Thursday, September 29, 2005

Royals finally sign Gordon

It's about time. Heaven knows all us frustrated Royals fans can't wait to see if the former Husker can help KC at the big-league level. He was a man hitting against boys in college.

Many comparisons have been made between Gordon and former Royals great George Brett. That's pretty lofty praise. Now, maybe we'll get to see how close Gordon can come.

The press release:


ROYALS SIGN 1ST ROUND PICK ALEX GORDON

Two-time All-American to Begin Career at Fall Instructional League

KANSAS CITY, MO (Sept. 29, 2005) – Kansas City Royals Senior Director-Scouting Deric Ladnier and Senior Vice President Baseball Operations/General Manager Allard Baird announced today that the Royals have signed Alex Gordon, the second overall pick in the 2005 June Free Agent Draft.

Gordon, a 6-1, 215-pound third baseman from the University of Nebraska, led the Huskers to the 2005 Big 12 regular season and tournament titles, an NCAA Regional title and the school’s third College World Series appearance.

Gordon joins the Royals organization after sweeping the collegiate baseball awards for college player of the year. He was honored with the Golden Spikes Award from USA Baseball as the nation’s top amateur player, the Dick Howser Award by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, the Brooks Wallace Award from the College Baseball Foundation and the American Baseball Coaches Association & Rawlings Player of the Year. He was also an ESPY Award Finalist for the Best Male College Athlete.

"This is a great day for the organization," Ladnier said. "I know Alex is excited to start his career and he’ll do that today by heading to Phoenix to begin play in the Instructional League."

"We not only signed a quality player," Baird said. "We signed a quality person. He is obviously a skilled collegiate player that we anticipate will move quickly through our system."

Gordon was the highest first-round selection in Kansas City Royals history, passing Jeff Austin (4th, 1998) and Mike Stodolka (4th, 2000). He was also the highest draft pick out of the University of Nebraska since Darin Erstad was taken first overall in the 1995 draft. Gordon was scouted by Area Scouting Supervisor Phil Huttmann.

Gordon, who bats left and throws right, earned first team All-America honors for the second straight season after hitting .372 (94-253) in 72 games in 2005. He hit 22 doubles, 4 triples, 19 home runs and recorded 66 RBI. Gordon was also successful on 23 of 26 stolen base attempts (.885). He gained recognition for his plate discipline as he drew 63 walks, compared to just 38 strikeouts. He posted a .353 average in his 193 games at Nebraska, where he hit 44 home runs and drove in 189 runs. He also drew 139 walks and struck out just 106 times.

Gordon, 21, is only the second two-time first-team All-American in Nebraska history and finished the season as the Big 12 leader (conference games only) in walks and on-base percentage, while ranking 3rd in home runs, total bases and slugging percentage.

He was named the No. 1 college draft prospect by Baseball America and the second-best prospect overall. Baseball America also named him the best pure collegiate hitter, the second-best collegiate five-tool talent, second-best collegiate power hitter, best collegiate strike-zone judgement and second closest to the Majors among collegiate players.

Gordon has also gained experience using a wood bat, as he was a member of the 2004 U.S. National Team. He helped lead Team USA to an 18-7 overall record, seeing the majority of his playing time at first base, a position he had never played at the collegiate level. During the 2004 summer, he hit .388 with four home runs, 12 RBI and 18 runs scored in 24 contests. He was named the top offensive player at the FISU World University Baseball Championships in Tainan, Taiwan after leading all players with a .524 average (11-for-21) with two homers, five RBI and eight runs scored in eight games.

As a prep at Lincoln Southeast (Neb.) High School, Gordon was a two-time Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year after hitting .483 with 25 home runs and 112 RBI in his high school career. Gordon was a three-time first-team All-Nebraska selection by both the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star and was named one of the nation’s top 100 seniors by Baseball America.

He also stood out on the football field, leading the state with seven interceptions as a defensive back. He also averaged 20 yards per catch as a receiver and 35 yards on kickoff returns.

Born, Feb. 10, 1984 in Lincoln, Neb., Gordon was a pre-criminal justice student at Nebraska. The son of Leslie and Mike Gordon, he has three brothers, Eric, Brett and Derek. He comes from a family rich in baseball tradition, as both his father (Mike, Nebraska) and older brother (Eric, Nebraska-Omaha) played college baseball, while his grandfather (Charlie) was the longtime coach at Lincoln Southeast.

GORDON’S CAREER STATS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA

Year Avg GP GS AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB ATT
2003 .319 62 58 216 45 69 13 2 7 48 29 34 8 17
2004 .365 59 59 211 64 77 18 5 18 75 47 34 12 14
2005 .372 72 72 253 79 94 22 4 19 66 63 38 23 26
Total .353 193 189 680 188 240 53 11 44 189 139 106 43 57

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Thursday, September 29, 2005 || 1 comments

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Monday, September 26, 2005

TBS televising Nebraska-Texas Tech

Some news from the Big 12 offices:

TBS to Return to Lincoln for Second Time in 2005

The Big 12 Conference and TBS have announced that the network will televise the Nebraska-Texas Tech game to a national audience on Saturday, Oct. 8, beginning at 3 p.m.

The contest will mark TBS’ second trip to Lincoln this season. The network televised their first-ever game from Memorial Stadium earlier this month in Nebraska’s 31-3 victory over Wake Forest. This also marks the second consecutive season that the network has televised the Nebraska-Texas Tech contest.

The Nebraska-Tech TBS appearance ensures Nebraska of at least three nationally televised games this season. Along with the Huskers’ victory over Wake Forest, the NU-Colorado game on Friday, Nov. 26 will be nationally televised by ABC Sports.

Other televised Big 12 games on Saturday, Oct. 8 include Kansas at Kansas State (11 a.m. FSN Regional); Oklahoma vs. Texas (Noon, ABC) and Texas A&M at Colorado (6 p.m., FSN National).

Game times for the remainder of Nebraska’s contests will be announced six to 12 days in advance of the game.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Monday, September 26, 2005 || 0 comments

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

NU-Pitt (upon further review)

Finally had time to watch ABC's coverage of the Nebraska-Pittsburgh game and was struck by a few things:

1. The Nebraska running game was better than I had initially thought during the game. Cory Ross found some nice creases and probably could've been at about the 200-yard mark in rushing in not for a few holding penalties. Plus, Brandon Jackson and Marlon Lucky could've each had nice runs if they had cut correctly and not slipped while making a cut, respectively.

2. The unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on Ross after making a first down in the fourth quarter was completely lame. I can see wanting to get rid of the first-down shows put on by Miami Hurricane receivers of past years, but to flag Ross for a mere point to the fans was flat-out dumb.

3. ABC color analyst Gary Danielson probably didn't make many Husker fans happy, but it seemed there was plenty of truth to what he said. Not only did he note that Nebraska was making mistakes you wouldn't expect a high school team to be making in week three, but he also noted that Pittsburgh defensive coaches had told him there wasn't a player on the Husker offense that they were concerned about. That spoke volumes.

4. Maybe Pitt's defensive backs are just that good, but to me, it looked like Nebraska's receivers simply couldn't get open. By the time some of them did shake loose, quarterback Zac Taylor had a face full of a Panther defender.

5. If the NU coaching staff did indeed run Joe Dailey off in the spring, that decision is looking like a major mistake. Sure, he didn't take care of the ball very well, but Dailey might be handy to have around in case Taylor ultimately proves that he's not the man for the job. I'd find it hard to believe that Dailey was actually the Huskers' fourth-best option at QB and he possibly would've made for a nice change-up to possibly give the offense a spark. If Joe D. started throwing picks again, they could go right back to Taylor.

6. Nebraska's West Coast offense nets less than 100 yards passing and Harrison Beck remains the No. 3 QB. What does that say about the true freshman? Either he's just not ready or was over-hyped -- a definitely possibility in the these parts.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Thursday, September 22, 2005 || 2 comments

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Nebraska-Iowa State kickoff set

Note from Monday morning's Big 12 teleconference:

The Nebraska-Iowa State game on Oct. 1 has been picked up by ABC as a regional telecast. Kickoff will be at 2:30 p.m.

If Iowa State can win at Army this Friday night, this will be a battle of unbeatens in the Big 12 Conference opener for both schools -- at least that's how they'll sell it.

Wonder if Brent M. will be returning to Lincoln? This Bud's for you!

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Monday, September 19, 2005 || 0 comments

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Pitt pick

Nebraska is a 10-point favorite coming into today's game against Pitt, but as that pencil-pushing Lee Corso likes to say, I think this one will be closer than the experts think.

Pittsburgh will be in full desperation mode. The 0-2 Panthers had high expectations and have plenty of returning starters. They're coming off a one of the worst losses in the program's history at Ohio and quite frankly, they're embarrassed.

We're calling for a Nebraska win today, but send out the upset alert ... NEBRASKA 27, PITTSBURGH 21.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Saturday, September 17, 2005 || 0 comments

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tuesday's presser

Weekly press conferences for college football coaches around the country almost always find the head coach --especially of the favored team -- praising the upcoming opponent and showing the upcoming foe the utmost respect. Tuesday was no different at Nebraska as coach Bill Callahan spoke of the danger of facing Pittsburgh, former NFL coach Dave Wannstedt and quarterback Tyler Palko.

This time, however, I think the words aren't hollow. Pitt is the classic "wounded dog" team: Going on the road with an 0-2 record, the Panthers' season will essentially be in the toliet if they don't come out of Lincoln with a win and they're still stinging from a 16-10 OT loss against an Ohio team that probably had no business beating them.

Callahan has butted heads with Wannstedt before when both were in the NFL and seems to have a lot of respect for his ability to scheme (at least that's what he's telling the media). Palko has looked horrid early on, but he's the football equivalent of a streak shooter and is capable of getting hot in a hurry. The Huskers had better hope Palko doesn't suddenly find his game on Saturday. The Blackshirts have been good so far, but they've yet to be tested in the passing game.

The line has NU favored by 10 1/2 points now. That seems like a lot for a Nebraska team that has averaged one offensive TD in its first two games. Expecting any more defensive scores this season would be asking a lot. Maybe I'm wrong here, but this one looks like it could get dicey for Callahan's crew.

Speaking of lines ... how about Oklahoma a 7-point dog at UCLA on Saturday. The Sooners are apparently losing national respect in a hurry.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Wednesday, September 14, 2005 || 0 comments

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

NU-Wake Forest prediction

It's about an hour before kickoff and -- hopefully -- we'll finally get a better handle on exactly what kind of team Nebraska has this year.

Last week's performance against Maine raised many questions, but we're going to give Callahan and Co. a mulligan. The updated pick for tonight's game: Nebraska 35, Wake Forest 17.

Then again, the crystal ball has been on the fritz today. I also predicted Michigan would drill Notre Dame. Ooops.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Saturday, September 10, 2005 || 1 comments

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

ESPN cans Trev Alberts

I thought it seemed a little funny that Mark May was rolling solo Sunday during ESPN's college football coverage. Now we know that the "world-wide sports leader" and Trev Alberts have apparently parted ways.

Check out the link below:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/football/ncaa/09/06/alberts.espn/index.html

This may not come as a total surprise to some in the Nebraska media. One TV reporter who attempted to set up an interview with Alberts, a former Nebraska defensive end, called ESPN a couple of years ago and heard a less than glowing assessment of Alberts' personality. Apparently there was an icy relationship between Alberts and some off-air folks.

On the flip side, I know a couple of local print writers who covered Alberts while he was with the Cornhuskers, that still get along with him very well and refer to him as a good guy.

It will be interesting to see where Alberts turns up next. I know he may sometimes rub folks the wrong way with his comments, but Trev spits it the way he sees it -- even when talking about his alma mater. He's definitely better than most of the guys you'll find on the ABC, CBS, Fox Sports Net and TBS studio shows.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Wednesday, September 07, 2005 || 0 comments

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

The morning after

OK, so it seems some of you thought I was a little soft in my column on Nebraska following Saturday's harrowingly-close 25-7 win to open the season against NCAA Division I-AA Maine.

Admittedly, there's no way that a I-AA team picked to be in the middle of the pack in its conference should be hanging around against a program like Nebraska in the fourth quarter. However, do keep in mind that the Black Bears are college athletes, too, and though they might not have the depth a major college team is supposed to have, they do have some solid players. Nebraska center Kurt Mann told me that some of Maine's defensive linemen were just as good as those he faced while playing 10 I-A games last season.

While Nebraska was anything but dominant, there were flashes of potential. Truth is, I believe the Huskers displayed more potential in this year's season opener than they did in last year's blowout against Western Illinois. Zac Taylor, though he lacks mobility, is a significant upgrade in passing accuracy, going through his progressions and reading defenses. Plus, he will improve. More importantly, the defense looks to be much improved and that -- combined with an increased special teams threat -- should help the Huskers stay in most of their games.

Be patient. Give it time. Let's see how things develop in the first month before proclaiming that Nebraska is either back or a bust.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Sunday, September 04, 2005 || 2 comments

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