Friday, August 24, 2007

Oregon baseball thoughts

The University of Oregon announced on July 13th that they were bringing back baseball to the Eugene school after a 26 year absence. The school ended up dropping the wrestling program and adding competitive cheerleading to the athletic program. The reason that was quoted by the Oregon athletic department to add baseball was that the sport is seeing increased growth across the country.

I believe that this is true in the suburbs but Baseball has seen a major decrease in urban areas. The main reason is the increasing cost in competing on select teams which in some communities start before the age of 12 when a kid in the city of Miami can go play a game of basketball for weeks on end at the playground for 20 bucks with a decent basketball. I would like my readers to drive by a baseball field this weekend and see how many kids are playing on their local Little League field. Also, look at the Little League World Series and see how many African-American kids participated in the final eight. There was a report on Say Hey which is one of the top sports blogs on the internet that only two out of the eight US teams had any African American kids. (Click here for article). The other experiment is to look at a MLB baseball game and see how many players are minorities from United States. You will be surprised with how low it actually is.

The other problem I see with Oregon adding baseball is that the wrestlers at the school now will have to transfer to continue their athletic careers and possibly make the Olympic team. Baseball has been removed from the Olympics starting in 2012 due to the lack of interest in the sport around the world. We did see a very well attended World Port Tournament in Holland this summer with over 3,000 people attending some of Team USA games but we also saw the debacle which was the Pan-American games. During that tournament, we saw multiple delays with the field due to poor drainage and even had the tournament readjusted a day before it started due to insufficient lighting.

The final problem I have with Oregon is that they couldn't support baseball 26 years ago. What has changed in Eugene to say they can support a Pac-10 team? They currently have no stadium and need to build a brand new facility.

I also think that the Oregon Athletic Department is aiming way too high with the help of Phil Knight for a new head coach. The Oregon Athletic Department has already interviewed Tim Corbin and planned on bringing in Dave Serrano before he backed out. There was some reports on the Internet that Phil Knight had earmarked so much money that whoever took the job would be one of the top five coaches in the nation in terms of salary. Why has Oregon not looked at some of the top assistants on the West Coast instead of a current head coach? How many top head coaches are going to leave a successful place to restart a program which will not have the full usage of scholarships until 2011-2012 season?

I just felt like sharing my thoughts on the situation in Eugene and hope that the Oregon program will be a success but they need to overcome the obstacles I have outlined above.


NewYorkDore said...

Excellent point about the wrestlers. There was great disappointment when Vandy dropped Soccer (a non-SEC men's sport) last year. Here, Oregon is dropping a major program because they have diamond envy over OSU.

Brian P. Foley said...

I was all over the place in that post...I just felt like sharing some stuff...

I was devastated when Providence College dropped the baseball program due to Title IX and I bet people are feeling the same thing at Oregon about the wrestling program.

Bob Broughton said...

Just to address some individual points:

1. I was a wrestler when I was in high school, so I don't like to see schools drop the sport. However, there's no doubt that baseball is a more popular sport, and dropping wrestling in favour of baseball is just one of those hard decisions that Title IX forces schools to make.

There is an alternative to transferring. UO could make wrestling a club sport.

2. The Ducks will initially be playing in the stadium used by the Class A Eugene Emeralds. I haven't actually been to this facility, but friends of mine who have tell me that it's an interesting old ballpark. The college baseball and Northwest League seasons don't overlap. I'll put in the suggestion here that the powers that be use some of Phil Knight's money to give this place a facelift, then both the Ducks and Emeralds could use it.

3. What has changed in Eugene since 1981? Well, Portland State and Eastern Washington also dropped baseball, so bringing back baseball at UO still means fewer spots for DI players than there were 15 years ago. At the same time, the popularity of baseball is the Northwest is definitely growing. The West Coast Collegiate Baseball League has been a huge success, and the North West Athletic Association of Community Colleges has also been turning out a lot of good players.

There's also some rumbling at Seattle U. that they might return to DI, and make baseball a varsity sport at the same time.

4. We've already discussed the potential wisdom of UO going after a local coach, who knows the recruiting territory, instead of going for a high-profile guy. Maybe we could get a Rob Vance bandwagon going...

Bob Broughton said...

P.S. I just read the Kendall Rogers article. Giarratano is an interesting choice. I think that Machtolf could do more good by staying at Gonzaga.

Brian P. Foley said...

How about mid-week OOC games?

I believe this is one of the problems Oregon State has had recently.

I am just getting tired of Oregon this and Oregon that...Just hire somebody!!

djbfootball said...

They will allow the Wrestlers to Finish out their remaining years at Oregon either they had exhaust their eligibility or Graduate.

They are also looking at building a new Baseball Facility.

Good Going Brian.

It is very late in the year to be hiring somebody right now.

Brian P. Foley said...

I understand that the kids can finish their academics at Oregon or transfer if they have eligibilty remaining without having to sit out. I know that I wouldn't want to transfer going into my senior year after making friends at the school for three years.

Nick said...

What has changed in Eugene? Well, the rival baseball team is winning everything under the sun, and the University of Oregon cannot have the other guys get more hype or publicity.

I'm not really joking with that response. The new AD at the school seems to be more about hype and money, than actually having winning teams. The rumor is, he even asked if Coach Casey would consider going to Eugene (of course, the press statement made after that rumor was leaked is that "no offer was made"... meaning, contact was likely made). The Ducks said that this has nothing to do with Oregon State's success. But I cannot believe it.