Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What if there was a College Baseball NIT?

College baseball is something which has grown into one of the biggest college sports in the nation. The sport has grown immeasurably in the last twenty years, as schools are spending more and more money on the sport, and more games are televised every year. In several states, college baseball has nearly overtaken college basketball as the #2 college sport behind football. Only a few seasons ago, it was a struggle to get more than a couple regionals on television. Now, all 16 NCAA regionals will be done on ESPN's networks.

The 64 teams for the 2013 NCAA Division I baseball tournament have been announced.

College baseball's postseason is one of the most exclusive in sports. 64 teams make the NCAAs, and that is it. Only 21% of the schools playing college baseball can play in the NCAA tournament. Some very good teams have been left out of the postseason this year, and almost every year since the 64-team tournament began in 1999.

This is much different from FBS college football, where 70 teams make the postseason, and there's years where teams with losing records have to host bowls, and college basketball, where 140 of 347 teams play in the postseason.

My plan is for a College Baseball NIT. It would take on a different name from the NIT. I would differentiate this from the NCAA tournament in every way possible. The NCAA tournament is held entirely at campus sites until the championship, when the games move to Omaha in the College World Series. In this, the championship would be held at campus sites in a three-game series.

The plan would be for all regular-season conference champions to automatically get a bid to this tournament, just like the NIT does in college basketball. This would put some emphasis back into the regular season schedules in these leagues. College baseball tends to be a sport that few care about outside of the Sunbelt and major conferences until late May.

In addition, I would change it around, making the tournament four 8-team double elimination regionals instead of having the 4-team regionals that the NCAA tournament has. The sites would be named in the previous off-season, allowing for time to get the cities ready for hosting these events.

These events could be held at minor league baseball stadiums, as dates could be held for road games. They also could be held in smaller towns that don't have a minor league team. The TV network that would televise games is unknown. With CBS, Fox, and NBC all having their own sports networks that need a lot of programming, these events could be televised.

This would lead up to the four regional winners meeting in two single-elimination semis at the highest seeded team, allowing for more national match-ups, before the best of three-game finals held at the home schools. This event would finish before the College World Series, and would run during the middle of the week before the event started, in order to give the CWS, one of the most underrated events in sports, the spotlight.

The 8-team format would allow teams to play games meaning something for seniors who have bad tastes in their mouths losing in conference tournaments, and provide experience for young players.

Smaller cities would also gain in hosting these events, providing a boost in tourism for the four cities picked to host regional tournaments and for the host schools picked later in the tournament. This would also help spur more interest in the game in other parts of the country.

College baseball is a growing sport, and adding a second tournament along with the NCAA would help boost the sport more.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Everett Golson out at Notre Dame

Major news in college football tonight, as Notre Dame's starting QB from Myrtle Beach, Everett Golson, is no longer enrolled at Notre Dame. There are rumors that he got expelled for cheating on a test.

A sports anchor from Notre Dame's station in South Bend, WNDU: : Notre Dame confirms that QB Everett Golson no longer enrolled at ND. They can't say why due to privacy laws.

A Notre Dame fan on Twitter with apparent insider ties to the program:
Word on the street is Everett Golson may be expelled for plagiarism on a final.

Golson threw for over 2,400 yards in 2012 to lead the Irish to the BCS Championship game against Alabama. Backup QB Gunner Kiel also left the program to transfer earlier in the off-season. Needless to say, this would be huge news.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Elon to CAA

There have been rumors that Elon will leave the Southern Conference, and would be the fifth school to leave the league in the past six months, joining College of Charleston, Davidson, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State.

Breaking: Elon has called a press conference for 2 pm tomorrow (Thursday) to announce their move to the CAA. Albany is also expected to join.

At 2:14pm on Wed: 38s
Advisory just released for Thursday afternoon news conference on “important announcement about the future of Elon Phoenix Athletics.”

Jeff Hartsell, Citadel writer at the Post and Courier tweeted that Elon's board of trustees voted Tuesday to go to the CAA, and that Albany is also joining in all sports.

This would be a big blow to the league. They have been in the Southern Conference for the past ten years after four years in the Big South when they joined Division I, in 1999.

At 3:24 on Tuesday:
SoCon commish John Iamarino says hopes to make CAA decision within weeks, if not days.

This is what I said about Elon last year in an article I did, ranking the CAA contenders:

Elon: Pros- would get the CAA into the Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point market. Elon is also only 40 miles from Chapel Hill and Durham, giving them a footprint in that market. Have a rich base of alumni all over the East Coast (here in Charleston, they always bring a fan contingent). Are adding women's lacrosse, and are competitive in almost all sports in the SoCon. A very good school which would fit in the CAA for academics.

Cons- Small gym (Alumni Hall), only seats 2,100, one of smallest in SoCon. Does not have a big following outside of the Piedmont of NC (only people that follow them are alumni outside the area). Campus hard to expand. Only has one radio station on its network.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Andrew Wiggins headed to Kansas

Andrew Wiggins, a 6'8 SF from Huntington, WV, the top recruit in the class of 2013, has picked Kansas. This is a huge win for the Jayhawks and Coach Bill Self

This will elevate the Jayhawks into a title contender again.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

#1 Wando loses to Dutch Fork

In a major shocker tonight in Mt. Pleasant, the #1 spring men's HS soccer team in the nation, Wando, has lost to Dutch Fork 2-1 in the second round of the playoffs.

Wando going into the game was 22-0-0. They had allowed just thirteen goals all season. Goals for Dutch Fork were by Graham Jermstad and Steve.

Now, Wando's season is over. A major shocker in the second round of the playoffs.

Diamondbacks attendance analysis

I feel that the subject of baseball attendance has been one filled with opinions in the past few years. There have been many areas where attendance has been low, but there are others where attendance is not the issue that people think it is.

I will do all thirty teams in the Major Leagues and analyze their attendance, plus provide some insight.

Phoenix has been a growing market in the last few decades. The Phoenix area had just over a million people in 1970, having a long lasting AAA partnership with the Giants along with the spring training presence that the area has always had. The Giants moved spring training in 1964 to Phoenix.

The Cubs and Padres were the first teams to have an Arizona training presence. The Cubs were in Mesa, the Padres in Yuma. The Seattle Pilots spring training home was Tempe in 1969, and this continued with the Brewers. Other teams moved later.

In 1995, Phoenix was named as an expansion team along with the Tampa Bay area into major league baseball. Phoenix has been the more successful of the two major league expansion teams. They've won a World Series, the epic 7-game series against the Yankees in 2001. They have three other playoff appearances in history, including a NLCS trip.

Phoenix now has a metro population of over 4.3 million. It has four major sports teams. The Diamondbacks are clearly the #2 team in the Phoenix area, behind the Arizona Cardinals, who with their new stadium and their 2008 Super Bowl run became the top team in town. The rest of the state of Arizona also is Diamondbacks country.

They have radio affiliates all over the state of Arizona, in almost every large town, plus are on one of the sports stations in Albuquerque. They have a regional following.

Attendance dropped from 3.6 million in the first season in 1998, down to 2.7 million in 2001, but it went back up to 3.1 million after they won the World Series, in 2002, then down to 2.8 in 2003.

Here are the stats from 2004-2013.

2004: 51-111, last in NL West. Attendance, 2,519,160 (average, 31,106). Road attendance, 30,948.
Smallest crowds: Sept. 29, Brewers, 21,710 (Wednesday late in season), 
Sept. 13, Rockies, 22,070 (Monday late in season)
Sept. 16, Rockies, 22,281. Smallest road crowds, two in Montreal and one in Miami.
Interleague games: @ Orioles, @ Blue Jays, Yankees, Devil Rays, @ Tigers, Twins.  
Largest crowds: Yankees, June 15-17. 48,274 on 16th, 48,252 on 17th, 48,066 on 15th. Road crowds: One in Colorado, one in Los Angeles, one in San Diego.  

2005: 77-85, 2nd in the NL West. Attendance, 2,059,424 (25,425). Road attendance, 32,323.
Smallest crowds: Apr. 11, Rockies, 18,742 (Monday night, smallest crowd in franchise history at time)
Sep. 22, Dodgers, 18,808 (Thursday night, D-Backs out of race, 6.5 back)
May 5, Pirates, 18,906 (Thursday, in 2nd at time). Smallest road crowds, 3 in Pittsburgh, none above 12,100.
Interleague games: @ Tigers, Twins, Royals, @ White Sox, @ Indians, Tigers.
Largest crowds: Apr. 1, Cubs, 45,539 (opening day, Cubs fans)
May 28, Dodgers, 33,725 (Memorial Day weekend, Dodgers fans)
May 29, Dodgers, 33,621. Largest road crowds: Three at Dodger Stadium, all above 48,000.

2006: 76-86, 4th in NL West. Attendance, 2,091,685 (25,823), road attendance, 31,437.
Smallest crowds: May 17, Padres, 18,012 (Wednesday night, smallest crowd)
May 22, Pirates, 18,103 (Monday, non-holiday weekend)
May 24, Pirates, 18,394. Smallest road crowds: TB, June 20, 10,430, and two at Florida in early Sept.
Interleague games: @ Rangers, @ Devil Rays, Angels, Mariners, @ Athletics.
Largest crowds: Oct. 1, Padres, 48,946 (closing game, Luis Gonazlez and Craig Counsell’s last games)
Aug. 26, Dodgers, 40,358 (weekend game against big rival in close division)
Apr. 11, Rockies, 37,355 (home opener at night). Largest road crowds: Three at Dodger Stadium.

2007: 90-72, won NL West, swept in NLCS. Attendance, 2,325,249 (28,707), road attendance, 34,387.
Smallest crowds: Apr. 26, Padres, 16,792 (Thursday night)
May 24, Astros, 18,130 (Thursday night, not-local opponent)
Apr. 25, Padres, 18,307 (Wednesday night). Smallest road crowds: Two in Florida, one in Pittsburgh. All below 11,500.
Interleague games: Red Sox, @ Yankees, @ Orioles, @ Devil Rays, Orioles.
Largest crowds: Jun. 9, Red Sox, 49,826 (Red Sox fans, weekend night)
Sep. 22, Dodgers, 47,673 (stretch run, weekend game, in 1st)
Jun. 10, Red Sox, 46,622. Largest road crowds: One at Dodger Stadium, two at Yankee Stadium in interleague series against Yankees.
Playoff home crowds: NLDS- 48,864 for Cubs Game 1, Oct. 3. Game 2, 48,575, Oct. 4. NLCS: 48,142 for Rockies Game 1, Oct. 11. Oct. 12, Rockies Game 2, 48,219.

2008: 82-80, 2nd in NL West. Attendance, 2,509,924 (30,987), road attendance, 33,945.
Smallest crowds: Apr. 28, 29, Astros, 19,868 and 20,241 (two mid-week games against low interest team in AZ)
May 29, Giants, 21,037 (Thursday, were in 1st at time). Smallest road crowds: Two in Florida, one in Pittsburgh.
Interleague games: Tigers, Royals, Athletics, @ Twins, @ Red Sox.
Largest crowds: July 4, Padres, 49,110 (Friday, July 4th holiday)
April 7, Dodgers, 49,057 (opening day)
August 30, Dodgers, 49,045 (stretch run game, lead in West at time). Largest road crowds: Three in Dodger Stadium above 54,000.

2009: 70-92, 5th in NL West. Attendance, 2,128,765 (26,281). Also fired manager, road attendance, 30,457.
Smallest crowds: Jul. 6, Padres, 17,528 (Monday, in last at time)
May 11, Reds, 17,640 (Monday, last at time)
Apr. 8, Rockies, 18,264 (early season Monday). Smallest road crowds: One in Miami, two in Pittsburgh.
Interleague games: @ Athletics, @ Royals, @ Mariners, Rangers, Angels.
Largest crowds: Apr. 6, Rockies, 48,799 (opening day)
Aug. 15, Dodgers, 42,058 (80s night, weekend)
Sept. 26, Padres, 39,332 (Mark Reynolds bobblehead, Saturday night). Largest road crowds: Two in Colorado on July 4 weekend, one in LA.

2010: 65-97, 5th in NL West. Attendance, 2,056,697 (25,391). Fired manager, road attendance, 31,838.
Smallest crowds: Aug. 18, Reds, 15,509 (last place team at time)
Aug. 4, Nationals, 15,670 (mid-week game, last place)
Aug. 31, Padres, 16,250. Smallest road crowds: Two games in Florida, one in Cincinnati against Bengals MNF.
Interleague games: Blue Jays, @ Red Sox, @ Tigers, Yankees, @ Rays.
Largest crowds: Apr. 5, Padres, 49,192 (opening day)
Aug. 7, Padres, 48,946 (Luis Gonzalez bobblehead, 90s night)
Jun. 21, Yankees, 47,229 (Yankees fans). Largest road crowds: Two Dodgers games, one opening day, and one against Rockies.

2011: 94-68, won NL West. Lost in NLDS to the Brewers. Attendance, 2,105,432 (25,993), road attendance, 30,175.
Smallest crowds: Apr. 11, Cardinals, 15,746 (early-season game)
June 1, Marlins, 16,169 (day game in middle of week)
May 17, Padres, 16,365 (mid-week game against Padres). Smallest road crowds: One in Oakland, two in Pittsburgh.
Interleague games: Twins, White Sox, @ Royals, @ Tigers, Indians, @ Athletics.
Largest crowds: Sep. 24, Giants, 49,076 (day after clinching NL West, Giants in town)
Apr. 8, Reds, 48,027 (opening day)
Sep. 10, Padres, 48,017 (2001 World Championship reunion, stretch run)
Playoff crowds: 48,312 for Game 3 against Brewers, Oct. 4, 38,830 for Game 4, Oct. 5. Over 10,000 away from sellout for 2nd game.

2012: 81-81, 3rd in NL West. Attendance: 2,177,617 (26,884), road attendance, 32,292.
Smallest crowds: Aug. 22, Marlins, 1st of DH, 17,239 (daytime game)
Aug. 21, Marlins, 17,434 (not a popular team in area)
Aug. 20, Marlins, 17,707. Smallest road crowds: One at Houston, one at San Diego, one at Washington.
Interleague games: @ Royals, Athletics, @ Rangers, @ Angels, Mariners.
Largest crowds: Apr. 6, Giants, 49,130 (opener, hosting WS champions), 
Jul. 4, Padres, 48,819 (July 4th crowd), 
Sep. 15, Giants, 39,169 (Matt Williams bobblehead night and alumni game). Largest road crowds: Three in different series at Dodger Stadium.

2013: 81-81, 2nd in NL West. Attendance: 2,134,795 (26,355), road attendance, 33,054.
Smallest crowds: Sept. 4, Blue Jays, 16,154 (team barely in WC race, not popular opponent)
Aug. 26, Padres, 16,871 (mid-week game against unpopular opponent)
July 11, Brewers, 17,531 (mid-week game). Smallest road crowds: One at Miami, one in San Diego, one in St. Petersburg. 
Interleague games: @ Yankees, Rangers, @ Rangers, @ Rays, @ Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Blue Jays.
Largest crowds: April 1, Cardinals, 48,023 (Opening Day)
July 5, Rockies, 45,505 (Fireworks, day after July 4)
June 8, Giants, 44,574 (Aaron Hill bobblehead, Mystery Ball). Largest road crowds: One at Dodger Stadium, one in Atlanta, one in St. Louis.

2014 thru May 1: Attendance- 495,185 (includes Sydney Cricket Ground), 418,840 (without), road attendance, 38,752.

Smallest crowds: April 28, Rockies, 17,127 (midweek game)

Interleague games: @ White Sox, Astros, @ Astros, Indians, Tigers, Royals, @ Indians, @ Twins.

Largest crowds: March 31, Giants, 48,541 (Opening Day)

The Diamondbacks are a lower rung attendance team in the Major Leagues currently, finishing no higher than 11th in attendance rankings in the National League since 2008. In 2004, they drew 2.5 million with a 51 win team and a terrible lineup. Their best month of that season was 10-17.

The Diamondbacks do draw well on weekends, and against popular opponents. There are certain teams though that do not draw well in Phoenix. The Rockies were a bad draw in the 2004-2006 time frame, because they had not made the playoffs in over a decade. The Marlins are a bad draw, especially recently, as you would expect with little fan base from a Miami team in the state of Arizona.

The Cubs are not as big of a fan draw as you would think with all of the transplants. Only once in the last ten years has a game against the Cubs been one of the three largest draws of the year, and that was on Opening Day.

The Dodgers and the Giants though have been the biggest draws year after year in Phoenix. The Giants have their spring training in Scottsdale still, plus a lot of local fans and transplants, helping to draw the largest crowd at Chase Field the last two seasons. The Dodgers, as you expect, also have a large fan group in the area, and especially in the 2005-07 time frame, they drew very well.

They had two of the three largest crowds in 2005, and this has continued most years. The Yankees and the Red Sox, as is the case in most of MLB, are huge draws. The Yankees came in 2004 and 2010, and the Red Sox in 2007. You had 3 sellouts for the Yankees in '04 on weeknights, while the Red Sox had two of the largest crowds in '07, and the Yankees drew very well in 2010.

Arizona has a fervent MLB fan base, and with a few good years, they could become one of the best in the league. Kirk Gibson has helped them, and they have some exciting young players who will be part of the nucleus for years to come. Next up, the Atlanta Braves.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Analyzing baseball attendance

A subject that has been talked about a lot in the past few seasons is Major League Baseball attendance. The sport is at a peak point of attendance in its history, but there are several markets where it could be higher. I will discuss attendance in the league with these blog posts. I will do one for all thirty teams for regular season games.

I will do a list showing average attendances in Major League Baseball from 2004 to 2013 with each team. These stats will be updated during the season. I will show the three lowest and three highest home attendance for each year. I will also do a write-up on each team and write about the stadium they play at. My goal is to list the teams by their popularity nationwide.

I will start with the Arizona Diamondbacks.