Byler was a more deserving MVP winner | NevadaAppeal.com

Byler was a more deserving MVP winner

Sports fodder for a Friday morning… Trenton Brooks, who was named the Mountain West Player of the Year this week, has had a great season for the Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team. He’s hitting .365 and has contributed on the mound with a 4-1 record. But the sophomore isn’t the best player in the Mountain West. He isn’t even the best player on his own team. The conference’s top individual honor should have gone to Wolf Pack sluggers Austin Byler or Ryan Howell. Howell leads the conference in homers (16), RBI (64), total bases (134), slugging (.647) and sacrifice flies (10). Byler leads in runs (66), walks (54) and on base percentage (.504). Brooks (as of Thursday morning) isn’t leading the conference in any category. Howell and Byler both have 33 extra base hits while Brooks has 21. Howell’s OPS is 1.075, Byler’s is even better at 1.150 and Brooks’ is .999. Coaches should stick to making out the lineup card and stop picking the postseason awards.

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Byler should have been the choice for the league’s top award. He’s a senior. He’s the team leader and role model on the best team in the conference. And he had a phenomenal season. The coaches should have rewarded him for coming back to the Wolf Pack for his senior year despite getting drafted by the Washington Nationals in the ninth round last June. Nobody does that. Byler, though, did it. How much does Byler scare opposing coaches? Well, coaches have spent this entire season figuring out ways to never give him a pitch to hit. They have walked him 54 times and hit him with a pitch 18 times. Byler, though, still has found the time to hit .325 with 18 doubles, 13 homers and 50 RBI. He also has never grounded into a double play all season and has stolen eight bases. Byler is what college baseball should be about. A great player, a great leader, turning in a great senior year on a great team.

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Colin Kaepernick, it seems, can’t do anything right anymore. The former Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback now gets criticized even when he tries to be a good guy and give something back to those who helped him along the way. Kaepernick received criticism on social media this week when it was announced he was going to be the featured speaker at this summer’s Wolf Pack Governor’s Dinner. It seems the public wants him to spend more time learning how to read defenses instead of taking a few hours out of his busy schedule posing for modeling assignments and working on his abs to help raise money for his alma mater. Kaepernick, though, has brought this silly criticism on himself. When you attack your critics on social media, the way Kaepernick has done on more than one occasion, well, those critics are going fire back. And they won’t stop until you win a Super Bowl. Kaepernick, it’s obvious, does not handle criticism well. He doesn’t respect the opinion of anyone who doesn’t wear a uniform, sign his paycheck or tell him how great he is. He embarrassed a fan on Twitter recently and the fans are fighting back. The public can see blood in the water when it comes to Kaepernick’s career. The only way to change that is to win.

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There have been recent media reports Kaepernick is heading into a make or break season with the San Francisco 49ers. No kidding. Kaepernick regressed last season in San Francisco and there were some whispers he leveled off. Once again the criticism is a bit too harsh, The 49ers gave Kaepernick nothing to work with last season. Joe Montana would have struggled with the 2014 49ers. The team was a mess from top to bottom. The media rumblings are indeed true. But Kaepernick is not alone. This will be a make or break season in San Francisco for a lot of people. But, rest assured, if the 49ers will ever want to part ways with Kaepernick there will be at least a dozen teams in the NFL lining up at his door. Kaepernick hasn’t leveled off. The team around him leveled off last season. Kaepernick has only scratched the surface of what he can do.

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The media made a big deal about Stephen Curry bringing his 2-year-old daughter to a postgame press conference this week. Many media members criticized Curry for turning the press conference into a joke. The media needs a reality check. Postgame press conferences aren’t for the media anymore. Nothing is for the media anymore because well, sports teams (pro and college) don’t need the media anymore. Postgame press conference are just part of the overall TV show. That’s why they are all filmed and available to anyone with a computer. It’s all about controlling the media and making it uncomfortable or impossible for them to ask tough questions. The Wolf Pack even does it. The media are just there for free advertising.

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If the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors advance (like most everyone expects them to) we will see the first NBA Finals that involves two rookie head coaches. Golden State’s Steve Kerr and Cleveland’s David Blatt, two stunning coaching hires after last season, are proving that it just might not make any difference who coaches an NBA team. If you have the best players you will win a ton of games. All the coach needs to do is not get in the way. The Cavaliers don’t even listen to Blatt and the Warriors are basically a collection of guys who are simply more athletic versions of their coach. Coaches get far too much credit in every sport but nowhere is that more obvious than in the NBA.

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It might be a while before we get to see former Wolf Pack pitcher Braden Shipley at Aces Ballpark. A month ago it appeared hipley, the Arizona Diamondbacks first-round draft pick in 2013, was well on his way to Reno after putting up a 0.96 earned run average after his first four games at Double-A Mobile. His last four games, though, have been a different story. Shipley, who only pitched one full season for the Pack (2013), has been roughed up in three of his last four starts (17 earned runs in 20.2 innings). His ERA has inflated to 4.35. You can go from college to the NFL or NBA in one summer. Learning how to pitch at the professional level, though, takes time. It can’t be rushed.