Just a quick note, today is the KU baseball home opener. The Iowa Hawkeyes will be visiting Lawrence this weekend for a four game series. The teams play a doubleheader today (Friday) starting at 1PM and then single games on Saturday and Sunday with the same start time. Admission is free for anyone with a KU ID, and costs about $5 for everyone else.
KU enters 2010 nationally ranked, which is not at all a common event. The Hawks pitching staff is full of great arms. Many of the pitchers are young (Poppe and Taylor) or recovering from surgery (Marciel and Jakubov) but if it all comes together this might be one of the best pitching staffs in the nation come tournament time.
KU's best player, Tony Thompson, will miss at least a few more weeks due to injury. Thompson won the triple crown in the Big-12 last year so he is certainly missed in the heart of the order.
Iowa does not put out a bad team. If their team is similar to those of recent years they will hit well, have a few decent pitchers but a shallow staff, and not dazzle in the field. Iowa enters the weekend with a 3-2 record, KU is 4-2.
Anyway, if you are in the Lawrence area, come on down to Hoglund this weekend and feel the sun for a while. Cheer on the Hawks. Baseball is a good thing. I will be at the park most of the weekend. If you come and want to say hello just look for the pasty/unhealthy/surprisingly-old guy in the front rows who looks like he is pretending to be getting some paper work done between innings.
I will not be able to cover the team in nearly the same depth at Rock Chalk Talk as I have the last three seasons. I am just too busy right now with "real world" stuff. I will try to post a story or two a week at RCT, so you can continue to follow the Hawks there, if in a more sketchy fashion.
If you can't make the game, Sunday's game will be broadcast on KLWN AM-1320. The first game on Friday and Saturday's game will be web-cast through the KU athletics site.
KU breaks the season with a rotation of T.J. Walz, Cameron Selik, Brett Bollman and Thomas Taylor. Tanner Poppe, Lee Ridenhour and Wally Marciel will probably all work their way into the rotation as the season continues. Marciel is just coming back from the knife. Ridenhour is injured but expected back this season. Poppe is a true freshman still finding his way through D-I baseball.
Jimmy Waters is hitting clean-up in Tony Thompson's absence and has started the season on fire. Hawk fans will get their first look at their new shortstop this weekend, Juco transfer Brandon Macias. Brett Lisher and Zac Elgie are splitting time at 1B. Chris Manship is leading a catcher-by-committee group at this point. Outside of these changes the Hawks pretty well return their 2009 position player roster.
KU was picked by Big-12 coaches to finish second. I suspect mostly based on last year's fifth place finish and roster stability. If KU can get through the first half of the season without Thompson and Ridenhour in good shape they will be seen as a real player on the national scene come tournament time. It is not crazy for the Hawks to set earning a regional host slot as a goal this season.
Other items of note, the Drive-by Truckers are really very good. Imagine if Lynyrd Skynyrd had a soul and were able to have a little fun with their image. That is how I see the Truckers. Friday is dollar day at Hoglund. Forecast is for 50ish and sunny most of the weekend. If you like edgy folk music that gets loud at the right times, you might like Kathleen Edwards.