MLB

MLB: pace of the game

For years, baseball fans have complained about how long an average baseball game lasts: around three hours and two minutes in 2014. Their complaints have been reconciled.

In his first year as MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred is doing his best to speed up the game. Manfred announced on Friday that significant changes are being made to speed up the pace of an average baseball game. These moves hope to accelerate the instant-replay process and decrease the average game time.

The new rules changes will require hitters to keep one foot in the batter’s box at all times, establish a time limit for breaks between innings and speed up the process of challenging a call during the game.

The rule changes will be implemented during spring training and the MLB will evaluate the results after the season.

“The most fundamental starting point for improving the pace of the average game involves getting into and out of breaks seamlessly,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a news release. “In addition, the batter’s box rule will help speed up a basic action of the game.”

Another element added to the rule change is the installation of timers on the outfield scoreboards and behind home plate. Immediately following the last out of a half inning, the timer will count down from two minutes and 25 seconds for locally televised games and two minutes and 45 seconds for national games. The next hitter is expected to be in the batter’s box with 20 seconds left on the clock.

There will obviously be some exceptions to these rules, including if the pitcher or the catcher were the last out of the inning or on base. These rules will be enforced through a warning and fine system but no fines or warnings will be granted during spring training or April 2015.

Another component to the rule change is that managers will no longer have to walk on the field to issue an instant replay challenge. The manager may make the call from the top-step in the dugout.

"After a year of just going out there and biding time and having friendly conversations with an umpire, I think we got tired of going through that whole charade," Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "I used to take my time going out there. To just get to the top step of the dugout and hold play for a second and then get the replay, which takes about 10 or 12 seconds, I think that's all good. I think it's all for the betterment of the game.

One rule that is not in place yet is the 20-second pitch clock, where pitchers would only have 20 seconds between deliveries. No plans have scheduled this rule change in the majors but it was implemented in the Arizona Fall League last year and will be utilized in Double-A and Triple-A in the upcoming season.

Hopefully Manfred’s rule changes will speed up the game and eventually make baseball America’s sport again.

 

Andy Pettitte never earned a Cy Young Award.

He never pitched a no-hitter, nailed triple digits on a radar gun or secured a $100 million contract. But over the course of his stellar career, Pettitte did one thing better than just about anybody else — win, and he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame. 

Pettitte was the ultimate competitor. A 22nd round pick in 1991, the 41-year-old lefty admits he gritted and grinded to make every pitch, retire every hitter and compete in every start. Nothing came easily for him, but now 18 seasons and 256 wins after his MLB debut, Pettitte retires as perhaps the greatest starting pitcher to ever don the Yankee pinstripes.

The lefty’s regular season accomplishments alone should be enough to garner a plaque in Cooperstown. He finishes his career as just the 26th pitcher to post a career record at least 100 games above .500. Of the first 25 to do so, 18 already hold a spot in the Hall of Fame, and five others await enshrinement once they become eligible in the next few seasons.

Pettitte’s 256 wins place him 11th all-time among left-handers and are more than that of 32 current Hall of Fame pitchers. Additionally, Pettitte remains the only player in MLB history to pitch at least 15 seasons without a losing record. His complete game gem in the final start of his career Saturday against Houston pushed his record total to 18 seasons.

His career 3.85 ERA is the biggest knock against Pettitte’s numbers, but it should not be ignored that he pitched through the heart of the steroid era, when batters and, non-coincidentally, home run totals seemed to get bigger by the season. His 117 adjusted ERA, which considers home ballpark and time period, figures to be a fairer indication of his success, and it puts him in line with current Hall of Famers Burt Blyleven, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry and Ferguson Jenkins.

Simply put, all of this means that Pettitte fits in as one of the best pitchers of his generation, but it’s his postseason achievements that cement him in baseball lore.

Pettitte won five World Series and eight pennants with the Yankees and Astros. His 19 postseason wins are the most all-time and are more than that of eight MLB franchises.

Additionally, Pettitte tops the list for innings pitched in the postseason, where he posted a 3.81 ERA against baseball’s best teams each year. In 2009, he became the first pitcher to ever start and win the clinching game in each round of the playoffs en route to the Yankees’ 27th World Series title.

The case can be made that Pettitte’s postseason numbers benefit greatly from playing 15 seasons with Yankees teams that contended annually. The same case can be made that those Yankees teams suffer without Pettitte in the rotation, and they likely failed to capture five World Series titles between 1996 and 2009 without their postseason ace.

Pettitte’s link to HGH remains unshakable, but it’s worthwhile to clarify that his usage — under a trainer’s recommendation to recover from an elbow injury — came in 2002, three years before the substance became banned by baseball. While some voters still figure to hold this against him, a number of studies failed to find any ways that HGH could enhance the athletic prowess of an athlete. Some even believe HGH could be a lower risk alternative to surgery, and it’s not impossible that the hormone will be legalized by MLB by the time Pettitte is eligible for the Hall of Fame.

Pettitte never dominated a game or overmatched a hitter the way Sandy Koufax or Randy Johnson did, but his accomplishments are undeniable. His remarkable consistency and prowess for winning the big game helped lead the Yankees to five World Series championships, and he deserves a spot in Cooperstown. 

 

5 names you should know for the upcoming MLB draft

The 2013 MLB first-year player draft, held on June 6-8, is almost a month away and what more can a reeling Astros fan look forward to than take a look at potential players his team could take in the draft.

This is the busiest time of the year for baseball scouts, as they bustle from game to game trying to help their respective teams decide who to take where on each day of the draft. After some scouting of my own, here’s a look at my top prospects for the 2013 MLB Draft.

1. Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma

I saw this kid completely overpower the Texas offense in March, as he allowed one unearned run and struck out eight Longhorns in 6 2/3 innings. At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, he has the size and power to that MLB scouts drool over to project as a potential front-end starter in the future. He currently holds a 1.09 ERA this season and has struck out 91 batters in 74 1/3 innings pitched. His fastball sits around 95 mph with movement and has shown that he can run it up to 102 mph multiple times. He still needs to work on command of his slider, but it is a consistent out pitch for him at the college level. Gray also possesses an above average changeup even though it lags behind his two other pitches.

2. Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

This is another guy who roughed up UT bats early in the season. On March 1 in Palo Alto, Appel struck out 14 Longhorns and pitched his way to a complete game three-hitter. His slender 6-foot-5 has the projection to make MLB scouts drool. He has a three-quarters arm slot, which is a small cause for concern for arm problems further down the road, but his 93-96 mph fastball causes most scouts to overlook that. He has been known to get up to 98 mph when he needs to. He might have the most polish and control in terms of prospects with electric stuff in this year’s draft, shown by his ability to go deep into games. He has a 1.54 ERA this season and has compiled 84 strikeouts and only 12 walks in 70 1/3 innings pitched.

3. Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego

This 6-foot-5 physical specimen has improved his draft stock more than anyone in the country over the past few months. He clearly possesses tremendous power due to his size but also has shown surprising athleticism, with six stolen bases on the year. Bryant has MLB bat speed already and has a great approach to hitting, as he can hit for power to all fields. He is an average defender at third base, but his athleticism helps him project to a corner outfield position as well. This year he is hitting .350 with 20 home runs and 42 RBIs. Of his 49 hits, 32 are extra-base hits.

4. Clint Frazier, OF, Loganville HS, committed to Georgia

It’s always risky drafting a high school prospect so highly in the draft, especially position players, but when it does happen, the player is usually a five-tooler who is too projectable to pass on. Clint Frazier fits that bill. He runs a 6.4-second 60-yard dash (which translates to a 4.3-second 40-yard dash), throws 98 mph from the outfield, and can hit for serious power. Like most high schoolers, his 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame has some room to fill out, but it’s easy to see why he is most likely a Top 10 lock in this year’s draft.

5. Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina

Moran is probably the most MLB-ready bat in this year’s class, as he has spent 3 years in college, unlike most top prospects. He has great bat control and fluidity to his swing, almost unseen at the college level. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Moran has the size to be a solid first baseman since his fielding and range at third is not MLB caliber. Even though he has increased his power numbers from three homeruns last year to 10 this year, some still worry about his MLB power potential. However, I can see him being a .300 average, 15-20 homerun guy once he finally settles in to the majors. He also has 15-20 pounds of weight to add to his frame once he reaches the majors. Perhaps the most impressive stat, regarding Moran this year is that he has only struck out eight times in 163 at-bats.

Honorable Mentions:

Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State

Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford

Dominic Smith, 1B/OF, Serra High School - committed to USC

Kohl Stewart, RHP/OF, St. Pius X High School - committed to Texas A&M

Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State

Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson High School - committed to Clemson

Five potential breakout players to watch in 2013

With April rapidly approaching, America’s pastime is almost upon us. Unfortunately, this could be a rough year for Texas baseball. The Astros are on the verge of another 50-win season, as they are welcomed to the AL West and the Rangers will fight for one of the top two spots in the division with youthful Oakland, the up-and-coming Mariners and the lavish Angels.
Though, this doesn’t mean we still can’t look forward to another memorable season. At the end of the season, it is always intriguing to take a look at the breakout seasons certain players had, especially when those player began the year as sleepesr or relatively unknowns.

Here are five players I predict will have breakout seasons in 2013:

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs:
Last year, Rizzo was called up to the majors after tearing it up in Triple-A, hitting 23 homeruns and batting .342. Then, in 87 games with the Cubs, he hit .285 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs. Chicago padded its lineup a bit this offseason with the additions of Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston, and this should only improve Rizzo’s production by giving him more opportunities. Only 23, the first baseman has a great capacity for improvement. Don’t be surprised if Rizzo posts a .280, 30-plus home run and 100 RBI line this year for the Cubbies.

Yoenis Cespedes, LF, Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics’ signing of Cespedes was a big headline during last year’s offseason, but when the leftfielder got off to a slow start in his first MLB season, us fickle sports fans almost seemed to forget about him. He finished last year batting .292, with 23 home runs, and 82 RBIs in 129 games. I fully expect Cespedes to start at least 140 games this year, and after making the adjustment to MLB pitching, I expect a 30-plus homerun season and a possible all-star selection. While I see his batting average dipping a bit, I also see a noticeable increase in power, giving Oakland a potent one-two punch with Josh Reddick.

Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
In his first full MLB season, Moore exceeded expectations. While finishing with a 11-11 record doesn’t seem that impressive, his 3.81 ERA and 175 strikeouts show that he has great stuff. He averaged close to nine K’s per nine innings and held opposing hitters to a .238 clip. He does need to improve his control some, as he finished 7th in the AL in walks, but he will need to be a central part of the Rays' season if they wish to make another postseason run. Don’t expect Clayton Kershaw-like numbers just yet, but he owns a devastating changeup and an overpowering fastball that can get up to 98 on the gun.

David Freese, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
Baseball fans will not soon forget Freese’s 2011 World Series heroics, especially during the legendary game six. While Freese did get voted to his first All-Star game last year, I can’t help but see his numbers as underachieving for a player of his talent. My view of his production lies in his power numbers and run production. From what I saw in the 2011 postseason, Freese has the potential to be a 30-plus homerun third baseman. Unfortunately for Freese, a loaded Cardinal lineup takes some production away from him. I don’t see the Cardinals lineup producing the way it did last year, and should Craig, Beltran, Hollida, or Molina go down with an injury, expect Freese to be the guy to pick up the slack.

Mike Minor, LHP, Atlanta Braves
Last year, after the month of June, Minor held an ERA greater than 6.00. He was 3-6 and struggling to challenge hitters. But after an outing against the Yankees, in which he went 7 1/3 innings and only allowed one run, it was smooth sailing. Minor finished the season with an 11-10 record and a 4.12 ERA, including a 2.16 ERA after the All-Star break. If he can continue where he left off in 2012, Minor should be one of the centerpieces of the Braves' rotation for years to come. Perhaps Medlen-Minor will develop shades of Maddux-Glavine.

Column

For the better part of nine weeks, Roger Clemens was on the hook for what would have been the biggest loss of his career.

In the ongoing war that MLB and Congress have decided to wage against performance-enhancing drugs, Clemens was the most recent player to have his association with PEDs called into question. Clemens had become a veritable scapegoat that for all intents and purposes, was meant to shoulder the blame for years of rampant drug use in MLB by a myriad of players not named Clemens.

But like he had done so many times before in his storied 24-year MLB career, he came away unscathed and his team walked away with a win. Only this time Clemens, playing for himself and family, won back his reputation and perhaps a future induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Monday evening Clemens was acquitted on all six counts of lying to Congress about his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. The verdict brings to an end another tax dollar-draining investigation of performance-enhancing drugs in sport, and at its conclusion we’re left wondering what the hell a PED even is.

The fact is, Congress and MLB don’t know either.

OK, that’s not entirely true. They have a general idea about what should and shouldn’t be put into an athlete’s body so as to not create an unfair advantage, but they’re doing a terrible job of enforcing the ban on PEDs.

To say this is just a problem that exists solely in MLB would be naive, if not completely false.

As long as one player a year in any sport is suspended for using PEDs, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of others doing the exact same thing. The only difference is they’re either masking the drugs incredibly well or they are taking something that is yet to show up on mandatory, albeit random drug tests.

The first thing that comes to mind when PEDs are mentioned are steroids, but they only constitute a small percentage of the drugs athletes around the world use to get a leg, or arm, up on their competition.

Drugs like stimulants, painkillers, sedatives and diuretics are used, and may even pose a bigger threat to the athletes that use them. While steroids facilitate faster muscle growth and decrease healing time between injuries, painkillers can increase an athlete’s pain threshold beyond normal limits and stimulants can drastically improve a player’s focus and intensity.

Used in moderation, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with athlete’s taking legal painkillers to ease back pain or any other nagging injury. It’s when these drugs are abused that they become performance-enhancers.

The more we delve into the “benefits” athlete’s receive from taking these drugs, the line between what is serving as a performance-enhancer and what is being used as part of a normal supplemental regimen begins to blur.

Clemens had already admitted to using the anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx before it was taken off the market in 2004 amid concerns that it may cause adverse cardiovascular effects in long-term users. Like any other drug on the market, Vioxx was approved by the FDA, but its long-term effects had not yet been documented.

This raises the question of what PEDs do to an athlete’s body over time. Will there be a population of aging, once-great athletes that can’t walk by the age of 70 due to the harming effects these drugs have on one’s body? The reality is that no one knows.

But various studies have shown them to have significant degenerative effects on an athlete’s body and mind. Cases of hypertension, immune system and liver damage and increased cholesterol levels have all been linked to prolonged abuse of PEDs by athletes.

There’s no easy way to enforce an outright ban against any and all drugs in sports. Athletes, like normal people, have issues with their bodies that may require clinical aid, and what’s legal to ingest or inject one day could be deemed illegal the next.

Looking ahead, it may be best to approach this whole situation with a more laissez-faire attitude.

Players within MLB, the NFL or any other major sporting body have already reached the pinnacle of their respective sports, so why not let them do what they want to their bodies? And isn’t the entire point of sports to provide entertainment to the masses? If entertainment is what we want, then why not have the biggest, baddest and possibly unhealthiest athletes performing to the absolute fullest of their potential?

These aren’t questions easily answered, but they do provide us with the opportunity to discuss these issues and find ways to promote healthier lifestyles in all levels of sport.

We may never know exactly what drugs Clemens took, if any, or how his ex-trainer Brian McNamee plays into the case, but if Clemens is as innocent as he claims, it could be in his best interest to speak out against drug use in sports and take action to abolish it all together.

If successful, it could be his crowning achievement, and would dispel any rumors of him not making it to Cooperstown with the rest of baseball’s all-time greats.

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Robinson Cano doubled in a run in the seventh inning to help an MLB All-Star team beat Taiwan’s national team 5-3 Thursday in the second game of a five-game series.

The New York Yankees’ second baseman also singled and scored in the sixth inning in the game in Taichung.

“They got a great team,” Cano said. “They played a pretty good game.”

The Taiwanese went ahead 3-2 in the fifth, scoring twice on three hits and a walk. The MLB squad tied it in the sixth and added two more runs in the seventh.

Relievers Rich Thompson of the Los Angeles Angels, Ramon Ramirez of the San Francisco Giants and Bill Bray of the Cincinnati Reds kept the Taiwanese scoreless from the sixth inning on.

The grounds crew at Busch Stadium in St. Louis pulls a tarp over the playing field on Wednesday. A wet forecast prompted Major League Baseball to postpone Game 6 of the World Series.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Game 6 of the World Series was postponed Wednesday because of a wet forecast, delaying the Texas Rangers’ bid to clinch their first championship.

Major League Baseball announced the decision about four-and-a-half hours before the Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals were set to play. At the time, no rain had fallen at Busch Stadium, but heavy precipitation was expected.

Texas leads the Series 3-2. Game 6 was rescheduled for Thursday night at 8:05 p.m. EDT. If Game 7 is necessary, it will be played Friday night.

“Because of the forecast, there was no reason to wait any longer,” said Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations.

Torre said he told managers Ron Washington of Texas and Tony La Russa of St. Louis on Tuesday that if the forecast didn’t change, baseball would postpone it early.

Rain was in “every forecast we had probably for the last three days,” Torre said at a news conference. “They were all consistent there was going to be rain during the game.”

Looking at Commissioner Bud Selig, Torre asked, “Do you want to play in rain?”

Colby Lewis had been set to start for Texas, with Jaime Garcia ready to go for the Cardinals.

If anything, the extra day may lead to more intrigue over who might pitch for St. Louis should the Series go to a Game 7 for the first time since 2002. Washington already has said Matt Harrison would start if the Series goes that far.

The forecast for Thursday was much better — clear enough with a game-time temperature in the low 50s.

Rain has hovered over the majors all year with more than 50 washouts, baseball’s highest total since 1997.

This was the first Series rainout since 2008 at Philadelphia. That year, Tampa Bay and the Phillies were tied in the sixth inning when rain and snow turned the field into a quagmire, forcing a suspension. It rained the next day too, and the game finally resumed two days later, with the Phillies taking the crown.

Because of the debate about how to handle that situation, MLB adopted a rule a few months later mandating that any postseason game stopped in progress would be resumed at the point of suspension, rather than being postponed and
started over.

Before that, the previous Series rainout came at Busch Stadium, when Game 4 between Detroit and the Cardinals was pushed back by a day.

A few hundred fans already were milling outside Busch Stadium when the Rangers-Cardinals game was called. The tarp was on the field at the time. Later, about a dozen St. Louis players came out to toss around balls in right field.

Bad weather has lingered throughout the big leagues since opening day. Even before that actually, as the Milwaukee Brewers and Reds worked out in snow flurries a day before their March 31 opener at Cincinnati.

Wicked weather intruded earlier in this postseason, too. So did the threat of storms.

A game in the AL championship series between Detroit and Texas was postponed for a day because of a dicey forecast. The players left Rangers Ballpark and went home — the rain, however, never came.

The opener of the AL playoff series between Detroit and New York was halted after one-and-a-half innings by showers that lasted all night. The game at Yankee Stadium was suspended and picked up the next day at the point when it was stopped.

The only other suspension in postseason history was that Rays-Phillies game in 2008.

Baseball began the playoffs a week earlier this year than last season, intending to have the World Series conclude before November. MLB also hoped the adjustment could help avoid a chilly finish for the championship. It was in the 40s and raw last week for Game 1.

It was in the 70s and clear at Busch Stadium on Tuesday. A perfect night to play, but it was a travel day for Texas and St. Louis. Washington was aware of the shaky forecast.

“If it’s possible we can play, of course we want to play. You don’t want to sit down. We’re here to play baseball,” he said Tuesday. “But if the forecast says that it’s going to be bad weather and we’re going to play and start and stop ... We want to make sure the conditions are correct, and if we have to wait a day, then we have to wait a day.”

Printed on Thursday, October 27, 2011 as: Wet forecast places Game 6 on hold

Cole Green is 7-3 with a 3.09 ERA this season. He will start Saturday against Arizona State.

Photo Credit: John Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Cole Green is one of several Longhorns drafted in this year’s MLB draft. The senior went in the ninth round to the Cincinnati Reds at 295th overall.

“I’m definitely excited for the opportunity to go play [professionally],” Green said. “An organization wants me, that means a lot to me. I’m very happy to be picked by the Reds.”

It’s the second consecutive year Green was selected in the draft. The Detroit Tigers took him in the fourth round last summer, but Green chose to return to Texas for the chance to play for a national championship, and to earn his college degree. Green turned down a $300,000 signing bonus from Detroit, and understood that he would probably lose a lot of money by returning for his senior season.

“I was a little worried after I dropped past where I was drafted last year, the fourth round,” he said. “I understood that being a senior and not having the numbers I had last year takes away my leverage.”

Green was 11-2 last season with a 2.74 ERA, but saw those numbers dip to 7-3 and a 3.09 ERA this year. Green struggled early in the season, when he was fazed by the pressure of performing to his draft stock.

“I’ve definitely grown as a pitcher. I’ve learned a lot from my adversities, doing badly in the beginning of the year,” Green said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to be great this year. When I didn’t live up to it, I had to put myself in a different mindset and just be a competitor again.”

Green has talked briefly with the Cincinnati Reds, mostly “medical questionnaires and get-to-know-you stuff.”
“They told me after they drafted me ‘Hey, congratulations. Take care of business and we’ll talk after the season.’”
Green is slated to start Saturday’s game against Arizona State.

“We’ve done well and we came a lot closer last weekend,” Green said. “But this next weekend is important for my ideas and dreams of a national championship, which is why I came back.”

Sam Stafford and Brandon Loy received the fanfare of being selected in the higher rounds of day two of this year’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, but there were other Longhorns who came off the board later Tuesday.

Senior pitcher Cole Green was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds in the ninth round. Relief pitcher Andrew McKirahan went to the Chicago Cubs in the 21st round, and senior first baseman and Austin Regional Most Outstanding Player Tant Shepherd was selected by the New York Mets in the 24th round.

Last year, Green was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the fourth round, but turned down a $300,000 signing bonus for the opportunity to stay in school. Monetarily, that decision looks like it might end up hurting Green, who probably will not get as high an offer this time. But he has repeatedly said all season long that he has no regrets about his decision to turn down big money for the chance to win a national championship. As a junior, Green went 11-2. This year, he is 7-3 with a higher ERA. However, most agree Green has improved in terms of mechanics — his strikeout numbers are higher, and opponents are hitting at a lower average against him. In the long term, Green projects as a back-of-the rotation pitcher or, most likely, a relief pitcher.

Though he didn't see much action this season, McKirahan went a little earlier than most would have projected. The junior left-hander is 3-0 with a 3.05 ERA and, if he signs, would bring pitching depth to an organization that needs all the help it can get.

Shepherd, who despite putting up good numbers and being an above-average defender at first base, has never been very high on many scouts’ boards. Last year, Shepherd was a 47th round selection, and he fell lower in this draft than he probably should have before the Mets picked him. He is the second Longhorn headed to the Big Apple in this year’s draft class (assuming Stafford signs with the Yankees).

The draft continues Wednesday with rounds 31-50. Cohl Walla, Jordan Etier and Kendal Carrillo are hopeful to hear their names called.

A Heisman Trophy winner, a nine-year NBA veteran and a MLB Manager of the Year made for a star-studded Class of 2010 Texas Men’s Hall of Honor.

The induction ceremony, which took place at the Austin Four Seasons Hotel on Friday, was the celebration of eight different athletic careers. Football, basketball, baseball, swimming and track and field were all represented — as were four different decades of collegiate athletics.

The jewel of the class is Ricky Williams, the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner. While at Texas, he broke the then all-time rushing record, won the Doak Walker Award twice and finished with a hand in 20 NCAA records.

“My time at Texas seems just like yesterday,” he said. “Being enshrined is a big deal for me. I came to Texas and I saw Earl Campbell’s Heisman Trophy and all the All-Americans, and I said I wanted to be a part of that.”

Chris Mihm, a homegrown talent out of Westlake High School, was dominant on the basketball court as a Longhorn. As the school’s all-time leader in blocks, he was a lottery pick for the pre-LeBron Cleveland Cavaliers in 2000 and went on to play nine seasons in the NBA, including a year with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 in which he started 75 games. A nagging ankle injury forced him to retire from basketball in February, but his life afterward is just getting started.

Mihm is now selling property in California and trying to get roots established back in Austin, where his legacy as a Longhorn is cemented.

“I tried to bring hard work and a focus on the team game here,” Mihm said. “I tried to be a chemistry piece and did my best to carry the team the best I could. The group of guys that I played with here were a bunch of hard-working guys and a group that I was blessed to play with.”

Ron Gardenhire saw most of his success in his post-playing days. After a career as an infielder during his time on the 40 Acres and his five seasons in the pros, Gardenhire traded in his spikes for a pen and notepad ­— launching the beginning of one of the more successful managerial resumes in all of baseball.

He was the third base coach for the Minnesota Twins during their 1991 World Series Championship season, and after 11 years in that position he was promoted to manager in 2002.
Coaching the likes of Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter and Johan Santana, Gardenhire has led the Twins to six division titles, with only one losing season. He was awarded the AL’s Manager of the Year Award on Nov. 17. A few days later, he was inducted into the Hall of Honor.

“My years at Texas were two really special years,” Gardenhire said. “In professional baseball we do a lot of bragging about our schools, and I’m very proud that I come from the University of Texas.”