As the college basketball season officially ends this evening, two of the three major collegiate sports will be off the books until fall football begins. That leaves sports junkies with pro sports to enjoy, or, for some, college baseball. We don't do nearly as good a job as we should covering Texas' elite baseball program, and we're occasionally dismissive about the whole matter.
Since today marks opening day for 26 major league baseball teams, this seems like as good a time as any to get in to why I can be such a huge major league baseball junkie without getting terribly excited about college ball, despite having such an amazing team to follow in Texas.
Plink! vs Crack!
When you think about baseball, you think about the crack of the wooden bats, a delightful sound that associates with the great experience of watching baseball. That awful plink you hear at a college baseball game is just terrible, a disappointment that rivals only playing basketball on a hoop with chain nets.
Stats, stats, and more stats, please
First, there's nothing I enjoy more than going -to- a live baseball game. But, the other great beauty of baseball is in the numbers. The statistics in baseball tell you so much about the game and provide an intellectual landscape that entertain (and employ) countless devotees. I get as much, or more, entertainment from Baseball Prospectus than I do from the games themselves.
The corresponding problem, of course, is the relative lack of meaningful statistics in the collegiate game. It's getting a little better, as there are a few websites popping up trying to offer comprehensive statistical analysis of college baseball, but it's still in its infancy and the lack of information for fans is unsatisfying. The best thing the NCAA (or anyone, for that matter) could do for the popularity of college baseball is to invest (heavily) in a statistics database and website of analysis.
If you don't have stats, you'd better have some drama. Football trails baseball in statistical fun, but it has plenty of dramatic appeal. Baseball, meanwhile, suffers from the same problem as college basketball in that the regular season is so much less meaningful. Got any doubts the Horns will be in the NCAA postseason? Of course not. The odds are still good that they'll be in Omaha, too. I guess we're a little spoiled, and perhaps we shouldn't just take it for granted, but there's no denying the fact that there's less dramatic appeal. I don't have an easy solution here; I'm just stating my case.
Following From Afar
I should conclude by noting that if I were still in Austin, you'd bet your ass I'd be at the Disch to catch some games. It's one of the great rites of spring, and I miss it. But this just highlights another problem with the collegiate game. It's so difficult to follow from afar. Reading TexasSports press releases isn't terribly fun, the Statesman is better used as toilet paper than reading material, and as previously noted, there's not a whole lot in the way of national collegiate websites. Some of them are okay, but it's not enough to hold my interest. The growth of the internet and the voice of the fan will help the sport in the near future, I'm sure, but we're not there yet.
Regardless of which flavor you prefer, baseball season is officially in full swing. Enjoy it. Go to the park. Draft a fantasy team. Good bye, winter!