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Old 04-25-2019, 03:09 PM
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Why is college baseball not that popular?


NCAA football and basketball are watched just as avidly as professional games are. Especially during the playoffs. But I don't ever hear much about NCAA baseball. It is only rarely shown on the screens at sports bars I go to.

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Old 04-25-2019, 03:12 PM
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Because it's an afterthought to the professional game, whereas the opposite was true about football and basketball. Collegiate football and basketball pre-dated the NFL and NBA respectively by fifty years, and developed a following thereby. Baseball was played professionally well before there was any formal college athletic program for it.
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Old 04-25-2019, 03:17 PM
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It's the aluminum bats. Nothing says "Who cares?" like the TINK of metal meeting horsehide.
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Old 04-25-2019, 03:33 PM
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Pretty sure we've done this before.

Baseball as an organized sport started out professional and semi-professional. It was a fairly significant professional enterprise before basketball was invented, and before football was recognizably what it is today. The development of baseball as a spectator sport has thus been pretty much the same as the development of professional baseball; college baseball developed long after baseball was the biggest team sport in America. By the time someone though to hold a College World Series in 1947, people who had won the real World Series were literally dying of old age.

Football started out largely as a college sport, and became a central part of college life a very long time ago. College basketball was a bit later but, again, it still predates modern pro basketball.

There's the added fact that college football and basketball are basically the step immediately below the big leagues. The D-league and various failed football leagues aside, they are the best basketball and football you can get in the USA (Canada has its own football league, an oddity.) That's not true of college baseball. College players sometimes make the jump to the majors but it's rare; most must go through additional seasoning in the professional minor leagues. An AAA team would annihilate the best team in the NCAA.
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Old 04-25-2019, 04:02 PM
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Pretty sure we've done this before.
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=620237
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=539005
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Old 04-25-2019, 04:04 PM
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And, many top baseball prospects, coming out of high school, choose to sign professional contracts, usually thus directly heading into the farm-team system of an MLB club, rather than opting to go to college to play baseball.

OTOH, top high school football and basketball prospects are prohibited from jumping directly to the NFL or the NBA: the NFL won't allow a team to draft or sign a player until after he, in essence, finishes his junior year of college eligibility (or is three years removed from high school); the NBA won't currently allow a player in until he's at least completed his freshman year of college eligibility. If such a player, coming out of high school, can't (or doesn't want to) play college ball, their other options are limited (basketball players might play outside of the US, I think; football players have even fewer options).

As a result, college basketball and college football have the best players in the U.S. in their age group, at least for a while.
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Old 04-26-2019, 06:38 PM
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I went to Florida State which has a decent college baseball program and I only went to a handful of games and I love baseball. I believe the tickets were free for students. Part of it is just timing. The season starts a couple of weeks before spring break and extends until exam season. So, most seniors are now busy with job hunting and final exams and they’re starting to lose their ties to the college. And, even in warm weather climates, the weather cab be kinda iffy for baseball in late February and early March.
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Old 05-12-2019, 07:46 PM
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The baseball season spans the 3-4 months that colleges are closed and that leaves only a short season. Also, baseball started out with a well-developed minor league development system and aspiring players skip college.
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Old 05-12-2019, 08:31 PM
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I'm sure there have been some, but I can't think of a single baseball player who played college ball and didn't make at least a stop in the minor leagues. The three I thought might have, Lou Gehrig, Rick Monday, and Mark McGwire, all played at least a few games on a minor league team.
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Old 05-12-2019, 10:35 PM
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Pete Incaviglia went straight from college to the majors, albeit not by the will of the team that drafted him.
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Old 05-12-2019, 10:40 PM
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I'm sure there have been some, but I can't think of a single baseball player who played college ball and didn't make at least a stop in the minor leagues. The three I thought might have, Lou Gehrig, Rick Monday, and Mark McGwire, all played at least a few games on a minor league team.
Naturally, Wiki has a list. Some directly from High School.

Being a Braves fan from the late 70's and early 80's, I knew about Bob Horner.

Dave Winfield and Sandy Koufax are the most notable in the modern era. Post WWII

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...eague_Baseball
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:17 AM
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College baseball is too regional a sport due to the season starting in the winter. This makes it harder for northern schools to recruit and without the big industrial northern markets having a team to pull for it doesn't draw well on television. Add to that the presence of the minor leagues and there really isn't a niche for college baseball to grow.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:26 AM
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Naturally, Wiki has a list. Some directly from High School.
And, note that, in the past 30 years, there have only been seven. Discounting Chan Ho Park and Ariel Prieto (who weren't playing college ball in the U.S. when they were signed), there's only been five, and only two in the past 20 years.

In other words, it's really rare.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:44 AM
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I went to Florida State which has a decent college baseball program and I only went to a handful of games and I love baseball. I believe the tickets were free for students. Part of it is just timing. The season starts a couple of weeks before spring break and extends until exam season. So, most seniors are now busy with job hunting and final exams and theyre starting to lose their ties to the college. And, even in warm weather climates, the weather cab be kinda iffy for baseball in late February and early March.
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The baseball season spans the 3-4 months that colleges are closed and that leaves only a short season. Also, baseball started out with a well-developed minor league development system and aspiring players skip college.
Explanations that rely on the timing of the college season seem rather dubious to me, because high school baseball has the same lack of popularity, and its schedule is almost entirely while school is in session.

I think RickJay is pretty much on target: historically, football and basketball were school sports (and a focus of student social life as well) from the get-go. While baseball started off pro, only later became a school sport, and has never really become a social thing.
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:09 AM
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I'm sure there have been some, but I can't think of a single baseball player who played college ball and didn't make at least a stop in the minor leagues. The three I thought might have, Lou Gehrig, Rick Monday, and Mark McGwire, all played at least a few games on a minor league team.
John Olerud went straight from Washington State to the Blue Jays. Skipping the minors was a condition of his signing with Toronto. Obviously, that was a pretty good move; he was a decent hitter right away, and became an excellent one.
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:17 PM
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As an LSU alum and fan, I will be the exception here, I think. I love college baseball. Specifically, SEC and LSU baseball. It was popular with my cohort as well. LSU has topped the NCAA in attendance for 23 years in a row, averaging over 10,000 per game.

By comparison, the highest average attendance for any minor league team is like 8,500. Certainly no minor leage team has topped 10,000. So while college baseball may not be popular, LSU baseball is more popular than any given minor league team. Possibly more popular than the Miami Marlins lol. And LSU constantly sends good talent to the majors. Currently, DeMahieu, Nola, and Bregman are big names.

Last edited by divemaster; 05-13-2019 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:41 PM
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As an LSU alum and fan, I will be the exception here, I think. I love college baseball. Specifically, SEC and LSU baseball. It was popular with my cohort as well. LSU has topped the NCAA in attendance for 23 years in a row, averaging over 10,000 per game.

By comparison, the highest average attendance for any minor league team is like 8,500. Certainly no minor leage team has topped 10,000. So while college baseball may not be popular, LSU baseball is more popular than any given minor league team. Possibly more popular than the Miami Marlins lol. And LSU constantly sends good talent to the majors. Currently, DeMahieu, Nola, and Bregman are big names.
There's a handful of (relatively speaking) big, successful, popular NCAA baseball teams, and your alma mater is one of them. As noted upthread, the major college baseball teams are mostly clustered in the south. Looking at the Wikipedia entry for the College World Series, if you sort the table on participants by number of appearances, it's strongly dominated by teams from the south, southwest, and California.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:26 AM
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for a long time there was no limit to the number of BB games college teams could play. Which meant teams in warm weather states would play 100 games starting in early January. They finally changed that so games start in mid Feb. and the limit is around 60. That gives some help to teams in colder areas to compete for players and tourney slots.
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:40 AM
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for a long time there was no limit to the number of BB games college teams could play. Which meant teams in warm weather states would play 100 games starting in early January. They finally changed that so games start in mid Feb. and the limit is around 60. That gives some help to teams in colder areas to compete for players and tourney slots.
I have family in Chapel Hill/Durham, NC I've caught a couple Duke baseball games in February and March.... it's still a little chilly. The northern states must be miserable.

I'm a baseball coach here in Canada and we can't even get on the fields before May!
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Old 05-14-2019, 09:06 AM
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Just thinking back to the time I was in college, baseball was inconvenient. The stadium wasn't on the main part of campus, making it a task to get there.

Plus, unless you were a hardcore baseball fan or some sort of total school spirit dork, there was almost always something more entertaining going on in/around campus than baseball, even if you didn't have to hike a mile to get to the stadium.

And finally, the post-season starts right as the school year ends for most students.

Plus, there's the perception that the best high school baseball players go to the minors rather than college (not necessarily true, but that's the thinking)
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:19 AM
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I have family in Chapel Hill/Durham, NC I've caught a couple Duke baseball games in February and March.... it's still a little chilly. The northern states must be miserable.

I'm a baseball coach here in Canada and we can't even get on the fields before May!
I looked up the schedule for Michigan baseball. From mid February to Mid march they play all their games on the road in warm places like Florida and Calif. Their first home game is March 14th. Other northern teams probably do the same thing.

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Old 05-14-2019, 11:26 AM
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Just thinking back to the time I was in college, baseball was inconvenient. The stadium wasn't on the main part of campus, making it a task to get there.

Plus, unless you were a hardcore baseball fan or some sort of total school spirit dork, there was almost always something more entertaining going on in/around campus than baseball, even if you didn't have to hike a mile to get to the stadium.

And finally, the post-season starts right as the school year ends for most students.

Plus, there's the perception that the best high school baseball players go to the minors rather than college (not necessarily true, but that's the thinking)
Yeah, you’re right and it’s hard for me to explain it. I guess busy planning spring break, going on spring break, making summer plans and arranging housing, and picking fall classes. And, of course that’s on top of the usual papers and exams, that baseball at FSU was really not on my radar even though I knew the teams were good. Plus, aside from the schedule, it never really got much coverage in the student paper.

It’s easy to plan your Saturdays around football, especially with most games at night. College basketball was never a main interest of mine, but we’d go to a few games, student season tickets for both football and basketball were less than $100, so that made it easy to go see a Duke or UNC if I happened to be free.

For baseball, I believe it was free admission with student ID or a very nominal charge and I’d pop in, sometimes
just for a few innings as a change of pace on a nice day and I needed a break from studying. But, yes, social life certainly never revolved around baseball and we certainly never had pregame drinks beforehand.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:14 AM
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for a long time there was no limit to the number of BB games college teams could play. Which meant teams in warm weather states would play 100 games starting in early January. They finally changed that so games start in mid Feb. and the limit is around 60. That gives some help to teams in colder areas to compete for players and tourney slots.
Pedantic mode: 56 regular season games (plus two games in the fall), not counting games played in Hawaii, and the first game can't be before the first Friday after 2/12 (2/13 in leap years). Note that conference tournaments must end before Memorial Day, as that is the traditional day when the tournament bracket is announced (this year, at noon Eastern on ESPNU).
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:40 AM
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Yeah, youre right and its hard for me to explain it. I guess busy planning spring break, going on spring break, making summer plans and arranging housing, and picking fall classes. And, of course thats on top of the usual papers and exams, that baseball at FSU was really not on my radar even though I knew the teams were good. Plus, aside from the schedule, it never really got much coverage in the student paper.

Its easy to plan your Saturdays around football, especially with most games at night. College basketball was never a main interest of mine, but wed go to a few games, student season tickets for both football and basketball were less than $100, so that made it easy to go see a Duke or UNC if I happened to be free.

For baseball, I believe it was free admission with student ID or a very nominal charge and Id pop in, sometimes
just for a few innings as a change of pace on a nice day and I needed a break from studying. But, yes, social life certainly never revolved around baseball and we certainly never had pregame drinks beforehand.

I hadn't really thought about the number of games, but I think that also had a lot to do with why it wasn't a big deal. Football was an EVENT- there were what... 6 home games back then, and they were always on the weekend, and usually either afternoon or night. Baseball games were all over the map- Wednesday nights, Fridays at noon, Mondays at 10:30 am, etc... and there were like 60 of them crammed into what seemed to be the second half of the second semester- between mid-February through mid-May. That's 20 games a month, which works out to a game every day and a half, but in practice meant every day with gaps of a few days for travel.

It's hard to really get worked up about something that almost happens every single day, especially in college, when you've got so many other things going on.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:13 PM
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Exactly. Here’s FSU’s schedule. While most of the games do fall on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, there’s also a bunch of games during the week.

https://seminoles.com/sports/basebal...eason/2018-19/

As you said, football is an event and attending or watching your team draws people who are there for the social aspect just as much as for the football. It’s fun to get dressed up in your college colors, perhaps have a few drinks, and enjoy all the ceremony associated with the game even if you don’t have much knowledge of the sport.
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