Wichita State Shockers

Valley again opts for baseball tournament away from Wichita

The MVC officially gave the 2013 baseball tournament to Illinois State on Thursday when it announced championship sites, decided by a vote of school representatives.

That decision is not popular in Wichita, where the Shockers won’t host for a third straight season. Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen is on their side.

Rasmussen said Creighton didn’t bid on the 2013 tournament because it was WSU’s turn to host. Creighton hosted the 2011 tournament to open TD Ameritrade Park. The 2012 tournament begins Tuesday at Missouri State’s Hammons Field. In Rasmussen’s mind, those are the three schools that possess the facilities, fan support and history of success to deserve hosting. He said the vote went 6-3 for Illinois State, with Creighton, Missouri State and WSU against. One of the non-baseball schools (Drake or Northern Iowa) abstained and one voted for Illinois State.

Schools that don’t sponsor a sport can vote on where that sport’s championship is held.

“I’m disappointed it’s not at Wichita State,” Rasmussen said. “Too often, the vote is decided not based on quality of facilities, not based on quality of program, not based on number and quality of your fan support. It’s based on geography.”

WSU hosted the tournament 25 times since 1978, some of those years when it went to the regular-season champion. It requires a $25,000 minimum bid now, and Rasmussen says that is too low. Illinois State has improved its facility with a new stadium, that seats 1,000. Nice as it is, it’s a step down from stadiums used by WSU, Creighton and MSU. On Friday, the Big 10 put the Valley’s choice in contrast by announcing it will play at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, in 2013 and TD Ameritrade Park in 2014.

Rasmussen doesn’t like seeing tournaments rewarded on a rotation instead of merit.

“When Wichita State was getting (tournament) on almost every-year basis, we challenged our baseball team, our baseball program, our baseball supporters that we need to get better to have a chance to compete with Wichita State,” Rasmussen said. “If we wanted the conference tournament, our facility’s got to get better, our program’s got to get better, our support’s got to get better. If you’re going to have a pure rotation, what’s the pressure on schools?”

WSU coach Gene Stephenson no doubt agrees, although he declined to comment beyond saying he was very, very disappointed in the decision.

Take away the fake — Major League Baseball is messing with one of WSU pitching coach Brent Kemnitz’s favorite plays.

The Playing Rules Committee is recommending the fake-to-third, throw-to-first pickoff become a balk. While many baseball fans mock the move, it’s one WSU uses effectively. Most famously, Greg Brummett used it to pick off a Texas runner early in the 1989 College World Series title game and escape a jam. The key to the move is convincing the runners the pitcher is throwing home before he steps toward third, then wheels to first.

Kemnitz is offended at the nation of banning the play, which can also be used to shorten leads at first. Pro baseball and college baseball don’t always play by the same rules, but college often follows the pro game.

“In 100 years of baseball, why are they changing the rules?” Kemnitz asked. “My phone’s blown up with baseball people making sure I’m aware of it. I don’t get the rationale.”

If baseball is going to eliminate a weapon used by pitchers, Kemnitz wants something in return.

“If they’re doing one that hurts a pitcher, well then let’s do one that helps a pitcher,” he said. “We’ll even it up. What I’ve chosen is that if you hit a guy, it’s just a ball.”

Worth noting — Fans can complete a survey about Shocker games at goshockers.com. The athletic department is gathering opinions on tickets, promotions and other facets of game management.… WSU junior Courtney Reinke was named the school’s spring recipient of the MVC’s Good Neighbor Award. Reinke, a jumper on the track and field team, volunteers for several organizations, includig the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Front Porch Alliance and the Covenant Presbyterian Church Youth Group.