Sunday, June 15, 2014

College Baseball Update

The College World Series started yesterday in Omaha.  The eight teams are divided into two brackets of four each:

Bracket One:  UC Irvine, Texas, Louisville, Vanderbilt
Bracket Two:  Texas Tech, Texas Christian, Mississippi, Virginia

Each Bracket will play a double-elimination tournament, and the winners of the two tournaments will then play best two out of three for the national championship.

Bracket One got started yesterday.  Here were the scores:

UC Irvine 3, Texas 1
Vanderbilt 5, Louisville 3

The Vandy/Louisville game last almost four hours, in large part because Louisville is a scrappy and exhausting team to play against.  Last year, in the Super Regionals in Nashville, their intensity simply overwhelmed Vanderbilt.  The Dores did a much better job yesterday, but U of L is not dead yet.

One interesting thing about college baseball these days is that home runs have almost disappeared.  In the last few weeks, I can only remember seeing one or two home runs in any game.  And home runs are almost non-existent at the new stadium they use in Omaha.  So while MLB is all about guys going for three-run homers, college baseball looks like the 1911 Athletics, with lots of bunts, stolen bases, sacrifice flies, and guys trying to take the extra base.  It's a very different game -- for example, it's almost always a mistake to hit the ball in the air.

I prefer baseball with home runs, but I can see why guys like Ring Lardner were so upset when Babe Ruth changed the game in the 1920's.  Change is hard, especially for sports fans.

(For the record, they are going to try a slightly different ball next year, so home runs may come back.  In the meantime, if you've wondered what baseball in the "dead ball" era was like, you should check out the College World Series.)

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