It’s common knowledge by now that the Nebraska baseball team is bad, but what is not common knowledge is how bad they are setting themselves up to be.
Nebraska baseball coach Mike Anderson has a winning percentage that puts him near the top of the charts among past NU coaches. His 214 wins entering the 2009 season puts him at fourth all-time on the wins chart.
Currently his team is on pace to go 24-30-1…by far the worst record a team of his has had, and surprisingly, the projected record is also flirting with being one of the worst records in Nebraska baseball history.
Even worse, that’s an optimistic view of how the team can finish, after Missouri just came in and swept the Huskers last weekend.
Historically, it means this season will go down as one of the worst seasons in Nebraska baseball history – we’re talking 40-plus years.
Anderson tries to stay the right thing after every loss, and it usually comes out as “We were right there” or “We just made too many mistakes.”
But he can’t be blamed for all of this. Granted, he is the coach, and he needs to be responsible for the players he puts on the field, but the players have quit on this season long before it got to this point.
They keep putting up a fight game in and game out, but once they are down by four or more runs, the bats are being put back in the bags.
It doesn’t help either when Anderson loses as much depth on his pitching staff as he did. Johnny Dornis off playing Class A ball in Greensboro in the Florida Marlins organization.
Former catcher Mitch Abeita is tearing the cover off the ball for Class A Charleston River Dogs in the New York Yankees organization, hitting .304 with four RBI in eight games.
Other former Cornhuskers like Jake Opitz, Thad Weber and Craig Corristonare all gone via graduation, leaving Anderson and the rest of his team trying to fill the voids.
With all the losses on the roster, it’s no surprise the losses translate to the win-loss column. It’s very similar to a team that lost a lot and had to regroup in 1997. That year, the team went 27-35 for a .435 winning percentage. Right now, Anderson and his team are 21-26-1, riding just above the 1997 fence with a .437 winning percentage.
If NU can get the optimistic season-ending record mentioned above, it would end with a .436 winning percentage, just one-thousandth of a point better than the 1997 squad.
If the Huskers can’t do it, or if they only win two or less of their remaining seven games, it will be a historic season in Lincoln. It’ll be the worst team Nebraska has fielded since 1972, when the team went 12-17 to finish with a .414 mark 47 years ago.
In reality, they’ll probably be fine. NU is starting an seven-game stretch this weekend where they will play Cal State Bakersfield in Lincoln, then on to Creighton in Omaha, and a wrap up against Baylor back at home.
Cal State Bakersfield comes into Lincoln to give the Huskers their last true chance at a sweep in their favor this season. Bakersfield is having a worse season than Nebraska against inferior competition. CSB’s 8-29 record isn’t too intimidating, and its 1-15 record on the road should have Anderson salivating for that series.
Although Anderson won’t be coaching a team into the postseason this year, it’s not his fault he had a crop of great players leave all at once.
In the first six years of his career, Anderson compiled a 255-116-1 record, two Big 12 titles and the school’s third College World Series appearance this decade, where they got the only CWS win in school history.
He’s also led NU to 40 or more wins four times, including a school-record 57 in 2005.
This is an off year, no doubt about it. But just like just like Anderson has been saying all season, the plays just haven’t been there when they’ve needed them.
To steal a line from Chicago Cubs fans, “Wait til’ next year.”