Thursday, May 22, 2008

Collegiate Boys of Summer

Collegiate boys of summer
Summer’s here, that means summer jobs for some, skipping out of work every chance you can of others, long days, and of course, baseball.

While a major league game seems to always be on the tube, college baseball games are hardly ever televised and regular reports are scarce. In order to get regular updates on ESPN, you have to navigate through the general college sports section. The national pastime is competing for webspace with lacrosse, soccer, and softball.

This is in stark contrast to college sports big two, football and basketball, who share the stage with their professional counterparts, have their own sections in most sports sections, and in the case of college basketball, virtually shut down the month of March.

But why is college baseball often overlooked?

There is no lack of legacies, as teams like UNC, Clemson, Stanford, University of Kentucky, and University of Texas regularly are batting it out for the number 1 spot in June. And there is no shortage of college talent either, with schools like UCLA routinely putting out talent that goes into the majors.

Many have pointed the lack of interest in college baseball at the farm league system of baseball, which is often where college players go if they eventually want to make it in the majors. This system of farm teams helps separate the chaff from the wheat when it comes to talent, and diplomas do not necessarily mean better athletes and rarely do you ever see a college player drafted directly to the majors.

What this ultimately does is lessen the role of college baseball in the majors, making it harder for fans to watch a player move from college to professional like in football or basketball. Careers like those of Jordan or Johnson are hard to find, where fans were able to see them work their way through the tourney and then have fruitful careers in the NBA.

Also adding to the competition is the role of foreign leagues as pools for talent. Major League Baseball pools from not only the US, but from Latin America and Japan. In some of these cases, baseball talent is tapping players as young as fifteen, making college a hard sell.

But all is not lost for college baseball. As June rolls around the College World Series heats up and college baseball starts competing with the MLB for ESPN airtime. This is where you can watch many of the future prospects for the majors start to learn the finesse of batting under pressure and maybe, one day, see the 19-year-old stepping up to the plate transform into a major league slugger.

--Boomer E-mail:

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