Friday, June 5, 2009
Long answer: Keep reading…
The odds makers have made Mine That Bird and Virginia-bred Charitable Man the two favorites for tomorrow's Belmont Stakes. Charitable Man comes from the same nursery that produced Florida Derby winner and injured Kentucky Derby contender Quality Road.
The two reasons Charitable Man will win the Belmont is because of pace and pedigree. Those two things, plus being the betting favorite, don’t bode well for the hard nosed Mine That Bird.
Because the Belmont is long…longer than the Derby by one-quarter of a mile, many folks believe it’s a closers race off the form of horses that make a mad charge down Churchill Downs very long stretch. But due to the distance and the configuration of the track, the Belmont is not typically a closers race.
It’s a tactical speed race and it’s been won off, or near, the front end many more times than by a last jump closer. Of course, don’t tell Real Quiet’s connections that as they still probably have nightmares about Victory Gallop getting up in the final strides…
But, generally speaking, the long race with a slow pace won’t favor Mine That Bird. While he’s already proved that he is both talented and tough, he will have to prove he is versatile in his running style if he is going to give jockey Calvin Borel a first-ever Jockey Triple Crown.
Charitable Man on the other hand has tactical speed and a stalkers style. That should put him in a better position in a race with limited speed. If it turns into a bicycle race with the frontrunners slowing the pace to a crawl it’s likely to suit Charitable Man better than the Derby winner.
That brings us to pedigree, and in a 12 furlong race pedigree should come into play. Both horses are by Belmont Stakes winners and both of their sires are having good years. Powered by the Derby winner's $1.7 million in earnings, Birdstone is 19th on the General Sire list with two stakes winners. Just two spots back in 21st, Lemon Drop Kid is doing it the old fashion way – he has 9 stakes winners this year and five of them are graded stakes winners. Both stallions have over $2.3 in progeny earnings so far this year, and that ain't chump change.
On the dam side, Charitable Man has more muscle. While the Derby winner’s dam’s family is solid it doesn’t compare on paper to Charitable Man’s. His dam, Charitabledonation is a listed stakes winner and her granddam is a half-sister to Exceller who, among other accomplishments, defeated two Triple Crown winners in the 1 ½ mile Jockey Clug Gold Cup at Belmont. CM's pedigree includes the champion Capote and the very useful Florida stallion Baldski.
Then there is the “favorite thing.” In the past 20 years, only four favorites have won the race – A.P. Indy (1991), Thunder Gulch (1995), Point Given (2001) and Afleet Alex (2005).
Notable disappointments this decade include War Emblem (8th in '02), Funny Cide (3rd in '03), Smarty Jones (2nd in '04), Curlin (2nd in '07) and Big Brown's spectacular flame out last year.
And yes, we know we're ignoring all the other horses. And, yes, Dunkirk, one of Zitos horses or another longshot could win the race, but Kentucky (from whence they come) is not ACC country...so they get no love.
The best-of-three series begins at 2 p.m. Friday on ESPN2. Game two is slated for noon Saturday on ESPN2, while the third game (if necessary) is at 3 p.m. Sunday. The winner of the series earns a trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., beginning next Saturday.
The Rebels earned the SEC West Division title this year after going 20-10 in the SEC. Ole Miss is particularly strong in front of its home fans and has gone 27-9 at home this year. Tim Ferguson leads Ole Miss with a .361 batting average.
Ryan Zimmerman, a former All-America third baseman at Virginia and currently a member of the Washington Nationals, has made a $250,000 contribution to the Virginia Athletics Foundation for improvements to benefit the UVa baseball program. Zimmerman is currently in his fourth full season with the Nationals.
The gift to VAF from Zimmerman is designated for an expansion project at Davenport Field, home of Virginia baseball. The project includes construction of a team meeting room, weight room, indoor batting cages, training room, a hall of fame area, umpires' locker room and visiting locker room. The project will enhance the University’s ability to secure future NCAA events. A possible second phase of the project would include additional seats and suites and would require additional private gifts to fund it.
“The stadium project is very important to the future of Virginia baseball and the development of players in the program,” Zimmerman said. “The Virginia baseball program was critical in my development into a major league player. I would not be where I am today without the past support of donors to the Virginia baseball program. I now have the opportunity to join that group and help UVa baseball remain among the best programs in the country.
“During my career at Virginia, I was fortunate to play in an NCAA Regional hosted by UVa at Davenport Field. That was a great experience for our team. I want to help ensure that future players at UVa have the same opportunity to play in an NCAA Regional on their home field. I hope others will join me in support of this project.”
The Virginia Athletics Foundation has been in a quiet fund raising phase for this project and this gift pushes the fund raising total over $3 million. The athletics department is currently working with the University administration and an architect to determine the final cost and design of the expansion. Once the final cost is determined, 100 percent of the cost of the project will need to be in place with pledges and 50 percent of the cash will need to be received in order to begin construction. In addition, an operational endowment is required to be in place to handle the annual operational expenses of the new facility.
Zimmerman played three years at Virginia before being drafted by the Nationals as the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2005 Major League Baseball First-year Player Draft. He was a second-team All-America selection by Baseball America and a third-team All-America selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association in 2005. Zimmerman also earned second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors that season and was named to the 2005 ACC All-Tournament Team. He was a first-team All-ACC selection in 2004 and an honorable mention All-America selection by College Baseball Insider that season.
In 2005, Zimmerman started all 61 games for the Cavaliers at either third base (his primary position) or shortstop. He led Virginia with a .393 batting average, 92 hits, 59 runs batted in, 51 runs, 18 doubles, four triples, a .581 slugging percentage, 136 total bases and 17 stolen bases. He also had six home runs.
He ended his Virginia career with a .355 (250-704) batting average and ranked on several of the Cavaliers’ career statistical lists, including fifth in doubles (47), sixth in hits (250) and seventh in runs batted in (140). He also held the school record for hits in a season with 92 in 2005.
Zimmerman was named USA Baseball’s Athlete of the Year in 2004 when he led Team USA to a gold medal finish and earned tournament MVP honors in the World University Games.
“Ryan’s commitment to the Virginia baseball program shows his respect for his career in a Cavalier uniform,” said UVa head baseball coach Brian O’Connor. “I am very excited to have Ryan involved with this important project for the future of our baseball program.”
After playing in 20 games for the Washington Nationals at the end of the 2005 major league season, Zimmerman became the team’s every day third baseman in 2006. He was runner-up for National League Rookie of the Year honors that season after batting .287 with 47 doubles, 20 home runs and 110 runs batted in.
Zimmerman had a 30-game hitting streak earlier this season and was batting .322 (68-211) for the Nationals with 15 doubles, 11 home runs and 37 runs batted in through games of June 3.
Additionally, Zimmerman has his own foundation, ziMS Foundation, which works to find a cure and help those who are affected by multiple sclerosis.
Virginia-bred Charitable Man, who has won three previous races in New York and twice on the Belmont track, is considered by many as the horse to beat in grueling 1 ½ mile event. He bids to join 11 Virginia-bred horses that have already won the three-year-old classic. That list includes Algerine (1876), Pasteurized (1938), Bounding Home (1944), Phalanx (1947), Sword Dancer (1959), Sherluck (1961), Quadrangle (1964), Arts and Letters (1969), Secretariat (1973), Hansel (1991) and Colonial Affair (1993).
Ultimately, Evans decided to keep Quality Road. The colt just missed a shot at the Derby, but has rewarded his owner/breeder with victories in the $250,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes Gr. 2 and the $750,000 Florida Derby Stakes Gr. 1 while amassing earnings of $632,830. Quality Road is back in training in New York and eyeing major stakes races later in the summer.
His stable mate, Charitable Man was sent to the famous Lexington, KY horse auction where he was purchased for $200,000 by Mike Ryan and then sold privately to his current owners William and Suzanne Warren of Tulsa, OK. He is now trained by Kiaran McLaughlin who won the 2006 Belmont Stakes with Jazil.
Such notable trainers as D. Wayne Lukas, Todd Pletcher and Nick Zito are all labeling Charitable Man the horse to beat in Saturday’s race.
Charitable Man’s jockey Alan Garcia is trying to set a record of his own – a record that also involves some prominent horses with Virginia connections. Last year, Garcia guided longshot Da' Tara to a gate-to-wire victory in the Belmont.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Hultzen has been a two-way standout for the Cavaliers this season. The first ACC Freshman of the Year in Virginia history, Hultzen has seen time at pitcher, first base, left field and designated hitter this year.
On the mound, he has a 9-1 record with a 2.01 ERA in 15 games (14 starts). In 80.2 innings, Hultzen has 90 strikeouts, which is a Virginia freshman record.
At the plate, Hultzen has a .335 batting average – tops among ACC freshmen. He also has three home runs and 33 runs batted in. Hultzen has been named to the Irvine All-Regional Team (pitcher) as well as the ACC All-Tournament Team (Utility/DH) this year.
Proscia has been a mainstay at third base all season for Virginia. He ranks second to Hultzen in batting average among ACC freshmen with a .325 mark. He has nine home runs (most by a UVa freshman since Sean Doolittle in 2005) and 56 RBI. Proscia is tied for second on the team with 18 doubles and also has 23 multiple-hit games. In all, he has hits in 44 of 58 games this year. Last week he was named to the Irvine All-Regional Team.
Virginia has had at least one freshman All-American in four of the last five seasons. Last year, Dan Grovatt took home the honor.
Virginia (46-12-1) competes in its first-ever NCAA Super Regional this weekend, battling Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.
To learn more about Hultzen (who has a 103 mph fast ball with either hand and was an Eagle Scout), click here. To learn more about Proscia (who helped invent Facebook), click here.
Here is a sample (and, today, the items in italics are true):
But, apparently there are enough fans in between Chapel Hill and Greenville to completely sell out the three game series according to ACC Now.
Jackson came in as a relief pitcher for the Pirates and...STOP THE PRESSES!
Here, Assistant General Manager Mike Rizzo of the Nats talks with Jeff Kellogg and the umpire crew during a rain delay at Nationals Park on June 3, 2009 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
He was right, and we were wrong.
To repent and set the world right, the month of June will now be T.A.H. UVA Baseball Month. Enjoy!)
The Virginia baseball team met with the media Tuesday in preparation for its trip to the NCAA Oxford Super Regional Friday through Sunday to face Ole Miss. The series begins with a 2 p.m. Friday game, followed by a noon game on Saturday. If necessary, the teams will face off at 3 p.m. Sunday for the right to go to the College World Series.
Coach Brian O'Connor on the rarity of having a senior as an impact player: “The ones who are highly thought of by the professional people typically move on to professional baseball after their junior year. Andrew [Carraway] was very highly thought of during the draft last year, but he was so committed to finishing his degree here first, living on the lawn, and having the total experience that he wanted to see this thing through. Right now we are reaping the benefits of that.”
John Hicks on being poised as freshmen: “We have been put in these situations our whole baseball career. I think all of us played travel ball. Especially in the fall with the Blue and Orange World Series, the coaches put all the freshmen in situations where they need to come up big for their team. We all believe that when we get in the box or on the mound that we are going to come up for the team. We all believe in each other.”
Kevin Arico on helpful advice received: “I’ve gotten a lot of good advice, talking about being one guy on the mound and being another guy off the field – that guy to your teammates. What you really need to do is show them for two innings like it was.”
Keith Werman on new-found playing time: “I got some opportunities to play and I took advantage of them, just let it happen.”
Danny Hultzen on finding time at first base: “I was recruited definitely as a pitcher. Coach [Kuhn] came to see me pitch and that was definitely how I got here, but I guess I hit pretty well that game he came to see. Once I came here to talk about recruiting, they asked me if I thought I could hit here, and honestly, I didn’t think I was able to. I didn’t have the confidence that I do now in my hitting. Once fall ball started, they gave me a chance to hit and I guess I proved myself against our pitching in batting practice. From there, I worked my way into starting at first base.”
The Eagles are coming off a 9-5 season and Davis was projected to start this fall. He started the last three games as a redshirt freshman following an injury to senior Chris Crane.
In six games, Davis completed 63 of 138 passes for 741 yards. He threw for six touchdowns and four interceptions.
Davis led a 70-yard drive in the final minutes of a 24-21 comeback win over Wake Forest. He completed passes of 36 and 21 yards before scoring on a 1-yard run with 1:12 left.
Florida State is challenging a portion of the sanctions announced in March that would force the school to vacate as many as 14 of Bowden’s 382 career wins — just one fewer than Penn State’s Joe Paterno.
The university’s general counsel, Betty Steffens, will prepare a rebuttal that will be made public, at least in part, university officials said.
“Our comment will be the rebuttal,” associate athletic director Rob Wilson said. “We’ll all know a lot more when we send this thing back.”
Two dozen football players were among 61 Florida State athletes involved in the cheating, which occurred mainly through online testing in a music history course at Florida State in 2006 and 2007. It included staffers helping students on the test and in one case asking one athlete to take it for another.
The school did not challenge the loss of scholarships in 10 sports and a four-year probation.
The university’s president, T.K. Wetherell, said in March that sanctions stripping Bowden of coaching wins were “excessive and inappropriate.” He said it was unfair to roughly 500 athletes and 52 coaches who had nothing to do with the cheating...or did they?
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
AMAZING WAHOO BASEBALL SQUAD PULLS OFF UNBELIEVABLE UPSET OVER POWERHOUSE TOP SEED REPLETE WITH FUTURE MAJOR LEAGUERS
Irvine, CA -- The Virginia baseball team earned its first-ever NCAA Regional championship as the seventh-ranked Cavaliers defeated No. 1 UC Irvine, 4-1, Sunday night in the championship game of the 2009 NCAA Irvine Regional at Anteater Ballpark in Irvine, Calif. With their second win over the Anteaters, the No. 6 national seed, in as many nights, the second-seeded Cavaliers earn a berth in the NCAA Super Regionals next weekend.Virginia (46-12-1) will play the champion of the Oxford Regional next weekend in a best-of-three series.
The teams played 3.2 scoreless innings before Virginia snapped the deadlock with a two-out rally in the fourth. John Hicks (Fr., Sandy Hook, Va., crab cakes, Marine Biology, 3.99 GPA, once swam across the Chesapeake Bay naked) coaxed a walk and scored all the way from first when Valdes hit a 1-2 pitch to left field. The high-arching ball dropped just inside the foul line for a double, and Hicks slid in to just beat the throw and give UVa a 1-0 lead.UC Irvine broke a string a 12 straight scoreless innings against UVa with a run in its half of the fourth.
(Editor’s note: The Wahoos drank Orange Gatorade, rode to (and from) the game in a rented Dodge step van, and used BullFrog 30 sunscreen. They weren’t major leaguers, but they did stay in a Holiday Inn Express. They celebrated at the Macaroni Grill just off I37 (exit 9B) after the game. They flew home coach – U.S. Air through Charlotte.)
Then there was the Super Regional – are there more of them or are they just bigger – followed by the College World Series. We thought the whole thing was the CWS…
So…we figured it out. We think...
The Super Regional is a best of three game series, with the eight winners advancing to the College World Series which is a double elimination tournament utilizing the best of three series format.
The ACC fielded seven teams who went 19-7 in the first round. North Carolina, the #4 seed in the tournament, advanced to the second round as did Florida State, Clemson and Virginia. Georgia Tech, Maimi and Boston College (who was eliminated in a record-breaking 25 inning game – the longest NCAA baseball game ever to #1 overall seed Texas) went home.
Florida State (45-16) advanced to the Super Regional for the second year in a row and for the ninth time in school history with a 37-6 victory over Ohio State (42-19) Sunday afternoon on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. The Seminoles set four school records and five NCAA Tournament records in the win over the Buckeyes.
Florida State set school records for runs (37), hits (38), doubles (15) and total bases (66), while the four above mentioned records plus the 51 combined hits by both teams set NCAA Tournament single-game records. The Seminoles also tied a school record for RBI (34) and most combined runs by two teams with 43.
The 15 doubles by the Seminoles also eclipsed the NCAA single-game record of 13 held by three different teams. The previous school record was nine doubles set against Duke back on March 10, 2000. Florida State surpassed the school record with its 10th double of the game when Stephen Cardullo (pictured above) hit a one out double to right center in the third. Cardullo and Stidham each tallied three doubles in the win.
The Virginia baseball team earned its first-ever NCAA Regional championship as the seventh-ranked Cavaliers defeated No. 1 UC Irvine, 4-1, Sunday night in the championship game of the 2009 NCAA Irvine Regional at Anteater Ballpark in Irvine, Calif.
Clemson needed a rally to advance and they got it courtesy of slumping Kyle Parker. Parker got his opportunity and made the most of it, lacing a two-run single into left field in the eighth inning to lift the Tigers to a 6-5 victory over Oklahoma State in the deciding game of the Clemson Regional.
Senior Matt Vaughn (4-1) pitched the final 3 2/3 innings for the Tigers, who rallied from a 5-1 deficit going into the bottom of the seventh.
The following four super regionals will be played Friday, June 5, Saturday, June 6, and Sunday, June 7 (if necessary). The national seed is indicated before the team name, while updated records through the regionals are in parenthesis.
GAMES BEGIN FRIDAY, JUNE 5 – All Times are Eastern
Arkansas (37-22) at FLORIDA STATE (45-16)Noon (ESPN), Noon (ESPN2), Noon (ESPN)
VIRGINIA (46-12-1) at Mississippi (43-18)2 p.m. (ESPN2), Noon (ESPN2), 3 p.m. (ESPN)
GAMES BEGIN SATURDAY, JUNE 6 - All times are Eastern
CLEMSON (44-20) at No. 5 Arizona State (47-12)9 p.m. (ESPNU), 10 p.m. (ESPN2), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
East Carolina (46-18) at No. 4 NORTH CAROLINA (45-16)Noon (ESPNU), Noon (ESPN), 1/7 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2)
The determination of the Men’s College World Series order of first-round games both Saturday, June 13, and Sunday, June 14, will be announced Monday, June 8. The ESPN family of networks and www.ncaa.com will release the MCWS game dates and times as soon as they are available.
The 63rd College World Series begins play Saturday, June 13, at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska.
Orlando Hudosn #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers holds on to Stephen Drew of the Arizona Diamondbacks after force out at second during a broken double play in the eight inning of the baseball game at Dodger Stadium on June 1, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
The San Diego Chicken, an icon to this day, was a groundbreaker in the mascot biz…
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