Friday, June 8, 2007

2007 "Tip of the Cap" Awards, part 2

The annual "Tip of the Cap" awards are awarded every year at the end of the Mizzou Baseball season, named in honor of John "Hi" Simmons' signature gesture. Read more at

Our annual award for the best performance against the Kansas Jayhawks was really no contest this season.

"How do you like your Jayhawks cooked? Evan Frey’d," quipped Matt Nestor in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

The Chickenhawks came to Simmons field on a rainy weekend at the end of March this year, and left having given up the series to the Tigers, 2-1.

The hero of the weekend was centerfielder Evan Frey. Frey had been hot for most of March and carried this streak into the MU-KU series.

Frey hit at a .438 clip for the weekend, with 4 runs, 9 RBI, 1 double and two home runs.

Both homeruns were big ones. The first, in the Saturday victory, was Frey's first homerun as a Tiger.

Frey's second career homer came a day later in the bottom of the ninth inning, with 2 outs and Brock Bond on base, Frey connected. The ball over the wall, the Tiger players and fans went crazy, and the poor Jayhawks went home with a series loss.

A quote from KU Coatch Ritch Price: “That’s about as tough of a loss as I’ve ever had,” coach Ritch Price said. “Especially when you’re down 8-0 and you play that hard to get back in the thing. We had some huge clutch hits along the way. Obviously it isn’t over until the final guy’s out.”

Comments from about the April 1st, 2007 game:

bolivartiger: Just wow. Probably the most exciting college baseball game that I have ever seen.

kegger: The look on Smith's face as the Tigers celebrated at home plate after his pitch wound up on the other side of the fence was one I will remember for quite some time. The way their whole team stayed at their positions as if the homer was going to be waved off or something was quite as enjoyable as well.

Our Tigers beat Kansas in the most cruel way possible. Not only taking the Friday night game and reversing it, but to do so with a deserving celebration at home plate after the one in the top of the inning... That had to be the baseball equivalent of ripping someone's heart out and showing it to them while it was still beating. meets
The award for the Easiest Player to Heckle goes to A.J. Ramos, Texas Tech's "Ace" pitcher. He made himself an easy target for heckling by failing to protect his MySpace page from the non-"friends".

That page revealed lots of information about A.J., including "Occupation: student/part time stripper". It also revealed his nickname for himself, "Papi Chulo Baby" (Puerto Rican for "pimp daddy").
Armed with this info, the Simmons Field fans greeted the pitcher on Friday night with near constant cries of "Papi Chulo!" as well as a few other choice heckles based on his MySpace bio.

Poor Papi Chulo didn't do very well in that game, lasting just 2-1/3 innings, surrendering seven earned runs on 5 hits, 5 walks, 2 wild pitches and a hit batsman.

I suppose his coach thought he would be fresh on Sunday, having spent so little time on the mound Friday night, so with the game on the line in the 9th inning, Ramos was brought in to close the game.

The moment I saw him exit the bullpen, I knew the Tigers had the game won. As he approached the mound, the hecklers in the crowd went wild, chanting "Papi Culo! Papi Chulo!".

Ramos intentionally walked Priday, unintentionally walked Coleman, struck out Senne, then threw a trio of wild pitches that moved the runners around the bases, finally allowing Lollis to score from third.

And so, a tip of the cap goes to Papi Chulo for entertaining the animals in the Zou.

Hot Streaks & Hot Tempers
Boo-ing is a practice not heard often at all at Simmons Field. Heckling - sure. But a Boo is reserved for the worst offenders.

An all-or-nothing third baseman from Los Angeles by way of Louisville, Dominguez had compiled a lowly .250 average with only 9 home runs during the course of his season.

Through the first two days of the Regional, he was noticed most when he stood next to (or, during one play, ran into) Louisville shortstop Chris Cates. Cates, generously listed on the roster at 5'3" was over a foot shorter than the 6'4" Dominguez.

Dominguez made himself known in the Sunday Missouri-Louisville game, though, when he hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning that went on to be the game-winner. (He would hit two more home runs on Monday to help the Cardinals win the championship game).

But it was what happened AFTER the homer that really grabbed attention. After standing and admiring his homer, he mouthed some unidentified trash-talk in the direction of MU Catcher Trevor Coleman, then proceed to run the bases, tossing more trash, grins and finger-pointing at the Tiger infielders as he passed.

This created quite an uproar on the field, with MU players and coaches demanding the umpires discipline Dominguez, the U of L coach doing a lot of shoulder shrugging, and a large percentage of the 3,400 fans shouting and screaming and Boo-ing.

I'd like to give a tip of the cap to the umpires for following through on the guidelines laid down by the NCAA before the tournament began, to the effect that no sort of trash talk or disrespectful actions would be tolerated.

I'd like to give a tip of the cap to Dan McDonnell, the Louisville head coach, for removing Dominguez from the game and voluntarily sitting him out of the next game.

Instead, I'll keep my cap on this time.

Bad Call of the Year
While Bill Speck did everything he possibly could to earn this award by refusing to exercise his authority in reagrd to Chris Dominguez of Louisville, even that see-no-evil approach leaves him a distant second.

The worst call of the year took place in Austin, TX, when Jim Garman called Evan Frey out at first base. In the 6th inning, Garman ended a Tiger rally prematurely by disagreeing with nearly everyone in the ballpark, all of whom saw clearly that Frey beat the throw by a Texas mile.