Running a summer baseball team is an expensive, time-consuming job, usually performed in anonymity. So if a manager shows up at a tournament and gets a few free meals and hospitality, it makes a good impression.
The NBC World Series changed its format this summer, requiring two teams to play off in the first week for two spots in the 16-team Championship Week bracket. The format, at least among the teams playing late in the week, is working well. As intended, it can help some teams with costs by shortening their stay and it adds some drama to the first week with an immediate goal to play for. On Wednesday, the El Dorado Broncos became the first team to advance. On Thursday, the San Diego Force beat Cape Girardeau (Mo.) for the second spot.
San Diego manager Brian Basteyns would like some tweaks to the criteria for assigning teams to the final week. His team won a qualifying tournament and their league and got relegated to the first week. Even with that issue, he called this tournament the best in his six years at the NBC.
“We’re getting really good crowds, even with the weather,” he said. “It’s the same competition, whether it’s the first week or the second week. It’s a lot of the same teams and everybody is good.”
Perhaps more important, the teams like the moves that help their budget. The NBC is serving donated meals to teams after some games; starting Monday, every team will get one. Every team is assigned an ambassador to answer questions during their stay.
“Every meal you can generate without going into the till is an advantage to you,” Cape Girardeau manager Jess Bolen said. “It makes it a friendlier tournament.”
Basteyns credited the NBC with improving its customer service. The Force takes 35-40 people out to eat and at roughly $10 a person, it adds up quickly to a big expense.
“It’s a huge difference,” he said. “The team meals are fun. They went through those couple days with all the rain and all the push-backs and things went pretty smooth and they got all those games in.”
NBC operations manager Kevin Jenks said he is getting good feedback from teams and fans, many of whom like the first bracket that creates a prize early in the tournament. The rain hurt crowds early in the tournament. El Dorado’s presence helped the gate rebound in Wednesday’s winners bracket final.
“There seems to be more energy from the teams,” he said. “They like that there is that sense of urgency placed on it, even though they’re viewed as a first-week team trying to qualify into Championship Week.”
On the books
The two teams that advance to Championship Week start with an 0-0 record. Wins and losses don’t carry forward. The statistics do, which will create challenges for voting for individual awards and compiling NBC records.
Teams and players from the first week get an opportunity to pile up big numbers. How will those numbers and performances be weighed against teams and players who start on Friday in Championship Week? Jenks said those decisions are still to be made. Creating new categories or adding an asterisk is a possibility.
“There are things we know we will be evaluating when we’re finished,” he said.
El Dorado cruised through the first week with a 4-0 record. The Broncos hit .331, best among first-week teams, and compiled a ERA of 1.36, second-best among the 16 teams.
As usual, the wood bats produced a tournament where pitching rules. Entering Thursday’s game, the teams combined for a .246 batting average with five home runs in 28 games. The pitchers compiled a 3.22 ERA, striking out 353 batters and walking 199 in 500 1/3 innings.
Force 7, Capahas 3
|Cape Girardeau||San Diego|
|Kimball 2b||5||0||0||0||Loud 2b||4||0||0||0|
|Caveness cf||4||0||1||0||Israel 2b||0||0||0||0|
|Parmley ss||3||2||1||0||Williams rf||5||2||3||1|
|Campbell 1b||3||1||2||1||Boggan 1b||3||0||2||0|
|Connor 3b||4||0||0||0||Schulz dh||3||0||1||0|
|Hagedorn c||3||0||2||2||Nordgren 3b||3||1||1||2|
|Blum rf||4||0||0||0||Esser lf||4||1||1||0|
|Bennett dh||4||0||1||0||Miramontes ss||3||0||1||2|
|Fieldhouse lf||2||0||0||0||Walters c||2||1||0||0|
|Pewitt ph||1||0||0||0||Scheiwe cf||4||2||2||1|
E— Nordgren (1), Miramontes (2). DP— San Diego 2. LOB— Cape Girardeau 7, San Diego 9. 2B— Caveness (2), Hagedorn (2), Williams (1), Miramontes (1). 3B — Scheiwe (1). SB — Parmley (4). SF — Nordgren (1).
|Demar W, 1-0||5 2/3||4||1||1||1||1|
WP — Bartels. Umpires—Home, Don Rolfe; first, Tony D’Aquano; second, Doug McCluer.
Capahas 9, Generals 8
|Ozark||302||000||201||—||8 12 1|
|Cape Girardeau||001||202||22x||—||9 13 2|
W — Wright. L — Reed.