Monday, April 20, 2015

Why the "Drop Baseball" debate can't be settled by one series or one season

Baseball is playing well and that's great. Over at BCI Dan Rubin led off his recap of the weekend with a reminder how vocal the "drop baseball" crowd was a year ago and how it might have been shortsighted. I never advocated dropping baseball, but the current success doesn't validate anything and doesn't stop Brad Bates from asking the tough questions about which sports BC should support. Those who questioned BC's baseball future weren't trying to kill a program just to kill it or to make room for lacrosse. They were also looking at the big picture and where BC baseball fits.

The challenges with baseball
Some of BC baseball issues are fixable. Some are not.

The lack of depth among local recruits is probably overstated. You can deliver a consistent winner with players from the northeast.

Any coaching issue is fixable. I am not sold on Gambino being the long-term solution. But the uncertainty over BC's baseball future indirectly led to him getting more time. Hats off if he uses the time to prove he's an ACC-caliber coach. But BC is not a deadend job (see Aoki, see Hughes). If Gambino cannot sustain success, other qualified coaches will gladly take the job if there is a program.

You cannot change the New England weather. It will always make early season games a huge scheduling challenge. It will also make recruiting players from warmer regions a challenge. But BC can address this challenge with a permanent baseball facility that minimizes the impact of many of the weather issues (snow removal, drainage, synthetic fields, etc.).

Playing in a deep baseball conference is a challenge that BC cannot change. But the silver lining of ACC Baseball is that if BC competes in this conference, we can compete with any team in the country.

While many of the obstacles related to the baseball field are due to local objections, BC's support for the program is still critical. Not only are funds needed for the permanent field, but paying the players remains a looming budget issue. Football and Basketball are the sports most associated with paying athletes, but baseball will be part of the second wave (if it is not part of the first).

Lacrosse vs Baseball
Despite the ongoing debate over which is more viable at BC, the more likely outcome is neither as a varsity sport. If BC ever kills baseball over competitive and or financial reasons, I don't see them making Men's Lacrosse a funded, varsity sport.

But I don't think even the most diehard BC Baseball fan would argue that a well-funded BC Lacrosse team would be more likely to have national success than BC Baseball.

What does BC want out of Sports
Even with our grandstanding votes against paying athletes, I don't think BC will walk away from college sports. Football and, to a lessor extent basketball, are too valuable as marketing tools. The women's sports are safe as long as Title IX is law. Hockey is safe. So then it comes down to the non-revenue men's sports. Baseball is not untouchable. Bates and Father Leahy will have to decide what is important and what sports best promote and fulfill the school's mission. One hot streak in April is not going to answer that question.


mod34b said...

Here is the NCAA top 25 in baseball

1 LSU 34-6 2
2 Texas A&M 35-5 1
3 UCLA 28-8 3
4 Louisville 30-9 5
5 Arizona State 25-11 4
6 Florida 31-10 6
7 TCU 30-8 8
8 UC Santa Barbara 28-9 9
9 Illinois 32-6-1 11
10 Southern California 29-10 12
11 Florida State 30-12 13
12 Miami 30-11 10
13 Vanderbilt 29-12 7
14 Missouri 26-14 14
15 Oklahoma State 25-12 15
16 Florida Atlantic 31-9 16
17 Missouri State 27-9 17
18 Dallas Baptist 29-8 21
19 Iowa 26-11 19
20 Maryland 27-11 22
21 UC Irvine 23-13 20
22 UNC Wilmington 28-8 25
23 College of Charleston 27-9 NR
24 Coastal Carolina 27-12 18
25 Arkansas 24-17 NR

mod34b said...

Not a list I see BC ever squeezing into.

I think BC baseball actually detracts from BC's reputation. Make it a club team and let the guys have some fun.

Also, not a good spectator sport - oh so dull.

blist said...

Always so negative mod34b. Gets old.

Big Jack Krack said...

Permanent ACC-worthy baseball stadium on Brighton Campus.

Go BC - get this done. We should be able to overcome the objections to the sound of bat hitting ball. - especially when there is a public ball field on Lake Street.

Mayor Marty Walsh is a BC guy. Let's go!

Softball stadium too.

Tim said...

In the last 47 years, BC baseball has qualified for the NCAA tournament once.

In that same time frame, BC baseball has had 24 losing seasons (i.e. the majority of seasons were losing campaigns).

mod34b said...

blist - aren't you being so negative - again?.. making negative comments about a commenter? that not good. Is only positive rah rah stuff allowed in the blist-world? Am supposed to not say I think baseball is (and always has been ) a joke not worthy of varsity sports status?

Stick to comments about sports and we'll all be better off.

blist said...

Mod34b, you're doing exactly what you're telling me not to. My point is, like the sun rising in the east, ATL posts something you're first in line with some negative comment.
So let's stick with sports. Iowa is a cold weather state, they're in the top 25. So are Illinois and Maryland. So it can be done, but in Mod34b world 'we are what we are.' I hope Spaz buys you a sandwich now and then at least.

mod34b said...

blist - putting baseball in a league where it can compete and enjoy competition (club level) is positive. I never mentioned cold weather.

Since you started this point, let me suggest you re-examine your rigid views on what is acceptable commentary. Was "Tim's" comment too negative under Blist-rules? A diversity of ideas creates interest. Mass conformity (a BC specialty) is not fun.

I am not getting your Spaz comment- Spaz famously bought the maintenance guys a sandwich once. Are you making some elitist, snotty comment?

Also your comment about "we are what we are" is just stupid. I never said anything like that.

chicagofire1871 said...

BC should eliminate baseball, as well as about 10 more varsity sports. For a small, private New England school we offer way for sports than do our southern state school rivals.

Surely everyone here would rather win a ACC championship in football or basketball over any other sport we compete in. If that's the case, let's build that indoor facility, hire top notch recruiters, physios and coaches and go win!

Napolean Bonaparte said...

Its all about competing. We should strive to be a contender in everything we do. Its more about whether we are willing. If we have decided to play men's baseball - then we need to invest in a program that competes for championships. If not - then don't do it. So fix the field situation and invest in better coaches - or drop the sport.

Hoib said...


I think it's all about University wide desire to compete. I don't think there is even enough to compete for a title in ACC basketball let alone baseball. I'm only sure of 1 sports where it exist and that's hockey. I'd give Football a probably yes, and basketball a probably no.

chicagofire1871 said...

Revenue sports > non-revenue sports. Sorry baseball, soccer, golf, tennis, cc, swimming, fencing fans.

Who gives a flip if we win in any non-revenue sport. Flying all those kids around the southeast is far more expensive than taking a bus to Providence or St. John's.

Let's concentrate on revenue sports that move the needle for the school. It's called the Flutie effect for a reason.

Tim said...

When BC was in the Big East, our teams traveled to Miami (1500 miles), South Bend (900 miles), Blacksburg (700 miles), Morgantown (600 miles), Pittsburgh (560 miles), Georgetown (400 miles), etc. Hardly a short bus trip.

TeddyE said...

Make BC the premier New England Baseball school. Fill the void that Maine left behind long ago. A new Brighton Baseball stadium named after Pete Frates and new Brighton softball stadium named after Dick Kelley and always donate 10% of all proceeds of tickets sales to ALS. Build a football/indoor facility right next to that. This was suggested to Brad Bates. BC Baseball can be a big time, affordable entertainment baseball option, similar to minor league baseball that has grown in popularity in the last 10-15 years because the Sox and all other professional sports are too spendy. And you know what? Add lacrosse too.

Napolean Bonaparte said...

Hoib - I agree with you. BC does not make investing to win a priority across the board. Some schools like Notre Dame and Stanford are competitive in practically every sport in which they participate. I think that's the way it should be. If the interest/will is not there - then don't bother and put the money where there is an interest.

Hoib said...


I don't think it's just about money. I don't think the fan interest on a broad enough scale is there. There are just too many empty seats at our sporting events, even in our smaller venues, compared w/ most of the schools we play in the ACC. It's ironic that the one sport I'm sure that the BC community is all in on isn't in the ACC.

Napolean Bonaparte said...

Hoib - then you have to ask yourself why the fan interest is not there compared to the other schools. Many of these other schools are on par academically to BC. So I don't think our student profile is substantially different. I really do believe its about winning and generating excitement among the kids and alums. The problem has been with the adults BC has had in place administering the programs, tolerating mediocrity for too long and taking fan/student interest for granted. This isn't to say that we should compete in every sport. But where we do - the attitude in the Athletic Department to the coaches should be that we will pay you well and you damn better well win or you won't be here for long.

Hoib said...


Maybe you're right, but it could be there just isn't the interest level. One of the reasons Lonergan turned down the basketball job when offered was the appalling lack of interest from the students. I think every year that goes by BC adopts more of a neo ivy mentality that detracts from athletics. Some might look at that as progress, but as someone who's family ties to the school stretch over 4 generations I don't.