Thursday Thoughts - A little bit of good and a whole lot of bad

Two things happened on Wednesday that made the lead stories on CBS College Sports Tonight.

1- The NCAA announced that it will hold the College World Series in Omaha for another 20 years, through the 2030 series, which is of course, the good part.

But that also means that the new stadium in downtown Omaha has been given the complete green light for sure now. Apparently, 2010 will be the last year of the CWS in Rosenblatt Stadium. Which begs the question...

WrongWrosenblatt?.jpg

And 2- And in the further bad news department, the NCAA proved it is still weak when it comes to its own biggest revenue sport by having the Division I conference commissioners reject a plan for a 4-team football playoff using the existing bowl structure. The bowl committees and chamber of commerce's win again. The college football fans lose again.

Could you imagine if college baseball's post-season was owned by a bunch of men in suits from large, money-grubbing corporations and instead of the College World Series, they just matched up regionally-based teams that would bring in big crowds, big bucks and good TV ratings and played a single game against each other?

2014 is the next time the possibility of the playoff is up on the board for the conference commissioners to vote on it. And it's not likely to happen then either.

I'll actually give it up to Mike Slive, the SEC commissioner who went to great lengths to propose this 4-team playoff, even so far as a 2-hour power point presentation. Unlike that evil-looking Roy Kramer, the former SEC commish who helped implement this horrible "system."

And by the way people, it's still partially the fans fault. When are we just going to stay away from bowl games in droves and not watch the worthless ones, costing the corporate sponsors a whole mess of money and making the bowl games eventually go away? Wake me when it gets to that point.


.
TOP TEN COLLEGE BASEBALL STADIUMS---
I had almost forgotten about this list of college stuff, including the "top 10" stadiums here. Check this out:

http://cstv.collegesports.com/bestof/category.php?cid=13


Now, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1- I didn't have anything to do with this list. In fact, I'm not even sure who put it together and voted on it.
2- The list of good places to watch college baseball games is - luckily - getting better and better. There are a LOT of new stadiums and new stadium plans going forward, so a simple Top 10 is pretty tough to come up with.
3- There is also a difference in "best stadiums" and "best places to watch a game". I made that distinction two years ago when I came out with my "Best Of" list. For instance, you wouldn't mistake Pepperdine's Eddy D. Field Stadium as a "best stadium" in the nation, but there are many factors that make it a "best place to watch a game". I.e., weather, scenery, seating, sightlines, coeds, etc.
4- No list is ever absolutely correct. So take it with a large grain of salt.

Here's a few of my own Best Stadium notations - some re-hashed from my column from 2006.

- Best place to watch a game: Pepperdine.
For all the reasons listed above. Pacific Ocean views, always good weather, tucked into the side of a mountain, comfy seats, always good non-conference teams to watch, etc. However, new netting that replaced the horrible chain link fence, covers the entire grandstand. You used to get net-free sight lines over each dugout. And they also no longer allow dogs at their games. Hmmm, makes me wonder if this is still my No. 1 pick... then I go to a game there and I remember how cool of a place to watch good baseball it is.

- Best weather: San Diego State.
My apologies to "Jason" on the comment list to the "Top 10" article, but Tallahassee weather is "unbeatable"? I was there two weeks ago and it was already close to being too hot. That place is a broiler in June 'coz no amount of shade can protect you from mid-90s temps AND mid-90s humidity (sorry, I'm Scandanavian. That makes me a heat wimp, I admit it). San Diego may have the best weather in America, period. Sure, it's slightly cool in February and early March, but that's why you can sit in the sun. And sure, it's slightly warm (not hot) at times in May, but that's why you can sit in the ample shade.

- Best setting and design: BYU.
The snow-capped peaks of the surrounding mountains are breathtaking, the stadium layout is extremely comfortable and the Miller Park complex itself is an awesome design. The giant tensile roof that acts as the grandstand cover for both the baseball and softball stadium resembles the surrounding mountains. You'd think Frank Lloyd Wright and God got together and played a part in its design.

BYUmillerPark.jpg
(Snow bound peaks and a great stadium make BYU a college baseball lover's dream)


- Best place for a big-time game: Mississippi State.
Last year's decision to have the Clemson-MSU Super Regional in Starkville came as no surprise at all. It's a no-brainer that the Left Field Lounge and the 12,000+ rabid fans made for a great, memorable post-season atmosphere. Been a long time since I've been there, maybe it's time I get back.

- Best place to sit right on top of the action: TCU and Tulane
I was taken at how close to the game you are at both Lupton and Turchin. In fact, Turchin feels a little on the chlosterphobic because of how wedged-in that stadium is to the back of the campus. But that's only to the gain of the fan in attendance.

- Best student section: Texas A&M.
Just ask Missouri about that.

- Best fans (non-student section): Stanford.
Must be the general happiness of those in rich people in Silicon Valley, because these are the most respectful and easy-going fans in college baseball.

- Best concessions: LSU
Can't beat cajun food. Sorry, try as you might. You just can't. Hope they bring that with them over to the new Alex Box Stadium.


.
ALL HAIL THE MID-MAJORS! HERE'S THE TOP TEN PLACES I'D LIKE TO BE THIS WEEKEND---
The under-appreciated take to the top step in college baseball this weekend.


1- Red Rolfe Field. Hanover, New Hampshire.
Dartmouth (24-14) vs. Columbia (20-24)
It's the Ivy League playoffs between the Rolfe Division champions (the Big Green) against the Gehrig Division champions (the Lions). Both of these teams are feel-good stories. Dartmouth went just 8-29-1 last year and CU went 16-28. The Triple R attack of starters Russell Young (5-3, 3.43), Robert Young (4-2, 4.97) and stud reliever Ryan Smith (1-2, 2.13, 7svs) give the Big Green the edge toward their first Big Dance gig since 1987.

2- Dallas Baptist (30-13) at No. 6 Texas A&M (38-8)
Obviously, this series means everything to the Patriots, who are hanging in at No. 39 in the RPI and still holding a candle for us stitch-heads who really would like to see an independent team actually make the NCAA field. But the bad news is that they plummeted from No. 27 after going 2-1 at Northern Colorado. This is their best chance for an RPI shot in the arm.

And here's the Thursday night update from game one (it's a Thursday-to-Saturday series):
Dallas Baptist - 12
Texas A&M - 6
20 hits. Is that enough, ya' think? 20? That's how many pock-marks Dallas Baptist put on the Aggie arms tonight at Olsen Field. It also slammed the Ags 8-game win streak in the dirt. DBU starter Jordan Meaker was clamping down big time, giving up just five hits and two runs through the first six innings. He ended up going 7.1 innings and giving up five earned runs and nine hits. Of course, by the time Meaker started to tire, the Pats had already built up a 12-2 lead and muted the student section.

3- No. 8 San Diego (35-12) at Pepperdine (27-13)
Quickly becoming one of the better rivalries in college baseball. Unlike most seasons, the Toreros have the better pitching staff and should win the series. Besides, while Rich Hill's charges have won 16 of their last 17 (having just lost at Fullerton on Wednesday), while the 'Dine just picked up a pair of mid-week wins over UCLA and UCSB. Before that, the Waves were on a 9-day break for exams. It's interesting to note that PU coach Steve Rodriguez told me last year that this post-exams portion of the season is usually when the Waves catch fire because they're out of class and have no other distractions to deal with. This weekend in Malibu should be interesting. (And just for the hell of it, I hope the surf is good too)

Catch Friday and Saturday's games on CBS College Sports

USD-P'DinePromo.jpg
(Here's the promo for Friday's game in Malibu, featuring Eric Thames, who's hitting .403 for the Waves)


4- No. 15 Coastal Carolina (37-9) at Georgia Tech (31-13)
This is the Chanticleers chance to further enhance their NCAA resume. Depending on the outcome here, CCU could curry enough favor for a home regional like last year, or could still fall down to a No. 2 or No. 3 seed as well. Tech could use some impressive non-conference wins, which they don't have a modicum of.

5- Northern Iowa (25-15) at No. Wichita State (33-10)
The Panthers have been the surprise of the Valley so far as they sit tied for 2nd place with the Shocks, a half-game behind MIssouri State. But we may be seeing the end of UNI's run, as the Panthers been beaten in four of their last five. But a series win here and a season-ending win over MSU could have UNI in uncharted championship territory. I still like the arms of the Shockers to pull them through

6- Ole Miss (30-17) at No. 17 Georgia (29-14)
This is the matchup of the two division leaders in the SEC. Hard to believe that that the Rebels aren't ranked at this point. Hell, at 11-10, they're the only SEC West team that actually has a winning record in conference play. But the Rebs are still potentially dangerous, having the No. 2 pitching staff in the conference at 3.53 ERA and striking out an SEC best 445 batters. Amazing.

7- Ohio State (23-18) at No. 28 Michigan (31-10)
Originally, when the season began, I had this series circled as one of the college baseball treks I wanted to make this spring. But thanks to some Buckeye arms not living up to billing and the Nike bats that are still punchless (sure they're hitting .325, but a Big 10-worst 13 home runs is what I'm referring to), OSU sits 6.5 games in back of the maize and blue. I'd still like to be in Ann Arbor this weekend to see the new Ray Fisher Stadium.

8- Florida (27-16) at No. 12 South Carolina (31-14)
Even though the Cocks are ranked and the Gators aren't, it's Carolina that is looking up at the UofF in the SEC ranks, a game behind them, yet still 3.5 games behind Georgia. But the big news is how SoCar plummeted from No. 5 to No. 17 in the RPI after the Gamecocks got swept at LSU. That takes them from national seed to No. 2 seed. The right coast USC could use this one.

9- No. 19 Cal State Fullerton (27-15) at UC Santa Barbara (29-14)
Yep, the Big West is an m-e-s-s pig stye! This is the battle between 1st and 2nd place this weekend in picturesque Cesar Uyesaka Stadium. To be honest, UCSB has two chances to make the NCAA tournament, either pull out an unlikely Big West title, or win a weekend or two like this one and improve on its No. 57 RPI. Actually, the Gauchos were at No. 42 last week before losing games to Northridge and Cal Poly. UCSB still has plenty of opportunities, with the Titans here, and then trips to Long Beach and UC Irvine remaining.

10- Oral Roberts (31-13) at South Dakota State (19-19)
Believe it or not people, this series could be for the Summit Conference championship. Both teams have just three losses in the L column and making the trek to Brookings is an arduous one. Plus, two more things to consider: 1- The Jackrabbits have beaten some decent teams, including a pair of wins over Minnesota. And 2- ORU is actually coming off a weekend where it didn't win a conference weekend, splitting four games at Southern Utah.

ORU-BrianVanKirk.jpg
(Brian Van Kirk leads the Eagles with a .400 average and 10 home runs)

.
BIGGEST MID-WEEK RPI WIN IN AT-LARGE LAND---
Wichita State - 11
Oklahoma - 12 (10inns)
The Sooners are sitting down at No. 43 in the RPI as of now, but look for a jump soon, especially if they can win this week's series at Kansas as well. Give it to the Sooners for moxie, coming back from deficits in both the 9th and 10th innings to beat the Shocks. The Big Red was three runs down in the bottom of the 9th when lumberjack swinging Aaron Baker jacked a three-run bomb. Mike Gosse won the game with a two-run single an inning later.

OU is now 29-17-1 and has KU, KSU and the bedlam series vs. Oklahoma State remaining. So there's still time to pick up both Ws and more RPI points. But this win over the No. 10 Shockers is a big boost.

OU-AaronBaker.jpg
(Aaron Baker's three-run yard call sent the WSU game into extras)


.
SECOND BIGGEST MID-WEEK RPI WIN IN AT-LARGE LAND---
UT-San Antonio - 11
Houston - 9 (12inns)
Currently, these two teams are the Nos. 49 and 48 respectively, but are going opposite directions. The Road Runners jumped from way down at No. 77 up to the top 50 off the strength of a weekend sweep of Sam Houston State and have also gone 15-2 in April. Houston is 11-8 in that same span, having just lost all three games at Southern Miss last weekend.

In this game, UTSA fought back from a 7-3 deficit and, with the help of six Cougar errors, won the game on a two-run double by Tyler Carpenter - his only hit in seven at-bats. UTSA is now 33-12, and in the driver's seat in the Southland at 17-4. Houston (27-19) still can rebound with series against Memphis and Rice up next.


.
WORST RPI-BUSTING PERFORMANCE---
Appalachian St. - 9 26
Elon University - 3 10
This isn't exactly a football win in the Big House, but Appy State taking two from Elon on Thursday could be a big problem for the Phoenix. ASU came in with a decent RPI of No. 89, so it's not an absolute disaster, but Elon's RPI of 29 could use every win possible to solidify a post-season spot - be it at-large or not. You know how the NCAA selection committee loves a team on a hot streak, right? Well, with the two losses, Elon is now on a 6-8 skid.

And thumbs down to EU for pulling starter Steven Hensley in game one. The Phoenix hurler was throwing a one-hitter through eight innings in game one as they raced out to a 3-1 lead. After pulling Hensley, Elon relievers gave up eight runs in the top of the 9th to lose game one by a six run margin.


.
HOW DO YOU GAUGE THE CARDINAL?---
Stanford has to be the most curious team in the country. Here are a few facts that show both an upside and a downside. The Cardinal:
- Have won weekend series against Nebraska, Cal State Fullerton, Texas, Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA and USC.
- Have also lost games to Pacific, Sacramento State, St. Mary's, Hawaii and Santa Clara.
- Have a weekend record of 19-8.
- Have a mid-week record of 6-7-2.
- Have a No. 2 national ranking by Baseball America.
- Have a No. 18 national ranking by the NCBWA.
- Have played the 2nd-best strength of schedule in the country according to Boyd Nation.
- Have played the 11th-best strength of schedule in the country according to Warren Nolan.

Remaining schedule:
vs./at San Jose State (2 games)
vs. Pacific
at San Francisco
vs. Cal (3)
vs. Santa Clara
at Arizona (3)
at Washington (3)


.
ARE WE SURE THEY'RE THE BEST CONFERENCE?---
Speaking of Pac 10 foibles, look at what the nation's "best" conference (at least top-to-bottom, ACC fans) did in mid-week roadies:
- Monday:
Stanford - 9
Santa Clara - 10

- Tuesday:
UCLA - 2
Pepperdine - 6

USC - 4
Cal Poly - 3

Oregon State - 6
Gonzaga - 10

- Wednesday:
Stanford - 8
UC Davis - 10

California - 2
Cal Poly - 8

Oregon State - 2
Gonzaga - 4

That's a record of 1-6 in road games. Okay, I know, mid-week games aren't a true indicator of the strength of a team, sure. But then again, doesn't it expose a team's pitching depth too? If a team can't win a mid-week game, doesn't that bode trouble for when they get to the loser's bracket in the Regionals? File that away for the time being.


.
TEXAS BACK TO TURNING HORNS UP---
Last week when I was on T.J. Rives College Sports show on XM radio channel 144, he asked me my "Three down" for the weekend. I told him that Texas getting swept at home by Oklahoma State, the first Big 12 team to ever do that at Disch-Falk Field. "But," I warned. "Things aren't ALL bad for Texas because pitcher Kenn Kasparek, a College World Series hero his freshman year, is back from injury and pitching really well."

Sure enough, Kasparek went out on Tuesday and threw a complete game no-hitter against Texas State. He didn't walk a single batter, the defense committed zero errors and he came within a hit batsman in the 6th of tossing a perfect game. If Kasparek's effort can infect the whole UT staff even a little bitty bit, the Longhorns could become a factor in the post-season after all.


.
FOUR!---
Just thought I'd take this minute to mention that Coppin State has now won its fourth game this season after beating Georgetown 10-8 in the first game of a double header. CSU is now 4-45 on the season.

Two quick hits from the win;
1- According to the box score, there were a total of 10 people in attendance.
2- Georgetown's leadoff hitter is named Tommy Lee. Wonder if he's a Crue fan?


.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?---
Apparently the University of Miami isn't so crash-hot over the logo that the University of Nebraska-Omaha uses on its athletic teams. They are threatening litigation over what they think is copyright infringement over The O's use of a two-colored "O" that has a similar font to The U's "U".

UNO:MiamiHelmets.jpg

UNO is a division II school in all sports, except for its D-1 status in hockey. The University registered the "O" as a state trademark, hoping to capitalize on its growing popularity. So of course, when making money came to the fore, so did the Miami athletic department. Hmmm. No official paperwork has been filed yet however.

I think deep down Miami is just jealous because for years UNO has played in a better football facility. I mean, 10,000 seat Caniglia Field is sweet for D-II.


.
WHAT, YOUR WIFE OR GIRLFRIEND WASN'T ROMANTICALLY INVOLVED WITH ROGER CLEMENS TOO?---
Just thought I'd ask.


.
MOST CURIOUS ADVERTISEMENT IN PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE HISTORY---
Here's a an ad for PETA featuring NBA thug Ron Artest and his pit bull...

RonArtestPetaAd.jpg
(This seems more like one of those MAD Magazine spoof ads to me)

To make an equivocation here, why don't they leave Andrew Dice Clay in charge of an anti-smoking ad? Or maybe Kim Jung Il in charge of an Amnesty International ad? Or a prevent forest fire ad featuring our good friend Mr. Molitov Cocktail?

Really... shouldn't Ron Artest be doing PETP ads (People for Ethical Treatment of People)? I'm really confused now. This IS the same guy that went into the crowd and attacked a fan in the stands in Detroit? I mean, Great King Rat!

.
Alright, I see that half of you are waving a white flag here. Fair enough. It's now May people. It's getting to be crunch time nationwide. Enjoy the stitched ball this weekend guys. There aren't many of them left, you know?

G'night.

Comments

Nice list of the top college stadiums. While I haven't been to all of them, I must agree that Pepperdine has the nicest view overlooking the Pacific and that LSU has the best food with jambalaya, gumbo, etc. Far be it from hot dogs and hamburgers they are.

The Ron Artest ad reminds me of another reason to hate the NBA. Ever notice how NBA arenas have about 10 seats on each side of the scorer's table? It pushes the benches down so that players at the end of the bench are beyond the baseline with a terrible view of game, while uber wealthy fans have the sweet midcourt seats. For shame.

As for not being able to tolerate the heat in Tallahassee, I bet the fact you're 1/32nd Scandinavian is what gives you your tenacity.

what is it about nutcases and their affinity for hating PETA?

chill out. no one cares about your views on animal advocacy strategies... omg. leave the animal groups alone, and grab some chamomile or something.


Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

 


Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is CSTV.com's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert