Intrastate rivals Texas and Texas A&M don’t agree on much. But even their coaches couldn’t argue against the momentum their sport now has during the College World Championships in Omaha, NE.
Texas Captain David Pierce He called it the “golden age” of college baseball. Aggies’ Jim Schlossnagel He repeated that position minutes later on Sunday after A&M wiped out the Longhorns. Between the improved investment in the sport across much of the country and the abridged MLB draft, things haven’t been better on the college diamond.
That much is indisputable, but college baseball also missed an excellent opportunity to get close to regular fans during the first few days in Omaha. With 10 games Friday-Tuesday, the combined winner and loser score was a staggering 93-27, with an average score of 9.3 to 2.7. The shortest result was four runs, which happened multiple times. The most unbalanced scores include Auburn on Stanford and Auburn, 17-2 and 11-1 respectively, and Texas A&M who crushed Texas, 10-2.
Everyone at Charles Schwab Field Omaha crosses their fingers in those story-rich encounters Wednesday afternoon (Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M and Arkansas vs. All Miss) to start the double elimination round in a more compelling way.
At this time of year, nothing else continues in regards to live sports in the United States. The Major League season is still a long way from getting to the point where singles matches count and there is no World Cup this summer. The NBA Finals are over. Major League Baseball exists as a great background noise. For college athletes, soccer recruiting is often the most compelling action in June.
An eight-round game won’t force viewers scurrying across channels to curl up and see the usually great product that’s after college baseball season. Other than fans of teams still playing at CWS, not enough has happened to attract new fans.
It is forbidden to close. There are no distinct outings for shooters in high-impact situations. There is no pressure on the game in the late innings. It marked an unfortunate end to an NCAA tournament that spawned an all-electric baseball during the Communities and Super Regionals.
Remember LSU’s comeback from bottom seven in the eighth inning against Kennesaw State at the Regionals? Or the big Notre Dame surprise of Tennessee late in game 3 of the super? The Arkansas and Oklahoma regional bonkers? Omaha hasn’t matched that yet. It’s a shame, the city does an amazing job of hosting CWS and has welcomed so many fans from Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and others.
To their credit, the traveling fans got to Charles Schwab Stadium early, stayed out until the end of the games and continued the party until late into the night during the opening weekend in Omaha. Even when the Ole Miss bombarded Arkansas by 13-5 Monday night, the Razorbacks fans generally stayed in the game and even called up the Hogs heading to the bottom of the ninth inning by 10 runs.
There is still plenty of time for CWS to come together with a great tournament finish during the semi-finals and finals. Ole Miss and Oklahoma have been playing so well lately that these two in particular could make for an unforgettable final series.
It’s not the college’s fault in baseball that the post-season product went weak in Omaha, but it did have a chance to create thousands of new fans over the past week. No games with margins closer than four runs won’t, and matches that routinely run for nearly four hours won’t work with countless revisions.
We hope it all turns out to be a great championship series. The fans, players and coaches deserve it.