Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Friday musings on college baseball, speeding up MLB, the Oscars and football in LA

It’s cold. It’s windy. It’s cloudy. And it’s opening day for the Wichita State Shockers at Eck Stadium.
It’s cold. It’s windy. It’s cloudy. And it’s opening day for the Wichita State Shockers at Eck Stadium.

▪ Good afternoon. I’m a bit late with the musings today. I’m doing them from the press box at Eck Stadium where I’m taking in Wichita State’s home-opening doubleheader against Texas State. It’s cold and it’s windy and the crowd is sparse.

▪ It’s a shame, really, because opening day, even at the college level, should be a big deal. Fans shouldn’t have to wear stocking caps and gloves and have their hands in their pockets. Feb. 20 is clearly far too early to be playing college baseball anywhere but the south and the west. And the way the crazy weather is acting these days, it’s even a stretch in some of those locales.

▪ Unfortunately, not enough decision makers in college sports take baseball seriously enough to strongly consider a change in season. Lots of things would have to change, mostly playing at least part of the season during the summer when school is out. But isn’t that worth considering? Isn’t it worth changing? I go back and forth on this issue, mostly because I would feel bad for our beat writer, Paul Suellentrop, having to give up some of his summer covering Shocker baseball. That’s how compassionate I am. But baseball in February is just silly.

▪ Speaking of potential changes in college sports, I’m reading more and more about the possibility of freshmen ineligibility. Remember, freshmen were not eligible for varsity sports until 1972 and it appears the Big Ten is leading a push – or perhaps a nudge – to consider giving freshmen a year of adaptation before putting them under the bright lights. This is going to be an interesting debate as it moves forward. It sounds like some other conference commissioners, including the Big 12’s Bob Bowslby, are willing to listen to the pros and cons.

▪ At first blush, I think it’ll be hard to put the freshmen eligibility genie back into the bottle. What happens to the one-and-done types in college basketball, for instance? I recognize that’s a small number of players, but everybody knows who they are and they’re among the most marketable athletes in college sports.

▪ I haven’t missed one second of American Idol this season. My wife and I debate the worthiness of the singers – we have different tastes – and the girl I picked to win it all from the preliminary rounds has already been eliminated. I enjoy judging talent, whatever the talent might be. As someone without much talent, I enjoy watching people who can sing, play an instrument, solve a mathematical puzzle, shoot a basketball, hit a baseball or create a work of art. I’m a voyeur for talent. What can I say?

▪ I’ve had two really bad days this week. Strange, because I can’t remember having bad days in a long, long time. Now I’ve had two in a row. I hope I’m not entering a life slump. Tomorrow will be better, right?

▪ The Academy Awards are Sunday night, which means I have to do everything I can to see four of the movies nominated for Best Picture before the show. I think I have three of them – Birdman, The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game – covered. But I’m not sure how I’m going to see Whiplash. Anyone have a bootleg copy?

▪ I get asked a lot about the progress of League 42, the non-profit youth baseball league I’m involved with. Well, we have more than 300 kids (ages 5-14) registered for the 2015 season. If you’re interested in coaching in our league, please let me know. We always need coaches who want to help kids.

▪ Kudos to Major League Baseball for taking steps to speed up the game. The new rules aren’t going to change the pace of games overnight, but they’re a start. And they’re also a reminder to players to get things going. No more stepping out of the box to re-adjust gloves after every single pitch. That’s ridiculous. Games that last more than three hours, on average, are ridiculous. I understand that baseball has its own rhythm, one that differentiates it from other games. There is no clock in baseball, which is part of its romance. But the romance has turned a little sour over the years and the new speed-up rules should help with an understanding that wasting time is no longer going to be tolerated. It’s great to let the game breathe. But there’s a fine line between breathing and gasping for breath.

▪ Remember, our very own National Baseball Congress World Series has made due with a pitch clock (20 seconds) for many years now. And it’s been a great addition. Everybody knows what to expect and it’s rarely even an issue. Credit the late, great innovator, Hap Dumont, for being decades ahead of his time when it comes to moving baseball along.

▪ Get ready for a lot of Alex Rodriguez coverage over the next few weeks. I don’t like it any more than you do, but it’s going to happen as he reports to camp with the New York Yankees and tries to carve out a niche. I wish A-Rod would go away, but that’s not happening. And I really wish he would stop issuing statements and handwritten apologies that don’t specifically tell us what he’s apologizing for. A-Rod is becoming A-Old.

▪ I hope Chris Bosh can overcome his blood-clot issue. If he can, the Miami Heat look like a potential threat in the NBA’s Eastern Conference after the acquisition of point guard Goran Dragic from the Phoenix Suns. Right? I have to admit, I haven’t followed the NBA very closely – I never do until the playoffs. But I know Dragic is the kind of point guard who would have helped Miami win four championships with LeBron James instead of two.

▪ It appears there is a chance all 32 NFL teams will be playing in Los Angeles soon. How about the fact that not only is St. Louis contemplating a move to LA, but now so are the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, who would potentially share a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson if they can’t work out new stadium deals in their cities before the end of the year. LA hasn’t had a team since the Rams and Raiders left in 1995. I hope there’s a way for the Rams to stay in St. Louis since I’m a quasi-Rams fan (I like them when they’re good, which is rare). There is a stadium plan in St. Louis. It’s going to be interesting to see who winds up in LA.

▪ Thanks for reading. My day is already getting better and thanks for asking. I know you care. Have a great weekend, even if it snows.