Derek Jeter Attends Michigan Game, Gets Personalized Jersey from Jim Harbaugh

Derek Jeter was out in full support of the Wolverines on Saturday.

The New York Yankees legend, who grew up in Michigan, received a personalized jersey from head coach Jim Harbaugh before the team took on BYU:

With The Captain behind them, the Wolverines will look to upset the No. 22 team in the nation.


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College World Series Stars Who Will Be MLB All-Stars One Day

The 2013 College World Series is drawing to a close, with UCLA holding a 1-0 series lead over Mississippi State entering Tuesday’s Game 2, but the future for some of the best and brightest players in Omaha is incredibly exciting. 

We started with a field of 64 teams that dwindled down to eight. Those final eight made the journey to TD Ameritrade Park in Nebraska. The event has increased in popularity in recent years thanks to national television coverage, which also gives fans a look at some of the top incoming–either this year or in the not-too-distant future–prospects. 

To give you an idea of who the best of the best in Omaha were this year, here is a look at the players who will go from being stars of the College World Series to shining on the All-Star stage in Major League Baseball.

Note: These are only players whose teams made it to Omaha (LSU, Mississippi State, Indiana, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Oregon State, Louisville and UCLA). 

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Scouting San Francisco Giants’ Draftees Playing in the College World Series

The San Francisco Giants didn‘t select any high-ranking prospects in the 2013 MLB draft. Nonetheless, two of their picks will be showcased this weekend in the College World Series.


Nick Vander Tuig, SP, UCLA

With their sixth-round pick (193rd overall), the Giants selected Oakdale native Nick Vander Tuig. As a starting pitcher with UCLA in 2013, the right-hander went 12-4 with an impressive 2.37 ERA.

Despite the shiny peripheral numbers, Vander Tuig—who underwent Tommy John surgery in high school—didn’t dominate college competition, striking out only 81 batters in 114 innings pitched. But he was still hard to hit, as he held opponents to a .237 batting average and managed a 1.02 WHIP.

A 6’3” righty, Vander Tuig sits at 91 MPH with his fastball, which has good tailing movement. He also throws a slurvy slider and a changeup—both of which project as major league average pitches. He’s confident in his ability and isn’t afraid to challenge hitters.

If all goes well for Vander Tuig, he could eventually reach his ceiling as a No. 3 starter. If not, he profiles as a decent reliever.

Vander Tuig is very reminiscent of Atlanta Braves starter Kris Medlen; he’s not a hard thrower, but he has good movement on all of his pitches. He locates his fastball well and knows how to use his changeup. Like Medlen, Vander Tuig could find himself being juggled between the bullpen and the starting rotation.

If that’s the case, the Giants would be quite happy. Any sixth-round pick that forces his way into a club’s plans is well worth the selection.

Catch UCLA as they battle LSU in the College World Series. The matchup begins on June 16 at 8 p.m. ET.


Ty Ross, C, LSU

The Giants drafted LSU catcher Ty Ross with their 12th-round pick (372nd overall). Known mostly as a defensive presence, Ross has had limited success with the bat as a member of the Tigers.

In 2013, the 6’2” right-hander hit only .215 with three home runs in 200 at-bats. Ross does possess some power, and the Giants are hoping to see more of it as he progresses through the minor leagues.

In all reality, Ross will exceed expectations if he ever reaches the big leagues as a backup catcher.

Watch Ty Ross as his LSU Tigers take on Nick Vander Tuig’s UCLA Bruins in the College World Series.

The series kicks off on Father’s Day, June 16, at 8 p.m. ET.

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2012 MLB Draft Prospect: Scouting Stanford Ace Mark Appel

Stanford ace right-hander Mark Appel is likely to be the first overall pick of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft for the Houston Astros next week.  I scouted Appel at Sunken Diamond back in March when Stanford hosted USC.

I sat behind home plate and charted each of his 113 pitches using the stadium radar gun.  Appel threw a complete game, allowing six hits, two walks, and two runs, while striking out seven.  He induced eleven grounders, eight flyballs and six line drives. 

Appel’s fastball topped out at 96 Miles Per Hour (MPH), while sitting between 89-96 MPH and averaging close to 94 MPH.  By my count, he threw 65 fastballs, 30 curveballs and 18 changeups.  His curveball and changeup both sat in the 80-86 MPH range. 

For a college pitcher with a fastball that was averaging over 93 MPH and hitting 95-96 through the 9th inning, I expected more swing-throughs.  However, USC only swung and missed nine times by my count: four times against the fastball, twice against the curve and three times against the change.  Three of the seven strike-outs were looking. 

The curveball was more advanced and more consistent than the changeup.  His changeup was ineffective for most of the game until the 7th inning when he found his feel with the pitch and missed a few bats with it.  Before that, the pitch wasn’t doing much, often bouncing in the dirt without enticing the hitter at all.

He threw strikes, but he didn’t have great command with his fastball, throwing too many hittable strikes up in the zone, particularly in 0-2 counts when he should have been free to attack the corners. 

A great example was in the 9th inning with Stanford leading 1-0.  USC had runners on second and third with two outs when Appel threw an 0-2 fastball right down the middle, which led to a basehit up the middle for a go-ahead-two-run single.

Appel needs to improve his changeup to make it a more consistent weapon, particularly against lefties.  He also needs to improve his fastball command within the strike zone.

The size (listed at 6-5, 215), velocity, curveball, and control are the positives that will likely make Appel the first pick of the draft next week, despite the weaknesses that were exposed in the start that I scouted.  Appel has the tools to make good on his pedigree, but he is far from a finished product.   

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BYU Cougars Gear Up for Regionals

The BYU men’s and women’s cross country teams compete in the NCCA Mountain Regional meet this Saturday at Salt Lake City’s Rose Park Golf Course.

The women’s race is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m., while the men compete beginning at 11:45 a.m.

The men’s team is ranked No. 15 in the country and will face three other nationally ranked programs in the field.

No. 7 Northern Arizona, No. 9 Colorado, No. 10 New Mexico and BYU make this regional one of the most competitive.

Because of BYU’s performance two weeks ago at the Pre-National meet, the men are guaranteed of advancing to the Nationals regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s race.

BYU is led by Mountain West Conference champion Miles Batty, who head coach Ed Eyestone says is one of the top runners in the nation. We caught up with coach Eyestone this week and got his thoughts going into this weekend’s race…

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Michigan Tuesday: Clarifies Medical Redshirts

This is game week and after a week off it’s hard to find news worthy stuff out of the Wolverines.  So I will do my best today on getting you the most interesting “stuff” out there.


Funny Quotes from the Michigan Press Conference Yesterday

-A camera man asked a question to Coach Rod about facing JoPa head-to-head.  RR responded jokingly: “Joe and I aren’t going against each other, I might be able to take him, if it is just me and him.”

-Stephen Schilling on Big Will Campbell playing on the offensive line:  “Sometimes he played the defensive line like an offensive lineman.  He was more interested in finishing blocks then making the tackle.”

  • The Daily Gopher profiles a “Michigan Man” Brady Hoke for their open head coaching position.  I didn’t realize the job he has done at San Diego State.  He is currently 5-2 with a win over Air Force and played Missouri within three points and was leading in the fourth quarter. 
  • Kelvin Grady was interviewed  for ESPN’s GameDay on Monday for his Twitter use.
  • Denard is a semi-finalist for Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.  There are 15 other semi-finalists as well.
  • I know many of you have questions on what qualifies for a medical redshirt for Devin Gardner.  No. 1: He can’t play more then 30 percent of the games in a season, with all participation being in the first half of the season.  His last snaps were in the Bowling Green game.  No. 2: He also has to have a documented injury.  Currently, he has a documented back injury.   At the end of the year, they have to file paperwork to the NCAA requesting a medical redshirt.  I fully expect Michigan to file for the medical redshirt also commonly known as a medical hardship at the end of the season.
  • The other situation is that it seems Ricardo Miller played on special teams for the UMASS game this year.  Let’s hope that stat is a mistake.  You lose your redshirt eligibility if you play one play. 
  • Yes, Michigan is recruiting a place kicker.  They were looking at guys in California and Maryland last week.

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10 Biggest Sports Disappointments of 2010 in Wisconsin

Look, I know we haven’t talked for a while. But I was a little afraid to call you.

I know that the last few days have been tough. I heard about you taking your kids to see Toy Story 3 and how you had to be removed from the theater because you were crying so loudly.

Yes, I know. Andy saying goodbye to Woody, Buzz, and the rest of his beloved toys (and symbolically, to his childhood) was an emotional punch in the throat that resonated with many grown men struggling with the responsibilities of adulthood. But come on, get a grip.

Then, just days later, the United States men’s national soccer team lost to Ghana 2-1 in the opening round of the World Cup’s so-called “knockout stage.” I heard you hadn’t been so despondent since Beavis and Butt-head was cancelled. 

While I can empathize with your disappointment that the United States team didn’t make it farther in the World Cup, I must admit to some surprise at how hard you took the defeat.

Aren’t you sort of hardened to this sort of thing by now? After all, the first half of 2010 has been full of crushing letdowns for Wisconsin sports fans.

Let’s look at just ten of the biggest sports disappointments in 2010:


10. Lady Badgers Make Quick Exit

Yes, it was a successful season for the lady Badgers. Yes, Lisa Stone guided the team to one of their better seasons in quite some time, as they finished third in the Big Ten and won 21 games overall.

But it was that type of season that made you think that their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2002 was going to last a little longer.

Instead the seventh-seeded Badgers were the victims of one of the few upsets in the stultifying predictable women’s tournament (really, most infomercials have more stunning developments) as they fell 64-55 to the 10th-seeded Vermont Catamounts of the America East conference.


9. Andrew Bogut Gets Hurt

The Milwaukee Bucks have long been a team that has had to deal with injuries. But often the team has been so bad that injury problems were an annoyance that distracted from bigger problems, like a bad photo on a Barry Manilow album cover.

Yet in 2009-2010, something happened to the Milwaukee Bucks. Scott Skiles and John Hammond put together a team, led by rookie guard Brandon Jennings and midseason acquisition John Salmons, that won games, even after Michael Redd predictably went down in January with yet another knee injury.

Not to be overlooked was the play of center Andrew Bogut, who was having a breakout season to the tune of 15.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game when he incurred an elbow and hand injury in April, just as the Bucks had secured a playoff spot.

Without Bogut, the Bucks lost to the Hawks in the playoff’s opening round in seven games. With Bogut, they likely go deeper and should go deeper next year.


8.  The Brewers’ Lousy Home Cooking

I’m hesitant to dump too much on the Brewers on this list due to their recent turnaround (winning eight of their last eleven games as of this writing).

However, the fact remains that as we approach the All-Star Break, only Baltimore, Cleveland, and Houston (all with 16 wins) have won fewer games at home than the Milwaukee Brewers (17 wins).

For a team with as solid and loyal a following as Milwaukee, that’s simply inexcusable and incomprehensible.

And no, I don’t buy the team’s complaints about the shadows during day games at Miller Park anymore than I would buy complaints about the brand of peanuts sold at the concession stands.

Last I checked, both the visiting and home teams play under the same conditions.


7. Aaron Kampman a Jaguar?

It shouldn’t have ended like this. Heading into the 2009-2010 season, defensive end Aaron Kampman was one of the most well-liked and productive players on the Packers.

In the three seasons spanning 2006-2009, Kampman totaled 215 tackles and 37 sacks.

Then new defensive coordinator Dom Capers and his hairpiece instituted the 3-4, Kampman moved to outside linebacker, where he looked about as comfortable as my father at a Bone Thugs-n-Harmony concert, and a great player was suddenly nullified.

Given his lack of production in 2009 (just 3.5 sacks before going down with a knee injury on November 22), it might not have been that crushing of a blow to the team when it was announced in March that the free agent had signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it was undoubtedly a disappointing end to what was shaping up to be one of the greatest careers ever by a Packer defensive player.

6. Wisconsin Women’s Hockey Comes Back To Earth

What a difference a year makes. In March 2009, the Badger women were celebrating their third national championship in four years.

In winning the title (again), they amassed a gaudy 34-2-5 record and won a remarkable 23 games by at least four goals.

In February 2010, the Badger women, sans head coach Mark Johnson (on a year sabbatical to coach the U.S. women’s hockey team in Vancouver) and sans eight players lost to graduation, finished with a 18-15-3 record while missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.

Given the huge losses, such a downfall was perhaps not entirely surprising, but given the high expectations for success that the women’s hockey program has raised, still very disappointing.

5. Brewers’ Pitching Stinks Again (But . . . )

When the 2010 season began, it seemed as if the Brewers couldn’t help but improve on their disappointing 80-82 2009 campaign.

After all, Milwaukee just missed a winning record despite having the second-worst pitching staff in the National League.

Unfortunately, so far in 2010, the pitching has been statistically just as bad, highlighted by the complete collapse of closer Trevor Hoffman and the less-than-tremendous start by newcomer Randy Wolf.

However, the club appears to be on the upswing, and improvements in the pitching is (not surprisingly) a big reason: Hoffman’s ERA has dropped over three points since June, Randy Wolf has won three of his last four starts, there’s no more Jeff Suppan (his firing being the most welcome personnel move since Bruce Springsteen reunited with the E Street Band) and John Axford has emerged out of nowhere to not only bring back the handlebar mustache but also to bring back a dominant closer (five straight save conversions) to the Brewers.

So, reasons for optimism following a pretty awful first half of 2010 for Brewers pitching.


4. The Penalty That Never Was

Just as Mick Jagger is in no hurry to return to Altamont Speedway, most Packers fans are in no hurry to return to thoughts of January’s NFC Wildcard game against the Arizona Cardinals.

And most reticence fans feel likely stems from the final play of the game: Third-and-six on their own 24-yard line. In the process of having the football stripped, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers clearly gets his face mask pulled by Arizona’s Michael Adams.

Karlos Dansby returns the fumble for a touchdown that seemed sure to be wiped away in favor of a facemask or illegal hands to the face penalty on Adams.

Except no call was ever made, and a game that the Packers had been in control of since midway through the third quarter (not to mention a largely positive season) was suddenly over.

Hey, NFL officials. Jim Joyce apologized for blowing that perfect game call. Isn’t it time you apologized for this gaffe?


3. Badgers Overpowered By Eagles

The bigger the game, the bigger the disappointment. Unlike the women’s team, the Badger men’s hockey team had a fantastic 2009-2010 season, going 28-11-4 and making an impressive run through the NCAA tournament field.

But in a rematch of the 2006 NCAA championship game (which the Badgers won 2-1), the red-hot scoring Badgers were completely shut down by Boston College 5-0.

However, the Badgers were in it until the third period, when the Eagles exploded for four goals and ended any chance Wisconsin had of winning its seventh NCAA championship.

What’s worse for the Badgers is the fact that the 5-0 drubbing was the final game for seven seniors.


2. Defensive Collapse I

After a tremendous regular season (24-9, highlighted by three wins over top-five teams, including eventual champion Duke) that featured standout play from Jon Leuer (despite missing nine games with a wrist injury), Jason Bohannon, and Trevon Hughes, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team was awarded a gaudy No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Much of what secured the Badgers that high seed was a remarkably stingy defense that stifled its opponents while allowing less than 55 points a game.

Bo Ryan’s team was clearly not designed for an up-and-down offensive shootout, but that’s what they found themselves in when they played No. 12 seeded Cornell of the Ivy League in the second round.

The Badgers were no match for the hot-shooting Big Red, as Cornell shot 61 percent from the field and 53 percent from beyond the arc.

What was clearly one of Wisconsin’s best teams in several years bowed out of the tournament in the opening weekend for the fourth time in five years. 


1. Defensive Collapse II

Despite minimizing the talents of Aaron Kampman (see above), new Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers’s new 3-4 defense was clearly a success in its first year.

Although the team stumbled against Minnesota (twice) and Pittsburgh, the team finished the 2009 regular season seventh in points allowed per game, second in yards allowed per game, and first in rushing yards allowed per game.

Heading into the NFC Wildcard game against Arizona, a trip to the NFC Divisional Round seemed assured, especially since Green Bay had throttled Arizona 33-7 just the week before, as the defense only allowed the Cardinals 187 total yards from scrimmage.

No one could have foreseen that the Cardinals would completely have their way with the Packers defense during the second meeting, scoring 31 points by the midway point of the third quarter en route to a 51-45 overtime win.

It was the most points the Packers had ever allowed in their long and illustrious playoff history.

Just thinking about those 531 yards the Packers surrendered on January 10 is enough to make any Packer fan reach for their kids’ Woody or Buzz Lightyear doll for a little solace.

Here’s hoping for a better end to 2010.

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NCAA Announces College World Series Legends Team

It’s not often we talk about college baseball here at The Ghost of Moonlight Graham , but I thought we would today. Yesterday, the NCAA announced its College World Series legends team.

The 25 players and three coaches were selected from a list of 95 nominees picked by the NCAA, the Omaha World-Herald and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Members of the team who can attend will be honored at the CWS this year, in the final season of Rosenblatt Stadium.

Here is the list of the players that were selected.

• Dustin Ackley, North Carolina, 1b, 2007-09
• Will Clark, Mississippi State, 1b, 1985
• Bob Horner, Arizona State, 2b, 1976-78
• Todd Walker, Louisiana State, 2b, 1993-94
• Darwin Barney, Oregon State, ss, 2005-07
• Nomar Garciaparra, Georgia Tech, ss, 1994
• Spike Owen, Texas, ss, 1981-82
• Sal Bando, Arizona State, 3b, 1964-65
• Pat Burrell, Miami (Fla.), 3b, 1996-98
• Robin Ventura, Oklahoma State, 3b, 1986-87
• Barry Bonds, Arizona State, of, 1983-84
• J.D. Drew, Florida State, of, 1995
• Terry Francona, Arizona, of, 1979-80
• Mark Kotsay, Cal State Fullerton, of, 1994-95
• Fred Lynn, Southern California, of, 1971-73
• Dave Winfield, Minnesota, of, 1973
• Steve Arlin, Ohio State, rhp, 1965-66
• Eddie Bane, Arizona State, lhp, 1972-73
• Burt Hooton, Texas, rhp, 1969-70
• Huston Street, Texas, rhp, 2002-04
• Jason Windsor, Cal State Fullerton, rhp, 2004
• Ryan Garko, Stanford, c, 2001-03
• Landon Powell, South Carolina, c, 2002-04
• Pete Incaviglia, Oklahoma State, dh, 1983-85
• Brooks Kieschnick, Texas, dh-rhp, 1992-93

For me, the best college baseball player I saw play (1990 – current) was Todd Walker. When Walker was at LSU he was a hitting machine. I really thought he was going to be the next great hitting second baseman.

Walker went on to have a solid major league career, but never came close to the hitter I thought he would be. I thought he would be Chase Utley good.

The other player that stands out to me on this list is Brooks Kieschnick. Kieschnick was another player that was a man amongst boys in college, but never enjoyed any success at the major league level.

Kieschnick was kind of a “tweener.” He was a really good hitter and a really good pitcher, but never did anything great that would translate to the Major League game.

Kieschnick ended up playing parts of six seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, and Milwaukee Brewers. After trying his hand as a hitter early on in his career, Kieschnick converted to a full-time pitcher and enjoyed his most success with the Brewers in 2004 when he posted a 3.77 ERA in 43 innings.

Congratulations to all these players and their accomplishments at the college level. The 2010 College World Series starts June 19th.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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