Kennesaw State, whose previous claim to fame had been producing Ty Pennington, the host of Extreme Makeover, has reached an NCAA Super Regional by beating Alabama twice. They join such traditional college baseball powers as Maryland, Houston, Charleston and Louisiana-Lafayette on the Road to Omaha.
The defending champion from UCLA didn’t even make the field, the top seed from Oregon State was ousted and the Big 12 got four teams in while the SEC only managed three. It should be a great weekend for college baseball, as sixteen are whittled to the eight that head to Nebraska. It’s a very interesting field which features 7 teams from outside the latest Baseball America Top 25.
On a night when James Shields uncharacteristically scuttled, how nice was it that his Royal’s teammates picked him up? The rally from 4-0 down in St. Louis gave the Royals their second straight win in the I-70 Series and inched then closer to the .500 mark on the season.
Alex Gordon hit his second homer in as many nights; yes you heard that right and the Royals scored eight runs in a game for the second time in less than a week. In fact, Kansas City has played six games with new batting coach Dale Sveum, and has scored six or more runs in four of them.
Even with Gordon’s modest power surge, the Royals and Cardinals between them—would only be 12th in the Big Leagues in home runs.
Danny Duffy was brilliant Monday rallying from two starts in which he’d given up 10 runs in 10 innings. His one-hitter through six means that he now has a one hit start in three games with six innings or better in three straight seasons. The guy has great stuff; you hope that he can figure out how to harness it consistently.
Meanwhile, across the parking lot---
Chiefs Quarterback Alex Smith said earlier this week that he hadn’t even thought about a contract extension in Kansas City heading into potential free agency in 2015. Would the Chiefs be wise to lock him into a multi-year deal? I sure think so.
Smith carried them late in the season when little else was going well. He played all season without a reliable receiving corps and was the club’s second leading rusher to boot. He was clearly a good guy in the locker room and is a proven winner in both Kansas City and San Francisco. How that equates to a a new contract—I’m not sure. I do know that he has the 14th best total deal amongst NFL quarterbacks, but that his yearly guarantee is behind guys like Sam Bradford, Matt Schaub, Matt Moore, Ryan Tannehill and Jake Locker—none of whom I’d take in front of Smith. The Chiefs have to be careful with limited space under the salary cap, but while Smith isn’t an elite quarterback…he’s the best that the Chiefs have had in a while and he deserves to be paid like it.
They’ll look good in the airport---
Gregg Marshall loves size at the back end of his defense to protect the rim and with the unexpected addition of Rauno Nurger he gets a 6’10” center to go with 7’0” junior college transfer Bush Wamucota. Nurger originally signed with Ole Miss, but asked for his release when the coach who recruited him was let go. The native of Estonia prepped at Sunrise Academy in Bel Aire and will join Sunrise teammate Zach Brown with the Shockers.
What’s it worth?
The Southeastern Conference will distribute over $292M to its member institutions, a sum that underscores why football now rules the college sports landscape. Alabama’s Nick Saban has a deal through 2022 that could play him as much as $55M. I’ll bet the entire academic payroll at Alabama through 2022 isn’t nearly that much.