A graphic shown on ESPN during the deciding game of the College World Series showed how the event has been dominated by Southern and West Coast schools.
One of the commentators noted that the warmer weather allows those schools to get a jump, but that the advantage could lessen in the coming years.
The NCAA instituted several rule changes before the 2008 season. One created a uniform start date for all schools. Teams can't practice before Feb. 1, and games next season won't be allowed to start until Feb. 22.
The Southern schools typically kick off their seasons in late January or early February.
So does this equal the playing field?
I don't think so. What little advantage schools in warmer climates enjoy is not offset by boxing in the season so that teams have to play multiple midweek games in addition to weekend series.
The dominance of the Southern and West Coast schools doesn't come from an early start to the season. It's just where baseball is taken more seriously. It's the same reason all the NCAA ice hockey champions are from Minnesota, Maine and Massachusetts. It's not just the climate -- the difference is in how the athletes are brought up.
Lacrosse is only just now catching on in the South. It's been huge in the Northeast for a long time.
When I was in Philadelphia last summer, I was trying to talk to someone about the College World Series and he just gave me a funny look.
"People here don't really care about college baseball," he told me. "But they go nuts for lacrosse."
My roommate in Philly was from Toronto. We had to do some negotiating when the NCAA Super Regional that I wanted to watch clashed with the Stanley Cup.
It's a matter of preference. Moving the start date up is not going to lead to any schools from cooler climates winning an NCAA baseball championship.
What it does do is make for more juggling for coaches as they scramble to balance their lineup and pitching rotation with more midweek games.
This and that
- The inaugural "Tip a GreenJacket" luncheon was a success. The event brought in more than $2,600 for Golden Harvest Food Bank, the equivalent of 10,520 meals for the needy, according to a news release.
The luncheon was held at Stonecrest Southern Steakhouse in Evans, and included appearances by several Augusta GreenJackets players.
The players served food to those who ponied up for the meal. Fans had the opportunity to win sports memorabilia.
- Chip Allen, of Evans, won the 10-11 age division of the Georgia Junior Golf Tour event at Highland Walk Golf Course. Allen shot 78-75 to finish at 9 over. Appling's Alex Shead finished third after rounds of 78-80, and Will Watson, of Evans, finished fifth.
- Former Greenbrier High School football player Ryan Bowers, now a defensive back with the Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena Football League, will play on ESPN2 on Monday at 9:30 p.m. for the Rampage's wild card playoff game with the Arizona Rattlers.
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