/Mississippi magic No, here, college baseball really does mean more

Mississippi magic No, here, college baseball really does mean more

As of this writing, there is an 80 percent chance for rain Saturday and Sunday at Starkville. This is where Stanford will face Mississippi State in one the eight Super Regional Series. You can bet that the Dudy Noble grounds crew will get a workout. Best bet no. 2: State fans will wear their rain gear and turn out to cheer on their Bulldogs, regardless of the forecasted thunderstorms. Fayetteville in Arkansas is a better place for weather, as Ole Miss plays against the Razorbacks. The forecast calls for sunny skies Saturday through Monday, with rain expected to leave northwest Arkansas later Friday. Super Regionals for Mississippi teams will be held Saturday and Sunday, with the third game being played Monday if necessary. The biggest news for this observer is that two of 16 remaining college baseball teams are from Mississippi, which has a population of less than 3 million. California has two remaining teams, Stanford and No. UCLA is the No. 1 seed. Only North Carolina, with its three teams (Duke East Carolina and North Carolina), is home to more teams than Mississippi (population 10.4million). Climate and population would suggest that Florida (21.6million) and Texas (278.7 million), would be the leaders. Not Florida (Florida State), Texas (Texas Tech), combine to form two Super Regional teams. This is the same as Willie Morris, who used to say that “poor, ol’ Mississippi” was the name of the third Mississippi team. Closer inspection: Six of 16 remaining teams are from the SEC. Twelve of the 16 teams are from the South. Climate is a major factor in this. There’s more to it. Fan interest is certainly a major factor. College baseball, to borrow freely from the SEC: It just means more down here. The No. The No. 1 ranked UCLA hosted a three-game series. 2 ranked Stanford played a three-game series at No. 1 earlier in the season. The combined attendance was less than 7,000, or less than 2,400 per match. On April 23, when Mississippi State and Ole Miss faced off in Pearl, with threatening skies, the crowd was 8,638. This game did not count in the standings. Here, college baseball is more important than ever. It shows on the field. Michigan, the northernmost team in the final 16, is playing in a 4,000-seat venue that is seldom filled. In May, Michigan and Indiana played a three-game series in Ann Arbor. The combined attendance was less than 4,000. There was a peak crowd of 1,500. There have been scrimmages in Mississippi where I’ve seen more people. Important information for young people to remember: It wasn’t always like this. Over the past 40 year, college baseball has been a popular sport in the Deep South. This is reflected in the rapid rise of attendance. In a stadium without restrooms and wooden bleacher seats, Ole Miss hosted its 1988 home baseball game. Luxurious suites? Are you kidding? In the past three decades, Mississippi schools has invested a lot of money in baseball. This has also been true in high school baseball which supplies college programs. Ron Polk, the man who led college baseball’s rapid rise through Mississippi and the SEC had to once recruit all his players from Florida or Georgia. This is not the case anymore for Mississippi schools. It would be difficult to find a state that has a player like J.T., the Mississippi State National Freshman Pitchers of Year. Ginn would refuse a $2.6million signing bonus from the Los Angeles Dodgers to go to school, take classes, and pitch baseball. You’d be hard-pressed to find another university willing to construct a functional stadium for college baseball Taj Mahal worth $68 million. College baseball is more than that.