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CWS News

Publication Date: November 28, 2000

The Annual Meeting

This is based on somewhat old news, but the story came out back in July when almost none of us were paying attention, so I thought I'd take a look at it. From July 12-15 this summer, the Division I Baseball Committee held its annual meeting in Moran, Wyoming. The press release on the NCAA site is still up as I write this, but I want to discuss some of the high points for posterity. The committee was scheduled to meet again in November, but I've seen no report on that yet, and most of the interesting stuff usually begins at the summer meetings.

I Don't Care Too Much for Money, Money Can't Buy Me Runs

First, I want to ponder on something. I'm as capitalist as the next guy. Actually, I'm a good bit more capitalist than the next guy at the moment, since the guy in the next cube is our resident socialist, but that's probably more than you wanted to know. But even I recognize that when money and sport collide, it isn't always to the benefit of the sport. There are benefits, of course; I enjoy watching college baseball on TV as much as anyone, and that wouldn't happen without financial incentive. In the long run, though, many of the troubling aspects of college sports can be traced back to unfortunate compromises made for financial reasons. There's a balance that must be maintained, and it takes a certain level of integrity among the officials of the game for that balance to be achieved.

Dick Rockwell is the chairman of the D1 Baseball Committee. We disagree on many things (or at least I disagree with him; I doubt he's heard of me), but there are many indications that he is an honorable man. He is the A. D. at Le Moyne, a relatively small Catholic school in Syracuse with a reputation for proper balance between school and play for their athletes. A couple of people that I know within the college baseball ranks whose opinions I respect have told me that he is one of the most ethical people in the game.

So why is it that, whenever I see a quote from him, two times out of three one of his primary goals in guiding the games seems to be to raise money. The quote in the NCAA article is a good example: "We've got 10 days of national exposure and there's certainly money to be made." Growing the game is good; the more kids are watching games, the more of them are likely to choose college over a direct path to the minor leagues if given a choice, and that can only raise the level of play. I'd just like to see more attention paid to raising the level of play overall than to raising money.

Other Tidbits

The CWS schedule for Sunday and Monday will be changing. That is the second day of play for the two sub-brackets. Previously, the winners' bracket game was played in the afternoon, while the losers' bracket game was in the evening. Beginning in 2001, that will be switched. Apparently, ESPN2's evening ratings are now comparable to ESPN's afternoon ratings in general, so the committee hopes this will make some big matchups, which have tended to occur on Monday afternoon, get more exposure.

A proposal for further expansion and updating of Rosenblatt Stadium is under consideration. The most likely outcome is that the bleachers will be replaced.

Jack Payne has retired as the public address announcer for the CWS. Payne had held that position for 24 years and had been involved with the tournament for 50; he will be missed by anyone who's ever been to a CWS game, since he was a memorable piece of the experience.

The "rest period" for umpires between CWS appearances has been reduced from two years to one. This strikes me as a good move, as it is more likely now that the best umpires get to Omaha more often.

The committee is apparently looking to form a consistent policy on conference "redlining" of umpires. Again, any improvement in this area will be welcomed.

There may be changes in the regional site selection announcement process. Given the occasional imbalances that have been caused in conference tournaments by teams who were already guaranteed tournament spots because they were hosting, I think this could be a good move.

The Mountain West Conference was granted an automatic bid. This brings the current number to thirty.

The Bats Stay the Same

In a different story, the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee announced that the bats and balls will stay the same in 2001 as in 2000, although they are continuing to study the issue.

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