(re-posted from thread)
Just got back. Great time.
The judges were: some hater from the media (a Michigan grad) named Ryan, who was the Simon Cowell-esque bad guy. Seriously, that is the exact role he played. Softball coach Carol Hutchins, who gave out only decimals (8.2 for example). A little girl, 8 years old, and former Mott's patient, who gave out 10's to every act (but one), and Woodson, who was a reasonable judge.
You got your usual "let's wear tights in flamboyant colors and rub up against each other with glowsticks acts" (men's tennis, men's swimming and diving)
You got your AWFUL acts. Women's tennis tried a magic show and it stunk. Men's lacrosse attempted a rap about..lax bros. Being a bro. It didn't work out. And Women's Water Polo parodied commercials. Yeah. They brought out the Aflac duck, for example. It was so bad, even the host made fun of it.
Women's rowing attempted "I'm on a Boat!" That SNL skit. It was pretty good, funny in some parts. The level of costume detail was incredible.
The athletic trainers had their own skit, which was cool to see. Themed "Athletic Trainers after hours". They had a song and dance, with props like medicine balls, huge balance balls, etc. But they got a 8 from the little girl, which like WTF haha. The entire crowd gasped.
But women's cross country/track stole the show. They performed a Mo-town skit, a la Soul Train, and took us through some 70's funk. The Temptations, Jackson 5...etc. I loved it, and it got first place.
Let's see...mens track did Toy Story, which was pretty cool..one of the judges claimed to have never seen Toy Story. WTF.
Marching Band, lead by my friend D-Hinez (drum major) took it to another level. They created an Alice in Big Ten Wonderland Skit, about a girl trying to decide where to go to college between us, OSU, MSU, PSU.
featuring the Mad Hatter and the PSU crew, who like to party all day..
Two little, Sparty-gear donning twins who Alice said to "Aww, you're so cute! Like my little Brothers!"
...and the Queen of Hearts as the "Queen of Buckeyes", who got a hearty boo. Then they danced to "Poker Face" by lady Gaga.
Men's soccer was probably the funniest. Contemporary Dramatic Readings + Britney Spears lyrics = HILARITY. Something like this
Football? They just hopped around to this song
Their performance was alright, but nothing special. It got a 10 from a clearly biased Woodson, who admitted as much.
I kept waiting for the men's basketball team to burst out onto the stage...It didn't click till more than an hour in that they were in Iowa.
*EDIT* How could I forget? The sheer awesomeness of Men's Rowing Star Wars skit! Luke! Yoda! X-fighters and Tie-Fighters! a Death Star! Han Solo, R2D2, C-3P0, Darth Vader.. Lightsabers...and a narrator.
P.S. I had my own geekout session when I walked out and saw the Brandons (Graham and Minor) talking to Greg Robinson and his family. That was cool. I mean, they're normal people and all...but still awesome.
We've got the schedule from the BTN for both their streaming and televised schedules for both softball and baseball this season. The coverage has really stepped up this year, showing 41 games in baseball (not including ALL the tournament games, unlike last year only showing most of the tournament games) and 47 softball games.
The network will nationally televise up to 33 Big Ten baseball games, including the entire Big Ten Baseball Tournament, and stream an additional 20 games for www.BigTenNetwork.com. Twenty Two Big Ten softball games will be televised this spring, plus an additional 29 games for the internet. A selected number of streamed games will be televised on delay through the network’s Student U initiative.
Every telecast will be produced in high definition.
“We’re thrilled to expand our coverage of Big Ten baseball and softball this spring through our streaming initiative and to provide these student-athletes with a national and international stage for their talents,” Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman said.
Michigan baseball will have 9 appearances on the BTN network, all in April. Three of those games will be on the actual television while the other 6 will be pay-per-stream on BTN.com's new video streaming technology.
Softball has 9 currently scheduled games on the network spread over April and May. Six of the softball games will be broadcast over television while the remaining 3 will be streamed live. There is also a chance of gaining a Wildcard spot, as May 14 and 15 are currently not announced yet and will be later in the season.
It's great to see the extended coverage of non-conference games this season. Games like the one against Notre Dame in baseball would have been virtually off limits last year. It looks like there will be plenty of more midweek material to take the place of campus programming, and that's always a solid win.
April 7 Central Michigan at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich. 3 PM BTN.com
April 9 Purdue at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich. 7 PM Big Ten Network
April 10 Purdue at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich. 1 PM Big Ten Network
April 10 Indiana at Ohio State Columbus, Ohio 1 PM BTN.com
April 11 Purdue at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich. 12 PM Big Ten Network
April 13 Toledo at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich. 3 PM BTN.com
April 16 Michigan at Illinois Champaign, Ill. 7 PM BTN.com
April 17 Michigan at Illinois Champaign, Ill. 4 PM BTN.com
April 18 Michigan at Illinois Champaign, Ill. 2 PM BTN.com
April 20 Notre Dame at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich. 6:30 PM BTN.com
April 14 Central Michigan at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich. 6 PM BTN.com
April 17 Northwestern at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich. 6 PM Big Ten Network
April 18 Northwestern at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich. 3 PM Big Ten Network
April 21 Penn State at Michigan (DH) Ann Arbor, Mich. 4 PM BTN.com
April 28 Michigan at Ohio State (DH) Columbus, Ohio 4:30 PM Big Ten Network
May 14 Michigan at Iowa Iowa City, Iowa 7 PM Big Ten Network
May 15 Michigan at Iowa Iowa City, Iowa 5 PM Big Ten Network
Continuing the baseball previews in a build up to opening day this Friday, I'll look at how the team is pitching is set up this year. Previous preview posts: Initial Schedule Reaction, Maloney Podcast, A Look Back.
Michigan led the Big Ten in ERA last year and returns 74.3% of their innings. Chris Fetter was a big part of, but the returning pitchers had a collective 5.08 ERA. That would have have been good enough for second in the Big Ten. Top returner Eric Katzman, the only starting lefty, is expected to top the rotation upon his return from hernia surgery. Katzman went 7-4 last season with a 3.53 ERA. He'll be in the pen until he's comfortable with longer starts. While I'm expecting more consistency from him this season, I'm somewhat concerned about entering the season late out of the bullpen. If he gets pushed into the rotation too early, the results could be disastrous.
The depth behind Katzman should be better. Alan Oaks will start the year as the Friday guy. Oaks was used almost exclusively on offense to start the year, but after the pitching depth issues of last year started to take their toll Rich Maloney moved him back to the hill. Oaks had four starts at the end of the year. In those starts, he lasted an average of just over five innings per start, but one of his early starts against Indiana was particularly short and ugly at two innings. He had two impressive starts of seven and 7.2 innings respectively with just six earned runs between them.
While I don't expect Oaks to be a lights out starter this season, he is capable of eating a ton of innings, exactly what Michigan was missing to start last season. Other than Fetter, no one could start a game and make it through the 7th inning. It will be interesting to see how spending the entire off season preparing to enter the starting rotation will affect his performance. While I'm skeptical that he has the ability to be our ace, Alan is a key player if Michigan is going to be better this year.
Along with Oaks, I'm expecting good things from Brandon Sinnery and Kolby Wood. I've took a shine to Sinnery since his start against Eastern Michigan as a freshman. The kid has potential and a pretty good combination of pitches. He's not at a dominant level yet, but I can see him being a force in the third or fourth starter. Maloney thinks he's really making a jump, so it'll be exciting to see.
Kolby Wood has just as impressive this off season as his team's closer, registering a 1.45 ERA and 4 saves over 19 games. He's got a jerky motion, but his tall frame gives him good leverage on his fastball and the splitter he added this offseason. He should be in better shape this year. Rumor had it he had a sore wrist to end last season.
Tyler Burgoon (pictured right from BostonWolverine's flickr, which you should check out if your a photo fan, great stuff*) also makes his return to the starting rotation this season after spending the last year and a half in the closer's role. Burgoon began his career at Michigan as a midweek starter during his true freshman season. He had some success, but was pushed into late innings during the weekend because he was too valuable to use just midweek. Burgoon has also fully healed his shoulder. He has a solid repertoire of pitches, most notably his fastball and wicked slider.
Matt Miller, one of our top relievers last season, will make some starts this season. Miller was 1-2 last season with 3.70 ERA, second best behind Dufek in the bullpen. He registered 3 saves in 23 appearances with 43 K's in 41.1 innings. He did start one game last season, but it was against Eastern Michigan and Michigan was just getting guys innings. He went two hitless innings, striking out one.
*(Boston Wolverine also writes Roar of the Tigers.)
The bullpen should be better this season just due to increased depth. The pitching star of the 2009 freshman class, lefty Bobby Brosnahan (pictured at right), will return from Tommy John surgery. Brosnahan is an Ann Arbor native and during his junior year he was listed in the Michigan All-State 2nd team honorees. He had a solid offseason with the Lima Locos, so hopefully that's a good start.
Brandon Sinnery, Kolby Wood and Matt Miller might be seeing time in the bullpen as long relievers, but I think we'll also think we'll see more Matt Broder, Tyler Mills, and Kevin Vangheluwe. Broder pitched well at a lower level summer ball team, the Michigan Rams, but he's yet to get any innings at UM. Tyler Mills was Michigan's Gatorade Player of the Year his senior season at Mt. Pleasant HS but redshirted last season. Kevin Vangheluwe was coming off a serious injury coming out of high school and still hasn't quite found his stuff yet. Brian actually did a solid run down of him as a recruit back at mgoblog v1.0, with this now archived Detroit News clip:
"His (right) arm was discolored," Collins said. "It was like if you held it out of a car window and lost circulation. His dad (Mark VanGheluwe) took him to get examined and they gave him some medication to disperse the clot. He contacted (U-M coach Rich) Maloney and he told them to come immediately to U-Hospital. On Thursday, he had surgery to break up the blood clot and they said his muscles were pushing against the rib cage on that (right) side. I was told it was a normal case to remove that top rib on that side. And that was done Friday. Both were successful."
Kevin looked a little bit better this summer, but he's nowhere near the level of dominance he had before the injury.
Our top regular returner that is strictly a bullpen pitcher is Mike Dufek. When away from first base, he's been used here and there as a closer. His fastball can touch the 95-96 range and his slider is pretty good. Dufek probably won't be utilized as much this year, but he'll get his chances depending on how the closer by committee goes.
Travis Smith will spend more time in the bullpen this year. He's had a rough time as a starter over the last year both at Michigan and his summer gig in the Texas Collegiate League. All of these starter/reliever combinations should be huge assets in the pen if they aren't starting on the weekend.
Rounding out the returners are Matt Gerbe and Jeff DeCarlo. Gerbe hasn't shown too much yet during his time at Michigan or his stint with the Winchester Royals of the Valley League this summer. He had an atrocious stint as a starter with the Royals that saw his ERA balloon over 36. He managed to pull it under 9 by the end of the season.
Jeff DeCarlo, well, I've always made it a point to try and not speak that poorly of him. The guy is an Academic All-Big Ten player, not a All-Big Ten player. I respect that. I just cover my eyes and cross my fingers every time I see him on the mound, partially hoping he won't give up 3 runs in an inning, the other hoping he only pegs one guy in the 1 inning he might last. And this isn't an exaggeration. His 2009 stats:
So as this season goes on, if I make references to the "DeCarlo-type outing", this is what I mean. We won't see much of him this year, but when we do, consider it a David Cone like moment, but with less Febreeze. It's a blow out one way or the other, and as a bonus, DeCarlo will have an ERA comparable to David Cone's completion percentage—not the fraction, but the fraction multiplied by 100.
Michigan has solid depth and a concentration of guys who could start or go in the bullpen. Several of those are in the running for closer, and it's always good to have a bunch of guys capable of closing out games. Hell, even DeCarlo was collecting saves with his summer team, so the future has to look brighter, no?
Michigan returns more quality pitching than the rest of the league, and it's had had a year to develop. They also get a few promising prospects back. If they stay healthy, this year's pitching could be just as good as last year's by spreading Chris Fetter's load over five or six players who weren't available for last year. The depth should be enough to keep Michigan from losing random games against conference bottom dwellers Iowa, Northwestern, and Penn State, teams that they had a 3-6 record against last year.
That makes me an optimist. An outsider's view of the pitching staff is a little bit different. Most saw Fetter as the be all end all of our staff. That was true about one in every three weekends, but again, I point to the depth issues and a couple inconsistent players. This off season was a promising one for a wide variety of pitchers. If Katzman can get fully healthy before we start to push him for innings, Fetter's loss will be survivable.
With baseball season officially starting Friday, I'm going to make several sporadic posts over this week in order to preview the team. For starters, I may suggest going back to my previous podcast with Rich Maloney or my initial reaction to our schedule, which I will probably update my outlook after completing my previews.
Last year's record came in at a less than sterling 30-25, the lowest win total since Rich Maloney stepped on campus. The 9-15 BigTen record is tied for the 6th worst conference record in Michigan history (102 seasons), and the worst since 2000 when the team went 10-18. Obviously last year was a disappointment. So much like football, hockey, basketball, or most other sports that get coverage around these parts, baseball was just as involved in the recent so called "curse of 09-10" as Brian put it in mgo.licio.us.
Michigan came into the season with the usual high expectations, but something was different than years past. After losing 4 players to the draft early, Michigan wasn't able to reload with talent it usually would have (how can you when they get drafted 4 months after signing day and less than 3 months before school starts?). Michigan was starting a true freshman at third base, a key middle reliever's career was cut short by surgery, our right field spot was wide open, our designated hitter came out of nowhere in the form of unknown little brother of MLB player Nate McLouth, and our off the field narrative in the media was "walk-ons lead the team." I think the Ann Arbor News really hit the spot last year in their preseason article:
Many of the would-be run producers are tenured but inexperienced, including corner outfielders Kenny Fellows (fifth-year senior) and Nick Urban (fourth-year junior).
"We have a lot of guys with some potential, but they don't have bios yet," Maloney said. "It's kind of a wild card."
Oh, and what a wild card it was. Consistency was never something Michigan could grasp. Eric Katzman earned the alternate persona of Evil Katzman at least once every two weeks. McLouth fluctuated wildly in terms of plate production. Third base was a carousel between John Lorenz and Tim Kalczynski. Right field was Urban, Oaks, Urban again. Burgoon was injured and the bullpen went by committee. We lost Kevin Cislo and Chris Berset for stretches of the season. Nothing seemed to go right.
Well, almost nothing. Chris Fetter, our senior ace was the one consistent bright spot. Fetter carried the team for most of the season, eating up innings and mowing down line ups. He is responsible for our BigTen best team ERA of 4.80. But there was a lack of depth behind him. Before the season ever started, we lost Ben Jenzen, one of our top relievers from the season before. Left handed freshman Bobby Brosnahan, the pitching gem of the incoming class, was lost for the season with Tommy John surgery. For a period of 6 weeks, we lost our closer, Tyler Burgoon with a shoulder bruise suffered trying to make a play on a bunt.
So while Fetter could carry us through a Friday game, Saturday and Sunday became an adventure in the bullpen. Like clockwork, you could set an implosion coming every three weeks. The weeks of Evil Katzman meant the bullpen was routinely called in during the third or fourth inning, sometimes earlier. Our Sunday starting position during the first half of the season was just as inconsistent. Travis Smith struggled, as did Kolby Wood and Brandon Sinnery.
Not until Alan Oaks re-entered the rotation did we gain any extra consistency. By then, Fetter was already showing signs of fatigue from his highest inning total ever.
Dear Ryan, please don't leave us after this season, attrition hurts.
(Photo by Jeremy Cho, Michigan Daily)
On offense and defense, preseason depth hurt here, too. Adam Abraham left for the majors after his junior year leaving a HUGE void at third base. John Lorenz would have had time to red shirt and prepare for the college game. Instead, he and walk on senior Tim Kalczynski ended up playing third base by committee. Timmy Kal had been a catcher previous to this move. That's how bad we were hurting at depth. Neither player was that great offensively, especially not compared to the great player that Abraham was.
Joining these two on the left side of the infield was a first year starter in Anthony Toth. While his size would lead most people to think of Toth as a second baseman, he was given the keys to short stop with no real back up available. Toth did alright at the plate, eventually giving a decent hitter in the 9-hole. On the field, he was about average. He committed quite a few errors, always at the worst time, but he wasn't horrible.
In right field, Alan Oaks began the season sick, missing the first two weeks of the season. This opened the door for a previous back up middle infielder Nick Urban to get the starting nod. This actually worked out well for Michigan. Urban was the better defensive outfielder with great speed. Upon Oaks' return to the lineup, he hadn't regained his swing yet either.
In all, we were missing at least four veteran players from the draft, and another 2-3 players at any particular point of the season depending who were injured.
To complicate things, Michigan's hitters really loved the strikeout this year. Mike Dufek struck out once in every 3.8 at bats, Most players average about 4 at-bats per game for a reference. That's killer for an offense when the clean-up hitter strikes out that much. He wasn't alone, however, as Toth and Oaks were nearly as bad with a strikeout every 5 at bats. Michigan finished second in the conference in team strikeouts, one behind Minnesota. The problem was that Michigan only bat .294 while the Gophers hit .314. That was the difference between a 7th place finish and a 2nd place finish.
On the whole, an outsider looking at our team would have seen one great pitcher, and depending on the weekend, either a couple of average pitchers or several really bad pitchers. On offense, they'd seen a bunch of walk on players, some better than others, and a rotating cast of fill ins.
In the next installment of the previews, I'll examine how our depth has adjusted in the last year after getting a full recruiting class, some players healthy, and some more experience.
So, I have the day off and am a little bored. Well, better start looking ahead to the spring game!
With an ample amount of time for proper execution, I call on Brian, Tim, Paul, FA, and the entire mgoblog community to begin planning for an awesome mgoblog tailgate for the spring game on April 17th. Because September 4th vs UCONN seems like light years away, the spring game is the next best thing we have to look forward to (sorry bball and hockey). Let's beat the 50,000 some mark set last year and support our boys. And as a plus, most of the improvements to the stadium will be done for us to check out.
I would love (LOVE@!) to see the Michigan spring game get to the wild and slightly insane levels of attendance set by the SEC schools every year. Also, there will probably be a bunch of recruits there so seeing a bunch of drunk, rabid fans show up to a scrimmage in the middle of April has got to be good, right? RIGHT.
So mgobloggers, what do you think? I know something similar was done last year in terms of a tailgate but whatever, let's do it bigger and better this year.
P.S. That is an awesome time of year in a2 (fingers crossed that the weather behaves well) so after the game outdoor patios at places like Dominicks, Charleys, Main Street, or wherever you might like to go will probably be open. JUST DO IT.
EDIT: Perhaps this should be a Diary. Moderators, if ya agree make the appropriate switch.
Though the ink is barely dry on the 2010 recruiting class (and for a couple kids with Big Ten interest, there's still a final decision to be made), it's time to look forward to the next recruiting cycle. Don't read too much into the current rankings of the 2011 recruiting classes in the Big Ten + Notre Dame, because some schools are yet to grab even their first commit, and all the scouting services haven't released rankings yet.
|Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# of Commits||Rivals 250||Scout Average||ESPN 150|
I'll only make charts for the teams that currently have commits. Rivals 250 means that a given prospect is on the Rivals 250 to Watch, and ESPN 150 means that a prospect is on the Watch List for the ESPNU 150. Scout ratings are on the 5-star scale.
|#1 Ohio State - 2 Commits|
The Buckeyes start their recruiting class with a couple bigtime defensive ends.
|#2 Minnesota - 2 Commits|
Minnesota gets a good start to the 2011 class, but let's be honest: they'll both just end up decommitting anyway.
|#3 Michigan - 2 Commits|
Michigan's first two commits play in the defensive backfield. There may be more commits on the way within a couple weeks or so.