Mad Chatter, Oct. 2

Can Tommy Armstrong save the season?

OK, that’s overstating his potential impact. But I know many, many fans whose excitement level (and hope) for the Huskers has dissipated over the past month. They don’t see a defensive turnaround coming. They don’t see Taylor Martinez putting up 40 points at the Big House. Their main point of interest — their primary reason to watch — is Armstrong.

With the coaches setting a high standard for Martinez’s health — remember 2010 when they rolled him out there on one foot? — my hunch is Armstrong will play most of the snaps Saturday against Illinois. My hunch is he’ll play a lot at Purdue (with a bye Oct. 19, I don’t see a reason to rush Martinez back …

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Mad Chatter, July 1

Six months from today, Nebraska will be playing in the _______.

It’s July 1, the beginning of the slowest sports month, the calm before the football storm, exactly half a year from the last time the Huskers had a game. They crumbled in the second half against Georgia, of course, prompting a rather buzz-less offseason (unless you count Jack Hoffman’s touchdown and Ernest Suttles’ WWF imitation).

Noted football philosopher Phil Steele says NU will be playing Oregon in Pasadena in six months, though in that scenario (with Ohio State going to the BCS championship game) the Huskers aren’t likely to win their own division.

I don’t claim to know the future, but my sense is we’re looking at a season very much like the past …

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Mad Chatter, June 28

It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We hit Creighton’s New Year’s Eve bash and the flammable Brooklyn Nets, Bill Raftery and Bill Simmons, Rory McIlroy and Cary Cochran, even a little soccer. But first, Thomas Brown and Ernest Suttles are gone.

I have no interest in analyzing the Friday night habits of Nebraska football players. But when dudes are slamming beer bottles on each other’s foreheads, suddenly it matters.

I don’t think this incident is representative of Bo Pelini’s roster. (And I must remind myself that my dumbest acts at 18 or 19 would’ve looked pretty bad in the newspaper). But NU fans need to hope this episode isn’t representative of a maturity/leadership void on defense.

It’s been a bad …

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Here’s one guy that won’t be back for the derby

A postscript to the hundred of thousand words that have been spoken and written about the home-run haven TD Ameritrade Park is not.

I was chatting last week with one of the participating coaches after one of his team’s practices. He asked me my opinion of the park.

I told him there is little not to like about the place, other than the fact that the designers were more intent on providing views of downtown buildings than providing hitters with a fair track.

The coach, who brought several teams to Rosenblatt Stadium, smiled.

“Didn’t anyone realize the wind blows out of the south here?” he asked.

The coach added, “They tell me they have a home-run hitting contest here, is that right?”

I replied yes, referring to …

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College World Series sets attendance record

The 2013 College World Series drew a total of 341,483 fans, making this year’s championship event the most attended CWS in history.

The attendance of 27,127 fans for Tuesday’s championship game between UCLA and Mississippi State is the largest crowd for a CWS championship game final, and also marked the largest single-game crowd in TD Ameritrade Park history.

The 2013 Series drew an average crowd of 24,392 fans per game — 2,610 more than the 2012 series and 1,415 more than the 2011 average.

The CWS attendance numbers:

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Oregon State vs. Mississippi State 24,473 fans
Louisville vs. Indiana 27,122 (51,595 total)
North Carolina vs. North Carolina State 22,972 (74,567 total)
LSU vs. UCLA 26,344 (100,911 total)
Oregon State vs. Louisville 18,980 (119,891 total)
Indiana vs.

Mad Chatter, June 26

Whatever that was at TD Ameritrade Park the past 12 days, it wasn’t the College World Series I’ve grown to love. It looked more like Wiffle Ball.

A few facts to digest from our 2013 Summer Classic:

>> Over its first four games, the eventual champion hit .183 with just three extra-base hits (all doubles). Its record: 4-0. For the CWS, UCLA hit .226 with a whopping five extra-base hits. Even Mike Moustakas thinks that’s bad.

>> In 43 CWS games at TDAPO since 2011, the losing team has scored 0 or 1 run 26 times. These are run totals for the losing teams in ‘13: 4, 0, 1, 1, 4, 4, 2, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0. In three years at TDAPO, …

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UCLA celebrates first NCAA baseball title

As soon as the final out was recorded in a 8-0 win against Mississippi State, the Bruins crashed into one another just beyond the pitcher’s mound.

The monotonous moments of Tuesday’s blowout only seemed to increase the wait (the eight-run margin of victory was the largest in a title-clinching games since 2003).

But when the game was over, the celebration began. Immediately. Hats and gloves went flying in the air. Confetti was launched over both dugouts. Fireworks lit up the sky.

Of the 108 NCAA championships won by UCLA, none had been earned by the baseball program. Until now. No. 109 belongs to coach John Savage and his Bruins.

“It means everything,” Savage said in a live post-game interview displayed on the big screen. “This …

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Bo Pelini in the house

Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini has taken some time out of his schedule to enjoy a night at the ballpark. He’s in the crowd for Tuesday night’s UCLA-Mississippi State game.

Pelini even got some facetime on the TD Ameritrade Park big screen after the top of the third inning. The interview didn’t last long, but the Husker coach earned a loud cheer from the local crowd before and after his live comments about the CWS.

A few Mississippi State fans in the outfield bleachers had their own way of greeting Pelini. They could be heard chanting “S-E-C! S-E-C!”




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UCLA’s Carroll shares his base stealing philosophy

Watch out when junior Brian Carroll gets on base Tuesday night. The UCLA leadoff guy can fly.

Carroll swiped two bases in three tries in Monday’s 3-1 win over Mississippi State, moving into 13th-place nationally with 32 stolen bases on the season.

But here’s the thing: He’s not always in that thievery mode.

“There’s definitely different situations that are better to run,” Carroll said. “Just as far as not leaning, or reading pitchouts, or (certain) counts to run in. It’s why we work on base running every day.”

UCLA’s the only team with more than three stolen bases in the CWS, stealing five in six attempts. For an offense that struggles at times to score, activity on the base paths is an integral part of its …

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Former CWS players in the majors

Here’s a list of every player in the major leagues who participated in the College World Series prior to going pro.

* * *

Willie Bloomquist, util (Arizona St., 1998)
Will Harris, p (LSU, 2003)
Aaron Hill, 2b (LSU, 2003)
Joe Patterson, p (Oregon St., 2006-07)
Brad Ziegler, p (Missouri St., 2003)

Tim Hudson, p (Auburn, 1997)
Reed Johnson, of (Cal State Fullerton, 1999)

Darren O’Day, p (Florida, 2005)
Steve Pearce, 1b (South Carolina, 2004)
Taylor Teagarden, c (Texas, 2003-05)
Danny Valencia, 3b (Miami, 2006)
Matt Wieters, c (Georgia Tech, 2006)

Jacoby Ellsbury, of (Oregon St., 2005)
Andrew Miller, p (North Carolina, 2006)
David Ross, c (Auburn, 1997; Florida, 1998)

Chicago Cubs
Darwin Barney, 2b (Oregon St., 2005-07)
Julio Borbon, of …

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