Monday, May 12, 2008

Rainy Days And Mondays

Perhaps it's a result of attempting to figure out all the Big Ten tournament possibilities. Maybe it's the ongoing rain. Maybe I've got a bad case of the Mondays. In the end, it doesn't matter, I just need to vent.

Most long-time readers here know that I'm in favor of a neutral site for the Big Ten Baseball Tournament. It makes sense on every level, but one. Alas, the "one" is a biggie. Baseball is a non-revenue sport. That means the Big Ten Conference office views baseball like we view a colonoscopy -- a necessary evil.

With that dazzling attitude towards the oldest sport on most campuses, the Big Ten is in no hurry to pretend like it cares about baseball. So when the subject of a neutral site arises, they dismiss it with the usual "if baseball has a neutral site tournament, then golf, tennis, soccer, curling and every other non-revenue sport is going to demand the same thing and we just cannot afford that."

Yeah, right. You can operate a television network, but you can't find enough change in the couch to borrow a quality minor league park for five days? Sorry, I ain't buyin' that line.

However, if the conference is determined to stick their head in the marketing sand and avoid a neutral site for the baseball tournament, is it asking too much to hold it in one of the venues suitable for such an event?

By suitable, I mean, acceptable for everyone involved -- players, parents, coaches, school officials, conference officials, media and fans. Here are a few requirements:

The park should have lights. It rains in the midwest on occasion. Sometimes games get postponed. Having lights helps the games to be played. It also cuts down on 9:00am starts. I love breakfast with batting practice, but the general public doesn't. Did I mention many in the potential ticket buying public have day jobs? Lights should be mandatory to host the tournament.

Ideally, there should be access to batting cages. There should also be clubhouses for the home and road teams. Excessive? In 1970, yes. In 2008, not so much. I wouldn't be a stickler for either of these items, but it is a championship event and we do have access to these at some venues in the conference. Why settle for less?

It should have a decent pressbox. The media shouldn't get soggy covering the tournament. Neither should ADs, SIDs and the various other personnel filling the box. No pressbox, no hosting.

It should have concession stands, running water and plumbing. That means bathrooms, not port-a-poddies. I can't see anything wrong with demanding basic facilities for your patrons. As further evidence, I heard an interview with legendary Louisiana State coach Skip Bertmann. Coach was asked what was one of the first things he did to Alex Box Stadium to increase attendance. He said he added diaper changing facilities.

We want people to like college baseball and come back. Help your audience take care of life's essentials. If you can't meet this requirement, you can't host.

I know, I know. Very few Big 10 parks can host the tournament under these parameters. Honestly, I'm okay with that. Would it give some schools an advantage? I suppose it would, but having a quality park gives that program an advantage regardless. Don't you think the folks who have such facilities are going to show them off to recruits, thus giving them an advantage over the other programs long before the tournament ever takes place?

Besides, there's nothing wrong with acting like the tournament is a championship event of some import. That's because it is. The winner goes onto the NCAA Tournament.

Has anyone else noticed that the baseball coverage on the website formerly known as CSTV has taken a nose-dive since the CBS generals have taken over? Their baseball homepage has been almost static for weeks. The photo of the Stanford player hasn't changed in over a month. They appear to have jettisoned friend of BTH, Doug Kroll, while you have to hunt for Eric Sorenson's latest entries. If Kroll was indeed let go, and I have absolutely zero proof of that (I'm a blogger, I'm expected to engage in speculation), Big E's stay at the eye network is probably in danger, too.

Hey, CBS big-wigs. Original content, especially on college baseball, is difficult to find. Don't you want to be different? How about cool? Keep the bald-headed, rock-and-roll, Omaha-lovin' guy around. In fact, find him a couple of cohorts. I hear this Kroll guy knows something about college baseball and might be available.

Do you ever wonder how in the world anyone votes in a college baseball poll? Seriously, if I had to participate in a weekly poll, I'd be in trouble. If I head down to the ballpark, I don't get to see the games on television. If I stay home or put the games on DVR, it's not like I'm guaranteed to see the top teams in the land each weekend.

I currently receive, courtesy of my cable provider and a growing monthly bill, the aforementioned CBS College Sports plus three Fox College Stations -- Atlantic, Central and West. Between the four of them, I get a minimal amount of live college baseball each weekend. I might get one or two top level games, but the majority of games being broadcast, especially on the Fox networks, are often games not affecting the rankings or repeats from weeks ago.

There's also no one providing a quality highlight package, either. It's not a college football Saturday night where you can at least get a taste of what the elite level programs have done that day. College baseball is almost played in a media blackout, nationally speaking.

I can't see how coaches or the media can come to informed decisions about the ranking the programs each week or voting for All-Americans or the Player of the Year awards. We, and, yes, I'm including myself here, are all voting in the dark.


kowisja said...

What a bummer to wake up to on a Tuesday.

Re: hosting, how many Big10 parks would be eligible with the amenities you just listed off? Obviously Penn State, I imagine Ohio State. Does Michigan even have enough lights to play a night game? I thought they rented the lights for their night games.

Re media: Even baseball america has fallen off since last year. I get a top 25 tracker and one other update each week. The last two years seemed like I got more and more coverage, now this year, everything just disappeared.

Chuck said...

Michigan has had night games for a couple of years now (since 2006, I think).

I'm sure that Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan have the facilities as described. I'm sure that Michigan State does not. What about the other schools?

I'm at yet another Big Ten school but midweek, so no baseball here for me, either. I'd have been able to report on conditions at Minnesota and Purdue, if things had worked out differently.

Douglas said...

Had a question about the Michigan-Notre Dame game tonight.

If you are Rich Maloney, what do you do tonight? If Putnam is able, do you pitch him tonight against the team with the #84 RPI and then rest him until the Thursday game in the B10 tournament - or do you "save" him for the opener against Northwestern (#200 RPI) this Thursday?

I know next to nothing about the politics and ins & outs of the NCAA selection process, but it would seem that perhaps tonight's game is the last case Michigan can make to host a regional.


To the facilities question, I know Illinios & Iowa have lights and a decent pressbox facility. I know Illinois also has the ability to add bleacher seating behind the outfield wall.

As for lights, I am pretty sure that Northwestern, Purdue and Indiana do NOT have light.

Alton said...

Douglas: I was thinking the same thing about Putnam. This game might be the difference between Michigan hosting a regional and not hosting. Michigan is 1-5 against teams in the top 100, and I would think they need to do what they can to improve that number in order to wrap up a #2 seed.

If Michigan wins only 1 game this week, the Notre Dame game is the one they need. I say they need to treat it like a playoff game, and use their best available pitchers.

Douglas said...

Kolby Wood is the starter - Putnam is not in the lineup at all.

Douglas said...

Michigan's Nate Recknagel already has 2 Home Runs tonight - breaking the UM single season record (19) held by Casey Close (1986)

No pitching tonight. Michigan leads Notre Dame 10-6, with ND still batting in the 3rd inning.

Brian said...

As important as tonight's ND game is for Michigan, if they lose, for example, three of four to NU, hosting becomes much less of a possiblity.

I'd let Putnam rest, perhaps, even through the NU series. Yes, they need the W's to impress the committee right now, but they will need him even more in the Big 10 tourney and the NCAA's.

I don't think Kobs, MSU's on-campus field has lights. Although, they have access to them at Olds Park. (Hope to be out there for a game this weekend.)

I'm told the Evanston community opposes lights at the ballpark, so NU doesn't have them. Purdue doesn't and I don't think IU does either, but they're building a new yard.

Baseball America sent me a survey about their coverage and I thought the same thing -- their college baseball coverage has fallen off.

It was always viewed through the lens of the pro game -- so if you had a good team, but no pro prospects, you didn't get much love from BA. Still, I'm not happy with the amount of coverage considering the cover/online price.

Recknagel is getting All-America consideration, but should be garnering some national player of the year attention, too. He's had a great season.

BaseballBucks33 said...

Yeah resting Putnam is a good choice.There are more important games down the road.

I really don't know why teams even pitch to Recknagel sometimes,the guy is having a MVP year for sure.What a stud.

I do agree about CSTV,they stink.A couple of years ago they had some good games on all the time.Now it is worse than the BTN.They show nothing all day. I also saw how the BTN affected my local market in columbus.They have rights to OSU Wed. games they don't plan on showing.So the local sports network can't show them because (the BTN is not). That one i don't get.

Michigan up 10-9 bottom of 5th.

Chuck said...

And Michigan takes it, 15-12. What a crazy slugfest, plus Michigan's stolen base record for the season with 8, I believe. Gametracker is dead, so I can't confirm that.

BaseballBucks33 said...

Purdue lost to Illinois-Chicago 9-2 today.Purdue is 27-23.

All year these non-conference games have killed alot of teams in the conference.These games, i think are sometimes overlooked from a coach's standpoint.I do know it is hard to get up for a noon game vs. Buffalo.But you still need the wins.This year was a little different with more than 1 mid week game in a week.But in the end to get into the NCAA you need 40 wins.

I know it is a hard middle ground to find. Do you rest guys for the conference games on the weekend and play young guys. But in the very end you need to win those mid week games.

Brian said...

BB33, you are hammering on a point I make every single season. These midweek affairs just destroy the Big Ten.

I think most national programs do rest some of their regulars midweek, but the difference is depth, especially on the mound.

The Big Ten just doesn't have enough quality arms to make the midweek encounters look as "easy" as they would appear to be on paper. Thus, we get a mix of bad losses and really ugly, often high scoring wins.

The first key to changing that is to get more local HS standouts to choose a school close to home. Too many quality recruits still head south or west.

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