Caldwell Column: Bring Back The Excitement

The change in bats for the 2011 season has changed the game of college baseball and not for the better.

David Ross. Creede Simpson. The two players both had one of the most memorable swings in Auburn history with late inning home runs to give the Tigers wins in regional play.

Ross' home run in Tallahassee to beat Florida State and set Auburn up for a regional win and College World Series berth in 1997 is among the best moments in Auburn's sports history period with Simpson's blast against Clemson one of the most exciting moments in Plainsman Park history, but if they were playing college baseball in today's game it's doubtful either would have taken place.

Now I'm not going to say some changes weren't needed in the game. Nobody needs a 21-14 championship final game at the College World Series like we saw in 1998 when USC hit nine home runs, but tweaks to the bat had already throttled back the game in the last 2000's before the biggest of all changes came in 2011.

Adopting the BBCOR bats has meant changing the way the college game is played, and that's the wrong move for the sport. I wrote this same column back when it happened and I still believe it's true. College players aren't major league baseball players and the game needs excitement. You need to have the chance to drive the ball out of the park on occasion because if you don't the game turns into a game of walks, bunts and errors. That's no fun for anyone.

There's a reason why minor league baseball games have to resort to gimmicks to try to get people in the seats; because it's boring. Much like players in the minor leagues, college players for the most part aren't capable of consistently driving the ball with these bats. That has turned the game into one that relies on mistakes to score runs.

While the normal college game is bad enough, things are even worse at the College World Series in Omaha. Moving to TD Ameritrade Park where the wind is usually blowing in at an already big park, the game has become a shell of it's old self. At one time the CWS was one of the most exciting two weeks of the sports season. While the games are still close, it's not much fun any longer.

Consider these numbers from Omaha the last two seasons. Dating back to the start of the 2013 College World Series there have been 22 games played and just three home runs. This year in eight games the teams have yet to hit a home run and only one ball had even threatened the warning track until Virginia's ground-rule double in the 15th inning on Tuesday night set up the Cavaliers for an extra-inning win over TCU. The run was the first for either team since the fifth inning, almost three hours earlier.

Next season the college game will change the baseballs, something that should help somewhat. With lower seams the ball has a chance to carry more which should help. Just how much remains to be seen. Hopefully it's a move that will bring some excitement back to the college game once again because right now those moments are too few and far between.

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