College Baseball Lacks Interest

Baseball Season Starts Friday... *College Baseball

2/17/12 in NCAA Baseball   |   DeanMcArdle   |   20 respect

College Baseball Opening Day

With MLB players reporting to spring training camps, and the season still over a month away, how does the baseball junkie get his fix? Give college ball a try. The season starts tomorrow, and there top-25 showdowns starting day one, but will anyone be watching?

Several factors have held baseball back from the promised land where college football and basketball reside.

First, college baseball games don't attract crowds. Only NASCAR races rival the 100,000+ person crowds that pack college football stadiums, and students will camp outside of Cameron Indoor for weeks for a ticket. Outside of the SEC and the state of Texas, college baseball teams are lucky to draw 1,000 spectators, less than 1% of the larger football crowds. Fans create the atmosphere, the atmosphere creates the drama, the drama lures the TV cameras.

Second, the MLB draft draws much of the best talent away from college. Today, college football and basketball don't have to compete with their professional leagues for talent. Gone are the days of Lebrons skipping into the NBA. Even when the NBA did steal away the top talent, it was only a few rare gems. Professional baseball swipes almost the entire treasure chest. 

Each year top high school baseball prospects are forced to decide, minor leagues or college. For the top picks, a million dollar signing bonus tip the scales in favor of singing professionally. There is a stigma that the only players who go to college are the leftovers, while the cream of the crop gets drafted.

This isn't necessarily true. More and more top picks are choosing college over signing. While a first-round draft pick deciding to go to school was once unheard of, it has become a regular occurrence in recent years. Furthermore, the pro teams are picking college players with their top picks much more regularly. The top-3 picks in last Junes draft were all college pitchers. 

Third, college baseball is invisible in much of the country. For years the South East, Texas, and the West Coast have dominated the sport. Since 1966 only one school from the rest of the country has won a title, Wichita State in 1989. Most of the country doesn't pay attention because their teams don't compete. A Big-10 championship in football or basketball earns a player superhero status on campus. A Big-10 championship in baseball earns them a four seed in a four team regional playoff. 

Despite these factors, college baseball may have better days ahead. The advent of Conference TV networks will put more games on the air. Omaha just built a spectacular new facility for the College World Series. Players like MIke Leake, Drew Storen, and Stephen Strasburg are jumping straight from the college game into the Bigs. Maybe baseball fans across the country will start to take notice, but maybe not.
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2/17/12   |   ML31   |   3675 respect

Except for the use of the DH and the tink of the bat, I like college baseball for many of the reasons it is not popular.   Because it isn't a huge money maker, it is far less likely that the players are cheating.  Less likely the players are on bogus scholarships.  Less likely the players are getting free passes in their classes.  It is a good thing that the players who are too stupid to go to college don't have to go to a college to enter the professional ranks.  (Unlike some other athletes who play more popular sports)

The one thing I think ought to be done for College baseball is the World Series needs to wrap it up by mid may so students can still be on campus when their teams are in that tournament.  With the CWS in June, most students are gone for the summer.  Leaving little campus excitement over the teams accomplishments.