Publication Date: June 21, 2005
Continuing one of my favorite traditions around here, in no particular
order, here are some things that made me happy this year:
- We got some new blood at the top. Both Tulane and Oregon State
spent all year as serious contenders for the best team in the country, and
both managed to make their way to Omaha before playing out. Tradition is
a good thing, but it's nice to see some growth, especially in sections of
the country or conferences that aren't traditionally represented among the
- Attendance is up in the SEC. Although the Drive for 1.5 campaign,
which aimed to get to 1.5 million in total attendance, came up just a bit
short, the league did manage a record-setting 1,490,005 fans in the 12
home parks for the year, with eight teams topping 100,000 in attendance.
- Arizona State turns it around. Staffed by kids too young to know
better peppered with a couple of All-Americans, the Devils turned from an
11-11 start to finish 42-25 and come within one game of the championship
- Coaching salaries continue to rise. Several coaches around the
nation, led by Georgia Tech's Danny Hall, got high-dollar (relative to the
market, at least) extensions. Since all that can do is draw better talent
to the college coaching ranks, this is a good thing.
- A single starting date is announced (with one remaining legislative
hurdle) beginning in 2008. This has the potential to get the game
much more thoroughly in the public eye, as the current mess of everyone
straggling in when they feel like it will end.
- Alex Gordon finished up in style. Despite growing up in a place
where high school baseball is almost an afterthought due to the weather,
Gordon held up to the expectations of being a returning All-American and
led the Huskers to their best season ever.
- TV coverage continues to increase exponentionally. All of the
supers and CWS are on, much of the regionals were on regional networks, and
the number of regular season games available continues to increase, as
hockey's absence opened a door.
- UC Santa Barbara's Chris Malec returns to the field from a battle
with testicular cancer. Sometimes, just showing up is a triumph.
- There have been no outrageous pitch counts in Omaha so far. One
of the sport's big recruiting problems has always been that, during the brief
moment we had in the national limelight during the CWS, pitchers would be
asked to perform at lengths that would push high schoolers to look for that
minor league contract. This year, for whatever reason, the coaches have
mostly behaved themselves.
- Perennial doormat San Francisco put together a great season. The
inequities in the selection process denied them their first postseason bid,
but the Dons had a great season, finishing in the top 20 in the ISR's.
Pitch Count Watch
Rather than keep returning to the subject of pitch counts and pitcher
usage in general too often for my main theme, I'm just going to run a
standard feature down here where I point out potential problems; feel
free to stop reading above this if the subject doesn't interest you.
This will just be a quick listing of questionable starts that have
caught my eye -- the general threshold for listing is 120 actual pitches
or 130 estimated, although short rest will also get a pitcher listed if
I catch it. Don't blame me; I'm just the messenger.
(*) Pitch count is estimated.
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