Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Visitor’s Dugout: BC Interruption

Sometimes it’s good to know what’s going on in the minds of the guys across the field. So from time to time, AUPPL will lend the floor to his week’s opponents to get an insider’s look at the next Auburn opponent. First up, the guys at BC Interruption:


PPL: Boston is a baseball town, does that extend to BC Baseball?



BCI: In general, New England is a great area steeped in baseball tradition. The first intercollegiate baseball game actually took place in Massachusetts between Amherst and Williams back in 1859. In addition to the Red Sox, you have a lot of great minor league teams including the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA), New Britain Rock Cats (AA), Portland Sea Dogs (AA), New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA) and the Lowell Spinners (A). Massachusetts is also home to the Cape Cod Baseball League where a lot of emerging stars and college baseball players spend the summer.

On the other hand, Boston College is by no means a baseball school. While the Eagles have made huge strides in becoming competitive in NCAA baseball since moving to the ACC in 2005, BC still has a long way to go. One of the biggest steps towards increasing the profile of baseball at BC was the Eagles first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1967. Their 25 inning epic with #1 Texas in the NCAA Regionals – now the longest game in NCAA baseball history – helped to further put BC baseball on the map.

Building on the success of last season, head coach Mik Aoki again has high expectations for this team. Winning the Beanpot, ACC Tournament or making the NCAA Regionals for the second straight season will help further the image of BC baseball as a big sport on campus. In addition, the new baseball stadium the school is planning on building on our new Brighton Campus will also raise the profile of BC baseball. Right now though, BC baseball is well distanced by football, basketball and hockey in terms of student interest and attention.



PPL: How does the weather affect BC? Most northern schools spend the majority of their opening season essentially living out of buses and playing games in the south. Do you think it hurts BC that it essentially cuts their home schedule in half?



BCI: As you mentioned, most northern schools spend the majority of the early season on the road. In the ACC this season, five schools start the season on the road – Boston College (20 straight on the road), Virginia Tech (6), Duke (4), Maryland (3) and Virginia (3). The remaining programs spend a large number of their first games at home, notably Miami (18 straight games in Florida), Georgia Tech (18 straight at home), Florida State (17 straight in Florida) and Clemson (14 straight in South Carolina).

I don’t necessarily think this is a detriment to BC’s baseball team. In fact, I would argue that this can help make the team better as they learn to play in hostile environments on the road early in the season. When BC first goes on the road in ACC play (March 12-14 at Miami), the Eagles will have plenty of road games under their belt and will be better prepared to play on the road. In contrast, many ACC programs will go on the road for the first time in ACC play.

There is of course a large financial burden on BC and other northern schools incurred by sending teams on the road for the first 4-5 weekends of the season, but I don’t think that this gives too much disadvantage to BC. That being said, 20 straight games on the road seems a bit excessive. Maryland’s home opener vs. Delaware is this Friday, where the high temperature in College Park is supposed to be 38 degrees. In Chestnut Hill, it’s also going to be 38 degrees on Friday. BC plays two games in New England as part of those 20 straight to start the season (at UConn and at Bryant) in a few weeks. The Eagles could theoretically play some of those games at home, too.

The issue that affects BC baseball more than playing 20 straight on the road to start the season is the disappearance of other NCAA baseball programs in New England. This makes it much harder to schedule non-conference games early in the season against regional opponents. Over the last 10+ years, you’ve seen Boston University, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont all shutter the doors of their baseball program.



PPL: Who are some famous BC baseball alums that Auburn fans might know?

BCI: For a program that has only made the NCAA Tournament 2 times in the last 40+ years, predictably BC doesn’t have many ties to the Majors. The Eagles currently have two players on MLB rosters. Joe Martinez (BC ’05) is a relief pitcher with the San Francisco Giants who, only a few days into the 2009 season, took a Mike Cameron line drive to the head. Martinez returned to the Giants bullpen later that season. Chris Lambert (BC ’04) is a starting pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, who appeared in only 6 games last season.

In addition to Martinez and Lambert, Tony Sanchez (BC ’09) - an integral part of BC’s NCAA Tournament run last season - was the #3 overall draft pick in this year’s MLB Entry draft. He is a catcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system.

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