Thursday, March 30, 2006

What happened to the weekly reports?

I was doing pretty well with the weekly reports, but it's been really busy for me the last couple weeks. In case there's anyone reading this who doesn't know, Tiger Fan is also a Bear Law Student (Washington University) and finals are just around the corner. Anyway, a couple real quick thoughts on Mizzou sports not related to Mike Anderson or the administration:

-I'm still trying to figure out the baseball team. After a rough early reason, they went 5-1 to start Big XII play (including a sweep of TAMU in College Station) and they did it without Max Scherzer (he's nursing a strained bicep and is expected to pitch Saturday). I figured they had finally turned the corner. Then, last night, they lost to a terrible SEMO team, 3-2. Hopefully, that was just a slip-up because they need to bring their A-game this weekend against kU because 1) it's kU and we should always beat them, 2) we really need the Border War points and 3) stealing another road series in Big XII play would be huge. Will it happen? That remains to be seen. Either way, Tiger fans should hope Andy Van Slyke is there to watch his son again this year... 'cause you know how much he loves hecklers.

-I'd be remisced if I didn't mention that our boy Ben Askren (who was once in Russian History with Tiger Fan) earned the Hodge Trophy, which is essentially the Heisman of college wrestling... so congrats to Ben.

-It's still a week away (Saturday, April 8), but we're closing in on put-up or shut-up time for the Mizzou gymnastics team. The girls have been getting better and better as a team over the last few years, but they've never made it to the national championships as a unit. They will be the No. 3 seed in Georgia for the Southeast Regional, with the top two teams going on to the national finals. The teams seeded ahead of them are perennial power Georgia (who boasts former Olympian Courtney Kupets) and conference foe Nebraska, who the Tigers almost beat earlier this year. If Mizzou wants to be considered among the nation's top gymnastics programs, now is the time to prove it!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

In case you're curious...

Well, we know that anyone who claims that they had George Mason, Florida, UCLA and LSU in the Final Four is either lying or made a deal with the devil. But I thought this might be a good time to update you on my experiment:

"Actual picks" bracket: With Florida and UCLA correctly in the Final Four, I have 780 points and sit 38,978th in's competition, which places me in the 99th percentile. But that is likely to drop because I only picked UCLA to advance... and UConn to win it all.

"Best places to live" bracket: Because of earlier picks, this one is in the 91st percentile, but it has more upside. I've got UCLA and Florida going to the final in this one... which seemed outlandish, but now has a very real chance of happening.

"Better mascot" bracket: This one is in the 41st percentile and falling. It's toast.

So there you have it... so far, my actual picks are holding up better than my ridiculous picks. But the scary part is, the "Best places to live" bracket could end up as the overall winner. As I suspected, this just goes to show that the whole process of filling out brackets is completely ridiculous and based mostly on luck. So just sit back and enjoy... it's not every day you get to see two SEC teams, the most storied program in college basketball history and little ol' George Mason square off for a national title. It should be crazy!

What a bunch of morons...

So, the Board of Curators calls an emergency meeting at 12:30, just 1.5 hours before Mizzou is supposed to announce its new basketball coach. Media outlets all over the state report that the Curators are meeting to decide Mike Alden's future. This leads to mixed emotions for me: On one hand, I'd love to finally see Alden get canned. On the other hand, this day should be about Mike Anderson. I think Anderson will be a good coach, but the administration needs to get behind him.

2:00 comes and goes... nothing happens. Shortly before 3:00, puts up a link that will allow you to watch the press conference about Anderson's hiring live. It looks like this whole thing might finally be over. But 3:00 comes and goes... and nothing happens. We then learn that the press conference has been postponed indefinitely until the Board of Curators finishes their meeting. Around 3:30-3:45, the meeting ends. What was the final result of this "emergency" meeting? Nothing! On the way out of the meeting, Deaton mutters to the press that Alden is still the athletic director. The PR folks later tell the media that no vote was taken about Alden's future.

Shortly after 4:00, the press conference finally gets underway and MU announces the shocking news (given that we've all known this for 24 hours) that Mike Anderson has been hired as the head coach. Nothing is said about Alden. Basically, they delayed the press conference two hours and dragged our school's name through the mud again... with nothing to show for it.

Can't these people do anything right? We already know they can't fire people the right way. Now it appears that they also don't know how to hire people. I'm glad we've got Anderson, but if I were him, I'd be running for the hills right now. I would say that the administration has lost control, but it's becoming increasingly clear that they never had it!

The only possible justification I can come up with in all this is that the Curators gave Alden an ultimatum and he will resign sometime soon. Otherwise, I will have to assume that they take some sort of sick, twisted pride in making themselves -- and the university -- look completely stupid.

Or maybe not...

Here's all the breaking news out of Tiger Country so you know who to be mad at this morning for screwing up the university:

KC Star and Post-Dispatch are both reporting that the Board of Curators has called an emergency meeting in Columbia to discuss "personnel matters." Rumor is that they are going to fire Alden. What does this mean for Anderson? Your guess is as good as mine.

When questioned about the whole thing, Alden said he didn't know what was going on and said he is just "walking the dog"... whatever that means. Whitlock has deemed Stewart, Sundvold and Link the Three Amigos and is calling for them to be fired (although I'm not sure they all actually have jobs within the department).

Other rumor of the day? Beilein is apparently No. 1 on Indiana's list, which has KSU fans concerned that Huggins will jump ship to coach at his alma mater, WVU.

Delusional Mizzou fans still think that Calipari will leave a young Elite 8 squad with McDonald's All-Americans to come be a part of this circus.

Ben Askren got a haircut and it made SportsCenter.

I'm sure this won't be my last post of the day...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

UAB coach Mike Anderson will reportedly be the new coach of the Missouri Tigers. SEE BELOW.

Mizzou to hire Mike Anderson

The Web site for KSDK TV in St. Louis is reporting that Mike Anderson has been hiring as the new head basketball coach. Sources say the hiring will be announced in a press conference tomorrow afternoon. I still think Alden should be fired for the way this whole debacle has been handled (and the way he has destroyed the basketball program), but at least it looks like this whole thing is finally over. Anderson isn't Huggins or Calipari, but he's a good coach. Hopefully, he can put a team on the floor that plays with some heart! Now, we wait and see who will actually be on our team next year.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

An open letter to Mike Alden

Dear Mike Alden,

I remember when you first slithered into town. Hopes were so high then. You were going to raise the budget! You were going to raise the athletic standards! You were going to bring in coaches that could take the basketball and football teams to the next level!

Ah, how the mighty have fallen.

You've accomplished goal No. 1—the athletic budget is immense. You've partially accomplished goal No. 2—raising athletic standards. The gymnastics, baseball, swimming, track and field and wrestling teams are all doing extremely well. Commendable. But you've failed miserably in the two sports where it most matters.

But today's topic has nothing to do with Gary Pinkel. No, today we're going to swallow the bitter pill that is the Missouri basketball program.

We'll start with the hiring of Quin Snyder. You formed a panel to search for Norm Stewart's replacement, then ignored the majority's support of Bill Self, who had proven himself as a head coach at other schools, to hire wunderkind Quin Snyder, who had never been a head coach. We all know where Bill Self is now.

But, oh, that Quin. He had a golden tongue; he said all the right things. He was young, he was slick, he was passionate. He was a lawyer! Kids loved him! He learned from Coach K! He brought in great recruiting classes. He brought us national attention. He even guided us to the Elite 8. And he had great hair. Don't forget the great hair. Then, it all came crashing down. He was a cheater. A flagrant cheater. He lost control of his team. And you know what—he wasn't even that good as a coach or recruiter. His recruits continually failed to pan out. His teams looked confused on the floor, especially when confronted with a zone defense. He couldn't adjust in games. Worst of all, his teams didn't play hard. Say what you will about Norm Stewarts failures as a coach, but his players ALWAYS played hard.

You could have fired Snyder then—there certainly were grounds for dismissal—but, instead, you hung on to him for two more years, inclluding a lame-duck season that ended in disaster.

When you did decide—20 months too late—that it was time for Snyder to go—you bungled it horribly. You weren't even enough of a man to fire Quin yourself. Nope, you sent your flunky, Gary Link, to do it, then threw him under the bus. The ensuing investigations dragged our already sullied name (so tarnished by your golden boy) through the mud again.

Then you sat on your hands. You ignored the wishes of the search committee, you refused to interview Bob Huggins and Rick Majerus. You let ISU snatch hot up-and-comer Greg McDermott. Kansas State grabbed Huggins. And then you
dissolved the search committee, shunning favorite son Jon Sundvold in the process. (Here's a hint, Mike: Jon wants your job. Most of us want him to have your job. Be afraid. Your time is over.)

So here we are, two months after Snyder left, and there's still no sign of progress in finding the new coach. Still no sign of righting the ship. Still no sign that you have any idea what the hell you're doing.

You should get gonorrhea and die. And I hope you do.


What does it all mean?

By Tiger Fan

Surprise, surprise. Mike Alden and Co. still can’t do anything right. Despite knowing for months that Snyder would not be back next season and despite the fact that Snyder has been gone now for almost two months, the coaching search has turned into a circus. “Inside sources” are constantly leaking names, only to release statements later that say Mizzou is not considering that coach. Members of the search committee are airing their concerns in the media. And all the while, the Mizzou PR folks are… well… nowhere to be found. Here’s what we know so far:

Guys who are out:

Bob Huggins: After not even getting an interview from us (despite Sundvold’s pleading), Huggins has signed a five-year deal with Kansas State. If they end up winning a conference title with O.J. Mayo in a couple of years… (I thought long and hard about how to finish that sentence, but I couldn’t think of anything that would adequately express my anger).

Steve Alford: All kinds of people were reporting this week that he was interviewing for the Mizzou job. Turns out that’s not the case, he’s staying at Iowa.

Greg McDermott: Iowa State picked up Northern Iowa’s rising star. I’m not sure if we gave him a serious look, but we should have.

Guys who are probably out:

Rick Majerus: I don’t think he has “officially” been taken out of the running, but Sundvold’s plea to the media makes me think that it is a long-shot. That makes perfect sense, given that he may be the best guy available.

Mark Turgeon: Reports yesterday indicated that the Wichita State coach is no longer being considered.

Larry Drew: Rumor is that the former Mizzou player and current NJ Nets assistant coach is out of the running as well.

John Calipari: I think Calipari is just wishful thinking for Tiger fans. He would be a great hire, in my estimation, but I can’t imagine why he would leave all that young talent at Memphis to coach here. I’d be happy to eat crow if he is hired, but I don’t see it happening.

Guys who should be out:

Kim Anderson: It’s nothing against the CMSU coach, but the Big XII is now a coaches league: Bob Huggins, Bobby Knight, Bill Self and Eddie Sutton are all proven winners. Billy Gillespie and McDermott are coaches on the rise. Mizzou simply cannot afford to take a chance on a lower tier coach with this hire.

Jim Harrick: I hope Mizzou is not seriously considering this guy, but I have heard the name out there. Yes, he can win games… but he has been involved in scandals at UCLA and Georgia. If Bob Huggins is too shady to get the Mizzou gig, there’s no way Harrick should even get a second look – and he won’t.

Guys who should be considered, but probably won’t be:

Mike Davis: A great recruiter and a proven winner (How many Final Fours have all these MVC coaches been to?). I know he has struggled lately, but I still think he’s a good coach… and he’s still getting teams to the tourney, which is more than Snyder could say.

Steve Lavin: They run a tight ship at UCLA, so he was canned after a couple mediocre seasons. But Mizzou is not UCLA… we should jump at the chance to take a guy who coached his team to five straight Sweet 16s.

The frontrunners:

Reports today indicated Alden and Co. have narrowed it down to three finalists. Here are my guesses:

John Beilein: The West Virginia coach reached the Elite Eight last year and has proved this year that it’s not a fluke. So far, he’s done it all without any highly touted recruits. You would have to think that he could do just as well, if not better, at Mizzou with better facilities and an easier conference. Everyone wants to talk about his buyout, but if Laurie approves, it won’t be an issue. Assuming Calipari is not interested, Beilein has to be their first choice.

Mike Anderson: The UAB coach is the only candidate that Alden has admitted to interviewing. His “40 minutes of hell” game plan is lots of fun and crowd friendly… but I was a little concerned about his offensive system after watching his tourney games. Still, he would be a bad choice.

Dana Altman: I think hiring Altman would be a mistake. He’s done a good job at Creighton, but I don’t think he’s ready for the Big XII. The KSU hiring kicked things up a notch… the Tigers need someone with more tournament experience.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Is this what Faust felt like?

I must beg pardon for my long absence. The depths of despair have claimed my basketball soul, and I have been loathe to post. Even my anger had departed me. But now, as the snow swirls 'round in St. Louis, (and, presumably, in other Missouri locales), rumors about the next Missouri basketball coach swirl round the fishwrap circuit. One in particular plays Mephistopholes to my Dr. Faust: Bob Huggins. (Henceforth known as Bob Mephistophohuggins).

He offers great power (i.e. a winning program) at the cost of my soul (graduating players, bringing in players of good character, redeeming our tattered repuatation).

That alone would not be enough to tempt me, to sway me from my desire for a coach who can recruit and coach and not make the program look bad (Beilein, anyone?). But then I begin to hear reports that Mephistophohuggins isn't as bad as he seems. That he was forced to take on players of higher risk at Cincinnati than he would at Mizzou because at Mizzou he wouldn't have to contend with a bigger, better program in the state. That everyone who played for him loved him. That he honestly cared about his players becoming better people. I also hear the jolly Rick Majerus is less jolly—and less clean—than Mephistophohuggins.

The Bad Angel whispering in my ear almost has me convinced, but then the Good Angel speaks up: How is Mephistophohuggins going to turn this program around quickly enough to keep his job—he'll have to bring in jucos, and that's where he has run into trouble before? What about the drunken driving? Is he going to bring in Larry Eustachy as an assistant so he can learn where all the bangin' parties are? What about the health issues? What about the black eye on the university? Don't you want a coach who can begin to heal the wounds of failure and disgrace.

I weigh the good and the bad... and decide that I can live with taking a chance on Huggins. I only hope that, unlike Faust (in Marlowe) I won't be too blind to seek redemption and forgiveness should hiring Mephistophohuggins prove a mistake, should my basketball soul be placed in jeopardy.

Crazy, I know, but I'm thirsty enough for wins to believe that MAYBE Mephistophohuggins isn't as bad as he is portrayed.In this, the true blame lies with the Prince of Lies (you know him as Lucifer, we know him as Mike Alden) for creating this situation and his mouthpiece, Beelzebub (you know him as Chad Moeller).

God save us all.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ben Askren became the first Mizzou wrestler to ever win a national title, winning the National Championship match 13-2. Askren, only a junior, finished the season with a perfect 45-0 record. Finally, a Mizzou athlete who lives up to the hype!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Tourney Thoughts, Day Two

By Tiger Fan

-Let's hear it for the Bradley Braves! Any team that exposes kU as a fraud in the tourney earns my respect and admiration. Now the only question is who do I cheer for if Bucknell and Bradley meet in the Sweet 16? That's a tough decision I'm happy to face... because it means the beakers choked again!

-All in all, a wild day at the tournament. The winners of the Big XII tourney and the Big Eleven tourney joined Big East tourney winner Syracuse on the outside looking in as kansas and Iowa both lost. If you didn't see the end of Iowa's loss to Northwestern State, it's a must-see. An instant classic. It's headed straight for all the top ten lists.

-I'm not sure what to make of UConn's near-debacle against No. 16-seed Albany. Is UConn overrated or is parity really taking over in college basketball?

-I'm a little peaved with CBS. The Kentucky-UAB game was on TV here in Ohio, where I am visiting this weekend. That made sense. But what didn't make sense is when CBS decided to jump to close contests between North Carolina and Murray State and the aforementioned Bradley game in the waning seconds. When those games ended, there were about 5 minutes left in the UK-UAB game... but rather than show the end of those games and come back, CBS tried (and failed) to jump back and forth. The end result was that we saw a foul and a timeout at the end of the UNC game and nothing of substance (maybe a made free throw) in the Bradley game. Meanwhile, UK pulled ahead and the end of the game we were watching was nothing special. Nice work in the studio, fellas. I hear that lots of people missed seeing the NW St. miracle shot earlier in the day because of the same problem. That's a shame.

-The kU loss did serious damage to my brackets... but that's okay, I'd rather see kU lose and screw up my brackets than vice versa. Anyway, after two days, here's how my experiment on is working out: My bracket of actual picks has climbed to the 97th percentile, my mascot bracket sits in the 30th percentile and my "Better Place to Live" bracket has fallen to the 7th percentile. I gotta say, I'm pretty pumped about my real bracket so far... I've climbed into the top 90,000! Yee-haw!

Tiger notes...
Since you're here:

-We may be talking about a Tiger national champion soon: wrestler Ben Askren has advanced to the NCAA final at 174 pounds. The team sits in 15th.

-Nathan Culp led the Tigers to a 5-1 victory in the baseball team's Big XII opener against Texas A&M. Scherzer missed his start with bicep tenderness.

-No. 13 gymnastics team finished the regular season with a win over SEMO.

-Women's tennis beat Air Force.

-Women's basketball tips off its NCAA tourney run on Sunday.

-After watching the UK-UAB game tonight, I'm not sure if Mike Anderson is right for Mizzou. I like the energy that UAB played with and it was nice to see some solid defense. But they also took a lot of bad 3s and missed lots of free throws. Frankly, I've seen enough of these two things at Mizzou over the last few years. If that's part of Anderson's system, I'll pass.

My next purchase

Looks like I'm buying a Bradley Braves T-shirt!

Tourney Thoughts, Day One

By Tiger Fan

-Gig'em Aggies! Given my upbringing in an Aggie family, I'm obviously rooting for these guys. But I recommend that everyone else jump on the bandwagon too. What's not to like?

-Speaking of things not to like: Adam Morrison deserves a quick punch in the kidney. He's ugly as sin, plays dirtier than Vlade Divac and after watching him hit himself in the head with the ball last night, I think he might actually be clinically insane. At this point, I'd say he is destined to play for the Trail Blazers... you know how much they love overrated scorers who don't play defense and are messed up in the head. The bonus is that he's from the Pacific northwest! I could go on, but I really shouldn't...

-The UW-M Panthers are on the prowl again... but let's be honest, did anyone really think Oklahoma was going to make a deep run into the tourney? They lost to Mizzou in Norman. Mizzou. We are/were TERRIBLE. No team that lost to the Tigers this year will make it very far in the tourney. You hear that kansas fans? No one.

-How about the mighty Big East, off to an 0-3 start? Fantastic.

-I'm using's bracket rankings to do a little experiment. After one day, here's how my brackets are playing out: My actual predictions have me in the 87th percentile, my predictions based on mascot have me in the 24th percentile and my predictions based on where I would rather live have me in the 11th percentile. So far, so good... makes me feel like I have SOME idea what I'm talking about. But we'll see how it ends up.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Weekly Report

By Tiger Fan

Allright, I missed last week... but I figured that the lengthy recap of the first annual Mizzou Sports Weekend gave you all enough to read. Anyway, on to this week's report

Tiger notes...

-Let's start with the only Mizzou team that isn't underachieving right now. The women's basketball team begins NCAA tournament play on Sunday when it takes on Virginia Tech. The Tigers are a 10 seed, so a win over VPI would technically by an upset... but I think they can do it. The bad news? A win would probably mean a match-up against No. 2-seeded UConn. I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but UConn is kind of a big deal. People know them.

-The men's team? The only good news is that it's finally over. No Big Dance, no NIT-mare... nothing. Now the focus will be on the coaching search. Also of note: the Post-Dispatch reported over the weekend that eight of our players are considering transferring in the offseason. Factoring in the graduations of Kevin Young and Jimmy McKinney, that means the only player we are not in danger of losing is walk-on Nick Berardini. Boy Alden, that does seem like a stable program. Keep up the good work...

-Continuing the storied history of highly touted Mizzou teams falling flat, the baseball team appears to be struggling. After an early win over No. 1 Florida, I was willing to cut them some slack. After all, baseball isn't football -- losses are inevitable. That's why they play so many games. But after weeks of making excuses, things are getting worrisome. The Tigers dropped 2 of 3 to Purdue over the weekend and are now unranked in all polls. The crazy thing is how they lost: 7-0 on Friday with Scherzer on the mound and 8-6 on Sunday... sandwiched around a 22-2 win. Gentlemen, perhaps we should spread those runs around just a bit. Please?

-The good news for the baseball team? Sophomore Jacob Priday was named Big XII Player of the Week this week after hitting two HRs and knocking in 11 RBI in the Tigers' games last week. This weekend is a huge series for the Tigers as they travel to No. 22 Texas A&M for the first weekend of Big XII play. This could really set the tone.

-On a quick administrative note, Elson Floyd's independent investigation of the Quin Snyder resignation is supposedly wrapping up today. We'll keep you posted as we know more.

Quick-hit non-Mizzou thoughts...
I have to say that I have been thoroughly enjoying the World Baseball Classic. What I don't understand is why everyone is so shocked that the U.S. team is struggling. Isn't that what happens every time we send our "elite" athletes to compete internationally? I'm pulling for Team USA, but I just don't think its going to happen. Quite frankly, I think I'd rather see a team like the Dominican Republic win, just because it would mean so much to everyone in that country... As a Reds fan, I must say that I'm glad to see Junior playing so well. I just hope his legs can survive an entire season this year... I find the "What If" bracket on fascinating... I think I'm glad the Bengals are going after LaVar Arrington, but I know I wasn't pleased to see them let Jon Kitna go... To recap, the Vikings have let their two best players leave in the last two years (Culpepper and Moss) and gotten pretty much nothing in return. I guess that's one way to go... Rumos is that the Cowboys cut Keyshawn to make room for T.O. Wow, what a trade-off...

NCAA tourney thoughts...
I'm in too many tournament pools to reveal my super secret, guranteed winner Final Four (yeah, right), but I will give you my Elite Eight: Duke vs. Iowa, kansas vs. UCLA, UConn vs. MSU, Boston College vs. Florida... Does anyone else miss the days when being a Mizzou fan at this time of year actually meant something? I'd rather lose in epic fashion to Tyus Edney and Co. every year than not be relevant at all... Who else is pulling for a Bucknell/kU rematch in the Sweet Sixteen?... I think Villanova -- with an injured Allen Ray -- is the weakest No. 1 seed, not Memphis (but neither of them will make the Final Four)... My two most dangerous double-digit seeds: Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Seton Hall... My two most dangerous non-favorites (No. 5 seed or lower): Michigan State and Indiana... My sentimental favorites (one for each region): Texas A&M, Bucknell, UAB (Mike Anderson, anyone?) and Ohio State.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It's come to this. Eighteen months ago, Net Head and Rocky Mountain Tiger were the most diehard Mizzou fans around. Now, they are so embarrassed to be Mizzou fans that they wore paper bags over their heads as the Tigers finished the regular season 11th in the Big XII on Sunday. My, how far we have fallen.

Game reports from Tiger Fan

By Tiger Fan

I intended to do these reports after each game we attended this weekend, but my computer crashed… so I will combine them into one report. Game 1 was a 14-3 victory for the Mizzou baseball team over University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In Game 2, the Tigers beat the Panthers on the diamond again, 9-5 this time. Game 3 was a come-from-behind 64-63 victory for the men’s basketball over Nebraska

On the Field/Court

Game 1

-To be quite honest, I thought Tiger ace Max Scherzer – who is being widely touted as one of the best pitchers in the country – looked a little off on Friday night. He walked the first batter he faced, hit three batters and allowed several hits. Then I found out that he was pitching with the flu on Friday. That confirmed what I already thought: Scherzer is a beast. He struck out 9 through six innings and allowed just three runs…. WITH THE FLU. Yikes. Imagine what he could do to UW-M while healthy.

-I think Scherzer’s intensity is infectious. So far this season, the Tigers have also done their best hitting when Scherzer is on the mound. On the offensive side, John McKee started a great weekend with four RBI. Zane Taylor tripled in the second at-bat of the game to give the Tigers an early lead and extend his hitting streak to 10 games.

-The UW-M pitchers were a bit wild, hitting seven Tiger batters during the game. That’s part of the reason that the Tigers managed to pummel the Panthers despite recording fewer hits.

Game 2

-Nathan Culp looked surprisingly good for a guy who gave up 13 hits and 5 runs through 6 2/3 innings. Some of those hits were not his fault – Culp is ground-ball pitcher and there were several times when the fielders were just not in the right place. He did manage to strike out 4 and walk no one.

-Freshman David Cales did an excellent job in relief, pitching 2 hitless innings and striking out 3. What makes it even more impressive is that Cales started at third base Friday night.

-McKee continued to be hot with the bat, going 3-3 with two doubles and 4 RBI. Taylor also extended his hitting streak to 11.

Game 3

-This was a pretty standard Mizzou performance: they were sloppy with the ball, they didn’t box out, Horton continually dribbled the ball into the floor, they gave up a lead in the second half and fell behind by double digits… then Thomas Gardner went bonkers and led the Tigers to a comeback victory. None of this should surprise you.

-This might have been the most apathetic officiating performance I have ever seen. It’s like they knew this game didn’t matter. They weren’t calling much of anything – the most obvious missed call coming in the midst of the Mizzou comeback when Thomas Gardner leveled a stationary Nebraska player at midcourt and was not called for charging. Normally, I would favor this as a Mizzou fan, but it was so blatantly obvious that I just doubled over laughing.

Crazed Mizzou Fan Notes

Game 1

-With wind chills dipping into the 30s, an impressive crowd of more than 1,000 fans turned out for the Friday night game. It was nice to see a lot of students out and getting involved. Several folks had signs, there were a few tailgaters and some Antlers were even on hand.

-Zane Taylor’s intro music has the opportunity to start a great new Mizzou baseball tradition. Taylor comes out with an Irish jig playing, which gets the old folks stomping, the college kids dancing and the little kids going crazy. The Taylor Riverdance is pretty cool… and you can hear it on the radio during games now when Taylor comes to the plate.

Game 2

-The turnout wasn’t as good for Saturday’s game, but the crowd that was on hand did a nice job with signs, heckling and dancing the Taylor Riverdance. When Zane came to the plate late in the game, half the stadium was dancing – and the players seem to be getting a kick out of it. We showed up at noon for the 2:00 first pitch, but we were the only tailgaters.

-Mizzou’s head of gameday operations Tad Dunn did take away a sign from one group of fans that said “Rip some tits.” Other than the possibly inappropriate meaning, Rocky Mountain Tiger, Nethead and I could not figure out what this could possibly mean. Needless to say, it immediately became the phrase of the weekend.

Game 3

-The turnout was pathetic for Senior Day (around 9,000… generous), but I guess that’s what you get when your team is terrible. Zou Crew was only a third full – that’s why we managed to upgrade from Tiger John’s Family Land seats to a spot about 15 rows up in the student section.

-The Antlers were out in force and I appreciate that… but I have to say that I think the Antlers have gone downhill. It seems like the Antlers used to dress up for kU and otherwise, they would only wear bizarre apparel if it had something to do with the other team. Now, they are coming dressed in hunting outfits, volleyball uniforms and daisy dukes (with no shirts) for no apparent reason other than to make fools of themselves. I’m all for distracting the other team, but I prefer the old school approach of doing it with clever insults. Just my take… but I still prefer a full section of zany Antlers to a half-full section of apathetic Zou Crew folks. Speaking of which…

-Zou Crew has outlived its usefulness and needs to go. The student section needs to be first-come, first-serve for everyone. And lest someone accuse me of thinking that it has only gone downhill since I left, I said the same thing last year when I was in charge. Luckily, I get the impression that next year’s leadership will be recommending this sort of change to Alden and Co. (who will probably ignore them…).

-The loudest ovation of the day was when they brought out Brad Smith at halftime. That tells me two things: 1) Mizzou fans are going to love Brad for years to come… he is the stuff of legends and 2) Tiger fans have completely given up on the basketball program

Seen and heard in the stands:

Game 1

-In Mizzou’s second at-bat of the game, Zane Taylor tripled to right-center, mainly because the right fielder (McCoy) played the ball terrible, diving a good five feet short of the ball. Needless to say, the Fake McCoy became a target for fans throughout the rest of the game.

-With Mizzou at the plate and a runner at third, the UW-M pitcher had worked himself into a 2-1 count. The stadium was relatively quiet, so just as the pitcher released the ball, I let fly with a loud chicken squawk. The ball went flying over the catcher’s head to the backstop, allowing the runner at third to score.

-After hearing Zane Taylor’s intro music the first time, my friend AC and I decided a jig was in order. The next time he came to the plate, the Taylor Riverdance was born. Several players could be seen laughing hysterically in the dugout.

-Heckle of the night: A submarine reliever for the Panthers was greeted with the declaration that he was simply a glorified softball pitcher. Not the best line ever, but it was a slow night.

Game 2

-With all of Scherzer’s Flotilla on hand, things were bound to get more interesting. The rowing started in the pre-game warm-ups, but the tone was really set with the first batter: an infielder named Goetz (pronounced “gets”). The first insult was “Goetz nothing.” The second? “Goetz V.D.” And away we went…

-Most of the heckling for Saturday’s game name-based. With a roster of guys with names like Goetz, Brockel and Buchholz (pronounced “buck holes”), UW-M was ripe for the picking. Apparently, the few UW-M fans in attendance never made it past kindergarten and as such, they had never heard such vicious insults. This culminated with one obese fan in a satin jacket calling Rocky Mountain Tiger a “bum” and declaring that we were “rude” and “knew nothing about baseball.” He then proceeded to spit in the trash can, prompting RMT’s girlfriend Heather to give him a lecture on what rude really meant. Then Nathan Culp struck out the Panther at the plate to record the third out. With my limited knowledge of baseball, I wasn’t sure… but I think that was pretty good for our side.

-Also at Saturday’s game, the UW-M manager came out of the dugout to chastise one loyal MU fan for his heckling. To that fan I say: Job well done. If their players and their fans are more worried about the hecklers than the action on the field, mission accomplished.

-The crowd also had a lot of fun with Saturday’s umpire, who is either the voice of Tony the Tiger, or incredibly constipated. Rather than call a strike, the man offered up a combination growl/grunt for every good pitch. Tiger Fannette managed to parlay this into the best heckle of the day by going after the ump and UW-M on the same line: “Man, I think that umpire had too much of that cheese you guys make in Wisconsin.” That really got the Panther fans riled up… apparently a cheese insult crosses the line. Nice work.

Game 3

-We busted out the paper bags (pictured above) when the Tigers fell behind by 11 late in the game. They came back to win, but all that did was assure an 11th place finish in the Big XII. How does Mike Alden still have a job?

-How bad has it gotten? Tiger Fannette was actually upset after the game because we won. Nethead commented that the only reason we won is that we’re even bad at losing.

-The best heckle of the day was unfortunately directed at the other Mizzou fans in the arena as one of the Antlers welcomed us all to Ellis Library. Yes, it was that quiet.

Irritating/pleasant Athletic Department Decisions

Games 1 and 2

-None to speak of… and I file that under irritating. The Mizzou baseball team is a top 25 program and boasts one of the best players in the nation. Why not give them some publicity? Why not do some promotions? In recent years, baseball has been the most consistent program Mizzou has – and it’s also the only Mizzou program ever to win a national title. It’s the type of program that should have a storied history and a staunch following. But once again, the PR department has found an opportunity to miss.

Game 3

-While it was nice to see Brad get one last ovation, it points to the fact that our athletic department doesn’t have its priorities in the right place. Senior Day should be about – gasp – the seniors. Introducing them over the PA system before the game when the stadium is half-empty does not do justice to seniors who have given four years to the program. Meanwhile, they bring out Brad and Marcus King at halftime, show highlights on the JumboTron, etc. Surely they know that will overshadow the basketball seniors… but they do it anyway. Classy.

-The most upsetting thing I saw on Sunday is that we are losing fans. I actually watched four of them walk away. I’m not talking about fans who left early… I’m talking about the ones who never came in. While we were in line buying our tickets, a family of four came up to the window next to us and inquired about ticket prices. Told the cheapest tickets were $21, the dad sighed and ushered his kids toward the door. The fact is, most families can’t afford to drop 100 bucks just to watch a college basketball game. Now, I wouldn’t mind that price if the stadium was full every game. If people are willing to pay that price and you have enough lifelong fans to fill the arena, go for it. But there were at least 7,000 empty seats in Mizzou Arena on Sunday – most of them close to the court – but folks were walking away from the ticket window empty-handed because the prices are too high. Here is a chance to get kids coming to games at an early age and develop into lifelong fans, but Alden and his merry band of idiots are too busy lining their pockets to worry about something like that. What he fails to realize is that he is turning off the traditional Mizzou fan base, without whom the team is irrelevant. And last time I checked, getting $40 from a family of four and a couple lifelong fans is a lot more profitable than getting $0 for four empty seats.

Probably Being Heard Around the Water Cooler This Morning…

-What should be heard: “Max Scherzer is amazing, you have to go check him out next time the Tigers are in town” and “Yeah, I had a great time at the game Sunday with my kids. They loved getting to see the Tigers in person and it was a fun environment with the come-from-behind win.”

-What is being heard: “Do you know anything about the Mizzou baseball team? I hear they are pretty good, but they’re always on the back pages in the newspaper” and “Yeah, we wanted to go to the game on Sunday, but ticket prices are ridiculous. I hear we missed a pretty good game, but it’s okay. My kids just went home, put on their Saluki jerseys and watched Southern Illinois play its way into the NCAA tourney. Remember when Mizzou used to go to those?”

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Scherzer's Flotilla will be back in Columbia for Mizzou's first weekend series at home this season.

Weekly Report

By Tiger Fan

Tiger notes…

-After an up-and-down week, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what to make of the baseball team. The one thing that seems clear is that Max Scherzer is a beast. But the rest of the team has been strangely inconsistent. After putting up 14 runs Friday in a marquis victory over No. 1 Florida, the Tigers struck out 19 times on Saturday and Sunday in losses to unranked Wake Forest and Ohio State. Those losses dropped the Tigers out of the top 25 in two polls and Baseball America has dropped Mizzou to No. 20. They bounced back in their home opener on Wednesday, trouncing Illinois State by a score of 18-5, so hopefully that win will get them back on the right track. I’ll be in Columbia this weekend to watch the series against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, so keep an eye out for game reports coming soon.

-After a loss to Nebraska on Wednesday in its regular-season finale, the women’s basketball team is firmly on the NCAA tournament bubble. The Tigers are the No. 4 seed at the Big XII tourney in Dallas and probably need a win or two to shore up a trip to the Big Dance because of a weak non-conference schedule.

-The No. 9 gymnastics team dominated the Cat Classic for the fourth straight year, bringing home the team title and four individual honors. Freshman Adrianne Perry took home the all-around title and tied with Bunny Schwartzman for the floor exercise title. Schwartzman also won the title on the beam with her third 9.95 score of the season. Seniors Jodie Heinicka and Sarah Zigler tied for the title on the bars. This weekend, the Tigers host Centenary on Friday and travel to SEMO on Sunday.

-Mizzou basketball… is anyone still watching? Does anyone care? I’ll find out for sure on Sunday when I attend the regular-season finale against Nebraska in Columbia. If it’s nice outside, baseball might outdraw basketball… or at least it should. The Tigers lost twice again this week, dropping games at Colorado and at Iowa State. My only hope here is remembering what happened a few years ago at North Carolina: Matt Doherty had a terrible, sub-.500 season and was fired. Roy Williams came in to replace him. Two years later, the Tar Heels won the national title. Granted, the current freshman class of Matt Lawrence and Leo Lyons aren’t exactly Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashard McCants. And the Tigers aren’t likely to lure Coach K away from Duke. But I’m not expecting a national title… I’m just hoping that a new coach might be able to generate some excitement among Mizzou fans and get the team back into the tournament in the next couple years.

-I know we rip on Jason Horton a lot, so I feel obligated to mention that he was named to the All-Academic Big XII Second Team, which means he has a GPA of more than 3.0. Congrats to Jason on this accomplishment… although I have to wonder why that classroom success can’t translate to intelligent decisions on the court. And I can’t forget this important stat from the press release: Jason “is already second among Mizzou sophomores all-time with his 4.5 assists per game.” Has it really come to this? Have we sunk so far as a program that we have to dig that deep into the record book to say something positive about our players? Man, this season can’t end quickly enough…

-A lot of us want Alden fired, but the following headline illustrates why this won’t happen: “

Quick-hit non-Mizzou thoughts…

I am a Fantasy Olympics gold medalist. Thank you Julia Mancuso… This NFL labor dispute is ridiculous. Do the various league’s ever learn anything from the labor problems in other leagues? I can’t believe that every couple years, we have to deal with another one of these things. To me, this one is even worse because it will fundamentally change the league. Players who have been the face of their franchises are getting cut. In 2007, mediocre teams with cash to burn will simply be able to buy free agents away from small market teams. Once that happens, say good-bye to parity, which is what made the NFL great. Ah, America. Isn’t selfishness great?... Darren Daulton is a freaking nutcase… An article on today revealed to me that Dave Chappelle lives on a farm in Yellow Springs, Ohio. That certainly explains all his comedy that centers on the inner city experience. Oh wait, no it doesn’t… Acie Law is the man…