...about the whole state of Michigan. It's Beat Michigan week of the baseball variety. Obviously, that song just doesn't really have the same kind of impact as it does during football season. I wish fans of Ohio State and Michigan cared more about their college baseball teams. Sure, fans of both schools want their team to beat the other just because of the rivalry, but they're perfectly content to read the score in the paper the morning after.
Fans of Ohio State baseball certainly should care more about the series. Michigan leads the all-time series 154-89-2. The Buckeyes made a dent in the all-time series during the 1990s. From 1990 through 2002, Ohio State was 40-18. Since Michigan became the first team to post three wins in a Big Ten Series at Bill Davis Stadium in 2003 (the first year of Michigan coach Rich Maloney), it has been all Michigan. The Team Up North has won 17 of 22 meetings, including series sweeps against the Buckeyes each of the last two years.
The Bucks won 4-2 on their way to winning last year's Big Ten Tournament in Ann Arbor. That win snapped a nine-game skid against the Maize and Blue.
In 2008, Ohio State is not playing for a first-round bye as one of the top two seeds in the tourney. It is playing for the chance just to get in. This program is not used to talking about this scenario though it seems to be becoming a trend lately. Ohio State finished fifth in 2005 and was sixth last year. Seeding doesn't matter, obviously, since the Buckeyes won the tourney each of those seasons. Only once since OSU coach Bob Todd arrived in Columbus prior to the 1988 season, have the Buckeyes missed out. That was 1996 when only four teams advanced to the conference tourney.
Michigan will be up for this series. Friday is the dedication game for the $9 million re-do of Ray Fisher Stadium. The new baseball "complex" boasts just 2,500 seats, 1,700 of which have seatbacks, a new press box and administrative offices, a state-of-the-art locker room, and a 5,750-square-foot hitting facility. Members of Michigan's 1953 and 1962 NCAA champion baseball teams will be in attendance Friday as well. The atmosphere will be rockin', rowdy and in all liklihood, classless.
Faithful fans of the Buckeye Nine will remember a similar atmosphere in 2005 when Ohio State fell victim when Michigan dedicated new lights at the stadium. That game was televised to a national audience on ESPN in rain, sleet and a little snow. In fact, that was the only game the teams played of a scheduled three-game series in mid-April thanks to the weather.
This Friday, the Big Ten Network will put it up for a limited national audience. The weather should be better, but the crowd will be as ripe.
Michigan is getting a push from second-place Purdue in the standings so it will be gunning for the sweep to maintain its lead. I would love to see a Buckeye sweep. Michigan has 17 conference wins with 12 games to play. That means they'll be gunning Ohio State's record of 25 conference victories. Ohio State won 25 league games in both 1994 and 1999. It would be nice to help keep them from matching or breaking the record. After this weekend, the Wolverines have conference games at Minnesota and at home vs. Northwestern. Seems a little surprising Purdue was not on the schedule.
Am I looking past the game Wednesday against directional Michigan? Definitely. Okay, it's Eastern Michigan. I'm not sure it matters the Eagles lead the Western Division of the Mid-American Conference. The team won't be up for the game and is likely already thinking about the Wolverines. I think we all are.