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News from the Summer Meetings

Publication Date: August 21, 2001

They Held A Meeting? When?

Back in July, the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee held their summer meetings. In mid-August, they finally got around to releasing a report on the meetings. Although it's not a perfect analogy since, gratefully, college administrators can not yet actually trade players, compare this to the press frenzy that usually surrounds the MLB winter meetings and realize that when you're being outmarketed by the clowns currently running Major League Baseball, you're in bad shape indeed.

You can read the whole article for yourself, but here are the highlights for me, with some commentary interspersed:

The Division I Baseball Committee has decided to delay by six days the selection of host regional sites, beginning with the 2002 championship. Next year's regional sites will be announced May 26.

This one strikes me as a good thing, all in all. The host schools have always had something of an advantage during the conference tournaments of knowing that they were assured of being in the tournament, and in some cases that has led to them having more flexibility in arranging pitching rest than non-host schools have had. Removing that edge is fair.

The committee also discussed the possibility of a best-of-three championship final at the Men's College World Series beginning in 2003 that would replace the one-game showdown used the last 14 years.

Very good. Obviously, I would go further, but the single biggest problem with the current format is the final game, so just taking this step would be a big leap forward.

With the new agreement, the committee reviewed the potential use of all ESPN properties to promote not only the Men's CWS, but also the Home Run Challenge and associated activities. The committee is especially interested in finding ways to enhance the format of the Home Run Challenge and increase its television appeal.

Very bad. Distractions are always a bad thing, since organizations only have so much energy as a whole. Since they're devoting their energy to the Home Run Challenge and other such silliness, they're not spending it on improving the actual game. It's only a matter of time before they decide that the event would be better if CWS players were required to participate, for example.

Finally, the committee reviewed several concerns from coaches who participated in the 2001 Men's CWS. Those concerns included: * A proposal to create a four-day regional (the committee voted to retain the three-day format).

I would call this unnecessary, but I'm working on a study on pitch counts right now, and was recently reminded of Lane Mestepey's one-day-rest starts in Baton Rouge this year. This shouldn't be an issue, and a four-day schedule would run the risk of replacing the extremely rare one-day-rest start with more frequent two-day-rest starts, but it may be necessary.

* A proposal to seed more than eight teams (the committee noted the Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet is reviewing all bracket and seeding procedures).

Please, please, please. This would be good on two fronts -- it would decrease slightly the chance of two really good teams having to meet too soon, and it would expose just how badly off the seedings are.

Other highlights:

* Reviewed amateurism and deregulation issues and their effect on college baseball. Keilitz informed the committee that a panel headed by Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, is studying several issues regarding the major league draft.

The Selig angle is the interesting one here to me. While the leaders of the college game don't want to cater too heavily to MLB interests, there's undoubtedly an effect on recruiting that depends on the draft rules, so any input they can get into the process could be valuable.

* Reviewed use of the Rating Percentage Index and emphasis on its place as a "tool" in the selection process. The committee noted the continued difficulty of the selection process and scheduled an additional day for 2002 session, which takes place May 25-26. The bracket announcement is May 27 on ESPN.

Oh, well, maybe next year progress gets made. Still, they are at least looking at the process and seem to be aware that it's not working well.

* Considered an improvement plan for Rosenblatt Stadium by 2002 that includes an increase in the distance of the power alley fences from 360 to 370 feet and an increase in the left and right field wall height from 6 to 8 feet. Wooden chairs in the reserved seating sections will be replaced, general admission areas in the outfield will be completely renovated and a new reserved seat section will be constructed down the right field line.

I thought this was official already, although I can't tell from the wording here.

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