Surprisingly on-topic to some you, but with the Minnesota Golden Gophers (henceforth confusingly named UM on a UM blog) playing home games in the Metrodome for the next season or two, the collapse of the Metrodome's roof does have some tangential impact on Michigan sports.
The roof is held up by air pressure and with all the snow, the roof failed and the teflon tore. So how does this affect the baseball team? While UM is working on securing funding to repair the old on campus field, but it hasn't been secured, nor is the on campus field necessarily the best thing for the Gophers.
By playing in the dome, UM and several of the schools from the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin area also play college baseball in the stadium, sometimes around the clock.
With the collapse of the roof, the Vikings will obviously throw a lot of money at getting it fixed, but I have to think that they also use this as a lobbying token for a new stadium, as stadium that may or may not include the option for indoor baseball.
Losing the chance to host the Dairy Queen Classic, UM's February/March tournament was one of the Big Ten's few opportunities to host bigger name opponents early in the year. While there is no doubt the inbalance of Southern powers over the North, this tournament was one of the few bright spots that could be in jeopardy.
Michigan doesn't play at Minnesota this upcoming season, but I can't imagine that the Vikings don't get the roof fixed by May.
Some good news for the baseball program. Ann Arbor Pioneer SS/P has committed to play baseball at Michigan. He was offered a 100% scholarship, which is unusual for a position player in college baseball. He was recently offered by Virginia and UNC and was hearing from many SEC/ACC schools.
Via the Kalamazoo Gazette:
In April, the Gull Lake all-state baseball player accepted a scholarship offer to the University of Michigan. Weeks later, he re-opened his recruitment.
Recently, Fish was invited to be the lone Michigan representative and labeled among the top 60 from the U.S. to partake in the Power Showcase International High School Home Run Derby Dec. 27-30 at Chase Field in Phoenix.
This afternoon in the main conference room at Gull Lake High School, Fish will sign a national letter-of-intent with Oklahoma State University.
It goes on to say they offered 70% scholarship, and that he was sold on the Big XII's ability to produce more pro players and the Big XII's 16-4 record against the Big Ten last year.
Today was early signing day for quite a few Michigan sports. Baseball is yet to publish the list of early signees, but I expect it out in the next few days.
Jim Abbott gave a speech today where I work as part of an employees with disabilities awareness event. There was a board topic a couple days ago about a UofM-related 30 for 30 special. I think Jim's life story would be a perfect choice for 30 for 30. A few highlights: he pitched the gold-medal winning game for the USA in the '88 Olympics, he was 3rd in the Cy Young voting one year, and he pitched a no-hitter in Yankee Stadium. For more info, see: http://www.jimabbott.info/biography.html.
He spoke for an hour and I was on the edge of my seat for the whole time. He claims he's semi-retired now. He does some public speaking and works as a pitching instructor in the Angels system. He had many great stories to tell, but I'll only share a couple.
When he was in 2nd grade, his teacher noticed that Jim's shoes weren't tied. This is not surprising, given that Jim was born without a right hand. According to Jim, the teacher went home and figured out how to tie his own shoes with one hand and his fist, to mimic the end of Jim's right arm. He then taught Jim how to tie his shoes. Jim told this story with as much energy and emotion as when he told his story about winning the gold medal or pitching a no-hitter. If there are any teachers out there reading this, you can make a huge difference in a child's life. You never know what event or action will turn a kid around, or give them confidence in themselves, but it is beautiful when it happens. I must admit, my eyes were getting a little moist as Jim told the story.
The second story to note here was about his start the game before his no-hitter. He was facing the Indians in Cleveland, the same team he would no-hit 5 days later. Only in this game, he gave up 10 hits, 5 walks, and 7 runs in 3 innings. He was terribly upset and left the stadium to go running around Cleveland while the game was still in progress. When he got back to the stadium, the yanks had rallied to win. Jim's message was that in the first game, he didn't trust his stuff. In the no-hitter, he trusted that his catcher Matt Nokes would call a good game and he trusted in his own ability. He said that most of the great occasions in his life followed difficult times. I could only think of our Wolverines coming off this past weekend. Hopefully we've learned some lessons and will come out strong against the hawkeyes. Denard needs to trust in his ability to throw the ball like he did in the first 5 games, and in the offense to run the ball. If UofM does that, gets some stops on defense, and protects the football, we'll be right back on track.
While watching Once Brothers last night, I threw out the idea to my friends of "If they came to you and asked you for your best 30 for 30 idea, what would it be?"
Mine was totally MGoBlog inspired:
"You Were Killed By a Bear and I am Sad"--A reflective look at Michigan football from November 12, 2006 to January 2, 2008.
It would encompass the week leading up to the 2006 "Game of the Century", Bo's death, the Game itself, the bickering over the BCS in 2006, USC beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl, The Horror, the Oregon slaughter, the resurrection games against ND and Penn State, the Little Brother game, the Champaign nights, Boom Malletted, Coach Carr's retirement, the coaching search, a new era, and going out on top.
I know it has a very parochial feel and I know that it would be hard for many Michigan fans to watch, but I think it's reflective of a sea change in college football in microcosm.
So, with that in mind, what would be your hypothetical Michigan athletics 30 for 30 idea. It works better if you give your angle.
Yes, it's that time of year, when baseball rules supreme. The World Series is coming up in short order, and while Michigan doesn't have any horses in the playoffs, that doesn't mean that the Wolverine baseball team isn't making news. That news, at least for today, is the announcement of Michigan's 2011 schedule.
The University of Michigan baseball program and head coach Rich Maloney announced on Tuesday (Oct. 12) the 2011 schedule, which features games against at least four teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, a mid-week home series against Texas Tech, and the full 27-game Big Ten slate.
Looking over the schedule, this year seems a little bit harder than in years past, and that's saying quite a bit. The big weekend series of the non-conference, at Stanford March 18-20, will be a giant test for the Wolverines; we've known about it since last year's season opening podcast.
Michigan did upgrade some of their other series as well, particularly in the mid week. Along with the annual home and home with Notre Dame (May 3-4), the Wolverines will play host to Texas Tech (May 10-11), marking the first time Michigan has hosted a Big XII opponent.
Coach Rich Maloney on bringing on the tougher schedules:
"I think you want to play a challenging schedule so that when you're coming to Big Ten play, you're ready to challenge yourself," Maloney continued. "Hopefully, you have worked on some things that maybe you hadn't worked on as much. But you've had experience against quality teams so you've been challenged. […] We felt it was a benefit to our kids because you learn about your team and yourself when you battle through the rigors of a tough non-conference schedule and this will be no different. We're going to have to play well to win those games early in the schedule, but ultimately it will prepare us for the Big Ten season."
Other non-conference opponents include a three-game series with a Rutgers (February 25-26) team that just missed the NCAA tournament last year, a weekend at Winthrop (2 games vs Winthrop, 2 against Stony Brook), a four-game weekend in at Sam Houston State (March 4-6, which I undoubtedly will be attending at least Saturday and maybe Sunday), and the season-opening Big Ten/Big East Challenge, with matchups yet to be determined. Michigan is also continuing their series with Florida Gulf Coast, who had a great Michigan alumni showing last season.
As for the conference season, Michigan misses Michigan State during the official Big Ten season, but like last year, the two schools have managed to secure a series against each other. Unlike last year, the schools will play a three-game weekend series (March 25-27) in place of the tomato cans both would usually face in their respective home openers. The Wolverines will host Friday and Sunday, with the Saturday game in East Lansing. I love this scheduling tactic as it eliminates the annual RPI vacuum surrounding IPFW, Oakland, or worse.
In the REAL conference season, Michigan does get two of the toughest series at home, with Indiana in week one of conference play (April 1-3) and Minnesota near the end of the season (May 6-8). They will also host Illinois and Penn State. That leaves road series at Purdue, Iowa, Ohio State, and Northwestern. That's a pretty tough road schedule, with Purdue and Iowa returning plenty of talent and Ohio State having a new, aggressive coach.
Unlike last year's schedule, I'm not sure I can even get close to predicting a win goal for Michigan right now. Questions are a plenty in the starting rotation and in the outfield. I want to put out a guess around 36-19 overall and 15-9 in conference, but that's a lot of guessing. If that were to come true, Michigan would almost have to win the Big Ten Tournament to make the NCAA. Right now, until I see our starting rotation prove themselves, I think that's probably a reasonable baseline -- neither too high nor too low, but also not a concrete floor.
UPDATE: According to Chris Webb of Buckeye State Baseball, Michigan's Big East opponents in the challenge are UCONN, St. John's, and Louisville. That's three tournament teams from last year added to the schedule and one tough weekend to open the season.
It's articles like this that make me thankful we have/had Athletic Directors like Bill Martin and David Brandon. There is no discussion of any Michigan sports programs getting cut during these times while great schools like Cal have to cut not only baseball, but also both gymnastics teams and women's lacrosse.
Thank you Michigan Athletic Department!
Cam Wysocki, picture from fhnbaseball
[Ed.- Yeah, two baseball posts in one day in September. I love it.]
Michigan received their first verbal commitment from the freshman class of 2012-2013(!) in Cam Wysocki of Forest Hills Northern. Wysocki is a 6'3" right handed pitcher and son of Dane Wysocki, a former UM player and his current high school coach. That UM connection through his parents has had him sold on the Wolverines since birth:
"Since I was about 5 years old, my parents and grandparents have been taking me to Michigan to see games," Wysocki said. "Football at 'The Big House' is one of the best experiences you can have. And Ann Arbor is such a great college town."
The article goes on to list his offers (MSU, OSU, ND, Alabama, Stanford, and Kentucky), as well as his fastball at 88mph. Wysocki is also the starting quarterback and a small forward in the off season, but baseball is his future sport.
Outside of pitching, Cam also is the starting short stop for the Huskies, as well as taking some time at second and first. I've yet to find much in the way of pitching stats, but he was 3-1 last season.
It's too early to project where Wysocki will be by the time he comes to Michigan, so I'll hold off on any input there. Pitchers are hard enough to figure out, but add that it's 2 years before he'll be on the field and that he's a multisport athlete who could get injured in next week's football game, and I've got nothing.
What's crazy about this commitment is that I've heard very little about the rest of Michigan's freshman class of 2011-2012. Will Drake is the only commit I've seen stories on. I'm sure there are probably a few others, but with the early signing period not until November, there isn't a whole lot out there to look at. Such is college baseball, though.