We caught up with Eric Sorenson, CSTV’s National Baseball columnist and college baseball expert and asked him a bunch of questions about the current state of college baseball.
Very honored to be on the Cornnation.com site, especially since I'm a charter member of the Corn Nation to begin with.
As a backdrop, I live in Los Angeles now, but grew up in Omaha, within sniffing distance of the Kellogg's plant on 96th (my fave childhood memory). My walls were always plastered with pictures of Jarvis Redwine, I.M. Hipp, Mike Rozier, John C. Johnson and Benoit Benjamin, even after I moved to Louisiana before high school.
And yes, I'm both a Nebraska AND Creighton fan... I know, so sue me.
CN: Do people give you much crap about being a college baseball guy instead of a MLB guy?
Not really. Keep in mind, I'm bigger than most people. So if I just give them that Dick Butkus-like glare, it's no problem.
Actually, Los Angeles is such a huge pro baseball town and not such a big college town at all, with the possible exception of USC football and UCLA basketball. So yes, I get a few raised eyebrows like, "colleges have baseball teams?" from people here in Fakeland from time to time. But let's face it, just like almost any other sport, college is way, way better than pro.
CN: If you had to tell someone why they should be paying attention to college baseball instead of MLB what would that be?
CN: Anything that drives you nuts about college ball you'd like to see changed?
A lot of things drive me nuts about college baseball. You don't want me to start a list, do you?
Well, the abbreviated form would be...
1- the RPI
2- the RPI
3- the RPI
4- The fact that teams can play 50 home games against mostly nobodies in pre-conference and still get an insanely-high RPI and play at home during the post-season. That system is warped.
5- The 11.7 scholarship limit.
6- This whole APR crap that I don't fully understand yet.
7- The fact that players change schools like they change underwear.
8- I know it's a dream at this point, but wooden bats would be alright by me. Though I don't hate aluminum.
CN: How long have you been doing college baseball coverage for CSTV?
I started out in the late 90s at FansOnly.com (which would eventually become CollegeSports.com and then CSTV.com) and at CBSSportsline.com. I did weekly baseball garb for both of them for free - mostly because I got sick of not seeing any college baseball coverage out there in web-land. CSTV has been around since '04 and I've been with them from its inception. Sometimes I think they just keep me around out of pity.
CN: College baseball coverge has certainly improved over the past few years, but there's still a ways to go. What would you like to see to increase coverage?
Well, first off, seeing CSTV in more and more homes and cable systems is exciting to me, I dig the growth they've shown. Especially since CSTV really embraces sports like baseball. And ESPNU has helped step things up too.
But I still have a vision in my mind of a GameDay-like set at different college baseball venues each Saturday, with me, Brian DeCaussin, Glenn Tanner and Mark Etheridge (each with a different, distinct accent might I add) arguing endlessly about college baseball.
Besides that, I like a lot of what I've seen in the growth of college baseball coverage over the last few years.
CN: If you had to pick a CWS winner right now?
Great-googily-mooly! You want me to pick a winner now? Oi vey. That's not easy.
But, if someone threatened my dog if I didn't give an answer, I'd have to go with Texas right now. Mainly because of the usual deep pitching staff, the hot bats and of course, the Augie Factor.
Man, it's also hard to pick against Vanderbilt's wicked pitching and knack for never being out of a game. I also like Rice, now that Cole St. Clair has come back (albeit their offense has to quit draggin' ass). And if ASU's pitching quits freakin' out from time-to-time, they'll bludgeon their way to the title.
Want a darkhorse? San Diego. But hell, how much of a darkhorse can they be? They beat Texas on the road two-of-three.
CN: The Big Ten, well - Michigan and Minnesota - look much stronger now than they have in year's past. Do either of these teams have a snowball's chance of making it to Omaha?
Oh I really think they DO. Keep in mind, it wouldn't be unheard of for them to make a run at making it to Omaha. Don't forget about teams like San Jose State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Southwest Missouri State the last few years. And the Big 10 has made it tantalizingly close recently. Ohio State has twice been in the Super Regionals (once coming within a few outs of making it), as has Penn State.
So teams just like Minnesota and Michigan that come from that same lot in life, so to speak, make it to Omaha all the time.
And both of them have some big-time non-conference wins this year, so they've proven they can play at that level. It's just a matter of getting hot at the right time and a decent regional assignment.
CN: Wood Bats. Crack! Aluminum Bats. Tink! If aluminum bats could make another sound besides tink, what would you like it to be?
Hmmmm. Good Q.
I'd like the sound to be of a cash register cha-ching... in other words, making more money for the sport. Secondly, I'd like it to make the sound of a hammer and a nail, to show that more and more teams are building facilities like Nebraska and Penn State have in recent years.
Hope that answer wasn't too "out of the box" for you.
Hey Cornnation-man, I know you didn't ask for this, but while I'm in this forum I can't resist...
My Personal Five Favorite State of Nebraska Sports Moments:
1- 1978: Rick Apke's at-the-buzzer shot that beat Larry Bird and Indiana State in the Missouri Valley Final.
2- 1991: Creighton making the College World Series (3-2 loss to Wichita was incredible)
3- 1994/5: Cory Schlesinger's second Touchdown run vs. Miami. YES!
4- 1978: Billy Sims' fumble at the 3-yard line.
5- 2005: Nebraska's third College World Series appearance. (The first two were bummers, this one included that unreal game vs. Arizona State. Yes NU lost, but for me it was one of the best games in allllllll those years of going to the CWS)