Because college baseball is so under the radar during the regular season, it’s hard for a lot of people to follow unless you’re an absolute die-hard. The regular season games are not on TV and the local press doesn’t cover it either. The only way to see regular season games is to go to the stadium or watch it on Trojan Access. Those certainly are not options for me here on the east coast so it’s really hard to identify with the program and players.
Baseball in general has taken a hit with the general population with long games, the steroids issue, late starts for the world series etc etc. Because college baseball isn’t as big a moneymaker as either football or basketball the college game as great as it is just doesn’t have the level of exposure that it should. That also means that because its such an after thought on grand scale that college baseball may be just as corruptible and as bad as college basketball, maybe even worse…so says Jason Whitlock, and he could be right.
The point of this column is to highlight how we have been conditioned to view college basketball as opposed to college baseball or other non-revenue NCAA sports. We limit our skepticism when we write, discuss and think about sports not played by the O.J. Mayos of the world.
All the alleged and perceived agent corruption/manipulation we vilify in the college basketball world is running wild in amateur baseball. It's just no one seems to care. The NCAA sure as hell doesn't. That's why the organization pretty much looks the other way when guys such as Scott Boras cultivate relationships with teenage prospects and maintain those relationships while the players pursue education, sorority girls, beer bongs and curveballs at State U.
Top-flight baseball agents employ "runners," too. Except they're called "advisors," and no one chases them down to appear on "Outside the Lines" and reveal whatever "illegal" inducements the players were given to remain loyal while matriculating on campus.
Strong words, but Whitlock has a habit of telling it like is no matter how ugly it can get. It would not surprise if the same sort of corruption was taking place in baseball but until a situation is identified and exposed its hard to see how the NCAA will do anything about it. They have a hard enough time keeping track of basketball.
With no mandatory age rule in professional baseball it’s easier for this type of corruption to go on right in plain site. If a player is found to be on the take and if he’s good enough all he has to do is enter the up coming draft and away he goes. Again the school reaps the consequences. Whitlock is right in asking if we are so alert when it comes to hoops why aren’t we alert when it comes to baseball? The NCAA tracks academic standards via the APR yet as Whitlock points out baseball’s average APR is worse than basketball yet we hear nothing about it.
More from the article:
The APR forced baseball coaches to bring their kids back to campus for summer school rather than allowing them to audition in front of scouts and agents in the Cape Cod League. Yeah, the "cesspool" of street agents, runners, handlers, scouts and agents we love to rail against in basketball co-mingle in baseball at high school All-American games without raising a word of dissent.
I understand why the NCAA is comfortable with this arrangement. It generates a billion-dollar TV contract by micromanaging its basketball players, keeping them uninformed about their value and selling the public a lie about the "purity" of amateur status.
Why do we play along in the media? We're not that stupid, are we? There's no way we're controlled by our biases. No way.
Do you really want an answer to that last question? I wouldn’t say the media stupid more than they are just lazy.
If the NCAA is so worried the well being of these kids and if they truly care about their academic standing then maybe the NCAA should take some of that money out their T.V. kitty and buck up some funds for increased compliance and enforcement resources. Sooner or later you know some hotshot college baseball player is going to be put in the same position as Mayo and we will have this discussion again.
And it wouldn’t surprise me if you could time that happening with an egg timer…