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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Alright, David Albright...

...I'm not taking your ridiculous column on ESPN.com ("College World Series should hit the road," 6/22/07) sitting down, you douche. Rather, I am going to take it on Ken Tremendous-style and debunk your entire non-argument, pathetic little paragraph by pathetic little paragraph.

Change of venue could broaden College World Series' appeal
By David Albright
Updated: June 22, 2007

The time has come for the College World Series to leave Omaha.

GA: Sweet opening paragraph. When did it become trendy for sports columnists (I'm looking at you, Tom Shattel!) to use one-sentence paragraphs all the time, again?

There, it needed to be said.

GA: Two in a row? Dave, buddy--we've got to work on your creativity. I mean, your total bad-ass, "I'm a rebel, and am going to say outrageous things to grab the readers' attention!" intro is probably necessary to get anyone to read this garbage, but come on man...you sound like you should be on "Around The Horn" or something (by the way, not a compliment. I'm sure you understand.).

And I did so at the risk of never again being able to show my face at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, or take a stroll through the Old Market, or drink in the slice of Americana that is Zesto's.

GA: Um, yep. Pretty much.

And I also did so at the risk of seriously offending some of my ESPN brethren who (to put it kindly) wax poetic about the prospect of spending nearly two weeks in Nebraska every year.

But seriously, why should Omaha have a stranglehold on one of the premier college sports championship events?

Some would argue that it is -- or has become -- a top-tier event because of everything that Omaha brings to the table each June. And they would be right. Seemingly everyone associated with this event is as welcoming and hospitable as the chamber of commerce ads would lead you to believe.

GA: Alright, Dave, you're losing me a bit here: you're making the argument for keeping the CWS in Omaha. I thought this was about moving the CWS out of Omaha. Let's see what you've got waiting for me in the next paragraph.

But that doesn't mean another community couldn't take all of the great things that already exist about the CWS and put its own stamp on the annual festival.

GA: Totally. Except for Omaha having the perfect-sized stadium whose empty seats (12,000 to 18,000 a game) are filled with people from Omaha. Like, the only people on the planet that care to watch as many college baseball games as possible in a two-week period. Oh, and except for the fact that Omaha built this event, and NOT the other way around.

UC Irvine's extra-inning heroics would be a great story in any town in America. So, too, would Oregon State's run from nowhere to last year's national title.

GA: Yeah, that's why it's on ESPN.

It's no different than George Mason's historic run to the 2006 Final Four in Indianapolis.

Ah, Indy.

It's home base for the NCAA and it's constantly striving to be the "Amateur Sports Capital of the World" -- making it no surprise that the nonprofit Indiana Sports Corporation would love an opportunity to have a piece of the great story that the CWS has become.

Indianapolis also has Victory Field.

GA: Daaaaave--I thought we talked about the one sentence guys earlier, didn't we? I guess you're right, they really pound that point home. "Indianapolis also has Victory Field." Fuck me. You really woke me up in the middle of all this drivel. I forgot Indy had Victory Field. It is awesome. So awesome, I've never heard of it, along with 99.987% of Americans, and 97.89% of baseball fans*. Well, hopefully you'll give me some third-party opinions that hold up this ever-shakier argument of yours.

Opened in 1996 in a section of downtown that rivals everything Omaha has to offer, it is "the best of everything in one ballpark," according to Baseball America. And Sports Illustrated called it "the best minor league ballpark in America."

GA: Here's the hard-hitting, meat-of-the-argument stuff I was looking for! Indianapolis has a sweet minor league ballpark! Sweet Christ, how has the NCAA not thought of this! I mean, hello!!! The NCAA home offices are in Indy! What are they doing there? They have to have enough time after a long day of making college athletics as hard on college athletes as possible to realize that Victory Field kicks ass, don't they?

Dave, here's the bummer of the deal. There are a lot of sweet ballparks in America. In fact, Baseball America named Hawks Field in Lincoln the fourth-best college ballpark in America. It looks exactly like a mini-Victory Field. But guess what? There is no one in America--including anyone in Lincoln--trying to argue that because they have a sweet college baseball stadium, it should be the home of the College World Series.

And specifically for your argument and Victory Field...have you ever even researched this park? It's capacity is 15,500 (only 12,500 of which being permanent seats) and there is no parking, except random parking lots and peoples' yards. Sounds exactly like...Rosenblatt! Unless they decide to expand the field of teams participating in the CWS, it is looking like the NCAA would be bringing in 53% of paying fans into the games. And that is if they completely sell out every game, which flat-out would not happen. It doesn't even happen in Omaha. So, in other words...Indy is out. Sorry.

I don't care if the CWS moves to Indy. I really don't.

GA: Damn it, Dave...oh well, I guess you are showing you're impartial. You just need to see some change!

There are plenty of other great minor league parks that could host this event. There's AT&T Bricktown Ballpark (Oklahoma City), AutoZone Park (Memphis), Dell Diamond (Round Rock, Texas), Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Louisville Slugger Field and Zephyr Field (New Orleans).

GA: Really? Round Rock, Texas. Really. And New Orleans...well, I'll tell you what: when New Orleans can boast a population of Omaha's again, then we can talk. As for the others:

Bricktown. Great place, by all accounts. That's about it. It seats 13,066 (you can fit more than two of these guys in Rosenblatt), and more importantly, cannot even sell out Big XII Championship games. If they can't fill the place up to see the title game of Texas A&M and Baylor, why the hell would one think that they would go to see Cal-Irvine? There were 5,713 people there for the Big XII title game. I'll repeat that. There were 5,713 people there for the TITLE GAME. In Omaha, there were 17,000 people at a game on a Tuesday that started at 1:07 PM.

AutoZone. Besides the fact it is called AutoZone Park? I guess since it is in America's hotbed of baseball, Memphis. But, again, it holds 14,320 people. And, again, you can fit more than two of these into Rosenblatt.

Dell Diamond. Well, again: Round Rock, Texas? Really? I'm not even going to research the capacity, because it is not even worth it. In fact, I'm not even going to investigate the rest of your stupid locations, Dave, because it is a waste of time. There is--literally--no possible way to continue these incredible attendance records that are being set in Omaha at any of your "alternates." It is starting to sound like you're writing a column simply to be controversial and because you think the CWS should be played in other venues...offering not a single compelling argument to back up your opinion.

Let the record show that Rosenblatt Stadium, home to the Omaha Royals, is also a minor league park. And while it wouldn't be fair to call it a fixer-upper, the old ballyard on 13th Street clearly needs some fixing up.

GA: Something we can probably all agree on. Well done.

Rosenblatt has undergone nearly $35 million in renovations over the past two decades, with another $25 million proposed if College World Series of Omaha Inc. can get a commitment from the NCAA to host the Division I baseball championships beyond the current agreement that expires in 2010.

GA: Remind me again: is this column supposed to support the opinion of moving the CWS out of Omaha, or the other way around? My head is spinning at this point.

There's also been talk of putting the $25 million toward building a new ballpark in downtown Omaha, but the city politics and the prospect of leaving Rosenblatt may derail that idea before it ever really gets off the ground.

GA: Also true. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out. Now this is what I'm talking about, Dave! You're talking about issues that are actually plausible to write about! What is going to happen to The Johnny? How will this political theatre play out? How would all this money best be spent? You're starting to bring out some good stuff, Dave! Keep it up! Let's explore this some more!

For a radical idea, how about Chicago?

GA: Oh boy.

It's unlikely that an MLB ballpark would be available for the entire CWS run, but two stadiums could work. Play the elimination games on the South Side at U.S. Cellular Field and then move the championship series to Wrigley Field.

GA: Alright, you've hit a sensitive spot here, Dave. Everything is better at Wrigley Field. EVERYTHING. As has been said by many people before, you could open Wrigley Field up for lunch--with no game being played--and a solid 10,000 people would probably show up to eat.

That said, let's explore this a bit more. First of all, you completely took away my "there's no way any MLB team would willingly go on the road for over 2 weeks for a college tournament" argument--which deflates your entire point here--but we can go on. You're right, a championship game, along with winners' bracket games, would be fantastic at Wrigley. The players would love it, the coaches would love it, the fans would love it. But then you bring up...The Cell. Ah, The Cell. I am totally sure that South Siders would just cram that baby full and set off a few old-fashioned tire fires in celebration of having NCAA baseball loser-bracket games in South Chicago. Give me a break.

There's just no way this can happen. It is logistically impossible.

Go ahead and try to convince anyone that college baseball players wouldn't approach a shot at playing in front of the ivy-covered walls with the same fervor and zeal that they currently do in Omaha.

GA: Yeah, we get it. Wrigley Field is cooler than Rosenblatt. Holy shit, a revelation. Dave, hear this loud and clear: Wrigley Field is cooler than ANY ballpark ANYWHERE in America.

For its part, the NCAA has been relatively silent on the matter. Dennis Poppe, the managing director for baseball, told ESPN.com, "I guess when you have a commitment and a good relationship, it's kind of like a good marriage. Why would you look for another one?"

GA: Shocking. The only person injecting any sort of common sense into this argument is a man that makes a living working for the NCAA. Thanks, Dennis. Well said. It is a good marriage. In fact, I would argue it is a great marriage. It is a marriage that the couple worked really hard for many years to make work, and continue to work hard to make it work. And now, at the end of the day, things are perfect. The couple doesn't have to work as hard, have plenty of money, and now can concentrate on visiting the grandkids and taking cruises. Why ditch the old lady, marry a crazy 28-year-old chick who is just going to give you a STD and take all your money when everything is perfect as is? You don't. You enjoy what you have.

Rotating venues seems to work OK for the Final Fours and the Frozen Four, and those events are perennial sellouts. So why wouldn't it work for baseball?

GA: Because no one outside of Omaha gives two rat craps about college baseball. I thought we talked about this, Dave?

For the people who can imagine this event being played only in Omaha, the list of reasons could fill a book.

GA: What is the point of this column again?

Ultimately, the decision lies with the NCAA. And given the agendas, bureaucracy and conflicts involved, it's too early to tell how this will play out.

GA: This is kind of funny. Kind of like the JoeChats from Fire Joe Morgan, in which Joe answers every question with things like "I don't know, I haven't watched the Blue Jays enough this year to answer the question 'is Vernon Wells good?'."

Although it does bring out a white-knuckle fear of mine, knowing that things are left up to the NCAA to decide. SCARY!

The best of both worlds might be to institute a rotation that includes Omaha as a permanent fixture every two or three years.

GA: *looking around, confused*

That would open up the College World Series to some other great venues and cities while still keeping a renovated Rosenblatt and Omaha in the mix.

GA: *Stunned, glazed look, stumbling around the room* I thought the whole point of this retarded article was that the CWS needs to leave Omaha? Now you've decided that was completely retarded, so you need to retract a bit? "Well, I guess since I have debunked every argument I have brought up in the schizo column myself, I had probably back up and somehow include Omaha in my grand plan." Dave, you've left me speechless.

After all, there's only one Zesto's.

GA: You're right, and everyone at Zesto's hates you.

David Albright is the senior coordinator for college sports at ESPN.com and can be reached at david.albright@espn3.com.

*Not official polling data. As in, the author totally made up these numbers. But I'm guessing they're not far off.

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I'm officially dumber after reading this article. However, I did enjoy seeing Albright get lit up in comments on this masterpiece.

I think the thing that bothers me most about this article is how he actually justifies keeping the CWS in Omaha more than justifying moving it. For instance, when considering a rotating cast of ballparks he just says it should happen, not really saying why. Clearly not thinking about the fact that switching venues would no doubt cause the playoffs to be longer and forcing people to shell out more money to travel around following the series. Until, of course, it gets to it's last stop where there are only two teams left and only enough fans to fill the bleachers at a little league game.

But seriously. Mr. Albright, good "arguments".

And after attending the championship game this evening, I can honestly tell you that while the teams are represented well by folks from their respected colleges, I'm going to venture to say that over 75% of the people at the game were Omahans...ites...ers...whatever the hell it is.

Also, Congrats to the Beavs!

-The Brotha
There are actually three Zesto's by my count: The Blatt, Florence, and some inexplicably bad decision on 102nd and Military.

I'm still reasonably sure they all hate this guy, though.
GA thanks for throwing up this post...it's been an article that i have been wanting to talk about for a week.

Does anybody else think that it might actually be to Omaha's advantage if the series actually moved out of town for a year or two? I mean think about it...they move it for 1 year to Indy, 8,000 people show up for the championship game and the next year the NCAA is down on its knees blowing the Omaha mayor to take them back. Sometimes i think that if they just gave it up for a year they might end up having it come back to Omaha with O-town having a little more control over the whole deal. ***For the record i am not promoting that, i would hate to see it leave for even a year, but it is a thought.
I think that is an interesting thought, TJ, although if the opposite happened, it would be disasterous.

This wouldn't happen, though, because Omaha kicks ass.

We actually discuss this topic (kind of) in the first episode of Heavy Soul Radio, available for download as a podcast soon!

(Yes, I'm serious.)
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