Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Left On Base

TigerBlog had never heard of Vin Mazzaro before last night, and it's not going out on a limb to suggest that Mazzaro would prefer to have remained anonymous.

For those who missed it, Mazzaro pitched for the Kansas City Royals last night - and ended up being sent to the minors after the game.

Mazzaro's line: 11 hits, 14 runs, seven outs. Final score: Cleveland 19, Kansas City 1.

According to Stats.inc, no pitcher in Major League history has ever given up 14 runs and gotten fewer outs, at least as far back as the company's records go, which is 1919.

Mazzaro came into the game in the third inning, after KC starter Kyle Davies lasted only a third of an inning and reliever Nate Adcock got through the first and second before allowing a leadoff walk in the third.

Enter Mazzaro, who actually got a fly ball, strikeout and ground out to end the third, with the score 3-0 Indians.

The fourth? It didn't go as well. Mazzaro allowed 10 runs in the fourth, the final nine of which came with two outs. He gave up four more in the fifth before being taken out of the game - and sent to Triple-A Omaha.

Speaking of Omaha, that'll be the site for the College World Series, as it always is. The CWS could run as late as June 29 if it goes to a deciding game in the final series.

Princeton, of course, won the Ivy League baseball title nine days ago, and it's still almost two full weeks before the selections for the NCAA tournament will be announced.

The NCAA website has a list of all conference tournaments for Division I, and the last column lists the champion.

In the case of the Ivy League, it lists Princeton as the host for the tournament and Princeton as the champion.

In the case of every other league, it lists the dates for the upcoming tournaments, some of which won't be played until Memorial Day weekend.

Ivy League baseball struggles with this every year. The entire league season is played in a five-weekend window, the first two of which are the crossover weeks between the two divisions and the final three of which are four games against each team in the division.

The next weekend is the Ivy League championship series. Then the wait begins.

Unfortunately for the Ivy League, there's not much that can be done about it. League rules prohibit regular-season competition when schools are in final exams, and exams start in early May throughout the league.

Pushing the start date back would be great, if possible. Games could be played in better weather, and the champion wouldn't have to wait around for an excruciating period before playing in the NCAAs.

Baseball, more than any other game, is one where a huge break is problematic. Teams don't want to have a long period of rest before big games. All that does is mess up the timing of the hitters and the arm strength of the pitchers.

It's difficult for a team to stay fresh with this much time off. There are only so many intra-squad games that you can play, and, of course, there are also final exams here to deal with.

TigerBlog thinks that one way to help the situation might be to expand the Ivy League playoffs, from two teams to four.

The Patriot League, for instance, has four teams in its tournament. The first week, there are two best-of-three semifinal series, and now the two remaining teams - Navy and Army - play in the championship best-of-three series. These games are played at the higher seeds.

Maybe the Ivy League could do that.

With two divisions, there could be crossover series, although that would require greater travel. Maybe the top two in each division could play each other again and have the winners meet in the final.

Of course, this would involve games being played during exam periods, so it probably wouldn't work.

It appears that since the NCAA made the decision to back its baseball tournament up so far, the Ivy League can't really do anything.

Not that that helps Princeton.

TigerBlog saw Scott Bradley yesterday outside of Caldwell Field House, and it took him a second to remember that Bradley's team still has its NCAA shot in front of it.

Far, far in front.

When TB mentioned it to Bradley, the veteran baseball coach did what he always does, chuckled and made a joke of it.

Hey, his team will still get to go to a regional.

Just not anytime soon.

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