A few thoughts on the proceedings. First, I think that reports of a hard slide understate just what Purdue's Eric Charles did there. It wasn't a slide so much as a somersault. The angle at the 1:40 mark shows clearly just what a dangerous move it was. IU shortstop Michael Basil's career could have ended on that play if his spikes had stuck. IU's Smith appears to have escalated things by diving into the fray, and Charles, who started the whole thing, apparently threw a punch. I can see the punch, I think, and both IU and Purdue fans seem to agree that it was Charles who threw the punch. In any event, both Charles and Smith were suspended for one game. Smith will serve the suspension in IU's first game of the 2013 season, while Charles will serve his suspension during Purdue's NCAA Tournament opener against Valparaiso. This bothered me at first. I'm on the fence about whether Charles intentionally took a shot at Basil. Basil was off the bag in a strange position, but at the very least, it was an incredibly reckless and unsound approach to the bag, and one that could have caused serious injury. Then, Charles threw a punch. I think two games would have been a better sanction for two meathead moves, but on further reflection, losing an NCAA Tournament game is a much bigger deal than losing a non-conference game next February, so it's probably pretty fair.
In all, despite a lackluster non-conference record, IU exceeded expectations in 2012 with a very young team. IU finished only a game behind Purdue in the Big Ten standings. In the Big Ten Tournament, IU played all four of its games against the Big Ten's two NCAA entrants and went 2-2, beating Michigan State twice and losing to Purdue twice. It's excruciating to lose a game on a throwing error, as the Hoosiers did in the final against Purdue, but IU was competitive with the nationally-ranked Boilermakers Saturday night, in a game that began just minutes after IU finished an 11-inning win against MSU in very hot conditions. Last week, AJ put together some stats that show just how young the Hoosiers are:
PERCENTAGE OF OVERALL TEAM PRODUCTION COMING FROM FRESHMEN
Homeruns: 68% (25 of 37)
Runs Batted In: 60% (169 of 281)
Runs Scored: 58% (179 of 311)
Doubles: 58% (56 of 97)
Hits: 53% (281 of 528)
The future looks bright for IU. Most of the program's key contributors return next year, and the Hoosiers hope to be in Bart Kaufman Field in time for the 2013 season. A couple of weeks ago, either on Twitter or on his site, Jon of Nebraska blog Corn Nation asked what it would take to get Big Ten fans interested in college baseball. Well, a rumble in the championship game, new stadiums at IU and Purdue next year, and an influx of talent into both programs may indicate a change for the better, at least in this state.