Tossing back a 40. And giving thanks.

By Eric Sorenson. Posted on February 15th, 2013 in 2013 National Preview, National stuff
 

Johnny Rosenblatt is my father, Annie Savoy is my mother, and I’m their bastard son.

There is so much bad in this world, yet still so much to be thankful for. Here’s my big 40. Not exactly as distasteful as a 40 oz. Schlitz Malt Liquor, but close. It’s my list of 40 things I’m thankful for going into first pitch on Friday. Let’s tip a few…
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1- I’m thankful that college baseball is here.

The waiting is, indeed, the hardest part.

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2- I’ll be thankful for the first pitch of the season and the final pitch of the season.

For vastly different reasons, of course.

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3- I’m thankful that guys like Garrido, Martin, Graham, Marquess and Stephenson are still coaching in our game.

“Four more years. Four more years…”

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4- I’m thankful the RPI has changed.

Finally – FINALLY – the college baseball formula emulates the college basketball formula in rewarding road wins. What the hell took so long? Baseball is tougher to win on the road, especially with the considerable amount of travel involved. This was a long time coming. Look, I know the NCAA is made up of smart people, but this makes me question the NCAA’s competence level.

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5- I’m thankful there are no more changes to the bats for 2013.

But get back with me in 365 days, I’m sure it’ll change. Either that or a rash of programs will announce they’re moving their fences in… shamefully.

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6- I’m thankful there have been no additional announcements of baseball programs being cut.

Though our hearts go out to Towson in this, the final season.

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7- I’m thankful that Cal is finally going to finish building their stadium.

The administration is putting the long-promised project into action so that now the “half-stadium” look will be filled in and lights are being installed to be ready for mid-March. Now maybe we can officially breathe a sigh of relief that the Bears baseball program is back on firm ground. Right? (crossing fingers just in case)

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8- I’m thankful that New Orleans is back in D1.

UNO flirted with moving to D2 permanently, but came back to its senses. The Privateers are also set to join the Southland Conference next season.

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9- I’m thankful that the common start date is February 15th.

The last few years I’ve really enjoyed getting out and seeing a D2 or NAIA game or two before the big boys of D1 get cranked up. This past week, as you might’ve read, I was able to see Point Loma Nazarene play at Cal State Dominguez Hills and then at UC San Diego, who could be a major player in the D2 national title hunt.

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10- I’m thankful to any umpire who dares to call the high strike.

Again people, the strike zone goes up to the navel, not the knees.

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11- I’m thankful Mark Appel  turned down the pros.

It’s good for us because we get a future pro All-Star’s arm in our college game another season. It’s good for Mark because he probably saves himself from a season of riding rickety busses and bad small town bars.

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12- I’m thankful for Kent State and Stony Brook.

These two have done more for my argument that mid-majors aren’t THAT far behind the Big Six programs than anything else. But it shouldn’t have taken these two to make their runs for that to prove my point.

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13- I’m thankful for ESPN’s TV schedule.

The Mother Ship is slated to televise 151 games this year in the regular season and conference tournaments, most of them on the ESPN3.com website, but also a healthy amount of games on ESPN, ESPN2 and especially ESPNU.

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14- I’m thankful for the TV coverage in general.

Not only has ESPN increased its exposure of D1 baseball, Fox College Sports, Sun Sports, Cox Sports, the Big 10 Network and BYU-TV return to televise their usual array of games. But this year you can also add the Longhorn Network and Pac-12 Network to those outlets. I actually don’t get either on my DIRECTV prescription, so it kinda pisses me off. But in the grand scheme, it’s good to have more games on the tube.

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15- I’m thankful the boys over at College Baseball Insider, for providing this…

Here’s the complete TV schedule, soup to nuts. Just put this address into your browser:

http://www.collegebaseballinsider.com/13Preseason/13TVGames.html

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16- I’m thankful post-game interviews are better here.

It always amazes me during college football season how unintelligent those players sound in interviews, especially those who begin their responses with “I mean…” So I’m thankful that college baseball players actually sound like college-educated students. Just my opinion.

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17- Screw that, I’m thankful our post-season is better.

I shouldn’t rehash this every year, but the college football post-season pisses me off so much it makes me forever grateful for baseball’s Big Dance. Again, I can spit vitriol about Utah Valley not making the Field of 64, but at least I’m not spewing venom over No. 3 or No. 4 not getting a shot.

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18- I’m thankful baseball is better than basketball’s post-season.

With all due respect to that giant money-maker known as March Madness, I still hedge a little toward double-elimination over one-and-done. At least as far as visiting fans getting their money’s worth goes.

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19- I’m thankful there is no Ray Lewis in college baseball.

Let go of the microphone dude. Let go of the microphone.

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20- I’m thankful for programs like Vanderbilt, Stanford, Rice and Cal.

As the years have gone by I’ve come to appreciate baseball programs who are national powers and are rigorous academic institutions as well. It makes me sit in awe over two things I could never do: play baseball at the collegiate level and be as intelligent as these guys are.

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21- I am thankful a non-National seed won the 2012 title.

I just like it better when someone outside of the top eight wins the big brass ring. Don’t know why, maybe so that the NCAA Selection Committee can’t brag “we got it right.” I don’t know. But Arizona’s national title was the seventh time in the last nine years that a non-top eight team won it all. In the first five years of the *new* 64-team format, a national seed won the national title.

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22- I’m thankful the College World Series returns to a Saturday start.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like the Saturday start better than the Friday start to the Series in Omaha. It sets up the title series to be a Monday night start. Monday Night Baseball for game one. That’s cool.

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23- I’m thankful for the beer tents outside the new downtown stadium.

When it’s 90 degrees on a cloudless day, ducking into those beer tents in Omaha sure does offer a nice respite from the unrelenting sun. Not only that, but all that talk of how the NCAA would ban alcohol sales for a 600-yard radius outside the new stadium turned out to be bunk. Again, thankfully so.

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24- I’m thankful they don’t build statues of baseball coaches.

College football has gone ass-wild erecting statues of coaches who are still alive and still on the hook for making a big mistake and eventually getting their statues taken down. That’s reason No. 286 why college baseball is smarter than college football.

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25- I’m thankful that Jeremy Mills has kept track of all the conference hopping.

The Mack Daddy of college baseball has all the conference moves reflected on his scoreboard page at D1Baseball.com. Good thing, ‘coz all the football-based movement just confuses the hell out of me.

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26- I’m thankful for Jeremy and Cynthia Mills, period.

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27- I’m thankful for airplanes.

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28- I’m thankful for all the college baseball writers out there.

Though our numbers may ebb and flow from year to year.

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29- I’m thankful for another year from Mark Etheridge.

Sure, it’s a “bromance” but nobody is more creative and a wordsmith like this dude.

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30- I’m thankful for the Urban Invitational.

The classic HBCU weekend will be held at Minute Maid Park in Houston for the second straight season. Though I am bummed to see it leave the Urban Academy in Compton and I’m not real crash-hot that the weekend will feature ONLY historically black colleges this time around when Alabama State, Southern, Prairie View and Texas Southern get together. I used to like to see the UC Irvines, UCLAs , San Diegos and USCs involved too.

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31- I’m thankful for some of the cool opening weekend matchups.

High praise to teams like TCU-Ole Miss, Baylor-UC Irvine and Stanford-Rice. Those are the only matchups of Top 40 teams this weekend. They sure make me a lot happier than your Western Ilinois-Arkansas, Coppin State-Arizona, Rhode Island-Florida State and USC Upstate-Kentucky matchups. And those are just examples of the multiple stinkers on tap this weekend.

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32- I’m thankful that I won’t have to put up with any more teams putting together a “Call Me Maybe” choreographed video.

It was quirky and fun when Harvard did it first. Then came the avalanche of other teams copy-catting it.

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33- I’m thankful that Oral Roberts is joining a tougher conference.

ORU was starting to lap the field in the Summit League. Now, going to the Southland, look for league titles and NCAA berths to be markedly harder for them to come by… although it would’ve been better if Texas State and UTA stuck around and not gone to the WAC.

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34- I’m thankful for coach Dave Schrage and South Dakota State.

Not only are the Jackrabbits going be better, but it’s good to see that Schrage and Company will go to the length of playing their opening game of the season at 8:30am vs. Waldorf College in a domed stadium in Minneapolis. That’s dedication.

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35- I’m thankful for payola.

I like getting free swag from coaches all across the country. I appreciate it profoundly, though sometimes I feel a tad guilty for promising each of them that I will rank their team at No. 1.

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36- I’m thankful the WCC is holding a post-season tournament.

As much as I hate conference tournaments, why is this a good thing? Because I’m pretty convinced the WCC gets the shaft more than just about any conference in the country with fewer tourney bids than most mid-majors. So now, with the tournament, there’s a good chance that the WCC will get an extra bid to the Big Dance each year.

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37- I’m thankful that my prediction of North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Oregon State, Arkansas, Cal State Fullerton, TCU, UCLA and Louisville being the final eight teams in Omaha will be exactly right.

Rarely am I wrong with the Final Eight prediction.

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38- I’m thankful that North Carolina will beat Oregon State in the title series.

Then we’ll finally be able to put a copper-tipped cap in the ass of that 57-year national championship drought for the ACC. (And if that DOESN’T happen I’m thankful that none of you will give me any shit over it whatsoever.)

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39- I’m thankful for my readers.

You guys rule. Thanks for reading my drivel and watching my various blathering. I owe you a debt of gratitude, as usual.

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40- I’m thankful for Easton.

Again, I don’t care if you like my writing, my style or my opinions or if you care for Easton’s equipment or use their bats. Appreciate the fact that they sponsor a college baseball writer (in this case, it happens to be me) so that the game gets a little bit more exposure. In our sport, every little bit helps because there aren’t that many of us out there writing and talking about it. And again, until another bat company comes around and fronts the money to fully fund an outlet dedicated to giving more exposure to college baseball, Easton is still the most important bat-maker in the business. Sorry Rawlings, Louisville Slugger, Nike, Worth, etc.

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Okay, bottom's up you guys. Enjoy your 2013 season.

 

COMMENTS:

February 15, 2013 at 1:05 am
Gray Warren says:

Great list, Stitch ! I’m thankful college baseball starts tomorrow. I’ll be in Chapel Hill to see The Tarheels first pitch of the season. We’ll both be thankful if The Heels hoist the trophy in Omaha come June…Also, I’m thankful for your blog. Enjoy your work… Keep it coming !!!


February 15, 2013 at 1:12 am
Eric Sorenson says:

Thanks Gray. Very cool of you to mention it bro. I’ll do my best not to disappoint you this year. Thanks for reading, of course.


February 15, 2013 at 2:09 am
Thrill says:

Find us at the Reck ( Come and Tailgate it crew) behind home plate. and we’ll buy you a beer.
Go OWLS


February 15, 2013 at 3:03 am
Leoguy says:

Eric, we’re looking forward to another great year of Rice baseball, beginning tomorrow with Stanford AND Mark Appel on the mound at Reckling Park.
Keep up the very good work. And, come visit us in Houston, soon.
(the beer is on ice)


February 15, 2013 at 3:13 am

Good stuff Stitch!! Very excited about opening day and the Road to Omaha for my Gauchos!!

Chomaha!!


February 15, 2013 at 3:21 am
LucienA says:

I’m thankful that you are giving me something to read about college baseball. Thanks!


February 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm
Joannie Krajca-Radcliffe says:

Love ya Stitch! As we tip a brew to you at the Stanford-Rice series, can you weigh in on the idea of using the minor league ball instead of messing with the bats or fences?


February 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm
Chris Slade says:

Awesome list mr. Stitch. I’m a student here at South Carolina who goes to pretty much every home game. Any chance you make it down to Columbia this season? Would be great to meet you in person


February 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm
Go Gophers says:

Exceptional rac…I mean list. I agree with #10 wholeheartedly but hope the ump today in the Minnesota matchup with the Bruins DOES NOT with Plutko on the mound.


February 15, 2013 at 9:01 pm
Tim K says:

Stitch in demand! Look at all these requests flying in from across the country for the Easton company jet to head their way.


February 16, 2013 at 4:38 am
Ben Johnson says:

It’s Baaaack!

Great Start Stitch…

And if you need any help in the northwest, there’s a good chance I will be in a ballpark somewhere up here…Thanks again for letting me help out the exposure of the sport…college baseball players deserve more coverage!

I still think you need to put a team of writers together (me being one of them), because college baseball and baseball in general is the ultimate team sport…You (and Easton) should put together a team of writers because like a good hitter or pitcher…you can’t do it all yourself (although you are as close to perfect as we can get at present).

And guys, I didn’t pay him to rank my alma matter (Oregon State) in such high regard!

Go Beavs, Go Bears, Go Appalachian State!