The resumption of the Border War---
I’m in Columbia, Missouri this weekend working the Arkansas-Mizzou baseball series. It’s a busy weekend in Columbia, aside from the baseball, NCAA regional golf is going on, so is graduation and NCAA softball regionals. The softball is particularly interesting because KU is here and, as you know, KU and Mizzou don’t really get along.
It so happens that the Jayhawks and Tigers both won yesterday, setting up an awkward get together between the two this afternoon. It’s amazing how quickly one falls back into old habits, the trash talking between the two has been delicious---enough for me to go check it out before my game.
Kansas and Missouri may hate each other, but I wonder if they miss each other too? At least KU has their rivalry with K-State, although those emotions don’t run nearly as deep as they do for Mizzou. As for Missouri---they’re still trying to figure out who they don’t like in the SEC. Arkansas is the most likely candidate, but rivalries don’t happen with the flip of a switch, they take a lot of time to form and take root.
The price of progress?
All you have to do is take a look at the ongoing expansion of Faurot Field to know why Missouri was glad to move to the SEC and while it’s been a good thing for football (they just won the SEC East) other sports and fan bases are still adjusting. I talked to one long-time baseball fan yesterday who told that while most fans would never admit it—they do miss the Big 12, particularly the rivalry with KU.
A storm brewing---
Wichita State is trying to avoid a couple of relative indignities as the baseball season winds down. Since the resumption of the program in 1978, the Shockers have never won fewer than 30 games in a season. Only once, during that time, have the Shockers finished worse than third in the Valley. They head into their series and regular season finale at Illinois State today with 28 wins and are in 4th place in the MVC a game back of Dallas Baptist.
Regardless today’s outcome the Shockers will face Illinois State in Tuesday’s opening round of the MVC Tournament in Terre Haute, Indiana. WSU is in a similar situation as last year, knowing they had to win the tourney to advance to the NCAA, but the task this year is tougher. The Valley is pretty decent at the top; Evansville, Indiana State and Dallas Baptist all have good NCAA credentials. WSU has outstanding frontline pitching, but I question their depth and offense, advancing past the MVC would be a surprise for me.
As soon the season is done, I really expect Todd Butler to get busy. Transition years are always hard, especially one’s that start with unforeseen suspensions, but I can’t imagine that he won’t clean house. The Shockers have been little more than average over the last three or four years and Butler won’t stand for it. To his credit, he’s been careful in the handling of this group, after all they were in transition too. Now that everyone has their cards on the table, it’ll be much easier to make strong moves with the roster.