With no tourney, Pac-12 baseball suffers

THE PAST FEW days should have been heaven for fans of Washington State baseball. Instead it was a week like any other.

Conference baseball tournaments began Tuesday in the SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, MVC, AAC and Conference USA. But not in the Pac-12. They don't hold a conference baseball tournament.

While major league baseball remains hugely popular, Pac-12 baseball by comparison causes barely a ripple among its fans. A postseason conference baseball tournament could change that.

Give a team a chance to make the field of 64 by winning it all and even casual fans of that school will follow.

The Cougs are 28-25 and 10-17 in conference play. Their season ends Sunday. But imagine if this past Tuesday, the Cougs played ball. If you think a team with a 10-17 record can't win a tournament, think again. This is baseball, where on any given day anyone can win. Oregon State went all the way, winning the national championship in 2007 -- despite finishing sixth in the Pac-10 conference with a 10-14 record.

The Pac-12 could hold a 12-game tourney (like the SEC does) and feature single-elimination play-in games followed by double elimination brackets. Or they could make it a 10-team affair like many other conferences do. Whatever works best.

They could draw big exposure -- like the other conferences are this week. The financial gains, through tickets, concessions and merchandise, would be a nice little bonus. It could also add another Pac-12 team to the field of 64 if a tourney underdog comes through.

Five Pac-12 teams are projected to make baseball's postseason this year. That leaves seven other schools whose fans are relegated to watching them play out the string. Make baseball like basketball and recreate at the end of the season what was true at the start. Add more fans in the process. Everybody wins.

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