It came about 2 weeks behind schedule, which was kind of nice since it allowed me to go on vacation to try and get myself out of the funk I've been in, but last week Mike Slive and ESPN announced the formation of the SEC Network that we've been awaiting anxiously. Commissioner Mike Slive didn't give any details on the $$$$ coming, but we do know a few things. 1.) ESPN will own the network and content and will be paying each school for said content. That means ESPN will be trying to force cable and satellite owners to include the channel on their basic cable system. "You don't want to carry the SEC Network? No problem. I just don't see how you're going to be able to explain how come they can't get any ESPN stations or Disney channels for that matter." 2.) No start up costs for the SEC. These will be absorbed by ESPN and is likely the reason the home base for the conference channel is in North Carolina. 3.) This will be a national channel. Not a regional network promoted by Fox. It will give the entire nation an opportunity to watch SEC athletics. We'll talk about this more later.
We're into the first week of May and the Royals are still battling for first place in their division. That may not seem like much to you, but it's tremendous for Kansas City fans. The city has been walking with a little more vigor this year. Of course, KC could always fall on their face and we'd be back to where we're accustomed, but I don't look for that to happen and I'll tell you why. The starting pitching has been very good so far. Good enough that I don't think a 12-14 game losing streak is all that likely. That's always been the Royals problem. They'd go along playing .500 ball and suddenly they'd drop 10 or so in a row. The hitting hasn't been all that this season and the Royals are still winning. Hopefully this continues.
It's coming a bit early this year. The long awaited SEC Network will be announced next Tuesday at a news conference in Atlanta. It's expected that this will add around $10 to $15 million dollars per team, per year initially. At least, that's what I expect. I know that guys like Clay Travis have stated it will be greater, much greater, and I expect that to happen down the road, but even $10 million would push the league to around $30 million per team. In Mizzou's case, this money was badly needed to keep funding the stadium expansion and other upgrades planned. I expect that, in keeping with tradition, there will be quite a dog and pony show put on for the event. Now all the Tigers have to do is start winning in their new league.
Phil Pressey removed all doubt this week as he announced he'd be forgoing his final year and moving on to the NBA. NBA might be a bit strong as Pressey is somewhat challenged physically. Last time I checked there wasn't a real high demand on 5'10" guys that don't shoot 40% from the field and don't play any defense. I personally believe that Europe will be a much more likely landing spot for Pressey, which wouldn't be all bad for Phil. What does this mean for Missouri in 2014? I don't think it will make a great amount of difference. They should be a top 4 program in the SEC, but they should have been this year also. Wesley Clark tweeted that it was "his time" now. I think that may be the best for both Wesley and Missouri. Pressey sort of wore out his welcome here last season, but he was a true son and I wish him well.
Work continues at Faurot Field in Columbia as Missouri begins spending some of that $200 million they've earmarked for stadium expansion. At the left you can see they're currently working on expanding the north plaza and bringing the hill closer to the field. Now personally, I would have preferred building permanent seating and eliminating the Rock M altogether, but that's a topic for down the road. I can certainly see adding room to the plaza and making it a larger area for fans to congregate. They're also converting some of the west side of the pressbox to more sites. Next up will be expanding the concourses and adding another level to the east side. By 2014 the stadium should hold close to 80,000. Small steps to be sure, but much needed.
Just in case you haven't been paying attention, the Royals are in 1st place. The reason I mention that is because, well, it may not last too long and I just wanted to make sure I said it. Fox Sports obviously doesn't put much stock in it, as they still have the Royals ranked 21st out of 30 teams. And they may fall on their faces any day now, but I find that a little hard to believe, given some of the things that we know. They shouldn't be as susceptible to long losing steaks this year with James Shields, Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie all pitching every 5 days. The hitting appears to have improved to the extent they won't be scratching for runs. About the only place I worry is at the closer position, where Greg Holland has been very iffy at best. Should he be able to turn things around, or, if they decide to go with Aaron Crow or Kelvin Herrera, then I'm convinced that they might be able to keep this thing close until August or September. That's really all that I ask of them this season, just a little hope that we might not be looking at another 100 losses.
This is the best day of the year if you're a baseball fan. The day you pack up your troubles and head out to the stadium to watch your team on opening day. There will be 40,000 of my closest friends at Royals Stadium this afternoon, imbibing a few brews and waiting to head inside for the 3:10 opening pitch. The Royals currently sit at 3-3 and, outside of their closer look to be in it for the long haul this season. Ervin Santana gets the nod as the opening day starter for the Royals, and Kevin Correia gets the start for the Twins. Have a good time folks, and especially to Tim, who's going to his first opening day. Save a good seat for Grant tomorrow.
Tuesday morning the word came out that Dominique Bull and Negus Webster-Chan would be transferring schools. Bull was hardly a surprise, he'd only played a total of 14 minutes in 9 games, but Webster-Chan was. He'd started 9 games, and averaged 15.5 minutes per game, along with 2.2 points. Now the Tigers will wait as Phil Pressey explores his options for the upcoming draft. Regardless, the Tigers will have at least 2 more scholarships to give for the upcoming year. The question is, will they use them, or do they decide to bank them for next season? Aaron Crosby will be transferring from Seton Hall, and could be available for the 2015 season, should he pick Mizzou. But frankly, I'm a bit tired of transfers and would prefer they just hold onto them for the next recruiting cycle.
Mike Rice was dumped as the Rutgers basketball coach yesterday morning. Rice was fired less than 24 hours after videotaped evidence of his abuse of players as well as gay slurs. After the film came out, there was pressure from no less than Lebron James, the National College Players Association and Governor Bill Cristie all expressed their desire that Rice be released from his contract. If I'm Rice, then I'd probably be using some of my money for some anger-management classes, which was what RU athletic director Tim Pernetti was attempting to do, before this all hit the television with ESPN. I doubt that he'll ever coach again, but what I saw yesterday, as I watched the episode was a guy that's a ticking time bomb.
Don't look now, but the player to be named later in the Will Myers trade is Elliot Johnson, a utility infielder. Johnson had spent the last 11 years in the Rays system, most notably playing for the Durham Bulls, of 1988 movie fame. Johnson is primarily a shortstop, but can play all the spots, which fits with manager Ned Yost's emphasis on position versatility. If say, Yost wants to use outfielder Jarrod Dyson as a pitch-runner, and needs to fill a spot, it's helpful if he has someone to put in that position. Johnson gives the Royals yet another player that can play multiple spots. His switch hitting gives him another boost, and he can get the ball in play. While he'll likely never be a star, he's the type of player the Royals need.
It's that time of the year again, and I'm guessing you've noticed some changes in the site. Weird news is gone for now and the scoreboard is back, as is MLB baseball. The Royals went through their most productive spring training season ever, and now we'll see if that translates to success on the regular season. That begins in Kansas City next week when the Royals take the field against the Minnesota Twins. The season got off to a bit of a slow start when the Royals were shut out, 1-0 against Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox. Yes, it's back to the Royals old ways as they fell to the Sox, but I maintain there's a new feeling of confidence with the Royals. They may get those bats warmed up by tomorrow and you'll never hear me say that KC is out of it, until we get a chance to watch a few games. So just sit back, grab a hot dog and a beer, and watch the season unfold with me.
Waiting for the announcement by Commissioner Mike Slive on the new SEC network is like being a kid 2 weeks before Christmas. You don't know what you're going to get, but you're pretty sure it's going to be good. Slive, last week in an interview with Yahoo Sports Pat Forde, that he'd be announcing the launch of the new SEC Network in mid-April. It's expected that the league will be entering a partnership with ESPN, and will base the operation out of Charlotte, NC. This will allow the league to save a bunch of cash since ESPN already has studios in Charlotte, saving them the expense of start up costs and minimizing their risks. It's also expected to be a huge money maker for the league, which has won the last seven national titles and is far and away the highest rated of all the nation's five major conferences'. Potential revenue from the venture is expected to bring anywhere from ten to thirty million dollars per team per year. While that isn't going to make a lot of difference for Missouri in the SEC, after all, everyone else will be getting the same bump in income, it should make a huge difference when comparing the Tigers to Kansas & Kansas State, as well as the remainder of teams not playing in the SEC.
And your winner in the catagory of "Worst bluffs ever" is Jim Delaney, commissioner of the Big Ten Conference. In case you didn't hear, this week Delaney said that if the NCAA lost the Ed O'Bannon vs the NCAA case, then he'd encourage their member schools to de-emphasize athletics and quit giving out scholarships. The O'Bannon case, just on the happenstance that you haven't heard of it is a lawsuit against the NCAA stating that college athletes should be sharing in the revenue the D1 colleges have reaped because of those athletes. In other words, Division one athletes would receive a stipend of a couple of thousand bucks each for spending money while they were participating in athletics. Delaney states that if this isn't permissible, then the Big will simply discontinue competing. Yeah Jim, I'm all over that one. This from the league that created all this chaos back in 2010 when they first announced they were expanding and got Missouri, Nebraska and Rutgers fans all abuzz about the possibilities that they'd soon be members of America's oldest and most respected conference. That's why, when Jim Tressel was booted from Ohio State for allowing such practices as exchanging memoribilia for tattoo's and autographed merchandise, they were able to entice Urban Meyer out of retirement. Also why Maryland was willing to risk a $52 million dollar escape clause from the ACC to join a conference based 1,000 miles away from their campus. This is nothing more than another grandstanding play by a man that can't stand watching Mike Slive having the SEC in the nation's eye.
As you may have noticed, there haven't been a whole lot of new posts coming out the last few weeks. It isn't a shortage of things to talk about, but rather the interest of discussing what has been a series of disappointments that have gone the Tigers way. The football season went south in a hurry with injuries crippling and already thin offensive line and the quarterback position. Couple that with inexplicable play calling and it was nothing short of a disastrous fall. Hoops fell short of expectations as the Tigers looked largely incapable of winning away from the friendly confines of Mizzou arena. Yesterday MU nation received yet another punch to the gut as former Tiger commitment Andy Bauer announced he'd decided to commit to Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss via his Twitter account. This one came out of the blue and shows what a little bit of success will do for a football program. Bauer supposedly grew up a Tiger fan and his loss exemplifies the last 9 months of frustration with head coach Gary Pinkel and his staff. That's the reason the upcoming season is so critical for the program. Pinkel used up a lot of his support over the last year following the DUI, the bluster at the SEC media days and his reluctance to hire outside of his immediate coaching circle. Anything short of eight wins and Pinkel's seat becomes blistering. And another year of the 14th ranked recruiting class will only add fuel to the fire.
Even more discouraging, at least to me, was the inconsistency of the hoops program in their first season in a basketball conference that was at best, mediocre. The Tigers sported a talented squad this season, although it was built on transfers, which can be an iffy proposition at best. I'm starting to hear some rumblings from a portion of our fan base, that may be, to an extent unwarranted. Yes, the talent was here, but, due to "Suitcase" Mike Anderson's inability or reluctance to recruit his final season, left Frank Haith without a lot of options. His first class was somewhat uninspiring, but improved greatly this past cycle. It was just a year ago that Haith was selected as the coach of the year, and I'd like to see him get a fair opportunity to take his own players and match up with other talent. He's had to deal with a lot this season with the NCAA inquiry and the reluctance of this years players to buy into the team first mentality. There's no doubt Haith will return next year. I just hope the grumbling doesn't get too loud to hurt recruiting. We don't have to look any further than Scott Drew down at Baylor that a large amount of talent will overcome some suspect coaching.
Hey, at least baseball season is just around the corner. The Royals continue to rack up the spring training wins and I'm all in again, setting myself up for yet another disappointment. You'd think that a Missouri fan would be used to it by now. But as I've said before, baseball was my first love. I remember sitting in the right field bleachers watching guys like George Brett, Amos Otis and Dennis Leonard take the field on a warm summer night with 30,000 fans for a mid-week game. Kansas City and the University of Missouri fit like a comfortable glove on a cold hand. Both will fill you up with optimism, only to let it come crashing down with disappointment when the games begin. We don't have to have teams that win it all every year. But is not sucking completely too much to ask for?
As much as I love the fact that Missouri has their seat reserved in the best athletic conference in the nation, I've got to admit this is the one week that I've missed our old days in the Big XII. That's all because it's Big XII tournament week at the Sprint Center. I'm not heading down there just on principle, at least that's what I'm telling myself. But the fact is that it's a huge party, and few places can host a tournament like Kansas City can, with the still new auditorium sitting right across from the Power and Light District. The old Big 8 tournament was held in town clear back before the days when the monstrosity known as Kemper Arena was built down in the stock yards. That was the main reason given for the Big XII moving the tournament from Kansas City. It's true, Kemper was a dump from Day 1, but, for now it's back where it belongs, and I wish that I could be down there watching it. Fortunately, it's only one week a year.
It's something of a homecoming this week as Chase Daniel signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. Daniel agreed to a 3 year, $10 million deal that includes a signing bonus of $3 million, and returns him to the stadium where he won the biggest game of his collegiate career in 2007 over the Kansas Jayhawks, which propelled Missouri to the No 1 ranking for a week. Daniel is projected to be the backup to Alex Smith, also acquired this week in a trade with the 49ers. However, knowing Chase, I have no doubt that he intends to come in and win the starting job for himself. Considering Smith's injury plagued career, that could be sooner rather than later. It also gives the Chiefs a local hero to entice Missouri fans to buy tickets. I don't care much about the NFL, but I'm damn sure going to be watching Kansas City this fall when they take the field on Sunday afternoons. It also keeps Daniel close to Columbia, as I can see him someday returning to Missouri in some capacity. Now if they can just figure out a way to pull off a trade for Jeremy Maclin.
There's an old saying about the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. That could certainly be said about Missouri Tiger's POINT GUARD Phil Pressey this season. Pressey air-balled a three point attempt in the waning seconds as Tennessee upended Missouri 64-62 in a nail-biter in Knoxville. It's a scene that's become all too familiar to Tiger Nation this season as once again they missed an opportunity to pick up a big win on the road. A win by Missouri would have landed them in the top 4 of the SEC and would have given them a double bye. Now, the Tigers finish 6th and play on Day 2 of the tournament with little reason to expect they'll go far in NCAA play. Sure, the Vols were a hot team as they went 8-1 down the stretch, but this game was there for the taking, as has been the case in several of their last second failures this year. Right now, if I was Frank Haith, I'd pull Pressey out if the game was close in the last few minutes. He hasn't shown that he can be trusted, and Keion Bell, while not as flashy, is outplaying him at the point, and gives the Tigers a chance if they want to keep advancing in the tournament.
I don't know about you, but it seems like all of Missouri's athletic teams are snake bitten this year in their first season of SEC action. That run of bad luck and injuries has now run to the softball team as Bailey Erwin this week announced through Twitter that she would be leaving the Missouri squad. Erwin was the Tigers backup pitcher so right on cue, Chelsea Thomas is reportedly suffering from a raw finger. The No.5 Tigers lost only for the second time of the season as they split a Saturday afternoon double header with Texas A&M 11-3 as Tiger pitchers Thomas and Nicole Hudson gave up 4 home runs. The Tigers were off on Sunday due to wet conditions in Columbia. What does this mean for the Tigers going forward? Well, they were a serious national championship contender and may well continue to be so if Thomas can get a bit of time to heal up. But there aren't many days off in the SEC as far as baseball and softball are concerned, and the potential injury is troubling at best. Will Thomas be able to continue pitching for Missouri? No one knows at this time. Stay tuned.
You probably noticed something new when you tuned in over the weekend, that's because I added a new board. The Spring football updates board is now live and updated for your viewing pleasure. We'll have the current depth chart and stories about the Tigers as they prepare to open their spring football camp this week. While I don't expect there to be much movement on the chart to be reported, you just never know. I do know that head coach Gary Pinkel has banished the media from reporting on what happens after the first 45 minutes of practice every day. Does this mean that the Tigers will be doing some new things this fall? My guess is yes, but we'll have to stay tuned to find out. So come by daily for your fix on spring ball. Oh, and don't be surprised if you see a baseball page showing up about the time the MLB season kicks off again.