Wednesday Stuff - The Don Ho "Tiny Bubbles" Edition

It's that time of year again stitch-heads. It's the time that our good friend from the Islands, the venerable Don Ho, shows up to provide us with the teams that are on the "tiny bubbles" list. I.e., those teams that are 50-50 for making it into the NCAA tournament as an at-large team if they don't win their conference tourneys.


I know, Don is a very lovable figure from Hawaii with a soft heart and even softer voice. But in reality, his list is one harsh son-of-a-bastige. It's ruthless (look at those dark, evil eyes... don't let them fool you). If the teams on this list below don't get their schtick together, they'll find themselves sitting at home in the month of June.

Here are the teams that need to win to make it to the NCAAs. And that right soon.

- Washington State (28-22, #28RPI)
Good News:
Great RPI for a Northwest team. Series wins over teams like Creighton, Oklahoma, Oregon State and UC Davis helps. As we've seen from Oregon State the last two years, teams from the Northwest are usually better than their RPI.
Bad News:
At 6-12, a last place standing in the Pac 10 isn't too sexy. They lost a series to rival Washington, another bubble team. Tough road trip to hungry UCLA awaits.
What they must do:
Win this weekend's UCLA series. That's Job One. Also get a series win over USC next weekend, that will at least take them out of last place. Hope for a UCLA slide at the end, that will help their cause.

- Kentucky (39-14, #35RPI)
Good News:
Lead the SEC in hitting and pitching, that's gotta curry some favor. Series wins over Florida and Vanderbilt. The teams they're tied with in the SEC are Alabama and Florida, teams they've won series from. Plus, the SEC IS the SEC, it deserves more NCAA bids than anyone, right?
Bad News:
Zero non-conference wins of note. History isn't on their side after starting out 19-0 just as they did last year and getting shut out of the NCAAs.
What they must do:
Beat fellow bubble team Ole Miss at home this weekend. No doubt about it. Then, go a good ways in the SEC tournament. If the Cats meet up with either Ole Miss or Alabama, they have to win.

- Dallas Baptist (33-16, #37RPI)
Good News:
The win over Texas A&M (and near series win) brought a lot of attention to them. The Pats also own wins over Baylor, Oral Roberts and Rice (2 wins). Played a lot of good teams, which isn't usually the case for an independent.
Bad News:
They're an independent, so they get little publicity. Plus, there's no post-season tourney to lean on. Game with Texas was rained out - that would've helped win or lose. An independent not named Miami hasn't gotten an NCAA bid since 1992's Cal State Northridge team.
What they must do:
Win the series at San Francisco this weekend, because the Dons are in a fight for a post-season spot too. Hope, hope, hope for very few conference tournament upsets.

- Oral Roberts (39-12, #38RPI)
Good News:
ORU has a good reputation, including a Super Regional appearance in 2006. That has to play well with the committee. List of non-conference victims is pretty good: Baylor, Pepperdine, Arkansas, Wichita State, etc.
Bad News:
Unlike most years, the Eagles have actually lost four games in conference play. Oh that conference? Yeah, that's the Summit conference, which sits at No. 23 in Boyd Nation's conference RPI. Talk about an "anchor effect."
What they must do:
Just go ahead and sweep through your conference tournament. But if you don't, wow, I don't know. Can't remember the last time ORU did NOT win it's conference. Well, I guess hold out for few conference upsets then.

(For the first time in modern memory there's a chance that Brian Van Kirk and the Eagles will need to win their conference post-season tournament or risk staying home in June)

- Baylor (29-22, #44RPI)
Good News:
Wins over traditional powers like Texas, Mississippi State (3), Oklahoma State (2) and Nebraska has to look pretty good to the committee. A 6th place team from the Big 12 usually gets in. That's a given.
Bad News:
The wins over Okie State made for the only series win of note for the Bears. They also lost twice to Oral Roberts, another bubble team. Not a lot of high-quality non-conference wins and the series at Texas Tech won't help them pick up any RPI points.
What they must do:
Sweep Tech and then make a LOT of noise in the Big 12 tournament. A lot. That's pretty much it. Oh, and ignore all that talk about Steve Smith being interested in the Mississippi State gig.

- Ole Miss (33-20, #45RPI)
Good News:
Tied for second in the SEC West. That's usually a good sign. Swept Vanderbilt. Got wins over Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, etc. Plus, don't you figure their pre-season Top 10 ranking has to carry some top-of-mind bonus points, even if they didn't live up to them?
Bad News:
An SEC team with an RPI in the 40s doesn't usually make it in. Their quality out of conference wins is exceedingly light (one each over Southern Miss and TCU, a series they lost in Ft. Worth). Must now travel to Kentucky to end the season and the Rebs are just 8-10 in road games.
What they must do:
Hard to believe this Super Regional regular is in this position. But here we are. Now, beat Kentucky. First and foremost. By all means, don't get swept. And then make the title round of the SEC tourney. Anything short of that and you're in peril.

- UC Davis (31-19, #51RPI)
Good News:
Tied for 4th in the Big West. Have two wins each over the likes of Stanford, Washington State and Fresno State. Beat Cal on Tuesday. Also have series wins over Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara.
Bad News:
Being a mystery team isn't an advantage when it comes to the NCAA committee. Sorry, I know it shouldn't matter, but the name "UC Davis" doesn't carry a lot of weight in college baseball circles. Ask Cal Poly, the Big West doesn't get many favors in the post-season to begin with.
What they must do:
This week's series with UC Irvine is their last chance to make national waves. And winning that series is probably the only hope.

- Alabama (30-23, #53RPI)
Good News:
The committee always likes teams on an uptick, and Bama has series wins over Florida, Arkansas, Auburn and Mississippi State in the last four weeks. Have series wins over Vandy and Ole Miss as well.
Bad News:
Single wins over both Troy and Dallas Baptist - that's about all they have to show in the non-conference. (What is with the SEC? Didn't they learn from last year?) That 53 RPI is probably way too high for an SEC team. The committee has shunned SECers like this as recent as 2007.
What they must do:
Don't get swept at Georgia. Just don't. Hope teams like Ole Miss, Kentucky and Florida - who are also 14-13 in conference - really crash and burn down the stretch. And yes, make Hoover your home. Win there. Win there a lot next week.

- UCLA (26-23, #54RPI)
Good News:
Well, the record isn't pretty, but their remaining games with Washington State, Fullerton and Cal will significantly bump their RPI. Their last three wins have come against UC Irvine, Oregon State and Arizona State. They're tied in the Pac 10 standings with the No. 12 RPI team (Arizona) - a team they beat in a best-of-three.
Bad News:
Man alive, that is one ugly won-loss mark. Shew! Early season non-conference wins over Oklahoma, USC and Cal Poly aren't so impressive now. Unfortunately, the Bruins are top-of-mind when you ask people who has underachieved this season.
What they must do:
Well, that No. 16 ranked strength of schedule will only get stronger in the next two weeks, so just go better than .500 the rest of the way and you could be in the post-season. Of course, with those teams remaining, that's easier said than done.

- Washington (31-17, #93RPI)
Good News:
Hey, 3rd place in the Pac 10. No prob, right? When was the last time a 3rd place team didn't get a bid? Never? Probably. That series win over Washington State last week was pretty solid. Also beat Arizona in weekend series last month as well.
Bad News:
Lawdy, lawdy! That strength of schedule at No. 165 just ain't right. Probably regretting non-conference 3-gamers with the likes of Holy Cross, Utah Valley State and Hawaii-Hilo, aren't ya'? Games with Arizona State and Stanford will help the RPI, but may not help the won-loss mark.
What they must do:
At least go .500 in the six games with the Devils and Cardinal. Going 4-2 wouldn't hurt either. And by all means, don't lose the mid-weeker to Lewis-Clark State, even if they are an NAIA power. Trust in the notion that the Northwest gets the shaft in the RPI, so hope the selection committee uses common sense instead. Oh, and Pat Murphy is on the committee, so put up a good showing this weekend.

Yes stitch-heads, it's all but a done deal. The College World Series will have a new destination starting in 2011. The new downtown ballpark has been green-lighted, the NCAA contract has been signed and the countdown on the grand old Rosenblatt has begun.

Want a quick look at the new Mecca of college baseball? Here are a few animated views of the layout of the new stadium that will sit next to the Qwest Center in downtown Omaha:

(Here's the view of the new 'Blatt from beyond left field)

(... and here's the view over the scoreboard/videoboard in right field)

And here are a few pertinent stats about the joint:

- Will be located on parking lots C and E next to the Quest Center
- 24,000 seats
- 14,000 reserved
- 4,708 box seats
- 5,292 gen ad seats
- 28 luxury suites
- Wider seats, more legroom (I'm 6'2", I'll be the judge of that)
- A 360-degree open concourse
Party decks, dining terraces and picnic tables surround the outfield and concourse

Just from eye-balling the layout and animation, here are a few goods and bads.

First, my kneejerk reaction good points:
- Lots of shade. Lots. That's very good. Note the heavy amount of overhang on the upper deck, which of course, covers the concourse and stands below.
- For adverse weather, there is going to be about 50,000% more cover than the current stadium.
- Bathrooms. Many, many bathrooms. Which is one of the complaints of the current stadium. Ladies?... You agree?
- Lots of concourses for people to walk around. No more close, cramped walkways stuck behind somebody who is walking slow enough to be timed with a sundial.

Now, my kneejerk reaction bad points:
- What? No blue, yellow and red patterned seating sections like the old Rosenblatt? I think that's one of the eye-catching features of our beloved, dated park. Even from 35,000 feet above on a clear day (yes, I once picked out Rosenblatt far, far below on a flight to New York).
- With all the green seats and the circular formation of the park, doesn't it look like Oakland Alameda Coliseum? (Or whatever corporate name it is now.)
- Probably a little too much foul area in front of the dugouts for my liking. But to each his own.
- Okay, I see the celebrating players statue on the back of the scoreboard. Is the REAL statue not going to make it over from the old park?

Alright stitch-heads, I'm actually in San Francisco tonight in anticipation of tomorrow's Dallas Baptist-USF game. And get this... tomorrow's high temperature in the city by the bay is projected to be 92 degrees. In other words, the hottest day of the year. How the hell did I get so lucky?

I hate heat. I'm Scandanavian.



Hey Eric! Great work as always. Makin' my week at work to get TWO midweek columns. AWESOME!

Just as a little addition to your comments on the new stadium, the old statue is DEFINITELY making the move. That was one of the prerequisites. Also, another cool feature is the four locker rooms to handle all four teams in a day-night doubleheader. The view of dt Omaha will be great, but the old view of the desert dome was nothing to sneeze at.

Keep up the great work. Most likely the last three games at Sarge Frye this weekend, disappointed you didn't make it to Columbia!

Great job as always Eric! I am excited about the new stadium, but agree that a little more character would be nice.

Hopefully you are bringing some good karma for the Patriots this weekend.

Tell Wycoff Trent says hello.


The one thing I always wished it would have is a biiiig grass hill in the outfield. I love seeing people pack onto a hill beyond the outfield fence and for the championship series, it'd be great to see 5,000 fans packed on to a hill. I guess the area around it doesn't allow for a hill. Too bad.

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