Thursday, July 21, 2011

9 Reasons to Follow College Baseball: The Little Things

This is part 6 of our weekly series on 9 reasons to follow College Baseball.

The Little Things = Big Fun

Little cost: A single season ticket for a great reserved seat is $60. That would get you a mediocre seat for a single MU football game. For only $5 you can walk up to the ticket booth 30 seconds before the first pitch of any game and buy yourself a ticket that will get you seated at whatever the best spot is you can nab.

Little travel to the game: The last time you went to see the Cardinals or Royals you spent two hours on the road, fighting traffic to get close to the stadium. Then you paid for parking. It takes me less than 15 minutes to get to Taylor Stadium, and the parking is free.

Little kids: It's great to watch kids having fun at the ballpark. Whether they're making a madcap dash to find a foul ball, or playing catch down by the pavilion, or giggling with their buddies about the bat girls.

Small Ball: The big story of 2011 was the new BBCOR bats. No more aluminum-propelled jackrabbit home runs. The new bats forced college teams to play a new game. Or is it an old game? It's been called "small ball", "inside baseball", and "manufacturing runs", but it's the kind of baseball played by John McGraw's NY Giants back in the early 1900's, and the kind of ball played by Whitey Herzog's Cardinals in the 80's. Chicks may dig the long ball, but the heart of what makes baseball a great game is the bat control and base running and skillful pitching demanded by small ball.

Short games: Between the new bats and some new rules designed to cut down on lolly-gagging, the average time of games in 2011 was significantly down from previous years. Personally, I like nothing better than a double header with two extra-inning 4-1/2 hour games. But your average fan will say baseball is too slow, and the college game has stepped up to the plate and provided a quicker game.

Short season: Some sports fans may think I'm crazy on this one. But I appreciate that the college baseball regular season starts and finishes within the span of about 15 weeks. For people who have lives outside the world of fandom, trying to devote attention to the major league baseball season for 6 or 7 months is difficult. For me, 3-1/2 months feeds my passion, while leaving me plenty of time for the truly important things in life. Of course, I'd be delighted if the Tigers were to add an extra month onto that season each year.

And one Big thing:

The Big 12 (9/12ths): In this small park just a short trip from home, fans can sit through short games and watch small ball played between the Missouri Tigers and the teams representing a conference on the short list of the best in the nation. No matter which conference team is on the weekend schedule, the games are sure to be hard fought and exciting, and the opposing roster is almost guaranteed to include future Major Leaguers. The worst Big 12 team in any given year is still going to be a formidable opponent.

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