It wasn’t long ago I was complaining about the new TD Ameritrade Stadium. I found it boring and suffering from a lack of flair. Unfortunately my criticism for this year’s series isn’t ending there. The games of the 2011 College World Series have been lackluster and filled with uninteresting innings. I can’t remember any series where I’ve been more disinterested in the action on the field.
Chicks did the long ball, not small ball. This CWS has suffered from a tremendous lack of offense. In the twelve games to date in this CWS the total runs scored by the losing club has yet to eclipse four runs. The losing team has tallied a total of 25 runs for an average of just over two runs per game. It’s a whole new ballgame at this year’s CWS.
There have only been seven homeruns total in the twelve games this past week. In a game earlier this year, the James Madison Dukes hit six homeruns in one inning. Now that was a freak game and no one wants to see a videogame scores like the 37-7 final score from that contest, but fans do want to see some offense.
The BBCOR bats which limit offensive clout deserve much of the blame. Homerun numbers have melted faster than a Zesto’s cone in the sun. Last year Fresno State’s Jordan Ribera led the nation with 27 homeruns. This year his total dropped to eight. In 2010 Miami’s Harold Martinez launched 21 balls over the fence. This year, three.
The change in bats isn’t the only reason offense is down. Their partner in crime is TD Ameritrade’s layout. Unlike at Rosenblatt where the prevailing wind gave warning track hits a little extra push to clear the wall, the breeze at Ameritrade rushes in and slaps them down as if they were in a Three Stooges film.
Last year a team scored double-digit runs in four games. This year the highest offensive output has been eight.
The games haven’t been close either. Only four games have been decided by two runs or less –and two of those weren’t until last Friday.
The most defining moment of the series so far hasn’t had anything to do with on the field play. Aside from the new stadium, the biggest buzz about the series has been the storms which halted and suspended play for a night. The most exciting game of the series to date wasn’t decided by a walk-off hit, but instead a squirrely bunt followed by an error.
The good news is that there are still games left to be played. There are plenty of chances for the action and drama that have made the College World Series such an extraordinary event. It only takes a single pitch to make a memory. A race to the plate or long drive to centerfield could vault their series out from obscurity and immediately make it one to remember.