Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Lineup: (4/28)

 

You do a lot during the day. It's hard to keep up with all things Auburn baseball. Here's a handy rundown of what you may have missed (with some extras thrown in from time to time).

 

1. Tigers beat Tigers (and the rain)

"It's good to get a good win before we head to South Carolina and try to take care of business there," Gamache said. "We have struggled getting ahead early lately and we went out with a plan and got it done (tonight)."

Justin Fradejas singled twice and hit a solo homer in the second, finishing the night scoring four runs, as Auburn improved to 23-18 before heading to Columbia, S.C., this weekend.

(via AuburnTigers.com)

 

2. Tornados, Tuscaloosa, and Toomer's

Playing off the name of Tide For Toomer’s, a grassroots charity formed by Alabama fans to raise money for the efforts to save the poisoned Toomer’s Oaks, a Facebook group calling itself “Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa” is hoping to return the goodwill gesture.

Just hours after a catastrophic tornado plowed through Tuscaloosa, the page had logged more than 8,000 “likes” most of those earned by midnight; the page was created at 8 p.m.

Group organizer and Auburn fan Warren Tidwell said he’s overwhelmed by the response.

“I’m amazed by the support.,” said Tidwell, 32, the manager of an Opelika auto service center. “I’d hoped for an outpouring of support, but I don’t if I really truly thought it’d be like this.”

(via The War Eagle Reader)

 

3. Bianucci Sparks Riot, Ejection, Misunderstanding

According to a report from the San Antonio Express-News, several fans were detained for their role in the fracas between a small crowd and the RoughRiders bench following a ninth-inning incident. The ruling on a potential game-changing home run by the RoughRiders' Mike Bianucci went against Frisco and led to the ejection of manager Steve Buechele and pitching coach Jeff Andrews. The RoughRiders bench then got into a shouting match with fans.

"I was standing there, and all of a sudden, a trash can came flying out of the dugout," said San Antonio Missions president Burl Yarbrough. "I've been here 24 years, and I've never seen anything like this."

(via Dallas Morning News)

4. Trent Mummey: Smooth Criminal

From the home team's point of view, there was nothing grand about the theft the Frederick Keys pulled off to beat the Winston-Salem Dash 4-2 on Wednesday afternoon at BB&T Ballpark.

Trent Mummey executed a rare straight steal of home plate to score what proved to be the winning run in the sixth inning, sending the Dash to their second loss in three games against the Keys and their eighth setback in the past 10 games.

Mummey's run was the first of a two-run rally that extended the Keys' lead to 4-1, and both teams had to wait through a 59-minute rain delay before relievers Chris Petrini and Sean Gleason cleaned up for starter Ryan O'Shea.

(via Winston-Salem Journal)

 

5. Bo's Silver Draft Anniversary

Bo Jackson was drafted first overall in 1986 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of Auburn.

Jackson never played a down for the Bucs, who wanted the two-sport star to choose between baseball and football. Instead, he signed with the Kansas City Royals.

Tampa Bay’s rights to Jackson were forfeited when the 1987 draft rolled around. He then was taken by the Los Angeles Raiders, with whom he played until 1990.

(via Lost Letterman)

 

6. The Cold Truth

The SEC West remains wide open, with three teams tied for first place at 9-9 (Arkansas, Mississippi and Auburn), and two other teams within two games of first (Alabama and Mississippi State). All of those teams have RPIs in the top 40, and all but Ole Miss are inside the top 31. Arkansas (No. 16) and Auburn (No. 12) are in the best shape; the other three teams need to firm up their resumes down the stretch to feel comfortable, but right now there aren't enough teams with better credentials to shoulder them aside. Auburn's 22-18 overall mark gives it less wiggle room as it, like Georgia (or any school), can't nab an at-large berth with a sub-.500 record.

(via Baseball America)

 

7. If you live in Houma, a down year in the SEC means LSU is tanking

With so much success over the years, one would think the SEC is having another dominant season.

Guess again.

The SEC is having one of its rare down seasons.

With four conference series remaining, only three teams — Florida (31-10 overall), South Carolina (31-8) and Vanderbilt (35-5) — are guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournaments. They are all tied atop the SEC East standings at 14-4 and are ranked in the Top 5 in the major polls.

Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt have to like their chances of not only reaching Omaha but winning the College World Series.

After that, it’s anyone’s guess because the SEC is a conference of the haves and have nots.

(AUPPL Note: There is so many things wrong with this article that it would take a point/counterpoint the sort them out. The SEC has the Top 3 teams in the nation, will get 8 teams in the NCAA tourney, and probably {barring seeding} send 3 or 4 teams to the CWS. Yeah, that's a down year)

(via Houma Today)

8. Good News? Aqua Teen is back. Bad News? No more catchy rap jingle theme song.

According to the below video announcement from a Meatwad puppet, Aqua Teen Hunger Force is changing its name to Aqua Unit Patrol Squad One, reviving its old premise of having the cartoon crew work as detectives, and also relocating to Seattle. There, that wasn’t so bad, right? We’ve learned to accept these sorts of things, we rational observers of cartoon bullshit.

(via The AV Club)

9. Finally, if you'll excuse me, I have to do this to the Kroger on Dean.

(via Comics Alliance)

Read more...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Lineup: (4/27)

 

You do a lot during the day. It's hard to keep up with all things Auburn baseball. Here's a handy rundown of what you may have missed (with some extras thrown in from time to time).

 

1. Championship Tuesdays?

Auburn (22-18) has now lost non-conference games to Jacksonville State, Troy and South Alabama, yet still entered Tuesday's action with the nation's 12th-best RPI.

"It's definitely frustrating," said Auburn shortstop Casey McElroy. "We've been having good weekends and maybe we've just not been getting after these mid-week games. There's no excuse. We should take every game like a championship game."

(via AL.com/ Woodbery)

 

2. Still, There’s No Sugar Coating This: Auburn Sh*t the Bed vs. Samford Last Night

“I firmly believe it starts with the guys on the mound,” coach John Pawlowski said. “When you get behind that quickly, it’s a totally different mindset.”

“You don’t get out of the gates, you struggle at the beginning of the ballgame, and it’s tough,” Pawlowski said. “We didn’t get anything going offensively or pitching early in the game.”

Freshman Will Kendall, who had thrown 3 2/3 innings over two career appearances entering Tuesday, provided a bright spot in relief of Morris (1-3), giving up a run on six hits while striking out four and walking three over 5 1/3 innings.

(via OANow.com/David Morrison)

 

3. Slocomb Signee is Super Studious

Clay Holmes is well known for his prowess as a pitcher for Slocomb’s baseball team.

But the Red Top senior and Auburn University baseball signee is also a top-notch student – a feat equally important to him as winning games with his pitching arm.

This Sunday, he will be recognized by the state of Alabama Baseball Coaches Association as its Student-Athlete of the Year.

For now, though, Holmes is busy trying to help his Red Top teammates in pursuit of a state title. Slocomb advanced to this weekend’s second round against LAMP after an impressive series win this past weekend over previous No. 1-ranked Trinity.

After the season is over, Holmes will turn his attention to the upcoming major league amateur baseball draft. He will attend pre-draft workouts for several teams.

Holmes said he has heard possible speculation that he could be a high-round draft pick, but says that is just speculation.

“You can’t really tell one way or another right now,” Holmes said.

(via Dothan Eagle/ David Mundee)

 

4. Cole Nelson & Austin Hubbard Doing Work

Austin Hubbard earned the win, pitching a scoreless ninth, to improve to 2-0. (via WBKO)

Cole Nelson pitched five innings, giving up three earned runs (four runs in total) while walking four and striking out two. (via Bless You Boys)

5. Fletch Lives

RC: You played college ball at Auburn, a major college program. What was that experience like?
BF: It was fun. It was awesome. The last year was really exciting. We hosted a regional against Clemson and had thousands of fans in the stands. It was a great environment to play in.
RC: What were some of the things you learned from your collegiate experience?
BF: I learned about failure and how to come back from it. The college level is when media starts to get involved. It sucks when you start to struggle a little bit, but you learn to bounce back and keep your composure, and to be able to play in front of the types of environments than we did.
RC: Was it a tough decision to leave after your junior year at Auburn and sign with the Royals?
BF: It wasn’t necessarily a tough decision. I wanted my junior year to be the year for me to remember, and I definitely was hoping to have one of my better years that season. I was pretty satisfied with what I did. The draft process was pretty crazy, looking back on it now, but it was fun, and I’m glad the Royals were able to select me

(via Royals Corner)

 

6. It’s like the ESPY’s, but with Auburn (and more Tim Jackson)

AUPPL Note: Highlights include Barrett Trotter in a Fratastic BowTie, and Jorrell Bostrom doing a solid Jack Johnson impression

(via Auburn Athletics You Tube)

 

7. David Ross just killed my Fantasy Team

Braves backup catcher (AUPPL Note: and Former Auburn Tiger) David Ross sang an Eddie Money ‘80s hit “Shakin’” as a good-luck ritual during a series sweep at San Francisco last weekend. On Tuesday, he and sh-sh-shook San Diego and Padres pitcher Aaron Harang.

Ross hit two homers to drive in four runs during the Braves’ 8-2 win against the Padres at Petco Park, where Jair Jurrjens pitched the first complete-game win for the Braves since 2009 and Chipper Jones matched a mark by the great Mickey Mantle.

(Another AUPPL Note: Guess who thought he’d be smart and start Aaron Harang for his Fantasy Team? Guess who ended up with –10 points? This Guy!)

(via David O’Brien/ AJC)

 

8. If Brotherman likes it, it must be good

Bill “Brotherman” Beckwith (AUPPL NOTE: and HUGE Auburn baseball fan/ K-Korner Stalwart) is organizing a reunion for regulars of legendary Auburn hippie bar Peeps, which kept it real on Opelika Road from 1969 to 1975. The two-day event will start Friday, May 13 with a potluck dinner at the house of Auburn hippie turned Realtor Tara Nolan and end at The War Eagle Supper Club on Saturday, May 14. There will be barbecue. There will be music.

“A lot of our friends that hung out at Peeps made big names for themselves in the music industry,” Beckwith told The Corner News. “We’ve been able to contact a lot of them and get them to come back to Auburn for the party to play.”

(via TheWarEagleReader)

 

9. So…Tubs is a Birther? Also, Hannity’s Next Guest will be Terry Bowden:

 


CREDIT: FOX NEWS, "HANNITY" by sportsxbrooks

So, that happened. Tommy Tuberville appeared on Sean Hannity’s show last night:

Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville appeared on conservative commentator Sean Hannity’s television show Tuesday, taking part in a panel discussion about President Obama’s Easter Sunday pastor, the controversy over his birth location and who might run against him in 2012.

Tuberville suggested that the president has a good chance to be unseated by whoever opposes him.

Asked by Hannity if there is anyone he likes for president, Tuberville said, “It really doesn’t make any difference. If the economy doesn’t get better, if the price of gas is six or seven dollars a gallon, if we’re still in wars, anybody’s going to run and win. Bottom line, we can’t keep going the direction we’re going.”

Tuberville was the day’s celebrity guest on “The Great American Panel” segment, joining in with former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich and FOX News legal analyst Tamara Holder in a discussion moderated by Hannity.

(via Red Raiders.com )

Read more...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Lineup (4/26)


You do a lot during the day. It's hard to keep up with all things Auburn baseball. Here's a handy rundown of what you may have missed (with some extras thrown in from time to time).

1. Gabe Gross Hangs Em Up

After some heavy soul searching, Gabe Gross has decided it’s time to hang up his cleats and retire from baseball.

“I just felt like my heart wasn’t into it,” Gross said Monday. “This and quitting football are the two hardest decisions I’ve ever made.”

(via Dothan Eagle)

2. Mummey gets called up, Immediately Delivers.

Trent Mummey soaked up his opportunity to make a good first impression at Class A Advanced Frederick, posting a career night in the Keys' 14-7 rout of Winston-Salem on Monday.

Mummey finished 4-for-6 with a career-high five RBIs, falling a home run short of the cycle in his first game with the Orioles affiliate.

(via MiLB.com)

3. Tug Hulett. Still playing. Still Awesome.

The Washington Nationals have signed infielder Tug Hulett to a Minor League contract. Hulett had been with the Colorado Rockies earlier this year but was cut loose after the recent acquisition of 2B Brad Emaus.

Hulett last appeared in the big leagues in 2009 with Kansas City Royals and was with the Seattle Mariners in 2008.

Hulett will provide depth in the minors, as he will be assigned to Triple-A, and he will also serve as an insurance policy if there were to be injuries at the Major League level.

(via The Nats Blog)

4. Hunter Morris: Putting the MAN in Manatee

There are times in pro baseball when the ball leaving the pitcher's hand looks like a pill.

And there are others when it looks like a pumpkin and that's what Brevard County Manatees infielder Hunter Morris has been seeing this season for the Class A-Advanced Florida State League team, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Heading into Saturday night's game at Lakeland, Morris was hitting .281 with a team-leading 18 hits in 64 at bats. He ranked second in the league in doubles with six. His presence in the middle of the lineup is vital to a slowly awakening Manatees offense.

:::::::::::::::

(AUPPL NOTE: He has had one minor setback though:)

Injury note: Morris struck out in the top of the 9th and was replaced in the bottom; he may have been injured somehow.
UPDATE: It seems Hunter Morris dinged up a finger during that at-bat, something to keep an eye on this week. Not a big deal, it seems.

(via Florida Today & Brewers FANdemonium, h/t to @SessileFielder)

5. So You're Saying There's a Chance

But even beyond the standings, check out Auburn's RPI. According to Boyd's World, the Tigers have the 12th-best RPI in the nation. In other words, it would take a meltdown of epic proportions for Auburn to miss the NCAA tournament this year. And if Auburn does a little work in the next three weekends, they could be in position to host a Regional.

(via Evan Woodbery/ AL.com)

6. Auburn Signee Makes Hitters Look Silly

Keegan Thompson was kicking himself.
Normally, a blemish this minor wouldn’t bother the Cullman High pitcher. But on this night, it was the difference in history being made.
The scorecard was almost perfect. Key word: almost.
One walk in the first inning. It was the only thing that kept Thompson from hurling a perfect game in top-ranked Cullman’s 22-0 win over Madison County in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs Friday night.
Cullman (39-8) won game one of the doubleheader 13-11.

(AUPPL NOTE: The game was Mercy Ruled, so it was only 5 innings and it gets better)

Hitting 91 to 93 miles-per hour on the radar gun, Thompson breezed to the win, striking out 15 in the five-inning complete game no-hitter.
That’s right. Fifteen strikeouts. As in every out recorded.
“I was just feeling it,” said Thompson, an early Auburn commitment. “I just wish I hadn’t walked that one guy.”

(via Cullman Times)

7. Charles Barkley Loves Pizza


(via SI Vault)

8. The Bulldogs Have Bite

After all the twists and turns of its season, Auburn will still enter tonight's game against Samford as the first-place Tigers.

Yes, that's a three-way tie for first place in the parity-filled SEC West, but it's still in better shape than many expected when Auburn started the SEC season 2-7.

The Tigers (22-17) host Samford (24-17) today at 6 p.m. at Plainsman Park.

Auburn will start junior Andrew Morris (1-2, 5.62 ERA), while either junior Josh Martin (2-1, 4.91) or freshman C.K. Irby (3-1, 2.08) will start for Samford.

Auburn swept last season's two-game series with Samford but hasn't won consecutive games in Auburn since 2007.

(via Woodbery/ AL.com)

9. SEND ME STUFF

If you've got a tip, Auburn related, baseball related, Auburn baseball related, just email me: PlainsmanParkingLot@Gmail.com or you can send the the link via Twitter: @AUPPL

Read more...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Harvey Updyke is Auburn's "Coma Baby"

Bear with me. I'm trying to hammer this out between jobs this morning. I'll probably have to come back and re-tool it later. Still, here goes.



Maybe you've read the book, or seen the play or movie, "Bright Lights Big City". I've only seen the movie twice and read the book only once (and that was years ago). But you know, when something sticks with you? Some concept that really makes sense and you find yourself applying it to other scenarios? This is one of those cases.



Bright Lights Big City (I'm referring specifically to the movie from here on) has the "Coma Baby" this meta-summary of the events that are unfolding in the movie seen through the periphery. The Onion's AV Club does a good job of summing it up in one of their Inventory lists:

You Can watch the full scene here:



My basic theory is this (with apologies to Dr. Hannah for a quickly researched and hastily put together thesis):

The "Coma Baby" exists as a social commentary we have no control over. In the film the Coma acts as a running commentary on the main characters life, in practice, The "Coma Baby" can refer to a media event that offers unwarranted yet cathartic commentary on another issue.



Harvey Updyke is Auburn's Coma Baby. This saga, which keeps getting weirder, is now playing out like a soap opera. It's only going to get worse. From the actual event, the trial, the "assault", and the long legal process this is going to take (and believe me, it will be long).



Outsiders see the Updyke Saga as "fandom gone to far" and "look at dem crazy rednecks", etc. That's true, but like the "Coma Baby" they are only gleaming the headlines and drawing conclusions. In my opinion, Updyke's story is a comment upon how the landscape of College Football, and the Iron Bowl rivalry have changed.



We created this beast. We, as college football fans, demand information constantly. We want updates. We want to know how far Zeke Pike can throw a ball. When a recruit leaves after a weekend visit, we want to know (within hours) what he said, how he felt, what his gut is telling him. When someone gives an interview we want to read the updates and quotes on twitter. We are hungry for knowledge. We listen to Paul Finebaum and curse his name, but like true junkies, we tune in every day.



That hunger has ratcheted up the rivalry to an ugly level. A rivalry that's never been on good ground to begin with (remember Auburn & Alabama had to take a "break" from the rivalry over a simple money dispute). It's created and given a voice to the fringe of both our fanbases that we tried to long hide.



Listen, you and me are normal football fans. You wouldn't try to burn down Denny Chimes or harm an Alabama fan just because you "hate" the other team. Yet, slowly we are becoming the minority. You can call them "sidewalk" alums (even though I absolutely despise that term) and try to ignore them, but I know plenty of folks who hold degrees from either school who can have moments and twinges of "fan-sanity".



So these fans, this crazy fringe, now has a platform. Instead of just being that crazy guy you talk to at passing at the Conoco, he now can publish a blog, fill up message boards, and call in to radio talk shows. As they do this, they increase their own "self-worth". They get e-"atta boys" and become legends on the internet.



This is where Harvey Updyke comes in. He followed that same rise. He called into Finebaum, he posted his brags on message boards, and the entire time he was lauded by other members of the fringe.



So the Updyke saga is playing out. His legal obligations are being followed around the country. Updyke's story is serving as Auburn's "Coma Baby" and showing us (and Alabama) what is going wrong with our rivalry and the current state of fandom. Just like the "Coma Baby", everyone has an opinion on how it should be dealt with. Everyone has a comment. Everyone wants to know what's next. We're perversely fascinated by it.



At the end of the Bright Lights Big City, the main character asks if the Baby wants to be birthed, if he wants to leave. His response?

“No Way, Jose. I like it in here—everything I need is pumped in.”


So what if I asked you, would you change the rivalry? Would you live in a college football world where there was no Finebaum, no message boards, no twitter updates? I'm pretty sure, for the majority of fans, the response would be just like the Coma Baby's:

“No Way, Jose. I like it in here—everything I need is pumped in.”


So for now, we're just going to have to sit back, and let the Updyke saga comment on the ugly state of our two fan bases. Let it play out and continue to fester and grow. Many people wondered if this would be the "final straw". I don't think it is. If anything, this is opening salvo, and it's only going to get worse from here.

Read more...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Visitor’s Dugout: And the Valley Shook



You could hear me blab on and on about Auburn baseball and the upcoming series against LSU. Thankfully, PodKATT from And the Valley Shook took the time to answer some of my LSU baseball related Questions. As with most Visitor’s Dugout, you can check out my answers to his questions over there.


1. What's the biggest difference for LSU this year? I know the record doesn't reflect the talent, but what are the Tiger's biggest issues this season?



The offensive gameplan this year to compensate for the bat problem has gone, in my opinion, in a complete 180 from what you normally see from LSU towards the small ball strategy, to the point where I can almost guarantee you that the first time LSU gets on base this weekend the very next batter will be showing bunt on the first pitch. After being embarrassingly bad at bunting last season, we've been relying heavily on it since day one. We passed last season's bunt total before we even started conference play. Not that we don't bomb it out every now and then, as Mikie Mahtook continues to be near the top of the league in homers, but manufacturing runs the hard way is the MO this year. I don't totally agree with it either, as I think it sacrifices too many outs just to get a guy around and hope you can get him in.



It's probably something you hear every fan of every team complain about at some point, but a lack of timely hitting is really what has killed us this year and it's both kinds for us. First, we leave way too many guys on base, 233 so far this year. It's related to what I've already stated about our gameplan this season. Too often we'll get a runner or two in scoring position with 2 outs and the next guy at the plate Ks or pops out. You'd think that could be rectified by moving the batting order around, but so far we can't seem to find something that works. The other timely hitting problem is that we seem to just shut down in the clutch. In many of our league losses, the Florida series especially, we've dropped 1-run games because we never seem to find that clutch hit when our backs are against the wall. All those losses where we know we could have won if we just had that one hit take a toll on you emotionally, because you know you were good enough to win and you didn't.


2. You've seen him in person more than me, but what happened to Matty Ott? Is it mental with him? Do you even feel comfortable with him closing games at this point?



I think there are two schools of thought about Ott's struggles. One says that it's a mental thing that's still carrying over from last season. The other is that his Freshman season was a fluke and he really isn't the all-world closer we thought he was. I'm of the first opinion but I'm starting to worry that it may be the latter. Frankly, he hasn't been the same since this exact weekend last year. We had a home stand against Bama and were deadlocked in the 9th on Sunday afternoon. Ott had only had a brief outing in the friday game, so we sent him out and he ends up staying in until the 14th. We won the game, but he was never the same. I'll be uncomfortable with him closing until I see him do it successfully in a league game again. That's just the way it is with closers, you trust them implicitly until they let you down, then you have no trust until they prove themselves again. However, now that Kevin Berry is having issues (see the disaster that was last Saturday at Arkansas) we may have no choice. If we have more than one save situation this weekend, I expect to see Ott pitch one of them


3. What's been the frustrating point of the season? Can you pinpoint the low point?


That's easy because it just happened. After the crushing 9th inning losses at Arkansas, we came home this past Tuesday and lost to Northwestern St. for the first time in a decade (and we play them almost every year, sometimes twice) They were a bad Southland conference team, but our bats were just dead. It reached the very bottom when their reliever, who was no ace coming in, K'd 10 of the final 13 batters. We just stood there and took it.


4. Do you think the Bengals can turn it around? Can the team that swept Fullerton return?


One thing the Mainieri Era at LSU has shown is that we can always turn it around and get on a hot streak. In '08 we had a middling club that suddenly won 23- straight and went all the way to Omaha. Last year we were tanking in the 2nd half of the conference slate, but we turned it on just in time to make and sweep the conference tourney and make the post season. Mainieri is not averse to sometimes drastic lineup shakeups in order to find a spark and the return this week of star running back Spencer Ware to the team after spring ball might be just what we needed. We are so close to winning some of these games, that you just have to believe things will start going our way again.


5. LSU has a huge crop of Freshman talent. How have they fared this year? Better than expected or going through some growing pains? Would you call this a "rebuilding" year (even though I hate that term)?


We haven't seen a lot of the freshmen and transfers (almost half of the roster is new to the team this year) in meaningful playing time, but the few that have are mostly impressive. True Freshman JaCoby Jones was moved to 2B from 3B the day before the first game and has flourished defensively and was a monster slugger at the plate. He's struggled a bit since we moved him up from the 9-hole a few weeks ago, but overall an impressive season. Ty Ross at catcher has the unenviable task of following one of our all-time greats at the position after Micah Gibbs left for the draft. He was a bit rocky to start, but I'm seeing improvement out of him as the weeks have gone on. He still gives up way too many steals at 2B for my liking, but he's getting there.


6. Why do I keep drafting Brad Hawpe for my Fantasy Baseball team?


The same reason I keep drafting Matt LaPorta, or Caddy Williams and/or Ronnie Brown in fantasy football. You remember the guys who crushed you.

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Who Goes on the Wall?

 

The question was posed…so who did Auburn fans think deserves enshrinement on the Outfield Wall?

@kylebwde Kyle Bradbury

I'd put Hal Baird on the wall.

 

Justin Murphy @murpho5

gabe gross

 

Tyler Nay @TylerHNay

Mark Bellhorn. We share a birthday, he was drafted out of HS, and he won a WS

 

Justin Malone @jwm0004

how about hunter Morris, mark bellhorn, gabe gross, and throw in Hal Baird...

 

Elliot Cook @Elliott_Cook

A 20 ft. Casey Dunn used to be featured above the dairy section in the old Auburn Bruno's. Even they knew he was the obvious choice.

you could always dedicate the wall to Vestavia's indelible contribution to AU Baseball. Dunn, Halla, Waggoner, Dearth and many more..

 

And Finally, via e-mail from Ted Hilley

Q V Lowe for absolute certain...one of the most influential players ever at AU. 

Joe Beckwith and Todd Walker if we are only looking at their college careers,

 

So, a couple of votes for Gabe Gross and Hal Baird. Regardless of the school’s final choice, Auburn has a dearth of the choices for enshrinement.

Read more...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tweet of the Week: Who Goes on the Wall?

 

You already know my choice. Now, let’s hear from you. Who do YOU think Auburn should honor on their Outfield Wall of Fame? There are a ton of names, and here’s just a few to get you started:

  • Pat Duke
  • Larry Nichols
  • Jimmy Barfield
  • QV Lowe
  • Dom Fucci
  • John Powell
  • Jay Waggoner
  • Mark Bellhorn
  • Ryan Halla
  • Finley Woodward
  • Casey Dunn
  • Brent Schoening
  • Chris Bootcheck
  • Todd Faulkner
  • Gabe Gross
  • Steven Register
  • John Madden
  • Brian Fletcher
  • Hunter Morris
  • Joe Beckwith
  • Scott Sullivan

 

You tell me. You can Tweet me @AUPPL

Or Send me an Email: PlainsmanParkingLot@Gmail.com

I’ll post the results and choices on Friday Morning.

Read more...

Regional Radar (April 13)


Once we reach the halfway point of the season, the Regional Projections are going to come flooding in. Where does Auburn stand as the Tigers head to LSU this weekend?

SITE HOST Seed 2 Seed 3 Seed 4 Location
ESPN UVA AUBURN UConn J. Madison Charlottesville, VA
SEBaseball Ga Tech AUBURN Louisville Wright St Atlanta, GA
CB Daily OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT


At the time of writing, Perfect Game hadn’t released their projections yet. Also, I’m taking the College Baseball Daily projections with a grain of salt. Not only were they the ONLY group to exclude Auburn, they also still have Clemson hosting AND have a regional consisting of Southern Miss, Troy, Texas Tech, and Jacksonville State, which I don’t think the NCAA would even dream about doing. Still, they spend more time covering college baseball than I do and are entitled to their opinions.



Not all sites will rank and actually seed the teams, some will just list a “Who’s In” and “Who’s Out” such as College Baseball Insider who says:

Auburn (5-7, 18-14, RPI 16) and Georgia (8-4, 18-15, RPI 17) both need to keep their overall record above .500 to get in the field.


Or one of the best judges, Baseball America who says this about the Tigers:

Auburn is also on the bubble, with an 18-14 overall mark, but the Tigers helped their cause with a sweep of Kentucky last week, so they stay in our field. We're keeping LSU (just 3-9 in the SEC) out of the bubble category by a thread, based almost solely on its series sweep of Cal State Fullerton. But this weekend's LSU-Auburn series is huge.


Digging Deeper


At this point, with the SEC being a jumble and the high RPI, the SEC is being mentioned as a 10 bid league, something that has never happened before. I’d have to double check, but I think the most the league has ever received has been 9 bids. 10 bids would be very interesting. Still, I think the race will shake itself and the SEC will stay as a normal 8 bid league.


Arizona State is an interesting case and it should affect the SEC laterally. The Sun Devils are currently in position to host, but the NCAA has yet to rule on their Postseason ban and the ruling may not come until after the bids are announced.


Auburn is on the cusp. The Tigers have a high RPI but really have very little room for error. We’ve got the RPI to get in, but the record has to be there. There’s a ton of baseball to be played and Auburn has a lot of business to take care of. Can we host? VERY doubtful, but after the sweep at State, that should be the last thing in Auburn’s mind. The goal right now is making it to Hoover and then the NCAA will take care of itself. You can tell Auburn is on the cusp just by the seedings released by ESPN and SEBaseball. Yes, the Tigers are a 2 seed in both, but they are traveling to two tough regionals with solid Big East foes as openers.


The number that desperately needs to improve (or at least get to .500) is Auburn’s record against RPI Top 50 Competition. Boyd releases an RPI Needs report, and since Auburn’s RPI is so high right now, there isn’t a whole lot of direction the Tigers can move. To get in the Top 8 (according to Boyd) Auburn would need to go 22-2 down the stretch, to stay in the Top 16 (17-7), Top 32 (11-13), and Top 45 (7-17). Basically, Auburn’s could easily slide down, but it’s very tough for the Tigers to move up.


The Resume

Record 18-14
vs RPI 1-50 (Nolan) 5-11
vs RPI 51-100 4-0
vs RPI 101-200 8-3
vs RPI 201+ 1-0
Bad Losses Radford (126), Jax St (108), Bethune (147)
Key Wins Arkansas (12), Alabama (32), Arizona State (7), Troy (25)
Nolan RPI 15
Boyd RPI 13
NCAA RPI 15
Nolan Power 62
Nolan Strength of Schedule 2
Boyd SOS 8
Boyd ISR 38


So what’s the remainder of the Schedule look like for Auburn? Well, for starters each of the SEC series have big RPI consequences. LSU (28), Ole Miss (34), South Carolina (5), Georgia (16), and Alabama (32). Tennessee is the only team on the outside looking in with their RPI of 79. Let’s say, Hypothetically, that Auburn takes a series from LSU and Ole Miss, then Auburn’s record against RPI Top 50 would swing to 9-13. If they take a game from Carolina? 10-14. Series from Georgia? 12-15. Series from Alabama? 14-16. All of that is best case scenario.


Another team for Auburn to watch out for is Samford. The Bulldogs are currently 66 in the Nolan RPI. If they can improve their standing and jump into the RPI top 50, it would help Auburn’s record. Same goes for UAB (62) and College of Charleston (56).


Bottom Line, Auburn has to take care of their own business first. Just get to Hoover, the rest falls in to place.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Case for Q.V. Lowe

 

 

He's one of the greatest pitchers in Auburn history, holds some incredible records, and yet, to some Auburn fans, he goes unnoticed. He's Q.V. Lowe and he deserves to be honored on Auburn's Outfield Wall of Fame. Lowe pitched just two years for Auburn (1966-1967) put his mark still comes through whenever a fan leafs through a media guide or Tiger record book.

  • 1.69 Career ERA
  • 10 Complete Games in 1967
  • 23-3 Career Record
  • .885 Career Winning Percentage
  • 5.87 Hits per Innings Pitched 1966
  • Career 5.87 Hits per Innings Pitched
  • 15-1 Record in 1967
  • All American Honors
  • 123 ks in 128 Innings in 1967
  • Led the Tigers to the 1967 College World Series
  • Enshrined on Auburn's Walk of Fame

Those are just the numbers (and a few honors) for Lowe. For most players, that alone should be enough to warrant induction because I don't think Auburn will anyone as dominant as Lowe was for a long, long time.

Still, there's something else that separates Lowe from most and that's his connection to Auburn through our sister school, AUM (Auburn University-Montgomery). Football might be king on the plains, but at AUM, it's baseball who wears that crown and Lowe is the man to thank. He took the Senators program and built it from scratch, earning NAIA Hall of Fame Honors and over 1,000 Career Victories over the years:

Back in 1986, Lowe was hired at AUM to start a baseball program. While winning is always a focus of any great coach, in the early days Lowe's thoughts were consumed with building a proper ballpark, recruiting and raising private funds to help run the program. Thanks to Lowe's tireless work ethic, all those details worked themselves out. He raised the money to build the field and to run the program.
And, according to assistant head coach Marty Lovrich, Lowe has never had a problem recruiting.
"He's great in so many areas, but you have to really look at his recruiting to see how we got here," Lovrich, a part of Lowe's AUM staff since 1990, told the Montgomery Advertiser. "You bring a kid in, they meet Q.V., the parents meet him and they call back two weeks later ready to sign. Everyone loves the guy. Everyone respects him for the man he is and the coach he is."
Lowe's recruiting prowess helped the AUM program mature quickly. The first three teams --- in 1987, 1988 and 1989 --- won seven, 19 and 28 games, respectively, with the 1989 team making the Senators' first postseason appearance.
Then, in 1990, the Senators exploded onto the NAIA scene with a 40-win season and a surprising postseason run that ended just short of a national championship when the Senators dropped the title game, 9-4, to Lewis-Clark. Since then, there have been no losing seasons and Lowe's Senators have made NAIA World Series appearances twice more --- in 1992 and 2006.

AUM is a powerhouse and it's Lowe's guidance that got them there:

After his collegiate playing days, Lowe played eight seasons for the Chicago Cubs and later coached in the Yankees and Expos organizations. He also spent eight seasons as the head coach of the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College baseball program.

...During his tenure, he has captured 923 victories, led the Senators to nine conference or independent region championships and made four trips to the NAIA World Series. Lowe has coached 70 all-conference players and 35 NAIA All-Americans.

Lowe was awarded the NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1990, after his team was runner up at the NAIA World Series. He was inducted into the Auburn University Tiger Walk Hall of Fame in 1998 and into the Alabama Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2007, he was named the Alabama Baseball Coaches Collegiate Coach of the Year.

He's touched lives and is still ticking:

“The numbers of lives touched by Q.V. Lowe’s leadership is uncountable,” Crotz said in an Auburn-Montgomery press release. “He has not only helped players in our program at AUM, but countless individuals during the year with various aspects of the game of baseball. A coach is often measured by his impact and the bond developed with his current and former players. Coach Lowe is the epitome of success and is very deserving of the highest honor the NAIA can bestow on a head coach.”

Lowe pointed out that more than the record, he was proud of the men that have left the Senators baseball program.

“Because of the baseball program, it’s safe to say is one of the top in the NAIA,” said Lowe. “If you called around to some of the other coaches they’d tell you that we are extremely competitive and most folks will tell you they’ve enjoyed playing us. When you come in here and start a program, you want to have one that’s clean. And you want the men on the team to get an education and make sure they are good for the community and will leave here and be good fathers and husbands and are good in the community. I hope that we’ve accomplished that and I think that being elected into the hall of fame shows that.”

 

It's because of Lowe's impact on the field while at Auburn and the legacy that he's built in Montgomery that he should be honored in the outfield with Gregg Olson, Frank Thomas, Tim Hudson, and Bo Jackson.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Cannon at Catcher: A Quick Look at Tony Caldwell's Numbers




Sparked by @dmiller1856 and his late afternoon question:



Is any C in the league playing better than TC defensively?



Catching and Fielding is a very hard number to quantify in baseball. The numbers will be skewed and can be easily inflated. Fielding % isn't a hard and fast judge over who is a better catcher. I mean, a guy could have an unblemished F% but that could simply be because he never takes chances in the field. Tony's Fielding Percentage is .975 (6 errors) So I'll look at a few "Catcher Specific" Numbers in the SEC:


Passed balls
------------
1. Brandon Stephens, UG....... 7
Matt Ramsey, UT............ 7
3. Mike Zunino, UF............ 4
Taylor Hightower, UM....... 4
5. Brady Thomas, SC........... 3
Ethan Bennett, UT.......... 3
Miles Hamblin, UM.......... 3
8. 9 tied at.................. 2

Tony is among that group of "Nine Tied at 2"


Steal attempts against
----------------------
1. Brandon Stephens, UG....... 44
2. Ty Ross, LS................ 38
3. Brock Bennett, UA.......... 33
4. Tony Caldwell, AU.......... 30
5. Matt Ramsey, UT............ 29
6. Wes Thigpen, MS............ 28
7. Miles Hamblin, UM.......... 26
James McCann, AR........... 26
9. Michael Williams, UK....... 25
Curt Casali, VU............ 25
11.Mike Zunino, UF............ 21
12.Luke Maile, UK............. 18

Simply put, Tony is among one of the most tested Catchers in the League


Stolen bases against
--------------------
1. Brandon Stephens, UG....... 41
2. Ty Ross, LS................ 30
3. Brock Bennett, UA.......... 24
4. Wes Thigpen, MS............ 20
5. Curt Casali, VU............ 19
Miles Hamblin, UM.......... 19
7. James McCann, AR........... 17
8. Michael Williams, UK....... 16
Matt Ramsey, UT............ 16
10.Mike Zunino, UF............ 15
Tony Caldwell, AU.......... 15
12.2 tied at.................. 12

Yet on this list? He drops way down. Showing just how tough it is to run on him.


Which is further evidenced here


Caught stealing by
------------------
1. Tony Caldwell, AU.......... 15
2. Matt Ramsey, UT............ 13
3. Brock Bennett, UA.......... 9
James McCann, AR........... 9
Michael Williams, UK....... 9
6. Wes Thigpen, MS............ 8
Ty Ross, LS................ 8
8. Miles Hamblin, UM.......... 7
9. Curt Casali, VU............ 6
Mike Zunino, UF............ 6
Luke Maile, UK............. 6
12.Taylor Hightower, UM....... 5

Percentage-wise? (Stolen Bases Against/Steal Attempts Against)



  • Tony Caldwell (Auburn) 15/30 (.500)
  • Brandon Stephens (UGA) 41/44 (.930)
  • Ty Ross (LSU) 30/38 (.789)
  • Brock Bennett (Bama) 24/33 (.700)
  • Wes Thigpen (Miss St) 20/28 (.714)
  • Curt Casali (Vandy) 19/25 (.760)
  • Miles Hamblin (Ole Miss) 19/26 (.730)
  • James McCann (Arkansas) 17/26 (.653)
  • Mike Williams (UK) 16/25 (.640)
  • Matt Ramsey (UT) 16/29 (.551)
  • Mike Zunino (UF) 15/21(.714)


Missing from this list would be South Carolina which goes with a platoon occasionally with Brady Thomas taking the bulk of the duties (.750 %)



So, after looking at the numbers? I'd say, Yes. Tony is one of the best Catchers in the League.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Bury the Bad

Baseball is a superstitious game. From Jobu to Dueces Wild and all points in between, Baseball players and fans will try everything to reverse a bit of bad mojo. I have my own personal superstitions when it comes to games. I wear the same hat, I use the same pencil to keep score, and I keep a lucky coin in my left pocket. Is it rational? Meh, probably not. So Auburn is in a rut. A huge rut. Losers of 6 straight SEC games and 8 straight overall. It’s a terrible slide that I’ve documented here. So what can be done? What can, I, as a fan, do to help the bad Auburn baseball mojo.



One thing I thought of was burying the bad. The bad in this case would be the Auburn losses. I came up with an idea (and I’ve heard this being employed elsewhere, but mainly in football):

They were headed to a funeral -- "a funeral for a football," Revis would say later.

Ryan gathered his players around a hole in the ground, just off a grass practice field, and placed a football into the earth -- a game ball from Monday night's embarrassing 45-3 loss to the New England Patriots.

According to some players, Ryan said, "We're burying this game and all that happened Monday night."

With that, the Jets interred the memory of their most lopsided defeat in nearly a quarter century -- or so they hope.

The hole was filled with dirt and covered with patches of sod. They skipped the tombstone. In two days, the Jets went from ripped to R.I.P.

Give Ryan points for creativity. Revis said it might have been Ryan's best motivational tactic ever. Several players said they'd never witnessed anything like it in football.

"I've never seen a coach do that," Revis said. "We all got the point. Usually, in the past, you hear a coach say, 'Let's bury this' and you have to visualize it. When you actually see it, you're like, 'Wow, this is serious.'"

Even if Rex Ryan wasn’t the first to do it.



It was an idea that was simple in execution and, hopefully, simple in its results. So I went to Wal-Mart and bought a cheap baseball (because these were cheap and hopefully easily disposable losses) and I wrote each loss to the Auburn baseball team, so far:





Then I drove to Campus today and found a proper place for burial. In this case, right behind the outfield wall. Pretty simple, I thought.





A couple of caveats. I didn’t bury it completely. I’m not an idiot. I didn’t want to raise any suspicion with some random guy coming on to campus and burying something underground. I simple put it where it should go and covered it in dirt. If the school moves it, that’s fine. I did my part (I think). Now, if any students want to finish the job, that’s fine. It’s easy to find and I didn’t want to do anything that would alarm the school.



This might seem like something stupid and trivial, but at this point, I think Auburn could use any good mojo they can get. So here’s to Auburn reversing this bad losing streak and refocusing on the rest of the season. Just Make it to Hoover, everything else should fall in to place.



War Eagle.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Finding an Answer

I can't sugar coat this. These past 8 or 9 games for Auburn baseball have been tough to watch. Almost physically painful to watch. The road ahead looked pretty nice for Auburn. Coming off a big series win against Arkansas and in prime position to make a few waves in the SEC. Then came the Mississippi State buzzsaw and the Vanderbilt implosion and just like that Auburn went from the cieling to the cellar. 6 straight SEC losses, in-state drops to Troy and Jacksonville State and now the Tigers just sit a game over .500 overall. So is there an answer? Coach Pawlowski seems to think so:



"I'm not going to sit still," he said. "We're going to try to adjust things. We're going to maneuver guys around. We changed the rotation. I'm sure that when you go through something like this, we need to keep working, but there will be major changes made."





So what are those major changes? Well, before we go in to that, let's look at Auburn's focus down the stretch. The season hit it's halfway point on Tuesday (although, Auburn didn't exactly start it out on the right foot) and the Tigers face a string of about 6 straight road games. First, let's look at the SEC standings:



  1. Florida (7-2)
  2. South Carolina (7-2)
  3. Vanderbilt (7-2)
  4. Alabama (7-2)
  5. Georgia (6-3)
  6. Ole Miss (4-5)
  7. Mississippi State (4-5)
  8. LSU (3-6)
  9. Arkansas (3-6)
  10. Auburn (2-7)
  11. Kentucky (2-7)
  12. Tennessee (2-7)



If the season ended today, Auburn would be sitting at home instead of going to Hoover. That's the bad news. The good news? Auburn is a series win away from jumping back into the mix, and a series sweep away from sliding into the middle. Playing and qualifying for the SEC is simple. Just be better than 4 teams. That's it. Thankfully for Auburn, the Tigers still have games against a majority of this competition to make up some ground.



That's also why these next two weekends are so vitally important for Auburn. Kentucky and LSU. The teams that right there are the bottom with Auburn. Wins in these series and you establish distance. That's why I'm not too worried about Arkansas. Auburn still has the series win over them in their back pocket. Say Auburn rights the ship and takes a series from LSU and Kentucky? Then that's 3 of the 4 teams around you that you've distanced yourself from. With Tennessee still on the schedule, Ole Miss (and who knows what teams shows up then) and Georgia (who have an odd combination of luck and tenancity these days). Auburn has series that I can safely call "winnable". Auburn will need these, desperately.



Why? I'll stand by this thinking. Even if Auburn is the 8th seed into Hoover, just making it will cement a place in the NCAA post season. That's the goal right now. Go to Hoover and punch your dance card.


The Issue(s)


Auburn, right now, has two major issues. The first is defense with two outs. The numbers (which I don't have at hand) are astounding. It lead to implosions against Vanderbilt and Troy. I don't have an immediate answer for this. My main theory is that it's a byproduct of Auburn's pitching. I can't think of any of our pitchers who have a garunteed "out" pitch. Everything for the Auburn hurlers seems to build off of fastballs. That's nothing odd. A ton of pitchers do that. It's a pretty common strategy. However, once those fastballs are thrown, established, and used, it's a bit tough to go back to that well. It becomes obvious. Hitters can just tee off and sit back and wait. Luckie has a bit of a changeup. Slade has a sinker. Morris a pretty solid curve. That's about it. So when crunch time comes and Auburn can only throw up "Dead Reds" we are going to get killed.


The second issue is kind of a by-product of the first. It's the lack of consistent pitching. From starters to the bullpen (but mainly the bullpen, honestly) I don't know if there is a guy right now, outside of Derek Varnadore, that I'd have completely faith in on the hill.

Issue one and issue two are so symbiotic that they can almost be lumped into one huge major issue. Some people might look at the offense as an issue. In a way? Yes. However, when you look at it. The bats have been there. Even last night. The issue with the offense is just a matter of timely hitting.


The Answer(s)


Pawlowski mentioned "major changes". I'm not sure what he's going to qualify as a "major change". All I can do is theorize/postulate with a few bullet points:



  • The Rotation is still going to be patchwork. For now, I think it shakes out as Andrew Morris, Jon Luke Jacobs, Derek Varnadore.

  • Cory Luckie and Slade Smith are going to have to prove themselves out of the bullpen before moving back into the rotation.

  • Dillon Ortman will have a more prominent role out of the bullpen and possibly be a darkhorse to start.

  • Not a theory, but just a suggestion. Maybe Auburn should warm up multiple guys when we go to the bullpen. There have been too many times when guys have been left to dry because we didn't have any available arms.

  • Will Kendall needs to have a more prominant role. He had some nice flashes on Tuesday and he would give Auburn another Lefty arm.

  • Bobby Andrews will see more and more playing time in the OF. Possibly pushing Creede Simpson out of the lineup.

  • At some point, Auburn needs to completely figure out Zach Alvord's role. If you are going to play him at SS, you have to keep McElroy (and his iffy defense) at 2B. That moves Hargett out. You could put Gamache at 3B and DH Hargett, but that pushes Wes Gilmer out. That's the biggest mess Auburn has offensively. Hargett and Patterson didn't even start Tuesday but they need to see the field in order for Auburn to win. Putting Gilmer at 1B just isn't the best option.

  • Jay Gonzalez isn't completely ready yet. He's getting close, but until he can hit left handed pitching, he needs to be a base runner solely.



So those are just some theories. We'll see what happens this weekend. These next two series are as close to "Must-Win" as Auburn can face right now.

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