Froze out from the weekend Ohio State series at Purdue, the reason why we can’t do better by kids who play baseball and softball would appear to be universal…and no relief in sight.
If you pay attention to this sort of thing by now you know that Ohio State’s Big Ten opening series at Purdue was frozen out this weekend.
They played the opener on Friday in 34-degree weather and 25 mph winds, got two inches of snow overnight, and waited until 3 pm Sunday to see if the ‘real temperature’ would get to 28 degrees (as per conference rule) to continue the series. They banged it when thermometers stalled at 25, I think.
In the meantime things weren’t much better here at home for the start of high school baseball season, and a lot of those games were banged, as well. The Ohio State-Purdue series will not be rescheduled, and I suspect the same for those high school games. Sorry about your luck, kids.
I did get a wonderful email from a reader over the weekend, however, responding to our March 22 Press Pros commentary on why there’s such indifference on the part of athletic administrators to play baseball and softball later in the spring and summer – to give athletes a better competitive opportunity, comparable to what you get with football and basketball. There have been several responses, and we shared a few in last Friday’s Reader Speaks.
But this one from Chuck Faulkner came about as close as anything to putting things in the proper perspective. He wrote:
“I loved your article on why we don’t play baseball in the summer. You put it perfectly. Obviously, some do it (Iowa), they agree to get along with it, and they do it because it’s doable and the right thing to do. In the meantime, we spend billions to study climate change, which is a theory that may never happen in our lifetime. But playing baseball in warm weather is not a theory. It can easily be done, and we pass the buck. This is the human condition. We get tied up with theories, and turn our backs on something that’s real. We say we want what’s best, but not if we’re inconvenienced. Kids who play in freezing weather are inconvenienced, and no one seems to care.”
To Chuck’s point, no one was more inconvenienced, and frustrated, than coaches Greg Beals (Ohio State) and Greg Goff (Purdue) this past weekend. They wanted to play, and couldn’t.
Purdue baseball is off to the best start in school history (18-1), and every day and every game represents another personal high for Goff and his team.
Ohio State is struggling to overcome youthful inexperience, needs to play in order to get better, and sees cancellation of games due to weather as just one more delay in the process.
For the sake of both Purdue and Ohio State, none of this has to happen, if…they could start the season in mid-April and play through mid-July.
And this is not high school, where opponents cite liability, and expense, and summer family time threatened as reasons for not doing what’s best for baseball and baseball players. Like Chuck Faulkner, Purdue’s Goff points to another example of the human condition.
“NCAA coaches would have to agree to do it,” he said. “But coaches in the South don’t want it (the change). They already have the advantage of warm weather – recruiting and playing in predictable conditions. If you give that to teams in the North you’d have a whole different [competitive picture], nationally.”
Goff is uniquely qualified to speak on the matter. He’s from the South, and coached there for 14 seasons – head coach at Campbell University (2008-14), Louisiana Tech (2015-16), and Alabama (2017). He came to Purdue as an assistant in 2017, and became head coach in 2019 when Mark Wasikowski left to become the head coach at Oregon.
While NCAA baseball is a rung or so up the ladder from high school, the same human condition is no less evident.
They all say they want to do what’s best for college baseball…but no one wants to give up an advantage to do it. What Michigan did as an outlier in 2019 by making it to the College World Series and winning one game against Vanderbilt in the Finals, is all the evidence they need. If you level the playing field, it gets that much tougher, and inconvenient, for someone…everyone!
In the meantime we dwell on the hypothetical, and theory – things we hope for – while reality stares us in the face. “We get distracted with rabbits while elephants walk by,” Mark Twain once said.
While it snows in West Lafayette!