February 11, 2007

The Buggles video

I think when the Minute Maid Park peeps run out of songs to play and old Astros commercials to show, they resort to showing 80s music videos. So far today we've seen A-ha's "Take on Me" Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance" and now they're playing The Buggles "Video killed the radio star" - the first video ever shown on MTV... who, believe it or not kids, USED to play music videos!

Vandy's Brett Jacobson just got pulled after going 6.2 innings, giving up just four hits and one earned run and striking out six along the way. He threw 98 pitches in all.

VU goes to bat in the top of the 8th with a 7-4 lead.

He LEFT the park for Baylor

BU shortstop Beamer Weems cracked the first home run of his career from the left side here in the 6th inning to cut Vanderbilt's lead to 7-4.

We're now into the top of the 7th, where Ryan Flaherty just sliced a triple to the wall in center.

Vanderbilt starting to open things up on Baylor

A two-run single by Dominic De La Osa, a follow-up RBI single by Shea Robin and an RBI groundout by Jonathan White has put the Commodores up by 7-3 here in the 5th.

Baylor scored two runs in the bottom of the 4th on a triple by Tim Jackson. Sorry I didn't update sooner on all the scoring, but John Askins of the College Baseball Foundation wanted to do a shohrt interview with me about my feelings on the future of college baseball and how I got into the baseball mess to begin with. I think it's s'posed to be on their website soon.

Errors mean runs, Vandy up on Baylor 3-1

Baylor scored its lone run after plunking freshman Aaron Miller, who advanced on a single by fellow frosh Dustin Dickerson, and then getting a thrown-away pick off attempt that brought him all the way around from 2nd.

Then Vanderbilt got three runs in the top of the 3rd with the help of a throwing error on 3B Raynor Campbell and a RBI infield hit by Ryan Flaherty.

Not a textbook of baseball so far by these two. VU still leads going into the bottom of three.

ASU polishes off Houston, 11-1.

Josh Satow just threw the first complete game for ASU since the College World Series June of '05, throwing 139 pitches, giving up just six hits and striking out eight. Talking to Pat Murphy after the game he said he knew Satow was "on" today because his change-up was "hitting 60-to-62". He's a mad knuckler man and he was frustrating UofH all game long.

A cavalcade of offensive stars put up 15 hits, six for extra bases. Ike Davis rebounded from his wild pitch loss to Vandy by going 2-for-4 with 3RBI.

Murphy used so many replacements in the game i decided to ask him if he had any thoughts of putting his five-year old son Kai in at any time. "No... he's not ready yet. Not yet."

Ike Davis hits "broken bat" double, scores two.

ASU plows ahead, up 11-1 now.

Davis' hit made a strange crunching sound when he hit the ball and the ball still sailed over the head of the Houston CF. If the bat hadn't busted, I'm guessing it would've been an easy dinger. The bat looked bent sitting on the ground afterward. No marbles or cork found either.

They should have a mercy rule for this tournament.

What you see below is the identical hand signals these two teams do

Though not as ubiquitous as the UT "hook 'em horns" these two teams fan base has the same signal. As a kid, I was told by a UH fan at the Cotton Bowl that the three fingers represent the "U" and the "H" and that's why they flashed that sign.

And Arizona State does it to represent Sparky the Devil's "pitchfork". By why hold down the ring finger. If it's a pitchfork missing a prong, okay. But shouldn't the thumb be holding down the pinky instead?

The Arizona State "pitchfork" hand

ASUpitchfork.jpg

The Houston "UH" hand

UHhand.jpg

Houston balks in a run, ASU back up by five

It's always nice to come to a ballgame and a balked-in run occurs. Makes you feel like you're at a baseball game. Despite picking up the pace a smidge, the game is still going along at a glacial pace.

It's now ASU 6 - Houston 1 with the Coogs batting in the bottom of the 4th.

Houston got on the board with a solo shot from Bryan Pounds. It was one of only two hits that Josh Satow has allowed so far.

Yawn... stretch... ASU already puts 4 up

Damn. It's early man.

And Arizona State didn't waste any time giving us a wake up call either. First batter Eric Sogard parked one five pitches into the game. A flurry of sharp hits ensued and the Devils are quickly out to a big lead.

Houston batting in bottom of first now. I'm still trying to wake up.

Unlike Adam's game, this one's a snoozer

Rice just added two more runs to the ledger here in the top of the 9th, one on a Travis Reagan lazer shot over the left field wall to up the lead to 7-zip over Baylor here in Houston.

I was kind of curious why Wayne Graham would send Aaron Luna stealing from second base with a 5-0 lead in the 9th. But the throw to third was ditched into left field and that's how he scored.

Three more outs for Rice and this day is over here at the Frozen Dome.

February 10, 2007

Owls snap 28-inning scoreless streak

Rice plated another run here in the 6th off Baylor reliever Jake Weghorst to increase its lead to 4-0. That marks the first run Weghorst had given up since March 29th of last season, a span of 28 innings and 14 appearences.

Oh, and mostly because of "Fan Fest," today's attendance was 23,984. But to be honest, only a third of those people were probably actually in the seats at the same time.

Rice pulls further ahead. Now 3-0.

Rice added another run here in the top of the 5th when Brian Friday smacked a hard single and was eventually knocked in by Joe Savery two batters later. Frosh Aaron Miller made a great diving catch in right to keep the Owl rally to just one run.

On another note, a very obnoxious Baylor fan with a trucker hat and large girth was booted from his seat on the Rice side of the stadium, to much applause by the Owl fans nearby. But apparently stadium security just gave him a stern talking to and slap on the wrist, because a few pitches later he was walking back down to his seat (just in time to see Savery's RBI single as well). Gotta love the fans.

Baylor pulls a Winthrop

Just like in the first game I saw between UCLA and Winthrop, a simple pop-up has led to major headache.

Baylor left fielder Ben Booker dropped a pop fly allowing Rice's Chad Lembeck to race around from 2nd for the second Owl run of the second inning. It would have been the third out of the inning. Jordan Dodson scored the first run of the inning on an RBI single from J.P. Padron.

Rice up 2-0 after an inning and a half.

Game three 'bout to start

Although it's about an hour and a half later than its scheduled start time, the Rice-Baylor game is about to commence, wrapping up day two of the Astros College Classic.

(By the way, the p.a. system here is playing AC/DC's "For those about to rock"... bless you p.a. operator.)

Two quick things I'd like to note. I'm thankful for The B.U.S. establishment across the street from the park, it's been a godsend between games. And secondly, I now further appreciate the "smoke free" policy that my current home state has for bars and restaurants. You don't think about it 'til you're stuck wafting in cigarette smoke.

A&M steps up, takes 3-1 lead

A two-out nightmare for Houston as the Aggies get single, single, wildpitch and two RBI single, all with a pair of outs to take a 3-1 lead here in the bottom of the 6th inning.

Nine-hole hitter Brodie Greene supplied the runs with a slicing shot between center and left.

By the way, it's now 6:59pm local time - the same time that today's third game was scheduled to start. But this one's only halfway through the 6th. Sigh. Send me more Red Bull and Mountain Dew.

Enjoying this "Fan Fest" thing

I just took a quick spin around the concourse to see what all the Fan Fest was all about. Obviously, it's really just a flea market for memorabilia hounds to sell their wares. Other than scheduled autograph sessions with legends like Nolan Ryan and the like, it's full of about 50 booths for non-Ebay sports card sellars and collectors. You know, those guys that don't look like you can trust them?

And I'll be damned if it didn't work on me. I just bought a 1979 Big Eight pre-season football magazine, a 1975 Game Plan pre-season yearbook and - are you listening Andy Elrick? - a 1979-80 Street & Smith's college basketball yearbook with North Carolina's Mike O'Koren on the cover.

Game is still tied at 1, but Houston has men at 2nd and 3rd with two out in the top of the 6th.

You've heard about this SDSU-Kansas thing, right?

Desperate times call for desperate measures. So, to get games in, South Dakota State and Kansas decided to move their series to the Metrodome in Minneapolis this weekend, instead of have the games cancelled. But since there was already a Division II tournament going on in the BaggieDome, the two teams decided to take the only time slot available: at 1am this morning.

Yes, 1am. The Jackrabbits pulled the middle-of-the-night 6-5 upset in game one of the doubleheader. Game two went to the 8th inning, with KU leading 3-2, but had to be stopped because at 7am, the stadium crew had to begin preparing the field for the D2 tournament. So they'll continue the rest of that game at... yawn... 3am tomorrow. Game three of the set will be completed immediately afterward.

Oh, according to the box score, there were 33 people in attendance. Are they dedicated fans? Or just stupid?

Oops, sorry. I'm back now.

After the 4-hour, 9-minute marathon pitching-changefest of today's first game between Pat "I'm gonna go to the mound and talk" Murphy and Tim "gimme a righty ump" Corbin, I felt compelled to go next door for a nice refreshment or two. Hope you don't mind. Like Andy Dufresne told Hadley as he was dangling him from the rooftop in the movie Shawshank Redemption, "a man feels more like a man after a long day's work with a bottle of suds in his hand."

Anyway, after an inning and a half of this game, Houston leads 1-zip over Texas A&M.

Good sized crowd on hand too, with a good bit of the lower section filled up. When they announce the attendance, I'll be sure to let you know.

Wild pitch on an intentional walk gives VU win in 10

Vanderbilt wins 7-6 in the longest game in Astros College Classic history when Arizona State pitcher Ike Davis, attempting an intentional walk with a man on third, throws to the backstop. The relay throw was dangerously close to being an out, but pinch runner Jonathan White slid into home just in time to secure the win.

White was in for Matt Meingasner, who blasted a triple to the wall with one out in the 10th.

Wild game. Long game. Unbelievable finish.

Oh boy... I'll be up late tonight

ASU gets a lazer-hit 5-3 double play to escape trouble in the bottom of the 9th with the game still tied at six.

The longest game in the Astros College Classic history was a 4hour, 8minute, 11-inning contest between Texas Tech and TCU a few days ago. This one is about to eclipse that. We've gone through nine pitchers here so far today... if I was counting right.

Games two and three have not yet been officially been shortened to 7-inning games. (That was a joke.)

Battle of '06 Frosh All Americans. Vote for Pedro

ASU's Jeff Urlaub came on in relief and faced off with Pedro Alvarez with a man on first. Alvarez golfed a shot off the bottom of the "fair" pole to put the Commodores up for the first time today. Nice shot.

Just like yesterday's Rice game, VU is coming onn strong in the middle of the game, now up 6-5 batting in the bottom of the 7th.

The hill in center field

HillinCF.jpg

Here's a shot of the small hill in dead center field at Minute Maid Park. The flag pole you see that's in the grass IS considered in fair grounds. If a ball hits off of it, no matter how high up, and stays in the park, it's not a home run.

In other words, it's a hoakey quirk.

Wondering about Vandy beyond David Price?

VU's No. 2 pitcher Nick Christiani just got pulled here with two outs in the 4th, having giving up five runs and walking four, hitting a batter as well.

Christiani threw 21 pitches in the last two-thirds of an inning, 15 of them were balls. Cody Crowell now in, gets a bases-loaded comebacker to stop the threat.

ASU up 4-2 going into the bottom of the fourth.

Vandy strikes back

David Macias' RBI double and Ryan Flaherty's sac fly RBI cut ASU's lead to 3-2.

Devil hurler Joey Parigi - a Texas transfer - just had a 30-pitch inning in the third.

Off the bat, bounce to pitcher, throw to first

Ever seen this before? Vandy just went 1-2-3 in the second inning, all by goundouts to the pitcher.

Christiani just had a seven-pitch inning for VU, which also included a groundout to pitcher and a groundout from first to pitcher.

ASU still up 3-0.

ASU already rounding the bases on Vandy

Today's "weather" conditions inside the park? 59 degrees with no chance of rain. Outside it's 45 degrees and cloudy.

ASU's first six hitters went single, single, double, walk, RBI groundout and RBI groundout. Devils take early 3-run bite out of Nick Christiani of Vandy.

Commodores coming to bat.

Houston clamps down on Bears

BU made it interesting with a pair of runs in the 8th, off the bat of Ben Booker. But Houston let them get no closer, pulling out a 4-2 win in tonight's last game. Chris Wright came in to get the save for the Coogs, striking out two of the last three batters in a three-up, three-down 9th.

February 09, 2007

Six outs away from a W and for me, some sleep

Houston nips a Baylor threat in the bud in the 7th and now stands six outs away from the win in tonight's last game. It's still 4-0, Houston, with the Coogs currently at bat in the bottom of the inning.

Baylor will have the top of its lineup coming to the dish in the 8th. Meanwhile the Bear fans and Cougar fans keep needling each other with strange, unintelligible cheers.

Who would win in a fight between a bear and a cougar? And more importantly, is it wrong to cheer for a team to end a game quickly?

Cougars claw out a few more

After a comebacker to the mound, Houston goes walk, single, single, single, single (to the dismay of Baylor reliever Kendall Volz) to plate three runs in the 5th inning.

Through five full, UofH's Aaron Brown pitched a one-hitter with five Ks and four walks. Barry Laird just entered the game in relief. Maybe Baylor's luck will change now.

Houston leads 4-0 going into the sixth.

Man it's getting late. Is there a mercy rule for the fans?

Should I buy this?

RyanVentura.jpg

They're selling this pic here at the stadium for $100. Gotta love seeing Nolan Ryan gettin' red on Robin Ventura. What do you think?

Wallace misses hitting for cycle, scores winning run.

ASU leadoff man Brett Wallace lined out to first in his last at-bat, settling for the short cycle instead, as he couldn't get the home run ball off his bat.

Wallace did score the winning run on a double steal in the 7th inning, when A&M catcher Craig Stinson dropped the relay throw for what would've been a certain out at the plate.

Arizona State wins 5-4. Baylor and Houston comes up in another hour.

Can't tell the players without a program

My scorecard is starting to look like chicken scratch because six pinch hitters were used by the two teams in the 6th inning alone. Including one pinch hitter earlier by A&M and a defensive replacement for ASU now in the top of the 7th, eight replacement players have entered this game.

Strange things about the stadium. The panels beyond the outfield fence don't close all the way. There are large gaps in them that allow the outside temperature to sift into the ball park. Also, for a modern stadium, there are no cup holders on the chairs. You'd figure that was a gimme at any new park. Have I mentioned the hill in center field? Yep, the center field fence in dead center goes to 436, with a grass "ramp" up to it. One of the flag poles is placed within the field of play.The fake train that rides above the outfield fence has a "load car" that appears to have pumpkins in it. Anybody got an answer for that one? And finally, the aluminum bats make a cool echo when the ball is hit in here.

ASU gone cold. Still 4-3, going into bottom of 4th

That team average of .470 is going to plummet after two straight three-and-outs. Ike Davis came into the game hitting .818, but has now ground into two straight double-plays.

As a side note, did you know ASU hit 20 doubles in last week's three-game set with poor Southern Utah? Ouch.

Another quirk about Arizona State - they have so many retired numbers and they've had so many mid-semester transfers and JC additions that they're starting to resemble an MLB spring training pitching roster. Five of their players have numbers in the 50s, including transfers Mat Spencer (57) and Jarrad Bogany (55). Matt Trink, a pitcher, wears number 62.

ASU not wasting any time either

Great... this looks like a 4-hour marathon already. ASU got a leadoff triple from Brett Wallace (who frankly, surprised me that he could pull off a triple), then an RBI single from Ryan Sogard.

But the big freakin' blast came from North Carolina transfer Matt Spencer who hit a home run that just now landed at Gilley's in Pasadena... oh wait, didn't that place burn dow a few years ago? I take it back. It is Spencer's third home run with 16 RBI in three games and an inning.

Anyway, no pitching to be found here. ASU 4-2 after one inning.

Game two underway. A&M not wasting any time

After a leadoff walk to Ben Feltner, A&M No. 2 hitter Blake Stouffer hit a shot off the left field wall. Third base coach Matt Deggs sent Feltner all the way from first to home and the relay was late. 1-0 Aggies.

Brian Flores, who struck out a mind-boggling 276 batters in two years of JC ball, struggled in the first inning here, going on to issue three walks, a wild pitch, that lineout RBI double and an RBI single.

Ags 2-zip with ASU's big bats coming up now.

Commodores starting to step on the throat

Back-to-back home run jacks by Shea Robin (off of Bobby Bramhall) and pinch hitter Matt Meingasner (off of Kyle Gunderson) in nearly the identical spot in left field have put VU up 7-3 with six outs to go to victory.

Oh, forgot to mention that they DO sell beer here at Minute Maid Park. I'm not angry about that.

Vandy takes over in the top of the 7th

Aaron Luna caught a bases-loaded Texas Leaguer that popped out of his glove when he hit the ground, scoring a pair to tie the game. Then Pedro Alvarez hit a shot to deep center field that Tyler Henry misjusdged, scoring two more runs. It's now Vandy 5-3 going into the bottom of the 7th.

The Alvarez shot to center is a tough call. I'd have given it a hit/triple. It appeared to skim under Henry's glove, but it was still a long run to the gap to chase it down. Nice hit. Maybe he DOES deserve Player of the Year consideration.

David Price and Chris Henry are both off the hook for factoring into the decision.

David Price's day is done

The Player of the Year candidate didn't light the world on fire, but went 5.2 innings, giving up six hits, striking out six and walking three. Two of those free bases came around to score. Price ended upu throwing 94 pitches on the day, 53 strikes and 41 balls. Again, didn't use a lot of power pitches, moslty mixing things up pretty well. Can't say he'll make my Player of the Year top three... at least not yet. The scouts love the dude though.

Tyler Rhoden came on in relief and was welcomed to the game by an sharp double to right by pinch hitter Jess Buenger, scoring the third Rice run of the day. It's now the Owls 3 - Commodores 1, going into the 7th.

1985 Astros commercial

A little while ago, the big screen showed a 1985 TV spot advertising Astros season tickets. Of course, there they were in their choke-back-your-vomit orange multi-stripe jerseys. Glenn turns to me and says, "Those were definitely the most gawd-awful uniforms in history."

Then it showed a clip of Jose Cruz at bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates in their bright yellow togs and sideways striped hats. Glenn responded with, "I stand corrected."

Overall the commercial was "Super Bowl Shuffle"-level embarrassing. Although it was neat to see Nolan Ryan in the highlight clips. Who, by the way, will be out here at FanFest tomorrow signing autographs. Though probably not for free.

Rice lead cut in half, 2-1 in 6th

Rice when through three pitchers in the sixth inning and Pedro Alvarez finally lived up to his Player of the Year candidacy.

Glenn Tanner and I were just remarking at how poor of a game Alvarez had played so far, going a weak 0-for-2 at the plate and making a blundering error at third that helped lead to two Owl runs. But here in the 6th, Alvarez sliced a sharp RBI single off reliever Jonathan Runnells to make it 2-1.

Still 2-zip Rice after 4 innings.

MySeatInHouston.jpg

Here's where my seats are for today's Rice-Vandy game.

This just in... errors kill

Rice breaks through for a 2-0 lead after two complete.

Vandy mound stud David Price hasn't looked all that hot so far, giving up three hits and walking a pair. Also noticed that he doesn't seem to be throwing a lot of hard stuff, instead relying on off-speed pitches more often than not.

Joe Savery started the second with a single, then Jordan Dodson got a single and that was followed by a pair of errors allowing two runs to score. Tyler Henley lined into an inning-ending double play to first to end the threat.

Had to put my jacket back on. This joint may be indoors (the roof is closed today due to sprinkles), but it's still quite cool.

Wayne Graham throws first curve of the weekend

Well, looks like all of our weekend previews were wrong. Rice has decided against starting Joe Savery and is going with Chris Kelley instead. Damn. So much for that great Savery-Price/lefty vs. lefty matchup we all salavated for.

I'm inside the stadium now, sitting next to the great college baseball mind of Glenn Tanner. Impressive to say the least. The teams are warming up now, appropriate since it's cold as a witch outside... well, Jeremy Mills (the brilliant mind behind ncaa-baseball.com), who now lives in Connecticut says this is kids stuff. He's right. I should just suck it up.

Oh and the scouts section is freakin' chock full. Must be 100 or so of them.

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