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Baseball Notes: Yankees hire former Jayhawk and NCAA rule changes

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Former KU great Rob Thomson hired by Yankees as coach
Rob Thomson, who played at KU from 1983-1985, was hired by the Yankees as their bench coach this week.   Here is the link to the LJ World story.

Thomson is a bit of a Jayhawk legend.  He still owns the school record for the highest single season batting average.

The eight members of KU's 400 club:
1.    Rob Thomson (1984) - .443
2.    Josh Kliner (1996) - .438
3.    Jo DeMarco (1997) .429
3.    Dick Bradley (1972) .429
5.    Keith Lieppman (1990) .417
6.    Matt Gundelfinger (1980) .409
7.    Dick Lewallen (1982) .408
8.    Steve McGreevy (1962) .400

Last year John Allman flirted with .400 for the first half of the year before slumping late (perhaps due to a nagging injury to his batting hand) and finished at an even .333.  If any member of the current roster is to join this club my money would be on Allman.  When he is on it seems like he can drive any ball that is pitched within five feet of the batters box.

Tip of the cap to Roy_Als for bringing this news to my attention.

NCAA rule changes may help smaller baseball programs
A few changes in NCAA baseball will go into effect this year.  These changes are explained in a bit more detail in this Baseball America story.

1.    NCAA baseball teams will now have to cap their rosters at 35 players.  I understand that Big-12 teams already had to declare a 25-man roster for each conference series to reduce travel costs.  I think until now teams could utilize their full rosters in non-conference games.  The fallout from this change will be that marginal players at the big schools will now have to find new teams.  Most big college baseball programs have a decent sized group of walk-ons each year.  This new rule will cut down on that practice.  KU's website currently lists 36 players on the baseball roster.

2.    The second change will be to allow NCAA teams to offer scholarships no smaller than 25% coverage.  Formerly teams were able to offer scholarships of any size.  This new rule will theoretically cause schools to make fewer commitments to players but make each commitment more substantial. NCAA Div. I schools are limited to 11.7 scholarships now so only a few players receive full rides. Most college baseball players receive only partial support.

3.    The final change is perhaps the most significant.  Starting in 2008 players who transfer from one NCAA school to another will have to sit out a year.  This is the same restriction currently used for basketball and football at the NCAA Division I level.

The BA article expects these changes will cause a larger than usual number of baseball players to switch schools this year.  The article is very critical of the changes, but I am not sure if I disagree with them.  In theory these changes should help distribute talent more evenly among college teams and discourage strong programs from snatching up promising players from weaker teams.  Changes like this probably will not help KU's program, but will help a lot of the mid-major programs.

Odds and ends
Here is a good story in the Daily Kansan about the 2008 baseball schedule. Twelve teams on the schedule made the NCAA tournament last year.  Shawn Shroyer, the campus beat writer, has been putting out some good material about the team.  Earlier he attempted to walk on to the baseball team and published a diary of the effort.  Good fun stuff.  Makes me wish I wasn't so damn old.

Finally, the new clubhouse will not be ready in time for the 2008 season.  Construction might start during the spring but the team probably will not be able to use the facility until the following year.  The price might rise above the projected $1.7 million.  I understand that Ritch Price has worked his charm and the full price will be covered by doners.