The Return of Small Ball, the Portal vs. In-State Freshmen & are the Aggies trying to duplicate Baum-Walker?

on 2023-05-01 16:35 PM

Q. Our first question is from Jamie Howard who asks: What surprised you most about the sweep of A&M?

A. John Bolton. The Hogs grad transfer shortstop is a solid defensive player but he’s been struggling at the plate, hitting below .200 most of the season. He had three hits and two RBI in a one-run win. He’s been bunting more lately which he’s good at and it’s helped his full swing. As DVH said after the game, with all our injuries we had to have some players step up and contribute from a depth standpoint. Bolton certainly did that.

Also Cody Adcock was huge as the game three starter. After throwing 45 pitches in a Tuesday game against Missouri St., he shut the Aggies out for four full innings, striking out four and giving up just one hit.

Q. Mousetown says: So I guess the Aggies are getting ready to spend big bucks to improve their baseball stadium. To get some ideas they sent one of their athletic department suits to Fayetteville so he could check out Baum-Walker. I was told that you used Twitter to post some thoughts on that. I can’t wait to hear it:

The game announcers said an Aggie associate AD was at the stadium to see what Arkansas does to create a great baseball atmosphere. Basically I posted that the Baum-Walker “atmosphere’ comes from the fans and since it would be difficult to convince those fans to move to college station and become Aggie fans, his trip was pointless.

I guess he could have seen some other things. Like the fact that there are no bubble machines at Baum-Walker. He could go back home and say ditch the bubble machine.
But I’m sure he won’t.

Q. Hawgredneck wants to know: What was your reaction to the NFL Draft? I was disappointed. Drew Sanders is better than a 3rd round pick. Also I’m surprised that so many ex Razorbacks went undrafted.

A. I don’t pay much attention to the draft. I agree that Sanders is better than a third round pick but he didn’t seem to be too worried about it. Unless you are a high first rounder, the big deal about the NFL is to make it to a second contract. That’s when you can make some big money.

Undrafted free agents are often better off than being six or seventh rounders. It all comes down to, can you take your college talents to the next level? Some can and some don’t.

Q. Porked Tongue asks: Do you think NIL amounts should be shared and shown to the public eye?

A. Yes but I think all scholarship athletes should be paid the same amount as PART TIME employees of the university where they compete. There should be cost of living adjustments based on where your university is located. It costs more to live in LA than it does in Fayetteville, Arkansas. So come up with a cost of living formula for each school and everybody on scholarship at that school is paid that same amount.

Q. LostinSwine asks: What do you think about the new rule the SEC is thinking about imposing which would take away a home game if the fans rush the field?

A. It’s a better idea than charging money for violations. The SEC should not profit financially from something it says is dangerous and should be banned. But I’d like to see some statistics backing up the SEC’s claim that storming a field or court is risky for fans. I’m not convinced that there’s a big chance of injury if you participate in this type of celebration.

So this proposed new rule is overkill to me.

Q. Big Boi wants to know: Your thoughts on if basketball recruiting on the high school level will be impacted after the exodus of freshman this year.

A. At Arkansas I think there’s already been an impact. In 2022 Eric Musselman signed six freshmen: three four-stars and three five-stars. This season, so far, there are just two with a possibility of one more depending on what Ron Holland does. If there’s three the number of signed freshmen will have been cut in half. Like it or not the signing of players out of the portal is having an impact on the number of freshmen signed at a lot of schools.

Q. BlakeTaylor1112 says: Softball as I post this has taken 1 game from #3 Tennessee (who I think can win the whole WCWS). How far do you think we can go in the postseason?

Also, have you heard anything in regards to expanding Bogle since it is so difficult to get a ticket to any conference games?

A. Is this Arkansas team as good as it was a year ago? No. There are too many newcomers in the lineup. It’s a young team, at least a year away from going deep into post season.

The pitching is good. Better than last year. The team E-R-A is currently 2.18. last year it was 2.70. But the hitting numbers are way down from a year ago. From a team batting average of .331 Arkansas is down to .279 this season. Home runs, there were 109 in 59 games in 2022. So far it’s 59 homers in 50 games this season. So a rate of 1.8 home runs a game is down to 1.1 home runs a game. Quite a difference.

Their hitting is starting to come around. Right now I see Arkansas hosting a regional but not a super regional.

As for expanding Bogle park, the plan is to improve the locker rooms and training facilities for the players first. With the outfield berm they can accommodate just about anybody that wants to come out and watch.

Q. Lamell Austin says: Arkansas has had some great athletes in the long jump, triple jump and high jump over the years but rarely any shot or discus guys. I remember a guy named Scott Loftquist years ago. Now it looks like the Hogs have another great one in Roje Stona. That dude looks like he’s made of stone.

A. I’m with you. I threw the discus in high school and I was pretty bad at it. But I love watching the throwing events.

Stona is a Clemson transfer. His best throw last year was 213-3 in the discus and 60-6 in the shot. Last week at the LSU Invitational he threw the discus 219-10. That’s a U of A record and ties him with the 4th best college throw ever.

At the John McDonnell Invitational two weeks ago I watched him set a new meet record in the shot in the prelims and break it in the finals. He came very close to throwing the shot out of the designated landing area.

Gonna be intersting to see how many points Stona can score at the outdoor national championship meet.

Q. whippersnapper says: I don’t like seeing Muss forcing home state guys into the portal. Ford had already announced he was coming back. Now he is gone? I’m scared this will start hurting our in state recruiting.

A. The problem will take care of itself. He will recruit fewer instate guys who need to be developed but a top in-state player, a one and done, is still going to come unless he already has his eye on another program.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy says: Currently we don’t know what Ron Holland’s intentions are for next year. (after decommitting from Texas) Rumors were circulating that he would either go to the G league or be a Hog. With Coach Muss’ professional background and NIL, would a year here at the U of A prepare a player of his caliber as effectively as the G league?

A. Yes. You could argue that the competition level is better in the G league but there’s no comparison in the game atmospheres. How do you replace the experience of an Arkansas-Kentucky game with a G-League game? That’s a true NBA atmosphere.

Q. Smalltownhog95 asks: Can you think of a time football, basketball, and baseball all had so many key injuries in the same year? Is it bad luck, are we cursed, or is it something within their training?

A. Bad luck. Most injuries are random. You come down on a knee slightly in the wrong position with the right lateral pressure and boom, you can tear an ACL. If there were a way to avoid that everybody would be doing it. The same with an elbow injury to a pitcher.

A guy like Jared Wegner slides into a base, jams one of his fingers and ends up with a hairline fracture. There’s no way to predict that injury.

The good news is, in 47 of seasons covering Hog athletics I’ve never seen so many injuries have a big impact in all three of the men’s major sports. So hopefully it’s a once in every 40 or 50 years thing. Next year I predict fewer injuries.

Q. Lanny asks: Name the one athlete that had the biggest impact on you as a kid.

A. For me it’s a high school running back that nobody outside of my hometown has likely ever heard of. His name is Eddie Thompson. When I was in the 4th grade he scored the winning touchdown against our arch rival by extending the football across the goal line with :47 left AFTER he had sustained a double helmet hit that knocked him unconscious. I was standing a few feet away when it happened. I still don’t know how he held onto the ball after that hit. It demonstrated to me that anything is possible.

(Last updated: 2023-05-01 16:35 PM)