Thursday, May 31, 2007


From the Technician:

As Sears sat at her desk, surrounded by red-sweater clad wolves made out of everything from stone to paper mache, she stared at her computer with a look of astonishment.

She had just clicked on a link to the University of Nevada's online gift store. On the screen was a navy blue hat with a very familiar face.

The face on the hat was that of Mr. Wuf, NCSU's official mascot, Sears said.

"To me this is a huge infringement," Sears said as she pointed at a printed copy of the image. "This is the type of thing we'd turn over to legal counsel."

The Nevada item in question:

Old Mr. Wuf:

New Mr. Wuf:

I'd say that's pretty clear. Mr. Wuf wearing a big ol' Nevada hat is weirding me out.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

This is Ray Tanner and these are his boomsticks.

We're stuck in a regional with the two most homer-happy teams in the country.

I took the above from the NCAA's website, which hasn't updated its stats since the 20th. In the meantime, Wofford has surpassed South Carolina in total HRs hit and now leads the nation with 106.

The sluggers doing most of the damage for USC:
                  Avg     OBP     SLG     ISO    HR
James Darnell .338 .452 .639 .301 18
Travis Jones .326 .419 .623 .297 18
Justin Smoak .304 .417 .588 .284 18
Phil Disher .335 .419 .613 .278 14
For Wofford:
                   Avg     OBP     SLG     ISO    HR
Brandon Waring .405 .520 .870 .465 27
John Brandt .304 .384 .584 .280 14
Shane Kirkley .317 .387 .588 .271 16
Mike Gilmartin .324 .376 .517 .193 13
Waring, I can only assume, stands fifteen feet tall and uses a tree trunk for a bat. Unfortunately for the Terriers--and it's the reason they're merely a .500 team despite having a Greek god in the lineup--they can't pitch.

In conference play, Wofford opponents hit .336/.436/.544 and scored 10.4 runs per game. And the Terriers didn't exactly face a tough slate; the So Con rates as the 10th-best conference in the nation according to RPI. This is how Wofford fared against Western Carolina, the league's best team:

L, 12-26
L, 3-21
L, 1-14

South Carolina is totally going to whale on these guys.

As for how NC State and Charlotte stack up...
         Avg     OBP     SLG     OPS     ISO     HR
Woff .304 .381 .521 .902 .217 106
USC .300 .391 .510 .901 .210 104
UNCC .320 .390 .464 .854 .144 32
NCSU .301 .399 .451 .850 .150 50
The Wolfpack and the 49ers collectively have two players with double digit home runs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Via Chicago

God (Roger Clemens; in His name we praise) willing, we shall be blessed by His likeness on the south side on Monday along with Captain Jeter and the rest of the Merry Men--and I have tickets.

I don't know if I have any readers in Chicago, but if anyone out there wants to grab a beer and talk Wolfpack sports, shoot me an email (I'll be in Chicago from Sunday 'til Wednesday).

A Bit More On UNCC

Ooh, purty:

Charlotte enters this tournament with the nation's best winning percentage (.825) and the lowest team ERA in Division I (2.31). Senior Adam Mills leads the nation in ERA (1.06) and has won a school-record 13 games this season.

But how seriously to take those numbers? You decide. I'll say this much: lovely team ERA aside, the pitching staff doesn't look all that deep to me. Number two starter Spencer Steedley, for instance, has a .237 BABIP, which is like 100 points below average. Meaning he's been quite fortunate, he's faced a lot of weak-contact-making hitters over the course of the schedule, or both.

Over at Baseball Analysts today there is a roundtable discussion of MLB draft prospects involving a few Baseball America writers. Here's what one had to say about Adam Mills:

Adam Mills has had the best season of any player in college baseball in terms of production, but the Atlantic-10 is probably as bad as it gets this year in college baseball. He's dominating inferior competition with an upper-80s fastball, pitchability, a decent slider and changeup. He's not a threat to go high unless it's to a "Moneyball" kind of team, but the scouts I've talked to about him remain skeptical. Hard to root against the guy, his consistency is amazing. Think he'll go 4-6 round range.

Mills has good peripherals--he's struck out over a batter per inning and has a K:BB ratio north of five--but clearly if his fastball just touches the high-80s, he doesn't possess great stuff. It'll be interesting to see how we handle him.

Sidenote: they go on to talk about Beau Mills, a power hitter who transferred from Fresno State to Lewis-Clark State (an NAIA school) for some reason. At Lewis-Clark, Beau Mills has 33 homers in 57 games and is slugging 1.000 on the season. So he's literally averaging one base per at bat.

A little later in that roundtable discussion, the topic of Andrew Brackman comes up:

Rich: Andrew Brackman. Power forward, power pitcher, or power outage?

John: Pitcher, but he's raw. He's not that great at basketball, really.

Jim: Again, I concur with John. Definitely a pitcher, but he's very raw and not a sure thing. He isn't a Jeff Samardzija, who would have been a second- or third-round pick in this year's NFL draft.

Alan: He has more upside than Samardzija, in my opinion, but I don’t think his mental approach matches his talent, and that might be one reason he hasn't been able to capture his potential quite yet.

Monday, May 28, 2007

It's Columbia For Baseball, Too

NC State will open with third-seeded Charlotte.

Head coach Elliott Avent and the NC State baseball program picked up its fifth-straight NCAA Tournament bid on Monday, May 28, as the bracket field was announced live on ESPN. The Pack, which will be taking part in the Big Dance for the 17th time in the last 22 years, will stand as the No. 2 seed at the Columbia, S.C. regional, hosted by South Carolina.

The Niners compiled an impressive record while steamrolling through a weak Atlantic 10 so it's hard to know what to make of them. Their strength of schedule ranks somewhere in the bottom third of I-A; find their season stats here.

[Update: 5-29-07 4:15PM: I'd been pointing to the wrong strength of schedule link; that's fixed.]

Friday, May 25, 2007

Back In Time, Part II

[Previously, I've used tempo-free stats to look back at the 2000-2001 season. This is the second installment.]

There is no better an example of addition by subtraction than the 2001-2002 Wolfpack basketball team. Freed of a poor-shooting, turnover prone frontcourt and bolstered by Anthony Grundy's development into a first team All-ACC caliber player, the team improved vastly and made the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade.

The '02 squad's defense made a slight improvement over the prior season, but the real reason for the turnaround was offense. 2002 was a transitory year in the sense that we said goodbye to Inge, Thornton, and Kelley, and, more importantly, said hello to a brand new perimeter-oriented offense that would regrettably become the bane of thousands. Not because it didn't work, but because it was different and because it worked in a way not easily discerned by per game statistics.

I find it unfortunate that we couldn't embrace what we'd become, that we couldn't enjoy our uniqueness. Instead, people saw the new system as an admission of inferiority. A gimmick that we needed because we couldn't hang with Duke and Carolina while employing a more typical system. This assessment is unfair, but then, so were a lot of assessments of the basketball program during those years. We'd gone through an agonizing era of ugly basketball, one full of poor shooting and giveaways. The new system turned those flaws into strengths, made the team fun again, made it watchable again, and went unappreciated for its trouble. If Herb Sendek was offended by the slight, he never showed it.

(I didn't intend to go off on that tangent, but I guess I have some lingering issues.)

Taking a look at how the numbers changed from 2001 to 2002, the characteristics of the POT are all there: a high proportion of threes, a low turnover rate, and a poor offensive rebounding percentage:
        Pace   Off_Eff   eFG%     TO%     OR%  3FGA/FGA
2001 72.7 101.6 49.0 22.9 37.7 28.1
2002 69.7 108.3 52.5 19.1 31.0 40.5
Though the frontcourt departures put a major dent in our offensive rebounding, the improvements we made in the shooting and turnover categories were more than enough to offset the loss of a few second chance opportunities. When you employ this sort of system, you do so with the belief that offensive rebounds don't matter when you shoot well and protect the basketball. And that's absolutely true. The Pack improved by nearly 7 points per 100 possessions (defensively we improved by about 2 points/100 poss). Over the course of its existence, this offense would consistently be among the best in the country, peaking at a #3 ranking in 2004.

The 2002 team allocated most of its field goal attempts to more efficient shooters, and that made a huge difference. The teams four most frequent shooters--Grundy, Hodge, Melvin, Miller--were collectively a vast improvement over the four guys who shot most frequently in 2001 (Grundy, Wilkins, Inge, Crawford):
         FG-FGA     3FG-3FGA   eFG%    2FG%    3FG%   %TmFGA
2001 422-993 86-273 46.8 46.7 31.5 59.5
2002 546-1173 198-517 55.0 53.0 38.3 61.4
Each of the '02 team's big four shot over 50%, with Archie Miller and Marcus Melvin both above 58%. Constrast that with the '01 big four: Grundy (47.7%), Wilkins (44.4%), Inge (48.6%), Crawford (46.7%).

The full 01-02 numbers:
                  %Min    ORtg   %Poss   %Shots   eFG%    TO%     OR%     DR%    FTR
Cliff Crawford 40.0 91.7 18.2 15.3 44.9 25.5 2.2 12.5 54.7
Ilian Evtimov 54.6 98.9 19.6 19.3 48.8 22.9 6.2 9.8 31.3
Anthony Grundy 81.0 114.3 26.7 29.1 53.8 14.6 5.7 14.9 35.0
Julius Hodge 66.7 108.4 21.1 20.4 50.6 18.3 8.3 13.2 46.2
Marcus Melvin 71.3 115.9 16.8 17.0 59.3 18.6 4.9 18.3 40.7
Archie Miller 71.0 120.7 15.8 17.0 58.0 16.5 0.9 5.2 33.8
Josh Powell 48.7 101.2 20.7 19.4 53.3 23.5 9.9 14.2 40.6
Scooter Sherrill 31.4 117.8 19.1 21.3 53.5 12.7 3.1 7.8 43.0
Cliff Crawford played essentially the same role that he did the year prior with the difference being that his minutes were severely reduced. Although not a major key to our improved efficiency, it was a factor.

As you can tell, this was Anthony Grundy's team--and rightfully so. Grundy took more shots and used more possessions than he did in 2001 and still improved his shooting percentages and his turnover rate. The step forward represented by his numbers was nothing short of huge.

We also saw the solid debut of the Julius Hodge freshman class--both Hodge and Powell became useful contributors immediately. Powell, while still obviously a bit raw, came right in and provided the kind of efficient shooting in the post that Inge, Thornton, and Kelley never could. In Hodge's numbers you see a glimpse of a future offensive leader. This would be the only year he had a usage (%Poss) under 25%.

Scooter Sherrill had a turnaround season shooting the basketball, and Archie Miller did an admirable job handling greater responsibility.

All things considered, it was a rewarding season despite the sour way it ended. I'd never had so much fun watching NC State basketball, and I'm not sure I have since.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Liveblog! NC State vs. UNC

[7:09PM] And we wait. The UVA/GT game is in the bottom of the 8th and could end up in extras, and I assume there will be an intermission between games. I'll be back when we're ready to go.

[8:24PM] The liveblog could be doomed. The game was supposed to start at 8:20, but it's raining and the tarp is down. They're waiting for a cell to pass through between 8:30 and 9:00 and then they'll make a decision.

[9:45PM] Game on! First pitch is scheduled for 10:05. I don't know that I'll be able to make it all the way through (unless we have a speedy pitchers' duel...or someone's starting Mark Buehrle), but we'll see.

[10:04PM] Mike Hogewood! Dan Bonner! It's like it's February again! Sit back, relax, and strap it down. Wolfpack baseball is around the corner. Probably.

Carolina's uniforms, I should note, are hideous. Black + Carolina blue = I don't know, but it's not good.

[Top 1st] What is the sound of twelve people clapping? We are about to find out. It's electric, baby. The lights, I mean.

Reid Fronk hits the first pitch of the game into the corner for a double. Dammit.
I barely have an opportunity to note that Fronk has been plonked by 17 pitches his season.

Second man up flies out to center, runner holds. F8.

Dustin Ackley singles up the middle, Reid Plonk scores with ease.

State's shortstop moves toward second to cover the bag, batter hits the ball right to where he had been standing, so it's through for a single. Runners at the corners with one out.

Okay, that's more like it. Double play ball, 6-4-3. Inning over, Heels strand two. Sure, they're winning, but we're better-dressed. Despite the difficulties, Surkamp didn't throw a lot of pitches.

[Bottom 1st] Dallas Poulk (.380/.417/.500) will lead it off for the Pack. The Heels' pitcher--Robert Woodard--is showing off his blue socks, but they just don't work with those black jerseys. Although, what would?

Poulk starts us off with a walk.

Pat Ferguson nails one to the gap in left center, Poulk scores without a problem. Tie ball game.

Pond is the third man up and he strikes out. But that's okay--he's still awesome (hitting .333/.478/.538 on the year).

Corona goes down on a nice breaking ball; two out. Ferguson on second.

The home plate is brown because of the stuff they put on the dirt to fight the moisture. You can hardly make it out from the standard behind-the-pitcher camera angle. I wonder how much that bothers the pitchers and/or umpire. Jeremy Synan grounds out to first and that's the inning.

[Top 2nd] Oh, good, the rain is back.

Chad Flack is leading off for UNC, and wow is he having a terrible year: .243/.299/.381. Yikes. He tries to check it up on a 1-2 pitch but can't do it; one out. First K for Surkamp.

Curses. Surkamp served up a cookie and it was lined back up the middle. Four hits for the Heels in a couple of innings. Kyle Seager just had the ball graze his helmet, so he's on. That's Kyle's first HBP of the year; Reid Plonk scoffs in your general direction, Kyle.

Two on, one out. Carolina batter hits a fly ball to foul territory in left, but Matt Payne can't grab it. He should've had it, so that hurts. The Heels batter makes an out anyway, but the runner at second advances. Men on the corners.

Plonk nails another first pitch to right field; Carolina goes up 2-1. Men still on the corners.

Next man up grounds out to Surkamp, ending the inning.

[Bottom 2nd] Marcus Jones singles up the middle, and then Caleb Mangum bunts the ball right back to Woodard who gets Jones at second. We narrowly avoid a double play. Please tell me that was Mangum's decision to bunt. Please.

Jones took a shot to the head while trying to break up the DP; hope he's okay.

Payne hits into a double play (6-4-3), ending the inning.

[Top 3rd] The one bummer about this new format is that, after one game, we already know we have no shot at the ACC title. Whether we win this game or not is immaterial. We're playing to improve our NCAA resume and that's it.

Ackley grounds out to second, one out.

And there's a flyout to the area behind first base. Poulk makes the grab. Horton grounds out to third, inning over. A 1-2-3 inning!

[Bottom 3rd] Foschi hits one back up the middle for a single to start the inning. We're back to the top of the order.

Poulk singles through the right side, so he's on base for the second time. First and second with nobody out.

Ferguson is bunting. Goddammit. This is why I don't go to a lot of Wolfpack baseball games. Feel free to join the rest of us in the 21st century, Elliot. So Ferguson can't get a bunt down and he has to swing away at 0-2, hits a grounder to third which gives the Heels an easy force play at that base. One out, runners at first and second.

Pond hits one to center which is dropped, but the Heels get the force at third anyway.

Ramon Corona comes through with a two out single, scoring Pat Ferguson. Ryan Pond advances to third.

Jeremy Synan pops out to second and that'll do it. All square through three.

[Top 4th] Chad Flack, Mr. 680 OPS, leadin' off again, making another stop on his World Tour of Suck Ass. He is out again.

The next Heels hitter--Tim Fedroff--gets beaned in the arse. Mike Hogewood is now talking about Fedroff's ass. This is not a preferred topic of discussion, I have to admit.

Kyle Seager--a man with very little power--hits a double to right. Men on second and third with one out.

Good heavens. It's another beaning, and this time Seth Williams is the target. Three HBPs for Surkamp, and not one of them on Reid Plonk, the HBP machine.

But Plonk is up here, so I think this is his time. Crowd that plate, Reid. Crowd it.

Plonk hits a double play ball and Williams slide tackles Foschi at second base to break it up. I don't think it was a dirty play but it did look bad because of the spill Foschi took.

Avent comes out to argue interference, to no avail. Heels back on top, 3-2.

Garrett Gore hits one into foul territory, and the fight between the two people actually sitting in the first base-side seats is vicious. Gore grounds out to third.

[Bottom 4th] Jones, perhaps a bit groggy, grounds out to short to start the inning. One down.

We have at least one superfan in the building, and he's an aerospace engineer. My man is hardcore--he's out on the lawn behind the left field fence all by himself.

Wicked pitch by Woodard to strike out Mangum.

You know, at least when we don't get anybody on base, Avent can't call for a sacrifice. 1-2-3 inning for Woodard, including two strikeouts. He has four.

[Top 5th] Ackley leads it off for Carolina; it's amazing that he's managed to hit .440 over the course of a full season. He hits one to the opposite field for a double. More trouble for Surkamp.

Federowicz flies out to center, Ackley advances. Bonner is impressed by Ackley's baserunning. In other news, a bug just fell off the ceiling onto my hand.

Horton stabs a blooper into left, Ackley scores. Chad Flack singles to left and we have reached a new low. It's 4-2 Carolina. Action in the bullpen.

Flack on first, Horton on second, one out. Fedroff grounds out sharply to first, Ferguson tags first and makes a horrible throw to second which gets by Foschi and nets UNC another run. Craptacular.

"Three hits in the inning now for NC State," Hogewood says. If only.

Seager hits a tough one to short and Foschi can't grab it; Flack scores to make it 6-2. They've scored it an error but that was an awfully difficult hop to handle.

Seth Williams gets sawed off, grounds softly to second, but Poulk botches it. No question this is an error; Heels score again and it's 7-2. Will this inning ever end?

Williams steals second with Plonk at the bat. Plonk pops out to Foschi at short, ending the pain.

[Bottom 5th] Avent had a little huddle going on in the dugout between innings. Profanities were being laced about, I'm sure.

Foschi strikes out to start the inning.

Poulk hits a can of corn to left, two out.

Whew. Another strikeout for Woodard, with Ferguson the victim this time. Easy inning.

[Top 6th] Lefty Andrew Taylor replaces Surkamp. He comes in with a 2.89 ERA in 28 IP but has nearly as many walks (16) as strikeouts (19).

Fox Sports cuts to the Eric Surkamp Left Ear Cam. Garrett Gore works the count full, but Taylor gets a perhaps generous call on the payoff for the strikeout.

Ackley flies out to left, two out.

Federowicz fans on a 2-2 pitch, so that's a 1-2-3 inning for Taylor. We needed one of those.

[Bottom 6th] Ryan Pond leads off. We really need to do something now. Pond singles up the middle, his first hit of the tournament.

Corona hits it hard to short where Josh Horton makes a nice play and gets the force on Pond at second; Corona safe at first.

Mike Hogewood, crazy little league parent.

Synan manages a base knock to right, which puts runners at first and second with one out.

Marcus Jones flies out to the right fielder, two out. Woodard balks and both runners advance. Need a big two-out hit from Mangum here.

Mangum indeed comes through; Pond scores; Synan tries for home but is thrown out. So, 7-3.

[Top 7th] After a stirring interview with the Avent's Army dude in left field, we're set to start the seventh. Taylor remains in the game for State.

Horton grounds out to first on a 2-2 pitch, Ferguson makes the play unassisted.

There is some serious giggling going on in the booth. They showed Horton's mother on camera and then the laughing started. They run a tight ship here on Sports South, obviously.

Actually, I take it back--it's Avent Army dude's mom. A correspondent is on the scene to talk with her. When we're interviewing a fan's mother, well, I'm not sure what that says about the game. Meanwhile, Fedroff singles past the first baseman. Men on first and second with one out.

Kyle Seager pops out to short. Every time he's mentioned, I think of Pete Seeger. Where have all the flowers gone, Kyle?

Seth Williams singles up the middle, Jones makes a good throw, but it's late regardless. Flack scores; 8-3.

Plonk walks to load the bases which spurs a pitching change. In will come Kyle Rutter. Rutter's only logged 21.7 IP this year.

[Insert shot of Avent's Army guy in left] Rutter's first pitch to Garrett Gore is a strike; the second pitch is fouled off, putting Gore down 0-2 quickly. Gore battles back, hits the ball to short and Foschi foolishly tries to get the force himself at second. No chance. In his defense, he was off balance after he nabbed the grounder so it wouldn't exactly have been a routine throw. That will do it for Rutter...the fielding is killin' us tonight.

Little-used Jake Kensmoe replaces Rutter. It's 9-3 Carolina and the bases are still loaded. Kensmoe gets Ackley to ground out to Ferguson at first, who again makes the play unassisted. Inning mercifully over.

[Bottom 7th] Is anyone reading this at this point? I don't think so.

Joe Florio pinch-hits for the Pack and makes an out. Woodard remains in control of things.

Horton makes an excellent play on a grounder to his right for the second out; Poulk quickly makes the third out with a fly ball to left. Hello, corpseball.

[Top 8th] Kensmoe remains in the game for the Pack.

Federowicz hits one to right-center; Marcus Jones handles it for the first out.

Horton stabs one to left for a single. I miss the 1-2-3 inning.

Good freaking god. Flack hits a grounder to short and it takes a wicked hop off the dirt which Foschi can't handle (understandably). Men on first and second.

With the runners moving, Fedroff singles to right and gives the Heels their tenth run. Fedroff advances to second on Ryan Pond's throw. Second and third. I'm feeling good about this, I really am. I think our breakthrough eight-run inning is coming up here.

Seager flies out to right, not deep enough to score the runner from third. Two down. Avent's out to the mound to make a pitching change. Do you know what time it is, Elliott?!

Sam Brown enters. He's got an ERA higher Kensmoe's and Rutter's, but his peripherals--particularly his K:BB ratio--are far superior. He issues few walks and gives up a hit an inning, so he doesn't mess around that whole outside-the-strikezone area. Grounder to short, no problem for Foschi this time.

[Bottom 8th] Pat Ferguson lines out to center, Pond walks. Corona hits a double to left center.

Synan grounds out to third, scoring Pond. 10-4. Corona advances and it looks like Woodard is done. He saved the bullpen; gave up a lot of hits but kept the pitch count down anyway.

Marcus Jones hits a breaking ball on the nose for a single to center, Corona scores. 10-5. Run charged to Woodard.

Mangum grounds out to short, Heels get the force at second. Does Carolina get a bad hop? Oh no. No no no. Of course not.

[Top 9th] Chris, the Avent's Army guy, is still rockin' it in left field. You go, man.

Drew Martin replaces Foschi at SS.

Reid Plonk is up for the sixth time--it's his last chance to get hit by a pitch. He instead flies out to Jones near the track in right-center.

Garrett Gore doubles down the right field line. Next pitch gets by Mangum, Gore moves up to third.

Ackley gives the Heels their 16th hit and 11th run. Boo-urns.

Brown strikes out Federowicz on three pitches. Very nice.

Horton doubles to left, putting runners on second and third.

Wow. Flack tees off on the first pitch and it goes down the left field line for a double. Two men score, it's 13-5. Also, it's 1 AM. Just like ground out or something, people. Honestly.

Hogewood says there's a mercy rule. I'm crying uncle here.

Sweet Christ. Double. Left field. And so forth. Sergei Fedorov...err, Tim Fedroff gets the hit. 14-5. Bonner notes that there is no activity in the bullpen as Elliott Avent walks to the mound. I weep. At least the mercy rule comes into effect with one more run.

Seager grounds out to Martin at short.

[Bottom 9th] All right, here it is. We're in a hole; we just have to dig ourselves out.

Carolina has brought in its closer to protect its tenuous nine-run lead. Bonner points out that this is not a save situation. Thanks, Dan. I wasn't sure.

Joe Florio walks to start the inning.

Drew Martin. Can of corn. Right field.

Passed ball advances Florio. Even the Avent's Army dude is tired of this shit now. He's checkin' his watch. If you think he's waving his flag at this hour, you can forget it. What time is it? 1:10? Could we hurry up and lose?

Poulk walks.

Pat Ferguson grounds out to the pitcher for the second out; runners advance.

Pitcher throws a ball to Ryan Pond which is called a strike by the ump. He's ready to get out of here, I think. Pond's fouling off pitches like it's 1:15 PM.

Pond grounds out to Ackley at first, game over. 14-5. I thought we had 'em right where we wanted 'em.

Paul Crane's all like, "fuck, dude, I do not get paid enough for this."

At least we've got Friday off. I expect that we'll be in the NCAAs regardless of what happens on Saturday, but this is worrisome.

Let There Be A Liveblog

-- It seems that tonight's State/UNC baseball game will be televised, so I will be liveblogging. I've never done baseball; if I utter something that Joe Morgan might say, this blog will self-destruct.

The Florida Times-Union has a story on the rivalry:

"We really hate each other," Mangum said after N.C. State opened the ACC Tournament with a 6-1 loss to Virginia on Wednesday. "I mean, really hate each other. There's no other way to describe it."

-- Somewhat related: here's a piece on the value of the stolen base in college baseball vs. MLB.

-- This could be old news, but I just discovered that Manny Lawson is writing for the Niners' website. This is from January:

Speaking of which, I almost died the other day. I was taking out the trash and we have to break down the boxes because otherwise the trash people will not pick them up. So I’m breaking down this box and I get a cardboard cut right on my finger. If I didn’t rush up to the bathroom, soak it, peroxide, Neosporin and band-aid it, I could have died. Paper cuts are the leading killer out there. People don’t know this, but it’s true. They get infected real easily, turn green, orange and blue and whatever gets cut, falls off. Seriously.

Can we get this man a blog? I think the world needs a Manny Lawson blog.

-- posted some new photos of the softball complex. By the way, you know you've been away from campus for too long when you see a building and wonder what the hell it is and where the hell it came from. In the background of this photo you can see the new Carmichael Gym expansion. I didn't even know the gym was expanding.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Out For A Few Days

I'll return Wednesday or Thursday.

If I don't come back, avenge my death.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Full contact mulching, I guess.

Baseball knocked off Clemson yesterday, assuring itself a spot in the ACC tournament.

A couple of MLB mock drafts here and here. Andrew Brackman seems to have earned his share of critics. And I think he kicked this poor man's dog:

Can we get smart about this please? This is truly a theater of the absurd. When I draft a college pitcher, I would like someone who has exhibited a trace of dominance in his career. Brackman has been mediocre AT BEST this season. Can people get past the optimistic scouting reports and the numerous BA fluff pieces and finally realize that he's nothing more than a gimmick. I know a sucker is born every minute, but if Brack goes in the 1st round, some team is really looking to throw away 1 million dollars.

Yeah, this is something to get worked up about, guy. Good lord.

The Mets scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th yesterday to edge the Cubs 6-5. That sort of thing always makes for a fun win probability graph. New York's win probability coming into the inning was 2%.

White Sox offense = still excruciating. Please make the hurting stop. It's destroying my will to live.

Baylor's tennis coach doesn't know anything about the Wolfpack except that we have this British guy. Or maybe he was Irish. Hell, I don't know.

SMQ takes us into the mind of Tom O'Brien, sharing a recent TOB diary entry:

You might recall I told the Raleigh News-Observer that I recently attended a concert put on by the popular rock group Dave Matthews Band. Clippings of said article have been filed under "May 13," "Interviews" and "Personal." Well, diary, a young man named Wyatt read that article and invited me via electronic message to ride with him to a music festival where Dave Matthews was playing with his famed accompaniment.

As you well know, I have been a longtime fan of "DMB," as the band is sometimes called, since I saw them play "The Song That Jane Likes" at the very clean and affordable Charlottesville restaurant Eastern Standard in February 1992, which I frequented in my capacity as offensive coordinator at the University of Virginia (see files "Dining," "In Public"). In fact, I have adopted a line from my favorite song off the band's Grammy-winning follow-up LP, 1996's "Crash," as the slogan for my first season with the Wolfpack:

I can't believe that we would lie in our graves, wondering if we had spent our living days well.

I can't believe that we would lie in our graves, dreaming of things that we might have been.

I believe this inspiring lyric embodies the many goals I hope to accomplish in my tenure at North Carolina State University. As a former Marine who was commissioned for deployment to Vietnam, I know what it is like to contemplate one's life from the perspective of the beyond. I tell my new players frequently that they should work every second of every day to avoid lying in their graves, wondering if that extra squat would have gotten that running back on the ground instead of allowing him to run for a first down. They should do the squat, and then an extra one, and then another set of repetitions to be safe. When they reach the end of their lives, I tell them, they do not want to be dreaming of championships. Instead, they will want to be fondling the very high-quality rings I will personally order from the best manufacturer for actually winning a championship.

So there's your 2007 team motto. A bit of a mouthful, sure, and yeah, you roll your eyes every time you read it, but it could be worse.

I'll leave you with a brilliant scene from the movie Hobgoblins. Jousting with garden tools--it's every bit as compelling as you would imagine.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Tennis advances to elite eight:

After defeating No. 6 North Carolina to advance to the NCAA Round of 16, the No. 27 N.C. State men's tennis team pulled off another upset Thursday as it handed No. 11 Texas a 4-3 loss at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

The Wolfpack advanced to the quarterfinals where they will face No. 3-seeded Baylor on Saturday at 9 a.m. Baylor shut out Alabama in its Round of 16 match.

N.C. State had to come back to win its match after dropping a tight doubles point. The Wolfpack rallied to win first sets on four singles courts. Texas managed splits on several courts, but not enough to take the match.

The decision came down to court four, where James McGee clinched the win with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Milan Mihailovic.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Home Stretch

Baseball won its last OOC game of the year yesterday and heads into the final weekend of the regular season in good shape to make both the ACC and NCAA tournaments. Under the ACC tournament's new format, only eight teams get to participate. There are four schools fighting for three spots:
6) NCSU (14-13)  --    vs. Clemson
7) Miami (14-13) -- vs. Duke
8) BC (12-15) -- vs. UVA
9) Wake (12-15) -- at VT
As long as we avoid being swept by Clemson, we're in for sure; we've got tiebreakers over the three teams below us. Boston College will probably end up the odd man out.

Andrew Brackman talked with the media yesterday--find coverage here, here, and here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I'd just finished repressing that.

As we had the year before, we took a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter against Maryland and blew it. I don't remember how much time was left on the clock, but when I close my eyes I can easily put myself back in the stadium--there goes Scott McBrien streaking into the south endzone for the game-tying touchdown. He jogs back to the sideline, takes off his helmet and goes to one knee, waiting for overtime or whatever it is that's to follow.

Maryland's kicker misses the extra point, leaving us up one. I'm thinking this is their karmic comeuppance for handing us three consecutive heartbreaking losses. We get the ball back and TA runs for a first down; the Terps don't have enough timeouts to stop us from running out the clock. This could not stand, of course. A play or two later, TA fumbles, Maryland recovers and then kicks the game-winning field goal.

Four in a row. The Terps leave the field under a shower of soda bottles; a few players, being the great marching band drum-destroying humanitarians that they are, stop and hurl bottles back into the stands.

I'd just as soon forget all of that, but when I saw this picture (which, much to my surprise, I'm in) from the game, I couldn't help remembering.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Columbia Regional

Tourney Bracket

The offenses, sorted by expected winning percentage:

          G     RS     RA     Diff  PythW%   ExpW-L   ActW-L
Oregon 59 328 165 163 .798 47-12 42-17
NCSU 60 273 142 131 .787 47-13 41-19
USC 57 150 119 31 .614 35-22 34-23
PSU 49 223 179 44 .608 30-19 26-23

Offense continued; sorted by OPS:

        Avg     OBP     SLG     OPS     ISO    R/G
Oregon .310 .387 .482 .869 .172 5.6
NCSU .274 .360 .449 .809 .175 4.6
PSU .291 .357 .416 .773 .125 4.6
USC .234 .293 .321 .614 .087 2.6

The pitching, sorted by fielding-independent ERA:

           ERA     IP     HR/7    K/7    BB/7   K/BB   WHIP    FIP    Opp_OPS
USC 1.68 399 0.40 7.0 1.4 4.9 0.92 2.66 .516
NCSU 1.77 411.7 0.37 7.9 2.8 2.8 1.05 3.04 .536
PSU 2.85 314.7 0.60 6.0 3.2 1.9 1.45 4.18 .713
Oregon 2.51 376.7 0.65 4.1 2.0 2.0 1.15 4.18 .633

-- Penn State is the only team that we've seen this season; the Pack lost 5-3 to the Nittany Lions back on February 10th.

-- South Carolina owns a frighteningly poor offense. I know the SEC is tough, but jeez. McKenna Hughes is hitting .318/.372/.566 and has ten of the team's 18 home runs; beyond her, there ain't much. Tori Martin, a starter in 55 of 56 games, has a .134/.258/.207 line. Give her credit for the best walk rate on the team, though she also has the highest strikeout rate (d'oh). So she's got two of the three true outcomes down.

You're going to need great pitching with an offense that terrible, and it looks like South Carolina has the regional's best staff. USC's pitchers strikeout a batter an inning and they don't walk anybody; opponents have a .244 OBP this season. The Gamecocks are likely to send Melissa Hendon to the mound against us on Friday; here's how she compares to Abbie Sims:

           ERA    IP     K/7    BB/7   K/BB   H/7    WHIP    FIP    Opp_OPS
Sims 1.69 219 8.8 2.8 3.1 4.2 1.00 2.78 .514
Hendon 1.57 223 7.5 1.3 6.0 4.5 0.83 2.77 .511

Give an edge to the Pack because of its offense, but the game will be close.

-- Oregon doesn't have quite the run scoring problem. Ann Marie Topps, hitting .282/.360/.650, has as many homers as the entire South Carolina team. Jennifer Salling is hitting a ridiculous .483/.591/.864; in her profile she says that, were she stranded on an island, she'd be with her cell phone. Now, see, that's just not practical thinking. You can't... well, actually, I suppose you could... it just wouldn't be ideal, is all.

The Pac-10 is so tough that the Ducks could only manage a 7-14 record in conference play. Eighteen of their 21 conference games were played against opponents ranked in the top 20.

They finished tied for last in the Pac-10, and they're the team to beat.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Congrats To Men's Tennis

They're in the sweet sixteen for the first time ever:

No. 27 NC State topped archrival No. 6 North Carolina, 4-0, for the first time since 1988 en route to grabbing a spot in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for the first time in program history. The Pack collected a hard-fought doubles tally to open play, and followed with three relative quick singles decisions, stunning the Tar Heels and punching its ticket to Athens, Ga.

With the win, NC State moves to 22-9 on the year, while UNC’s season ends at 24-4. The victory marks the first time that State has ever shut out its rival, while increasing the program’s record for wins in a single season to 22. It also stands as the highest-ranked opponent ever toppled by a Pack squad, including its first over a top-10 team. The Wolfpack has now beaten 12 ranked teams on the year.

Also of interest: Chip Alexander's interview with Tom O'Brien. You don't have to wonder about the uniforms anymore:

Q: Will the team have new-look uniforms this season?

A: Not this year. I would assume we could change things in another year.

Works for me. The Falcons-esque uniforms have grown on me to the point where I actually like them.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Larry Csonka!

Not much doin' today.

Softball ousted from ACC tourney ... men's and women's tennis are playing in the NCAAs this weekend ... here's an interesting look at ground balls and infield defense ... apparently we have to watch out for Wofford ... Michigan and UNC--they go together like nuts and gum!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Attack Of The Killer Ass Bats

BC 2, Softball 0. Beaten by a bad team, shut out by a bad pitcher.

The Pack managed just six hits--all of them singles--against Boston College's Britney Thompson. Thompson's 4.07 ERA seems decent enough, but her peripherals reveal her to be a pitcher far worse than her ERA suggests. Opponents are hitting .277/.346/.482 against her this season. She doesn't strike anyone out, and foes hit her hard (almost 3 extra-base hits per 7IP, including an Eric Miltonesque 1.4 HR per 7IP).

State saw Thompson twice in the regular season and beat her both times, scoring a combined eight runs. So what happened today? Ass bats. They can strike at the worst of times.

Fortunately, I've been watching the White Sox suck for the better part of a month and a half, so I'm used to the phenomenon.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Amato Talks With News 14

"It's kind of a misnomer about me with the media."


The ACC Hoops Bible Is Coming

From the N&O:

His first book, which will be published this summer, may immediately qualify as the bible of ACC basketball.

Working "50- to 60-hour weeks for the last seven years," O'Hara has compiled box scores and accounts for every ACC men's basketball game ever played. That total comes to approximately 14,000 games.


The book -- titled "Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Basketball Games" and subtitled "A Complete Record" -- will be printed in three 8.5-by-11-inch volumes, each of about 800 pages.

Holy sweet mercy, this is the best thing ever. I mean, damn, those poor trees, but still--best thing ever. It costs how much? Here, just take my wallet.


The process of settling upon a workable format for the material has been challenging, according to Alff. Box scores and statistical categories have changed substantially over the years. What O'Hara refers to as an "abbreviated box" will be used for most games.

Some games will get extensive recaps, but many won't. O'Hara cited the infamous 12-10 N.C. State win over Duke in the 1968 conference tournament semifinals as an example.

"There's a lot of information on that game simply because it involves so many records that will never be broken," O'Hara said. "It may have been dull to a lot of people there. But from a historic perspective, that was an important game."

You can look at the box score from that State/Duke game here. Duke finished the game with 11 field goal attempts; that ball-hogging Steve Vandenberg had four of them. A rough estimate of possessions indicates that each team had about 15.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Monday Items

-- Baseball got a couple of much needed wins over the weekend, sweeping Campbell. Recap here. With eight games left in the regular season, State maintains pretty good standing in the RPI, and the strength of schedule is only going to get better with UVA and Clemson coming up. If the Pack splits its six remaining conference games and wins its two remaining OOC games, it will have a 36-19 (15-15) record going into the ACC tournament. That'll be enough to earn an NCAA bid.

Sidenote: Although Ramon Corona isn't hitting for the average or the power he did last season, his walk rate has tripled. He walked 16 times in 320 plate appearances (5%) in 2006; already this season, he's walked 34 times in 219 PAs (15.5%). So even with a 90-point drop in batting average, he's getting on base at about the same rate as he did last year.

-- AJ Davis made a solid first impression with the Lions:

Cornerback A.J. Davis was jumping at the Lions' three-day rookie minicamp that wrapped up Sunday.

"I asked the defensive guys, 'What do you think of him?' " assistant offensive line coach Mike Barry said. "And they said, 'He's like the Energizer Bunny.' And it's the same way he was when he was at N.C. State."

-- Brandon Costner likes the decision to move the three-point line back:

"Moving it back will open up more space on the floor, especially in the lane," said Costner, who will be a junior in 2008-09. "I also think it will help players adjust more to the NBA in getting used to shooting a longer 3-pointer than they did in college."

-- Jake Peavy is awesome--I just wanted to point that out. He's been one of my keeper league stalwarts since he came up.

-- We're still waiting on a TOB/Glasper piece from the N&O and it is supposedly on the way.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

If you've got will and a little time...

A couple of good observations from the News-Record's Jim Young:

In the New Haven piece, while it's still not clear when O'Brien informed Glasper he couldn't redshirt, O'Brien comes across as merely an old-school coach, essentially telling Glasper that he won't give him a medical redshirt because the team doc has cleared the safety to play. That doesn't make O'Brien seem like the most loveable guy, but it's much better than being seen as a liar.


It should also be noted that Glasper was one of the players that BC brought to the preseason ACC football media gatherings. That's a strange thing to do if the team had already agreed to redshirt the player, as the piece says BC had elected to do with Glasper.

Bill offers more speculation, this time regarding the case of the mysterious disappearing N&O story:

I can understand the article not making the paper. Things get bumped or delayed all the time. But there is no explanation for pulling the blog post, especially since Alexander had the most unique Glasper quotes. Why would they remove it? Let me speculate, but perhaps TOB and NC State want to put it all to rest and got heavy handed with the most malleable media available. It wouldn’t be the first time TOB (or any other coach) had done that. On a UNC message board there is unsupported speculation that John Swofford himself pressured the N&O to kill the story. That would make sense as it is in his interest that all ACC schools get along.

In order to find out for myself I called and emailed Chip Alexander. No response as of this post.

So helpful, those Tar Heels. On behalf of the NC State fan base, let me extend my deepest gratitude to our Tar Heel friends for their obvious concern. I noticed that a few of the world class douchebags among them have chosen to go to the Boston College message board and pile on with the Eagles's touching, it really is.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


In the last 18 hours or so, the TOB/Glasper thing has gone from mildly bothersome to highly amusing. Boston College fans are just! so! outraged! Here's more for you, this time from "Bitter Eagle":

This story should absolutely disgust any BC fan and the national media should pick up on it and put TOB into a coffin. He should not be allowed to coach anywhere after what he did. I kind of feel bad for NCST now. They are stuck with this douche and they probably had no clue TOB was capable of pulling crap like this. Thank God the reign of that choke-artist TOB is over.

(By the way, note in Bitter Eagle's links there's a BC blog called Angry Eagle. Toss in For Here Men Are (Angry) Men and you've got one hell of a Triumvirate of Sad Sacks. What's with all the grouchiness? Is it because Manny's hitting .215?)

The N&O got in touch with Glasper last night. He had this to say:

"I have no animosity toward Coach O’Brien," he said. "I’m not bitter about anything or have any hatred.

"He’s a good coach, a phenomenal coach. I understand what he did. From a coach’s perspective, he did what he thought was best for the team. Maybe he knew that it would be his last year at BC and wanted it to be the best year it could be."

There'll be a story in Thursday's paper.

At the Fanhouse, Bill wonders if ESPN is burying the O'Brien story because one of TOB's daughters works for ESPN:

The ESPN networks need content and stories like this are perfect fodder for their series of talking head shows and SportsCenter. Yet no mention of this anywhere outside of Alan Grant's article (and it should be noted that Grant is not a fulltime ESPN employee). Did ESPN bury this story because of the O'Briens?

This is nothing but a hollow attempt to give the story some momentum. You tell me which is more likely:

1) O'Brien's daughter has enough sway to keep the vast--and separate--arms of the ESPN media empire from further highlighting the story.
2) The story isn't as big of a deal as BC fans think it is.

(Dave Sez also has a reaction to the ESPN article.)

[Update 5-2-07 9:45PM: The above link to ACC Now is dead because the N&O removed that post.]

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

We can tailgate slightly longer!

Good news, everyone.

Tailgating will be expanded by one hour at North Carolina State University football games for the 2007 season and a new ambassador program will be created to promote good sportsmanship on game day.

There's a doin's a-transpirin'!

It's more of a minor flap, really, but it'll have to do.

Embittered ex-BC safety Ryan Glasper doesn't like the way his injury situation was handled by Tom O'Brien.

"I'm redshirting," Glasper said.

"No, you've been cleared by the doctor to play," O'Brien said. "You're choosing not to play."

Glasper was shocked into silence. But O'Brien continued.

"I hold the keys to what you do," the coach said. "We don't have to grant you a fifth year. Besides, I can't count on you."

Glasper seethes at the retelling of the story.

"I respect all people and I've always been a team player," Glasper says. "But when he said all that, I just wanted to punch that dude."

The problem I have with this is that all of the words attributed to O'Brien are coming from Glasper's recollection of the encounter. It's been months since that brief exchange, and instead of going the safer route and paraphrasing, Alan Grant uses direct quotes as if someone had tape recorded the conversation. I'm not sure I'd be that confident in Glasper's memory.

I don't agree with what O'Brien did, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was a little more tactful in dealing with Glasper than Glasper remembers.

Later in the article:

[W]hen asked about the decision not to redshirt Glasper, [ex-BC defensive backs coach Kevin] Lempa, now at Maryland, was silent for a few moments before stating, "That was the head coach's decision."

In a New Haven Register article on the same subject, Lempa elaborates on the staff's unspoken thought process:

Lempa, a Hartford native and former Southern Connecticut State University star, admits that some politics were involved in BC coach Tom O’Brien’s desire not to redshirt Glasper.

"He was a guy that was going to help us win, we knew that," said Lempa. "The guy that replaced him was doing a good job, but Ryan was a better player. We knew with him, we would be a better team."

As for this comment from Glasper (from the ESPN article)...

"Looking back I think he already knew he was going somewhere else," Glasper says. "So I guess he needed the defense to be intact that season."

...I don't want to believe it's true, but I worry that it might be.

Lots of huff-puffery from Boston College fans on this one:

Eagle Insider thread
Eagle In Atlanta
For Here Men Are Men (highly recommended)

We already had fans on both sides secretly (or not-so-secretly) hoping for the demise of the other so they could have that I-told-you-so moment (I'm guilty as charged), and now Ryan Glasper has added a little kick to the developing mini-rivalry. It's weird to think about bad blood between schools as historically disconnected as Boston College and NC State. What a strange reality, this post-expansion world.