Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Love This Game

There are all kinds of unique joys following college baseball. One is the polls. Let's take a peek at what the most astute minds in college baseball think of the top teams. Collegiate Baseball has Illinois ranked as the nineteenth best team in the land. Ohio State isn't far behind at number twenty-two. Pretty cool, right? Yes, but that's just one man's (or publication's) opinion. What does everyone else think?

Well, Baesball America's Top 25 includes one Big Ten team, as well. However, it's neither the Illini or Buckeyes, it's Minnesota who holds the twenty-fifth slot in their poll. Wait. It gets better.

Ohio State returns to the poll at number thirty according to the NCBWA. The writers do list the "others receiving votes" addendum which includes Illinois, Minnesota and, yes, Michigan.

How about our friends at Rivals? Where does Kendall Rogers believe the Big Ten teams rank? Not in the Top 25, unfortunately. Although, those Gophers did merit some consideration.

Finally, the ever-reliable coaches poll courtesy of USA Today. The skippers didn't include a Big Ten team in their Top 25, either. In fairness, Illinois missed by only a single vote. The Illini finished first in the "others receiving votes" category, effectively making them #26.

Ohio State (36th), Michigan (42) and Minnesota (43) did all garner love from some of the coaches, but not enough to claim inclusion in the Top 25.

What does all this mean? I have no idea. And neither do our lovable poll voters. How Minnesota can get ranked by the lads at Baseball America and get consideration from Rivals (essentialy putting them in their top 30), but trail three other Big Ten programs in the Coaches' Poll is confusing and beautiful in a way. It's beautiful because the polls don't mean much. This is baseball. There's a championship tournament. A pretty stinkin' good one, at that.

Onto another unique matter in college baseball. Today, in fact, right now, Michigan is playing Eastern Michigan. Why is it unique for two programs only miles apart to play today? Because it isn't on the schedule. Let me try that again. It isn't on the schedule for tonight.

See, the coaches took one look at the weather forecast -- temperatures in the high 60s and sunny, after several days of similar conditions -- and realized it's March. The weather may not get any better than today for weeks. So instead of playing later this month, the two schools agreed to play tonight.

Can you imagine Michigan deciding to move a football game from Saturday to Friday because the weather was going to be so much better the day before the event was scheduled? How about a week earlier? It can't happen. It's just not logistically possible.

However, this kind of revised scheduling is all a part of playing college baseball, especially here in the north. It's funny, frustrating and somehow strangely appealing. No, the sport doesn't have 100,000 fans per game. No, it doesn't generate huge profits, if it generates profits, at all. Yet, there's a charm that comes when coaches preempt schedules for a healthy dose of sunshine and common sense.


kowisja said...

It wasn't 100,000 fans at the Texas vs Rice game tonight, but it had to be nearly 12,000. The atmosphere was amazing and the crowd hostile.
Umpires looked poor. The home umpire started with just a really low and narrow strike zone but consistent. Then he lost consistency and the whole experience blew up in his face.

The field umpires missed a catch with no outs in the 7th. It was one hell of a web gem by the right fielder diving away from the infield in the warning track and sliding into the wall. Field ump called it a no catch, the runner from first scored.

After conferencing, the home umpire and other field umpire said, yeah dude, that was a catch. They call the batter out but still awarded the runner from first the run scored. Augie went ballistic on two different umpires. The crowd went nuts after the appeal was ruled safe. The next pitch was a check swing to the same umpire that ruled him safe, making the Texas contingent go ballistic. The Rice third base coached egged them on some more signaling safe.

Total excitement. I've gotten home and I still feel the adrenaline pumping through me. God I love college baseball.

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