We caught up with Aaron Fitt, Baseball America's college baseball expert and asked him a bunch of questions about the college baseball coverage provided by BA, and some questions about what he'd change,
CN: Aaron, can you please describe your role at BA for our college baseball fans?
I'm the lead college baseball writer for Baseball America. We publish a magazine every two weeks, chock full of coverage from nearly every level of baseball, from the majors to the minors to independent ball, from college to high school, and extensive coverage of the draft. We also have a ton of daily content on the web.
CN: I'm one of those people who's interested in college baseball, but not a fan of MLB because of all of the non-baseball issues (steroids, contracts, revenue sharing, etc etc etc) that seem to get in the way of enjoying baseball. What can BA provide for me, and will you guys ever provide a subscription or issue just for college baseball fans?
We have had discussions about a college-only subscription, but there are no immediate plans for that in the works. Fortunately, the bulk of our online college coverage is available free of charge, including an extensive Weekend Preview every Friday and a horde of weekend recap material every Monday, including the Top 25 tracker, a college podcast, college chat, and my weekly Three Strikes column. All the content on the College Blog is also available for free.
CN: What is it about college baseball that makes it more interesting than the minors or MLB (other forms of baseball).
So much of what happens in the minors is player-development driven. Few people really care who wins or loses in the minors, it's all about developing players for the next level. Even the fans in attendance often don't know the score, they're just taking in some wholesome family entertainment.
College baseball has that passion--both in the stands and on the field. Most college players aren't going to play professional ball and only care about winning, and even the ones who do advance to the pro ranks still care deeply about representing their schools. The College World Series is a prize unto itself that no minor league championship can even approach.
CN: How many different college parks have you seen, and is there a favorite?
I still haven't been to the parks that have the best reputations--Arkansas, Baylor, Auburn, etc. I just came back from the West Coast, where I was most impressed by Southern Cal's facility, though the Trojans have a hard time filling seats because there's so much to do in that area. But the new USC Hall of Fame is beautiful, the entranceway is impressive, and the food was solid. I also thought Clemson's Doug Kingsmore Stadium was beautiful, and South Carolina's Sarge Frye Field is a wonderful place to watch a game, though it's about to get a facelift.
CN: If you could change something about college baseball, what would it be?
More scholarships. The 11.7 limit puts a huge burden on teams to stretch their dollars as far as possible, and so few players have full rides that only the wealthier players can afford to play college baseball in many cases. People complain about the lack of black players in college baseball--well, if you were an elite athlete and you could get a full ride to play football or basketball, or pay 75 percent to play baseball, which would you choose?
More scholarships would solve so many of the problems in college baseball. If teams had 20 scholarships to dole out, it would be easy to tell players they can't transfer freely. I don't feel comfortable with the arrangement the NCAA board of directors recently approved, that requires all scholarship players to receive at least 33 percent aid. All that does is restrict flexibility, which is so important in baseball because of the draft.
CN: There are so many different roads to a pro career in baseball. Why is college baseball a good choice for a young player who might want to have a career in MLB?
A lot of players simply aren't ready for professional ball after high school. Going to college can allow players to polish their games, add strength, and benefit from quality coaching. Plus, it's hard to reach the major leagues, and it's awfully nice to have a college education to fall back on if you don't make it.
CN: Thanks for taking the time to join us, Aaron.
I'd recommend to anyone that wants to follow some great college baseball coverage to use the links above to check out what Baseball America is providing. If you're a baseball fanatic you might want to consider a subscription. Don't forget to subscribe to their weekly college baseball podcast - it's definitely worth a listen!