Friday, February 22, 2008

The Boys of Spring

In yet another addition of “Dom’s bored at work and feels a rant coming on” the eyes of one sports fan fall on the rest of the Fan Nation. I know I’m not the only one who prefers college sports to professional sports. March Madness is a time when men all over the country start coming down with odd ailments that keep them out of work on Thursdays and Fridays. I have seen many a Saturday with a group of people surrounding multiple TVs watching 3, 4, or in one glorious day at the old Thunderdome 5 TVs all at once. I can’t explain why College sports are better they just are.

To hypothesize it might be the lack of overpaid primadonnas on the court/field or it might be because College sports lend themselves to gambling so much better, or the fact that college Rivalries are far better and more intense than professional rivalries (especially since the advent of Free Agency). When you play college sports you are a representative of your school and you play for your school and in many cases your city. In professional sports you’re playing for the almighty dollar. But that’s an argument (rant) for another place and time. So the question remains, why, if Baseball is “America’s Game”, does College baseball go so widely overlooked?

Who won the 2006 Football National Championship? How about last year? What about the 2006 Basketball? How about last year? Who won the last 2 College World Series’? How about this one, when is the College World Series? You probably have no idea who won the last 2 World Series or even when it’s on. Have you ever watched the College World Series? It’s like the professional one but without days and days in between games for broadcast reasons. Without A-Rod announcing his decision to leave the Yankees, without the obligatory shot of Stephen King or Rudy Guiliani. It’s ok, it’s not your fault. You might be able to catch some CWS games on ESPN2 if you’re lucky.

Another great thing about college baseball is the existence of many high tiered programs. There are more teams of a better nature because the cost of running a baseball program isn’t as high as football or basketball. One of the best things about College Baseball is it’s the anti-professional sport. Take Arizona for example 5 members of it’s roster were drafted this year and chose rather to stay and play college ball. 3 others were incoming freshman who chose to play college ball first. They TURN DOWN playing pro-ball. This is common practice in College Baseball, these guys play their hearts out for the game, their team, and school, not for money or draft selection.
Then there is my absolute favorite thing about college baseball. The Atmosphere. Have you ever been to a college baseball game? Chances are you haven’t. Attending college baseball games are great from the fan perspective; it might actually be the pinnacle. It combines the perfect weather and fun up-close atmosphere of Spring Training (as well as the low cost of tickets) to the competitiveness of regular season baseball (because it is) as well as College football/basketball because of the polls and rankings and rivalries. I recall Thursdays and Fridays in my undergrad meeting up in someone’s room to pound a few Stones or in some cases take copious shots of Jager in less than 20 minutes then walking over to the stadium on a perfect, warm, sunny afternoon and watching some baseball as it was meant to be played. You can be part of the game much more than the Cameron Crazies could even hope. You can stand up 10 feet away from the On-Deck Circle yelling at the opposing batter. Get into his head if you want, it sure beats some stupid sign they won’t see. Not saying that heckling is what makes college baseball great, but the ability to heckle anyone from the pitcher to the batter to the 3rd base coach is a privilege. If you aren’t the heckling type, that’s fine, chances are some clever undergrad is doing a great job and the humor is there for you.

Now this is not some preachy “Love of the Game” article, this is me wondering why, if College Baseball takes only the best parts of all other fan-worthy sports and improve on some of them, why don’t we ever see or hear anything about it? Where is the coverage? Finding anything about college baseball is almost impossible on It’s sandwiched somewhere between wrestling and ultimate Frisbee on the ESPNU page. There’s barely a mention of it if you search Do yourself a favor, instead of forking over 44 bucks for the next over-rated boxing pay per view, get season tickets to your local college baseball games. It’s far more enjoyable, and it shows just how much farther your 44 bucks will go. If you’re like me, you’ve suffered in silence for far too long so send e-mails to ESPN and SI, ask them where the coverage is. Link this article to your friends, College Baseball has been hiding out in the background for far too long. Viva la Aluminum!