Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Writer: Oregon should hire Mark Fox (PLUS: Time again for Dogs-Jackets)

  • You knew it was just a matter of time before someone would suggest that someone should hire Mark Fox away from Georgia. FoxSports.com senior college basketball writer Jeff Goodman does so, opining in a column that Oregon should hire Fox for its vacant coaching job. Important distinction: Goodman does not list Fox as a “candidate” for the Oregon job -– he lists four others in that category -– but as his “pick” for the job. Goodman on Fox: “He went to a trio of NCAA tournaments in five years at the helm at Nevada and has West Coast ties. The guy can coach, as further proven by taking a pitiful Georgia team to a 14-17 record this past season, and can also evaluate. . . . “
  • It’ll  be Georgia vs. Georgia Tech on Wednesday night at Foley Field. It’s a baseball game both sides of the rivalry would love to win, of course, but it’s still secondary to conference games. So, mindful of the upcoming weekend series at Arkansas, Georgia will start a pitcher, Eric Swegman, who has worked …

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UGA ranked ahead of North Carolina — in, of all things, basketball!

David Paschall’s lead on a story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press today grabs your attention:

Georgia officially became a college basketball powerhouse Monday, passing North Carolina in the latest Ratings Percentage Index standings.

David is having some fun there, given the defending national champion’s plummet in the RPI and elsewhere. But it’s true: The Bulldogs rank 89th in the latest RPI, and the storied Tar Heels rank 92nd.

How crazy is that?

Georgia (12-13, 4-8 SEC)  plays at Vanderbilt on Thursday night. The Dogs, as you know, are still winless in true road games this season. North Carolina, by the way, is 14-13, 3-9 ACC.

A few other notes:

– Much has been made recently of the soaring salaries of defensive coordinators in the SEC. Finally, an offensive coordinator got a big raise. Auburn boosted Gus Malzahn’s salary 43 percent to $500,000. He still lags far behind the SEC’s four highest paid assistants, all defensive coordinators: Georgia’s Todd Grantham

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With health and spirit, ‘we’ll be much improved on defense’

  A year ago, Georgia’s football team was preseason No. 1. A year later, that seems like a long time ago.

   So, minus Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, what is the general feeling about where the Bulldog program is today?

   Coach Mark Richt tackled that question this week (and you’re welcome to do so below).

   “I think in our building [the feeling] is very good,” Richt said. “We know we have a lot of guys who have been in our program for a while, you know, preparing for their opportunity.

   “I think fans really know your starters pretty good and know your signing class pretty good, and they tend to forget about everybody in between that’s working their tail off for their opportunity. I think we as coaches know we’ve got a lot of guys in that category.”

  Ask about any of the question-mark positions, and Richt mentions someone he sees as eminently capable of providing the answer.

   Defensive end? Richt thinks Rod Battle is capable of a big senior season,  ”and I think …

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Poythress to Seattle

  Georgia first baseman Rich Poythress was drafted by Seattle tonight, and he could not have been surprised.

   “The Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox have probably shown the most interest,” Poythress told me three days before the MLB draft.

   The Mariners grabbed Poythress, the junior slugger, with the second pick of the second round, No. 51 overall.

   It’s the second year in a row the Mariners have taken a UGA player high in the draft. Last year, they took relief pitcher Josh Fields in the first round.

  Poythress is the second person in his family to be drafted by an MLB team. His father, Richard, a shortstop, was taken in the 26th round by the Chicago Cubs in 1973, playing in their farm system until an injury ended his career.

   Also tonight, Georgia senior pitcher Trevor Holder was drafted by the Washington Nationals with the first pick of the third round, No. 81 overall. That was a big move up for Holder, who returned for his senior season after being drafted in …

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Geno Atkins among Dogs in action

  – Can UGA’s baseball team make another NCAA postseason run, perhaps to the College World Series?  You might not think so, based on recent results. But it’s a funny game, as you know, and first baseman Rich Poythress made the point Thursday that the Dogs weren’t exactly swinging the bats great entering the postseason last year, either.  And then they broke out and went on a tear in which they scored 9, 14, 8, 18, 11, 6 and 17 runs in consecutive games to reach Omaha. So we’ll see. (Here’s a story on Georgia’s bid for an encore.)

  –  More of what Poythress had to say: “Our goal is to play our game and put it all together. . . . We’ve got to get the middle of the order going again. We need to step up and swing the bats a little better. We can rely on our postseason experience, the postseason at-bats we have had. . . . We’ve talked about our young guys a lot, but the middle of the order and the heart of the pitching staff have been there before.  . . . Our main goal was to …

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Can Bulldogs make another postseason run?

   Dating myself here, but I once covered a Braves team that won 13 games in a row and later lost 19 out of 21. Same team. Same season. Truth, of course, was that those long-ago Braves weren’t nearly as good as they looked during the 13-0 streak and not nearly as bad as they looked during the 2-19 slump.

    Which brings us to this season’s Georgia baseball team, which limps into the SEC tournament today

   The team that won 33 of its first 42 games has won just two of its past 13. The team that won 14 of its first 19 SEC games has won just one of its past 11. The team that was atop the SEC and ranked No. 1 in the nation has fallen to the No. 6 seed in the SEC tournament and the No. 21 spot in the coaches’ poll.

   Look at these statistical splits, comparing UGA’s first 42 games vs. its past 13:

   Rich Poythress: .422 batting average, 20 home runs and 69 RBIs in the first 42 games vs. .245, 1 HR and 8 RBI in the past 13.

   Colby May: .369 BA vs. .265.

   Bryce Massanari:

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A busy, mostly good, weekend for the Dogs

    Hope everyone had a great weekend.

    Well, once again, the Georgia baseball team didn’t, getting swept at South Carolina to continue a late-season collapse that has reached 11 losses in 13 games.

    And the men’s tennis team didn’t have a great weekend, either, losing to Texas in the rain-interrupted quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships to end the Bulldogs’ quest of a third consecutive national title.

   But elsewhere, the weekend was good to UGA:

   Men’s basketball: Tennessee State’s top scorer announced plans to transfer to Georgia. Guard Gerald Robinson Jr., who averaged 17.8 points per game as a sophomore last season and 15.2 as a freshman, will have to sit out the 2009-10 season under NCAA transfer rules. The 6-foot-1 Robinson, from Nashville, then will have two years of eligibility remaining. ”I sat down and evaluated everything, put together a checklist, and Georgia offered all the things I was looking for,” Robinson told The Tennessean. “. . . I’m going …

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Talking baseball with Perno . . .

  Georgia’s baseball team has had an up-and-down season, from a No. 1 ranking to an eight-losses-in-nine-games tailspin.  I chatted with coach David Perno in an otherwise empty dugout before practice one day last week and, although I should have posted this sooner,  wanted to share some of what he had to say:

   On this season’s attendance, which set a school record Sunday: “Yeah, it is [gratifying]. We’ve come a long way. Even a good year like ’01, even that year, the place wasn’t sold out until the [NCAA] Regional. So it’s been fun to watch. And I don’t think obviously you can just give this team the credit. It started with the ’04 team; they created a lot of interest. And the ’06 team and the ’08 team. . . . I didn’t want people to come for the promotions or the marketing;  I wanted them to come because we’ve got a good product and are fun to watch. I’ve always been a big believer in that.”

   On this topsy-turvy season: “[On balance], we’re where we should be. We …

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A young recruit . . . a slumping team

  Not much happening on the UGA sports front for a few days, in deference to spring-semester final exams. But a couple of things caught my attention Monday:

  A YOUNG RECRUIT: Wow, Andy Landers must really be impressed with Erika Ford, the Chattahoochee High sophomore — sophomore! – whom Georgia’s women’s basketball program has offered a scholarship and who has verbally committed to accept it when she finishes high school. Apparently she’ll be a Lady Bulldog starting in the 2011-12 season — after two more years at Chattahoochee.

   Best I can tell, she is the first high school sophomore commit in the history of Georgia’s women’s hoops program.

   “She’s always wanted to be a Bulldog, so for her it was an easy choice,” Chattahoochee coach Eric Herrick said Monday.

   Ford, a 16-year-old 5-foot-9 shooting guard, echoed her coach’s words and said “there was no reason to wait” on committing to the Lady Bulldogs. She said she knew the first time she stepped on the UGA campus that …

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Fox looking for games — and players

  Good morning. Hope you had a good weekend.

  Georgia’s baseball team certainly didn’t, getting swept at home by Florida.

  The Bulldogs, No. 1 two weeks ago and No. 6 last week in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, figure to plummet when the new rankings come out today.

  One person who had a nice weekend: Mark Fox.

  His family was in Athens —  the first time he had seen them in 26 days.

  “That’s been hard,” Georgia’s new men’s basketball coach said. “My daughter came up the escalator, and I thought, ‘Wow, she looks taller. Her hair looks longer.’”

   Fox’s family —  his wife Cindy, 6-year-old daughter Olivia and 8-year-old son Parker –  will move to Athens this summer after finishing the school year in Nevada. Meanwhile, Fox is staying in the Georgia Center hotel, a short stroll from Stegeman Coliseum.

  Hope you saw Saturday’s Q&A, in which Fox touched on topics ranging from Daniel Miller to Trey Thompkins to Vincent Williams to Travis Leslie. If you missed it, here’s a …

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Chatting with Corvey Irvin: ‘It is kind of hard to believe’

 

   Corvey Irvin was drafted 92 spots behind Matthew Stafford.

   And I’m not sure Stafford, even with $41.7 million guaranteed, could be any happier or prouder than Irvin.

   While Stafford had been hailed as a future No. 1 NFL draft pick ever since high school — and you’ve got to hand it to Mel Kiper Jr. for making that prediction when Stafford was still at Highland Park High in Dallas — Irvin came from obscurity to be a third-round pick.

    He wasn’t recruited by any major colleges out of high school. (”I was an OK high school player,” he maintains.) He transferred to Georgia after two years at Georgia Military College but didn’t start any games his first year in Athens. And he probably wouldn’t have started any in his second and final season, either, if not for his friend and fellow defensive tackle Jeff Owens blowing out a knee in the season opener.

   That thrust Irvin into the Bulldogs’ starting lineup, and next thing you know, he’s at the Carolina Panthers’ rookie …

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Larry Munson, Hall of Famer

  “Run, Lindsay, run!”

   “Oh, look at the sugar falling out of the sky!”

   “We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose! We just crushed their face!”

   Larry Munson’s soundtrack comes to mind because on Monday night he’ll be inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.

    Munson won’t travel to Salisbury, N.C., for the ceremony, but he has videotaped an acceptance message to be played in his absence.

   Wes Durham, the Georgia Tech and Falcons radio play-by-play man, and Tony Barnhart, ajc.com’s “Mr. College Football,” will be on hand to accept the award for Munson.

   “It’s an honor that is obviously richly deserved,” Durham said yesterday.  “Larry is an icon in this business.

   “He is one of a handful of guys in this country who brought the passion and pageantry of college football to life on the radio. His style is one that can’t be replicated.”

   Barnhart, by the way, is working on a book with Munson, scheduled …

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On Stafford’s dollars, Dogs in the Dome and other stuff

  About  Matthew Stafford’s contract:   As you might have heard, it calls for more guaranteed money ($41.7 million) than any contract in NFL history — more than any contract signed by Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, among others. If you find that incredulous, no argument here.  In the next round of collective bargaining, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and some owners plan to push for economic reform that would redirect money from unproven draft picks to proven veterans and establish some form of rookie wage scale.  Stafford’s contract will become the league’s Exhibit A in that battle, supplanting Matt Ryan’s deal ($34.75 million guaranteed) with the Falcons last year.  Of course, it  must be noted that the owners — the same folks demanding new restraints — are the ones giving the runaway rookie contracts.

 

  About Mark Richt’s mention to the Augusta Bulldog Club of a remotely possible 2010 UGA non-conference game in the Georgia Dome:  That stirred a lot of fun speculation on …

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Football! Basketball! Baseball! A Monday sampler …

  Athens – OK, before we start another week, let’s clean out an overfull notebook from last week. . . .

  – UGA President Michael Adams sat in on interviews with five candidates for the basketball coaching job and said he was extremely impressed with Mark Fox.  But Adams stressed that the hiring decision was purely athletics director Damon Evans’. “What I did was sit back and listen,” Adams said. “Damon conducted the interviews. I don’t think I asked any candidate more than two or three questions.” Adams said he was there to show the importance the institution places on the job.  ”I felt it was my role in this process to demonstrate the university’s commitment to basketball,” Adams said. “It’s why we built the [practice] facility we built, why we were willing to pay what it took to hire the right coach.”

  – There was no quibbling over salary when Evans made his offer to Fox.  “Six years at $1.3 million is not bad, is it?” Evans said. “I thought about hiring myself as the …

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Perno, Dogs embrace No. 1 baseball ranking

Georgia baseball coach David Perno.

Georgia baseball coach David Perno.

Say whatever you want about Georgia baseball coach David Perno but one thing I’ve always liked about him is his penchant for telling it like it is. Take this new business about his Bulldogs being ranked No. 1 in the land.

When I asked him about it, Perno didn’t jump into cliché-ridden coachspeak about how “it’s early in the season” and “the only poll the matters is the last one.” He didn’t say, “We don’t look at polls.”

What he did say was: “I completely embrace it. Our players, our program, our former players, we all embrace it. It’s awesome.”

Now I know and you know the Diamond Dogs haven’t exactly been taking on the New York Yankees in pre-conference play. They have feasted on the likes of Youngstown State, Presbyterian, Wofford and Quinnipiac in building a school-record-setting 12-0 ledger. There was the trip to Tucson for three games against a rebuilding Arizona squad so we have to give them credit for that. But the key word therein is …

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Dogs hope new bats are a hit

Now I’m just going to gloss over this because I haven’t looked at a bunch of data on it but Georgia has made a change its baseball players and coaches believe could make a huge difference.

The Bulldogs — who open the season Friday against Youngstown State — will be allowed to use Easton bats this year. To hear a lot of them talk about it, not having that luxury may have cost them the national championship against Easton-swinging Fresno State in the College World Series finals last June.

I talked to athletics director Damon Evans about the switch Wednesday night before the Georgia-Auburn basketball game. Clearly he’s not sold on the premise that Easton’s composite bats are markedly better than Nike’s bats. According to him, there is no scientific data to support that hypothesis. And the Bulldogs did hit 96 home runs last season with Nike bats, the second-most in school history. Personally I haven’t looked into it enough yet to have a strong opinion either way.

But coach David …

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