There aren't a lot of guys who dedicate themselves to covering a college baseball nationally. There are Kendall Rogers at Perfect Game USA and Aaron Fitt at Baseball America, and then there's Eric Sorenson at CollegeBaseballToday.com.
About Sorenson - he doesn't spare you bad language because you can't take it, and he doesn't pull punches. He's also from Omaha, and as he says about himself:
Johnny Rosenblatt is my father. Annie Savoy is my mother. And I’m their bastard son.
We caught up with E right before the start of college baseball season so we get the lowdown on what might be happening this season.
- Last season Indiana became the first Big Ten team to get to the CWS since Michigan in 1984. How big (pun!) was this for Big Ten baseball's reputation?
Well for the B1G's "reputation" it was quite large. But I put that in quotes because unlike every other national writer, they already had a good reputation with me. I didn't need convincing. I know the Big 10 is pretty freakin' tough, even before Indiana's big run last year. But it was great to see the Hoosiers bust through last year, especially since I like head coach Tracy Smith a lot. He's a real cool dude. I like to see good people succeed in this sport. There are a lot of fakes out there in the coaching community, but he's the real deal.
- New facilities, new coaching staffs, what else does the Big Ten have to do to improve their reputation? Is it just up to winning now?
Yeah probably. But I say that with some trepidation because Big 10 teams have won plenty before and gotten almost no credit for it. Whether its because of the crappy teams they have to play in the midweek that pulls down their RPI or people thinking their good performances in the Regionals before Indiana's run last year was just a magical series of flukes.
- We've had new bats, new RPI rules and a new home for the CWS. What's "the thing" going to be this year that gets everyone into a tizzy?
(Roll the eyes). Who knows? Maybe it'll be the length of the pitcher's shoelaces? I've gotten to the point of "just make your little rules and equipment changes and I'll write about what happens on the field." But with this piece of crap weather we're having right now, maybe they'll consider moving the season to a March-to-July season. As much as I hate hot weather, that'd still be really cool if they did.
- Indiana appears to be a pretty clear favorite to win the Big Ten. Who's in the best position to challenge them?
Well, even though the Hoosiers are prohibitive favorites, it still won't be a cake walk and they'll take some shots to the armor. Lots of good, young coaches are going to make a difference in this conference going forward. I look forward to seeing Ohio State start to build to a special season, since they've got a couple of injuries healed for this year. Erik Bakich is really building some momentum for Michigan too, once their recruiting class from this year gets some experience they could do some serious damage. Michigan State should get back to contention this year and you can never count out Minnesota. John Anderson seems to have his best teams during seasons they aren't expected much of.
- Darin Erstad.
Love that dude. Seriously, I think he's going to work out fine. He's got a great recruiting class coming in and some returnees that'll make them legit. I've got them second in the Big 10 for this year. But my favorite thing about him is that he came to the conference as UNL's coach fresh on the heels of a lot of "pity us" talk from Coach Anderson and particularly the embarrassing comments of Big 10 commissioner Jim Delaney - who I still don't see how he keeps his job - and Darin just said, "We're not going to make any excuses. We're going to play the best schedule we can and do our talking with our winning. No crybabies."
That's exactly what this conference needed.