCU?  Any other wildcard premonitions?

Big 12 Orientation: Baylor's famous alumni

I'm sure all of you know kids from your high school who went to Baylor, got engaged right after freshman orientation and married by the time they were even old enough to legally drink at George's, the most overrated drinking establishment in the world since Snookie's closed down. So even though you probably won't see them at future Baylor-TCU games because they're already on their 4th child, here are some famous faces to associate with the green and gold:

 Allen Stanford- Did you think that SMU had a monopoly on producing white-collar criminals?  Stanford, a 1974 Baylor grad who majored in finance, was convicted in March of frauding investors out of over $7 BILLION.  He's set to be sentenced next week...prosecutors are gunning for 230 years, while his defense team seems to think that releasing him immediately due to time served before, during and after his trial would be fitting. 

Jeff Dunham- Where would someone as untalented as Dunham get the idea that ventriloquism is still a viable form of art?  I don't know, maybe a school like Baylor that still teaches creationism.  

Crystal Bernard- Remember her on Wings?  Her career has really taken off since then...if you consider making a one-episode appearance on "According to Jim" to be really successful. 

Willie Nelson-  Like most Baylor students, Willie got married at 19.  He wisely recognized that going to college in Waco was like spending Christmas Eve with Annhog's (her?) family and got the fuck out of there after two years.  Most Baylor folks probably do not claim him as one of their own since, you know, he smokes weed and sings songs about rivers of whiskey.

Tom Horton- Don't recognize the name?  Horton, who holds degrees from both Baylor and SMU, is the current CEO of the shame of the Metroplex, American Airlines.  Don't let the unions push you over, don't charge people for checked luggage and have your employees not be complete assholes to the customers- it's not rocket science, but maybe Tom should use some to figure out how to not be paralyzed by fuel costs.

Jeff Ireland- This former Baylor placekicker, who once missed three field goals allowing the 20.5-point favorite Bears to lose by three to Rice in 1991, was head national scout and later Vice President of College and NFL Scouting for the Dallas Cowboys from 2001 to 2007.  He leveraged his role in the terrible player personnel decisions in one of the darker periods in Cowboy history into his current position as GM of the Miami Dolphins.  In the 16 years he's worked for the Chiefs, Cowboys and Dolphins, he has presided over exactly 0 playoff wins.

Ann Richards- Contrary to popular belief, the late Richards did not strong-arm UT and A&M into including her alma mater in the formation of the Big 12.  Remember that the Governor of Texas really doesn't hold all that much power, and especially not one that was only elected because her competitor, who was running away with the election, decided to make a joke about rape in front of a bunch of reporters. 

Angela Kinsey- Before she became Angela Martin on the American version of The Office, Kinsey was a chi-o at Baylor.  I wonder where she found the inspiration to play a cold, condescending, judgmental and uptight closet slut?

Trey Wingo-  I have nothing bad to say about Trey Wingo, except that I wish he could make football season get here sooner. 

Finnegan will take the mound for Game 1

I had been wondering over the past few days which of TCU's usual weekend starting pitchers would get the nod for tonight's Super Regional opener against UCLA, because it seemed logical for any of them to be picked.  Freshman Preston Morrison has been the most consistent all year with his 1.98 ERA and MWC Pitcher of the Year honors, sophomore Stefan Crichton may have the hottest hand after his complete-game dominance against A&M in College Station last weekend, and Andrew Mitchell is the most experienced of the three and has the most rest.

In a bold and surprising move, though, Schlossnagle picked none of the three.  Instead, freshman left-hander Brandon Finnegan will start tonight's game, which will be aired nationally on ESPN at 8:00pm Texas time.  I was as taken aback by the decision as anyone, but upon reflecting on it a bit I think this is a good choice for a number of reasons:

-The UCLA batting order is full of lefties.  Of the top six hitters in the Bruin line up, five are either left-handed or switch-hitters.  Their offense is their greatest strength and perhaps what gives them the edge heading into the series, so putting some of their best hitters off-balance in Game 1 by making them face a left-handed pitcher  may be an effective obstacle to them developing rhythm or momentum at the plate for the weekend. 

-Finnegan is this team's Derek Holland.  He's definitely not the most consistent pitcher on the Horned Frog roster, but he's been much better over the course of the second half of the season- and like the Dutch Oven, when he's on...he's ON.  Look no further to the gems he twirled- on the road, no less- against Oklahoma and Ole Miss in recent weeks for evidence of his potential brilliance.  Schlossnagle has been raving about Finnegan's stuff since the fall, predicting great things in the TCU career of the Southwest HS alum.  Maybe tonight is another big step forward to proving his head coach right.

-Beating UCLA ace Adam Plutko is going to be a tall order no matter who's on the mound for the Frogs.  TCU's best chances to win this series were always going to be getting the best of the Bruins' other two starters, so why not roll the dice a little tonight?  Mitchell will be available out of the bullpen as insurance, and saving Morrison & Crichton for Games 2 & 3 enhances TCU's chances of winning those games. 

If Finnegan struggles, I'm sure Schlossnagle will be second-guessed about this decision for a long time.  But this team, to use a cliche, is playing with house money after already exceeding the expectations most of us had for them.  TCU's fantastic freshmen have already stepped up in some really big moments in this tournament, so like I said earlier...why not?

Morning Dump

Track & Field:

TCU's Whitney Gibson wins long jump national title at NCAAs


Freshmen stepped up to get TCU's season on track Star-Telegram

Frogs' easy company keeps players loose Star-Telegram

TCU Baseball getting used to having backs against the wall Dallas Morning News

Round Rock's Elander leads TCU into Super Regionals Austin American-Statesman

UCLA faces TCU in NCAA Super Regional Los Angeles Times

Balanced UCLA team ready for TCU San Gabriel Valley Tribune

TCU News: