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.
CBS' CLOSES EYE TO BASEBALL COVERAGE
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.
VOTING IN THE DARK
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.